This blog addresses various emotional aspects of experiencing infertility. It is written by a clinical psychologist who specializes in infertility counseling. Thank you for reading, and best of luck with your journey!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The aftermath: The effects of infertility once the dust settles

I often hear from clients in the midst of a battle with infertility that they can't wait for their children to come so they can "just put this thing behind" them.  I suppose some people, perhaps who are more skilled at this denial than myself, may be able to do so--but the majority of us find that our infertility is something that we simply can't leave behind.  Even if our infertility is eventually resolved in a manner we feel good about, it still has long-reaching effects in our lives.

As an experiment, this week I tried to keep track of the different ways my own personal infertility came up even though our family is (finally!) complete.  Here's what I discovered:

1.  Having to tell the nurse at our pediatrician's office (again) that I don't know my adopted daughter's birth family's medical history.
2.  Fending off questions from a neighbor about whether I had used infertility treatments and/or donor eggs in the procurement of our youngest child, who is one year old, due to my elderly age.
3.  Having to justify to the school principal and school administration officials why my middle daughter should be "grandfathered" in and not have to lottery in to gain admission to her older sister's school, as they are "too far" apart in age.  Luckily, the school officials didn't really want to deal with my argument that because of my medical problems, I couldn't control the age spacing of my children, and they agreed to let her in the school.
4.  Listening with incredulity to the story of a woman who managed to get pregnant twice while faithfully taking birth control pills.

To me, I think that's a pretty typical week.  Even if I wanted to "put it behind" me, the world has a way of bringing it right back around to the forefront.

I don't think my experiences in this regard are atypical, either.  I am frequently struck by women telling me, that despite the many traumas they may have experienced, their infertility is the problems that still continues to haunt them.

Thus, although wanting to put infertility into the past is an understandable wish, it may not be a realistic expectation.  My personal recommendation is that it may be better off to expect that infertility will continue to be an issue, although hopefully in a less urgent and intense manner.  That way, when you get the insensitive questions or difficult situations, at least you won't be surprised, disappointed, or filled with self-blame.


  1. I like this post and think it's a very realistic view of how infertility doesn't ever disappear. I think that because infertility gets so involved with identity, it cannot just go away after our children arrive. Our self-concept has to accomodate the notion and implications of not being able to make a baby. And because we are changed so much and so deeply by the infertility, there is no "going back" to our old selves. And of course, as your post highlights, life has all these reminders.

    As always, thank you for your very thoughtful posts Lisa.

  2. I just came across your blog today and you have some great posts here. I'm looking forward to reading through your archives. :)