The (March) Madness of Infertility
It may be “bracketology” season for basketball fans but that’s not the only madness that pervades the month of March. And truth be told, for infertility patients, “March Madness” may as well be any month of the year. While infertility may not have its “Final Four” moments where teams meet on the court, there are three very real, very maddening challenges of living with infertility on a day-to-day basis.
Feeling weepier than usual? Dreading your next PIO shot? Tired of temping? These feelings are just another “normal” part of the infertility experience, particularly for women. As we go through treatment cycle after cycle, our hormones can start to play havoc with our bodies and our minds. With a hormonal process as delicately balanced as human reproduction, it’s no wonder we start to feel foul as we begin to augment our bodies. And it’s not like we can just chuck our hormones in the bin, either, so it means trudging through no matter how awful we feel. Forcing ourselves to put on a happy face despite feeling like crap? That’s certainly maddening!
Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And yet, when our family building journey takes longer than we think, as the months drag on and cycles continue to fail, it really does start to feel a bit insane.
Just when you think everything in hunky dory, infertility throws a big fat wrench into your life plans with your partner, with often far-reaching consequences. Whether it’s turning your sex life into a mechanical, repetitive act that’s lost its romance or magic to the often perpendicular intersection of how you each cope on a daily basis, infertility can make relationships maddening. And it’s not just with your spouse or partner: infertility can cast its shadow on families, from your relationships with your parents or even your siblings. And let’s not forget about your best friend and their pregnancy announcement – the one that just gets you right in the gut no matter how happy you truly might be for him or her.
The once perfectly normal bond you may have shared with your spouse, your best friend or even your sister has now broken down in to a tenuous dance of walking on eggshells. Conversations and social gatherings can get awkward. The comfort that you once took for granted has been replaced by longer periods of silence and avoidance. And at the same time, you look at yourself and think, “Have I always been like this with other people?” The answer is no – but the madness of infertility can dramatically change even the most solid of relationship dynamics for any man or woman.
Did you ever think that when you wanted to have a family that you’d ever have to fill out this much paperwork? Whether you’re appealing an insurance claim denial or completing an adoption home study, the sheer amount of paperwork that must be filed, logged and kept is astounding. And while couples who get pregnant on their own have their own paperwork to deal with, it seems like anything associated with family building while dealing with infertility is just that much more complicated. Tax documents, legal affidavits, insurance forms, receipt and expense logs – even just trying to keep track of lab slips for blood work and ultrasounds – it can be a maddening effort just to keep track of it all.
And it’s not just paperwork. Whether it’s sitting on the phone for an hour just trying to reach a live person at your insurance company to figuring out exactly which prescriptions you need to get at what pharmacy to save you the most money, the logistical minutiae of trying to build your family when your body’s just not cooperating can feel like an exercise in madness from time to time.
So what’s an infertile person to do?
Call an Infertility Madness Time-Out
Take a step back and assess what’s causing you the most madness in your infertility journey. Then ask yourself: how can I get some support? Now go out and ask for that support, because as much as we’d love it, other people can’t read our minds. One of my favorite pieces of advice: “You have to A-S-K to G-E-T.”
If your medications are wreaking havoc with your body, talk to your doctor. See if there are other drugs they can use with less offensive side effects. Consider alternative and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, herbal treatments, or yoga. Even a nice massage just to take your mind off everything infertility and make your body feel good in the process can do wonders.
Tired of seeing a million pictures of your best friend’s new baby on Facebook? Unplug and disconnect. As plugged in as we might be, when dealing with infertility, it’s okay to insulate yourself from emotional triggers online that will only stress you out. You don’t have to unfriend someone on Facebook; you can just hide them until you’re in a better place emotionally. And they’ll be none the wiser. And depending on the closeness of your relationships, it can’t hurt to sit down and have that heart-to-heart about how your friends and family can better help you on your journey.
If you feel like that tower of insurance paperwork is about to collapse on your desk, see if your partner or spouse would be willing to pick up some of the load. And don’t try and reinvent the wheel – there are plenty of resources online, like Fertility Within Reach, to help you navigate through some of the common insurance issues you may face.
Infertility can be overwhelming, stressful and maddening – but you don’t have to lose your mind in the process. Take a step back and look for the areas where you could get some support and help and ask for that support.
You’ll be glad you did.
About the Author
Keiko Zoll is the founder and writer of TheInfertilityVoice.com. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheInfertilityVoice and follow her on Twitter at @KeikoZoll.
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