Each week, I sit in my office counselling couples and consulting with them about loss. Loss of the idea that they will have a biological child.
By the time couples come in to see me for counselling, often they have been trying unsuccessfully, for years, to conceive a biological child.
Their relationships with their fertility doctors are on a first-names basis. They know which ultrasound technicians work on which days. And they know which nurses they can rely on to give them proper instructions on how to inject themselves with hormones.
This week marks the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week. Each year in Canada, a week is dedicated to raising awareness about infertility and to educate the general public about their reproductive health, how their bodies function and about any reproductive challenges they may experience.
After years of losses and uncertainties and needles and doctors appointments…with absolutely nothing to show for it, I often have clients ask, “When will this pain stop?”
How can couples recognize when it’s time to stop trying for a biological child?
For every couple, the answer it is different. However the following themes ring true for most of the couples that I have counselled:
- When the marriage is starting to suffer. When intimacy is completely centred on the time when the woman is ovulating, and the topic of divorce has entered the conversation.
- When couples spend more time trying to get pregnant by going to appointments and surfing the internet for the ‘magical cure’ than they do on ANY other hobby or spending time together.
- When couples have truly lost their sense of joy about starting a family…and they are burdened with a constant state of anxiety, depression and hopelessness.
- When couples feel that their entire lives are in limbo. They cannot commit to anyone or any event because they might need to be at the clinic on those days.
- When one or both members of the couple begin to discuss the possibility of adoption or surrogacy or sperm or egg donation.
As a therapist, it is never my job to tell a client what to do….they must reach their own conclusions. It is part of my job to convey the facts and support my clients’ decisions.
If clients are motivated to keep trying to conceive a biological child, then whatever obstacles they face along the way should be met with joy and anticipation.
However, if the negative aspects of trying to get pregnant overshadow this joy, then it may be time for couples to reconsider their approach. Do they need a break? Do they need a second opinion? Or do they need to change their course of action all together? Or is it time to move on?
I welcome your thoughts.