Grief and Infertility


For all those who are going through fertility treatment, as well as those that love them and want to support them.  If you are going through treatment, I hope that this post gives words to some of the things you have been experiencing.  If you are trying to support a friend through fertility, thank you for taking the time to do some research and trying to understand what they are dealing with.  


When we think of grief, we often think of losing a loved one.  But grief can also be losing the plans you mapped out for your life or losing part of your identity.  It’s common to feel like you have done something wrong, like you have failed as a woman, when you are going through infertility.  Even though that is most definitely not true, we take pregnancy for granted and assume that everyone will easily be able to get pregnant.  


There are so many layers of grief when you are dealing with infertility.  The initial one, which may not always be recognized as a loss, is that there is something standing in the way of you becoming a parent, or having another child in the case of secondary infertility.  This parenthood detour impacts your family timeline.  The vision you had for your family is now permanently altered.  How long this detour lasts will also affect your grief.  


With fertility treatment comes some loss of privacy.  Conception is a private act for couples able to conceive naturally.  For those undergoing fertility treatment, it is only as private as you are able to maintain it.  At the very least, your medical team will be involved, carefully monitoring and orchestrating your treatment.  If you do share any details of your journey with friends and family, you’ll likely be faced with questions about how things are going.  Some people don’t mind the questions, while others prefer to try to hold onto as much privacy as possible.  The choice is always yours when it comes to how much to share.  It’s just something else that is part of the fertility process and has the potential to affect you.  


One of the more obvious losses of infertility are the unsuccessful cycles or retrievals.  It is heartbreaking to put some much preparation into getting pregnant, only to find out that it didn’t work.  Not to mention that prior to starting treatment, you have already faced disappointment either from not getting pregnant or suffering at least one miscarriage.


You may think of your relationships differently or put extra thought into social activities now.  As it seems that more of your friends are passing you by with their pregnancies, you may not be able to confide in some of your friends.  They may not understand how to support you or you simply may not be comfortable sharing the depth of your feelings, as you are in different places in your lives.  You also may not feel up to attending certain events, such as a baby shower or child’s birthday party.  


You may feel disconnected from your spouse/partner.  With the focus on having a baby, there may be little time left for sex or it may seem so mechanical now.  You each may grieve these losses differently.  If you are not able to communicate about this, it can add to feeling distant from each other.  


With all that is involved with fertility treatment, while still going about your daily life, it is no wonder that this is a stressful time.  Take time to care for yourself and your grief.  An infertility counselor understands all that is involved with fertility treatment and the emotional impact it can have, especially all these losses along the way.  If you are interested in learning more about how counseling can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.