When I got married at 25, starting a family was furthest from my mind as I was busy building my career. When I was nearly 30, I decided it was time to start a family. After trying unsuccessfully for 6 months, we turned to my gynaecologist for help. It was when we found out both of us had issues. The following months led to years of visits to numerous Western and Eastern doctors. Each visit was filled with hope followed by loss. Some months it was just unbearable. The accumulation of disappointments started to overflow into bouts of depression.
I know some couples do not make it because they just cannot work out how to support each other. That is why I am grateful I have a very supportive and understanding husband who could provide me with the emotional support I needed whenever the lows were deep and painful.
I met only one other woman who was struggling to conceive as well and we leaned on each other for comfort. We reminded each other to take ‘mental holidays’ from TTC (trying to conceive) and egged each other on during treatments.
What happened ‘in the end’ you ask? Well, after 5 years we decided we could adopt and continue trying to a baby. Our daughter brought us so much joy that we often forget we are an adoptive family! Statistics say that the chances of conceiving increase when a couple adopts, well, it’s only 5% and we were not that 5%. 4.5 years after, we adopted our second daughter. 15 years on, we are so grateful we changed our mindsets – our girls are indeed blessings and we remain forever grateful toward their birthparents for these gifts of life!” – Andrea Yee
Infertility is a silent grief which many amongst us experience which is difficult for others to understand. Oftentimes, the couple suffers quietly; gingerly avoiding baby showers and sometimes even crumble into pieces on when others announce their pregnancies. With the year-end festive seasons looming, the dread grows because they get asked over and over when will they bring a baby along to the next gathering; even that piteous look they sometime receive is tortuous.
If you are going through a similar journey, know that it helps to speak to another on the same journey. Do give yourself the permission to take a break from treatments. Consider setting a realistic timeline for plans to run on and when it is time to change or explore other treatments. Remember too that there are people around you who love you and whether or not you become a mom, they want to still hang around. Those who stop hanging around just because you cannot conceive may have issues of their own you are not aware of. Men and women process emotions linked to infertility very differently; men are often more able to compartmentalize their emotions and can go about their daily tasks more steadily whereas women can often feel overwhelmed and struggle to manage her day to day tasks. Knowing this, it does not mean that infertility impacts males less than the females – they just handle it differently.
If you know someone who has been unsuccessfully trying to conceive, offering a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear is always welcome. You can offer to help run some errands or accompany her when your friend is undergoing treatment. Refrain from saying, “You can always adopt”, “Just relax”, “It could be worse”, and a host of well-meaning, yet sometimes hurtful, comments. If you do not know what to say, just be present for them. Do reach out to her husband too, who may also be feeling down and all the attention seems to be extended mainly to his wife. Invite the couple out. Ask them to go for a walk, go see a movie, grab some coffee, or any other enjoyable activity to provide a change of scenery and to recharge their spirits.
Life experiences are journeys which may take a few years – it is also important to remember that they do not last forever. Be open to where the Universe takes you to and with that openness, these experiences may bring hope & surprising discoveries of the self along the way.
Incontact organises talks on Infertility; contact us for a private or group session.
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Cecilia Yee, Associate Counsellor
Master of Counselling (Advanced), Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Provisional Clinical Member, Singapore Association for CounsellorsUSA Transactional Analysis Member