Family building can be stressful and play a toll on many if not all aspects of your life. You may feel the strain that any long-term medical condition can bring. Fertility issues can affect your self-esteem, relationship, and emotional well-being and may cause depression especially as you begin to transition from treatment to other options like surrogacy.
Seeing a therapist or seeking out infertility support can provide an outlet. Still, it may offer guidance and tools to navigate the choppy waters of the infertility ocean of hormonal hell.
The Emotions Infertility Can Bring
After years of negative pregnancy tests, miscarriage, failed cycles, and thinking evil thoughts when you see pregnant women: we’ve all been there, and it does NOT feel good. However, there are so many ups and downs (although it may feel like more downs than anything else) that it’s understandable if you’re melancholy.
Seeking a medical professional or infertility support group to discuss your feelings and learn how you and your partner can best support one another can be incredibly helpful. Especially if you find yourself experiencing any of the below:
- Anxiety or feelings of anxiousness
- Changes in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty maintaining social relationships
- Frequently crying
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in usual activities and relationships
- Mood swings
- Persistent feelings of sadness or guilt
- Preoccupation with infertility
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
Taking hormones can create many of the above, but if you feel “stuck” or not like yourself, that’s reason alone to find some support. While trying to expand your family can take over many areas of your life, infertility/family-building counseling may be for you if you’re having trouble remembering that you are more than your reproductive organs.
It is also completely normal and understandable to have complicated feelings when you start and move through your surrogacy process. Typically, surrogacy was not how you first envisioned starting your family and it’s OK to acknowledge the loss of no longer being able to carry your intended pregnancy. Support groups and therapy are great resources for helping manage that loss and how to navigate complicated feelings when/if they arise.
Intro to Infertility Counseling and Infertility Support Groups
As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The practice of infertility counseling delivered by mental health and medical professionals has become more sophisticated and widespread over the past decade.”
Whether it’s infertility or the pain of a recent pregnancy loss, or the stress of building a family through surrogacy, you and your partner may handle and communicate your feelings differently. Especially for women dealing with their grief and terms of a miscarriage also have the physical aspect of managing. Working through your feelings with an objective party can help facilitate communication as you work through this difficult time.
This is also true with infertility and family-building support groups (both in-person or virtual support groups online). You all have shared experiences and can relate and empathize with each other in ways others might not fully understand. Perhaps something that worked for one couple can work for you. Maybe you’ll feel like listening and helping others will inspire you on our journey. Or it could make you feel less alone to speak to others who “get it” and are walking down the same path you are.
Would Support Groups Be Right for You?
We’ve explored how seeking support can help improve communication and unpack feelings of sadness. However, it’s also worth mentioning that it can help work through those complicated issues as you decide on the next steps, such as surrogacy.
Another good reason to consider reaching out for support is when your doctor may have suggested building your family through third-party reproduction. This is a big decision for many, and not everyone involved either agrees or is comfortable with each path to parenthood. Speaking to a neutral party specializing in fertility and therapy and counseling can help guide the discussion productively (i.e., no name-calling, slamming doors, or long stretches of unproductive silence). And connecting with infertility groups that may have also pursued surrogacy can share their journey, recommendations, and advice from one intended parent to another.
Where to find a Therapist or Infertility Support, Groups
There are many online resources to find a counselor or infertility groups near you.
Depending on where you are, there is RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, The Bump, Fertility Network UK, and The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID) are all helpful places to go to for support.
In addition, Fairfax Surrogacy can provide referrals to professionals who are experienced in third-party reproduction. We highly value guidance and support from mental health professionals throughout this complex and emotional process.
While infertility and transiting into the life-giving option of surrogacy can be unpredictable, your mental health and emotions can be maintained with the right help. When trained professionals are willing, able, and available to support you and a whole infertility support group with your back, we hope you know you don’t have to feel alone!