Ask Phyllis A patient writes about infertility on Mother's Day
Few people understand or stop to think how difficult and painful the second Sunday of May can be for many women. The day reopens a raw wound for many of us; a painful reminder of something missing or something lost.
Of course we want to celebrate the women in our life. We do not want to feel anything as ugly as jealousy, bitterness or hopelessness on a beautiful spring day – but we do feel these things. The emptiness is rarely as exposed as it is on this day. There is nowhere to hide, no way to tune it out. So what can we do?
I'd like to share a perspective that has made my infertility journey a little bit easier. When I was talking to a friend of mine recently, I mentioned something about how I needed to make sure of some particular detail for my future child before I got pregnant. She told me "You're already thinking like a mom." I can't tell you how much that statement affected me. It made me realize that, in a very real way, I am a mom already. My kids are yet-to-be conceived, but I'm already acting on their behalf. I'm already sacrificing for them. I'm already worrying about them and planning for them. I'm willing to go to the ends of the earth for them. I already love them.
I am not planning on "celebrating" any May holiday, but neither am I planning on hiding away from the world. (Admittedly, in years past this was my go-to strategy.) Just the simple realization that I have a toe in the door of motherhood has made facing this day a little easier. I hope it will do the same for you.
This patient is doing something very powerful for herself that is referred to in psychological circles as "reframing." Imagine you own a painting that is upsetting to you, but for some reason you need to keep it. Looking at it draws you in and makes you feel horrible. Just knowing it exists makes you feel miserable - so hiding it really does not work. Now imagine that a friend comes over and has a shiny, new frame for the picture and reframes it. She cleans it up and re-hangs it. Now when you look at it, while you recall what you did not like, you feel somehow better. The new frame has changed the look of the picture in a way that is tolerable if not positive. You can now see the picture in a new light and the negative impact is less.
Cognitive reframing works in the same way. The patient sharing her experience of pre-motherhood has reframed her infertility. Rather than feeling all of her effort is for naught and she must hide, she realizes she is "already thinking like a mom" by ensuring that she is doing the best she can by her future child. She is "acting on their behalf" and that makes her feel empowered and it puts her struggle in perspective. Clearly she feels better with this reframe, it works for her and may very well work for you.
Infertility is such a difficult diagnosis to bear for both men and women. It impacts how we see our futures and ourselves. It impacts how we view our relationships, our place in our family and even how we fit in among our peers. When your picture of infertility begins to overtake all of those areas in your life until it is all you can see, it can be devastating. When you reframe infertility, you also reframe how you see yourself, your relationships and your future. While it may not be a clear snapshot with lots of detail, if you can think differently you will begin to feel differently. Mother's day may not be what you want this year, but you certainly deserve a celebratory acknowledgement of how hard you are working to conceive and that you are doing your best. Remind yourself of all of your "pre-motherhood effort" such as seeking expert medical care, healthy habits, balancing work, home and the rest of your life. Celebrate how hard you are working and that you are still standing. You may not have a clear picture of what you want, but if you reframe infertility in a frame that fits for you, you very well may see things in a different light.
Phyllis Martin is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Infertility Specialist who is available to current patients, as well as those considering infertility treatment or who have undergone treatment. Click here to view the support group meeting schedule or here to contact Ms. Martin.
What's New at GIVF
GIVF hosts 26th Annual Baby Reunion
The highlight of each and every year at GIVF is the annual Baby Reunion. Parents and often grandparents and other family members gather in May to let staff share in the joy of the many children that we were fortunate enough to help bring into the world. GIVF does not view its role as ending with medical treatment, but as a longstanding, caring relationship. We love watching families grow.
Have a story you'd like to share about your family? Let us know!
Egg Banking at GIVF Just Got Better
GIVF is very proud to have been the first area clinic to provide frozen eggs from its own Fairfax Egg Bank, drawing on over a quarter century of donor gamete experience.
Now, GIVF is happy to announce the addition of its Delivery Promise refund program to cover donor egg in addition to our already affordable single, split cycle and multicycle treatment options. Find out more here.
Harvard Law School Bioethicist To Address GIVF Staff
I. Glenn Cohen, the Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will address GIVF staff on May 14. Mr. Cohen is a leading authority on legal and ethical issues related to human reproduction. Mr. Cohen received his BA from the University of Toronto and his JD from Harvard Law School.
GIVF SALUTES our troops for Memorial Day
In honor of the women and men who serve our country in active military service (plus twenty-year retired military) GIVF has long offered the SALUTE discount program to help make fertility treatment more affordable for those who have given so much to us. Now, for new patient consults held by the Fourth of July (May 8 to July 3), GIVF will provide free in-office consultations for those who qualify for the military SALUTE program.
On Saturday April 28, a ceremony was held at the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter to dedicate the new 32-inch Schulman telescope. The telescope, a gift of the Schulman Foundation established by GIVF founder Dr. Joseph Schulman and his wife Dixie, is one of the largest telescopes available for use by the public and for educational outreach. One of the most distinctive aspects of the telescope is the fact that it is available for worldwide access via the Internet.
Dr. Schulman began his career as a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and then worked in England with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Edwards and his colleague Dr. Edward Steptoe for a year during the period in which they developed the science and techniques of in vitro fertilization. After his return to the United States, Dr. Schulman founded the Genetics & IVF Institute in 1984. Following his retirement from GIVF, Dr. Schulman turned his scientific curiosity from biology and medicine to the skies becoming an accomplished astrophotographer. At the launch prior to the dedication of the telescope, Dr. Schulman stated that a camera that his daughter gave him to attach to his first telescope was one of the best gifts he ever received.
Watch a video about the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter below:
The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly publishes an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.