“There are two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Learning How to Cope with Infertility
When I was experiencing the difficulties of secondary infertility, I curled up in a shell. Banishing my emotions and ignoring my instincts, I was wrapped up in a twisted and angry existence.
So, I am not the person to emulate. If I was, I would be telling you about all the genius things I did to go through secondary infertility and still manage to be on the top of my game.
I think the height of my sadness was when I was at my best friend’s wedding – it was the celebration after their actual marriage – and in between she became pregnant. I had just been through another miscarriage and there she was in this beautiful gown with the most adorable bump and she just glowed. I was devastated.
There is most certainly something to be said about infertility taking over one’s life. It is the one time I can say that my “condition” took over both my body and my soul. It became my existence, and everything I witnessed went through this lens of despair. It takes over your whole life.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the award-winning psychotherapist Helen Adrienne, and the author of the new book On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility. Addressing this from every angle possible, Helen has created an invaluable resource for everyone struggling through the pains of infertility. Her intent was to write a book to help couples overcome the psychological and social pain of infertility by “normalizing” your upsets, addressing your confusions and with providing all kinds of mind/body exercises.
Three Strategies on How to Address Social and Psychological Pain of Infertility
Helen and I spoke about what she would suggest would be the top three strategies.
1. Learning to breath, and being in the present moment
When I was at the wedding celebration, my head was in loo-loo land. I was not there fully present and enjoying the moment for her. I was experiencing jealousy, anger and that “why me” reaction. If I was smart, I would have left the party for 10 minutes and I would have meditated. I would have sat down somewhere alone, and started to focus only on my breathing. A good 10 minute meditation would have clarified my thoughts and salved my feelings a bit. I’m not saying it would have made me go from being sad to jubilant, but it would have allowed me to bring focus on the day, on the marriage we were celebrating, and on the friends and family that I was spending time with.
The present moment is a very zen-like place. Helen and I speak about it in the attached podcast, and we both feel so passionate about it. It’s not ignoring the goals that you have in your life, but it’s about being grounded in your body and feeling the “bloom of each moment” as it unfolds (a favorite quote of mine from Jon Kabat Zinn). It allows you to reduce the pains of infertility such that you can still go on with your life and not let anxiety and depression completely take over.
2. Feel the satisfaction of learning to deal with adversity
This is why I love Helen’s book. She discusses at great length the silver-lining of this experience. This is a concept that I have tip-toed around, just because – to put it bluntly – I really don’t want to piss anyone off. But, this is such an important point. You are going through one of the hardest things a woman can go through (in my opinion of course). It touches every single aspect of your life – from your finances, to your relationship, to your relationship with friends and family, to your health, to your goals for your future. It really leaves nothing untouched.
You are learning though. In Helen’s words, she says that you will “feel the satisfaction that you can deal with adversity.” According to Buddhism, the first lesson to enlightenment is realizing that life is hard.
And I am a great example of this truism. Look at the phoenix that rose from the ashes of my experience! I call it my “third baby” – and it’s called Circle + Bloom. I get the incredible joy of sharing all of this with others, but I first needed to experience it myself.
In Helen’s book there is an entire chapter called Would You Believe There is an Upside? and it is chock-full of stories of Helen’s patients who shared their experiences for the book. Trust me, it will make you feel better to read some of them.
3. Legitimize the Normal Resistance to Change
This process requires you to change. How much you change is up to you, but most certainly you will change as a result. But, if you are like me, you already know that change is HARD.
Helen suggests that we first need to recognize this incredible force within us that resists change. She does an excellent job in the book in describing why that is – what physically happens in the body. And it comes right down to the subconscious.
She offers suggestions on how to invite change into our lives and of course makes specific suggestions on what to change. Things like implementing mind/body exercises into your regimen, taking time to discuss your feelings with others, journaling, hypnosis, and simply getting in greater touch with your emotions.
About Helen Adrienne
Helen Adrienne, Licensed Certified Social Worker and certified hypnotherapist, is a general therapist who specializes in infertility counseling, couples counseling for infertility, mind/body stress reduction for
infertility and gynecological and reproductive issues.
Helen’s approach is based on the mind-body connection involving mental, physical and spiritual well-being. She believes that the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind. Her counseling approach and thought processes combine psychological techniques with a deep clinical and spiritual understanding of the mind, heart and body. This understanding empowers her to help her clients in a targeted way to reduce mind/body stress.
Helen is available for phone consultations at 1-212-758-0125. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.