Are You Worried About Starting A Family?
Have you tossed and turned at night worrying about your path to becoming a parent? Have you had difficulty become pregnant and feel unprepared for the challenges of fertility treatment? Have you suffered a painful loss in your effort to build a family?
Your journey to becoming a parent, whether for the first time or again, has not been smooth. You and/or your partner have struggled with infertility, with chronic pregnancy loss, or with having the endless financial – and emotional – resources needed to facilitate third-party reproduction. Or, despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to tune out the loud tick-tick-tick of your biological clock and are wondering whether egg-freezing should be something you are considering.
What you wouldn't give to know how and when you will finally be able to become a parent. Friends and family just don't get it, and their questions reveal either pressure or pity. Much as you want to be happy for your pregnant friends, you also feel a painful twinge of envy that makes you feel even more sad and hopeless. It is agonizing not to know what the future will bring when all you want is something that others seem to get so easily.
Perhaps you have had friends who’ve had success through fertility treatments, but are concerned about its effectiveness for you. Are you anxious about the strain that it may put on your relationship and your body? Or are you worried about the impact treatment might have on your work life, since you’ve heard so much about all the doctor’s visits involved?
Perhaps you are an LGBTQ couple looking to start a family, but feel like you need some guidance on the path to LGBTQ parenting. Have you heard about people having bad experiences with doctors, fertility clinics, or adoption agencies, and it makes you hesitant? Or do you have friends or family members who just aren’t that supportive?
Are you a single person who simply wants to experience parenthood without the pressure of finding “right” partner? Perhaps you need more information about your options. Maybe you are worried about the reality of raising a child alone, especially given some of the challenges that come with living in NYC. You may even worry about how your decision to become a single parent will affect your relationship with your family or your child’s future happiness.
Maybe you’ve been trying to get pregnant for months (or even years) without any success and now it is all you think about. Do you constantly track your fertility cycle, maybe even to the exclusion of engaging in other activities you used to enjoy? Have you become an “expert” in fertility-related herbal supplements? Your relationship might even have lost some spark because every intimate moment has become so carefully planned around ovulation.
You may find yourself struggling to feel happy for friends or acquaintances when they announce their pregnancies, wondering why becoming a parent has seemed so easy for them when it’s been so difficult for you. Feelings of envy may cause guilt, shame, anger, or any other multitude of painful feelings. Do you wish more than anything that you could just be happy? Are you longing to navigate your path to parenthood while still being able to experience joy for other people and in your life as it is now?
Many People Struggle With Fertility Problems
Infertility is more common than you might realize—1 in 8 couples have difficulty with either becoming pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Additionally, about 15 to 25% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage and that rate is understood to be 50% or more for pregnancies that terminated before they were known. Not surprisingly, infertility often gives rise to profound feelings of doubt, fear, and grief.
Fertility issues can also have a significant effect on a relationship. You or your partner may experience guilt, anger, or resentment. One or both of you may become increasingly critical, of yourselves or of each other. Despite that statistics suggest causes of infertility are evenly distributed—about 1/3 male factor, 1/3 female factor, 1/3 combination or “unexplained”—you may start placing blame on your partner. And, while you may realize intellectually that you are not the only ones struggling with infertility, it is still extremely difficult to process.
Some people won’t talk openly about fertility challenges because infertility might prompt a deep sense of failure. Between pressure from friends or family and potential feelings of shame, you may feel like this is your fault and you may be inclined to isolate yourself from others so you just don’t have to face it. You may even decide fertility treatments are too stressful, or maybe never going to work for you, and quit.
If you’re finding it difficult to manage your fertility protocols, wondering if it is even worth it anymore, try not to lose hope or make a decision based in fear alone. Therapy can offer you new coping strategies and a framework to help you make educated decisions about your path to parenthood—decisions that aren’t driven solely by your desire to escape the pain that the family building roller coaster can bring.
How Can Fertility Counseling Help Me?
Counseling or therapy may not be the magic wand for becoming a parent, but it can give you a safe, neutral space to say what you need to without fear of judgment, retaliation, or disappointment. And, it can help you learn coping skills that might help you keep going if you decide that starting or continuing with fertility treatment is right for you.
When I work with clients, my primary goal is to provide a judgment-free space where they can come to know themselves deeply; a place where people can summon their own sense of empowerment and make it through even the most difficult times. I aim to help clients uncover and understand their own wants and needs, not just the ones that even the most well-intended friends or family may encourage.
I will always tailor my approach specifically to you. I want you to have the tools you need to overcome any emotional hurdles that might come your way—from the fortitude required to agree to start another IVF cycle or proceed with another frozen embryo transfer, to decisions about donor sperm and/or eggs, to freezing your eggs in an effort to preserve fertility, to trying again (or deciding not to) after suffering a pregnancy loss or failed cycle. Together we will work through the grief that comes from not being able to attain parenthood in the way you have envisioned for so long. I strive to provide a space where you can access what you need to attain a life you love, even if it isn’t exactly as you imagined.
Together we will explore your thoughts, feelings, desires, and fears and develop methods to help you manage the stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and guilt that can accompany fertility and family-building challenges. I am extensively trained in, and will utilize, many different therapy modalities to help you navigate your situation in the way that works best for you.
My practice emphasizes strategies that you can take beyond the office and into everyday life. When a person becomes overwhelmed by the complex processes involved in creating a family, for example, basic self-care might go out the window because it seems there isn’t time or it feels like the only piece really in one’s control. Self-care tasks can seem unimportant in contrast to the magnitude of building a family, but neglecting even the tiniest bits of self-care can profoundly amplify stress which may even negatively affect your family-building journey. Working together, I can help you identify the parts of your life you’ve been ignoring and help you find ways to gently reintegrate them.
My first career was in reproductive healthcare policy and the intersection of reproductive and family law. While activism and advocacy are still important parts of my life, I realized along the way that I was powerfully drawn to helping people emotionally, rather than through legal action, and I became a therapist in 2006. I’ve also navigated my own personal journey with fertility and loss. I understand first-hand how important it is to have support—neutral, no-strings attached support—through your fertility and family-building journey.
My experience as a patient of reproductive medicine may be helpful in understanding the feelings and experiences some of my clients have, but each person’s journey is unique. So as to provide my clients with the best possible care through their diverse journeys, I attained certification through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group. I also make it a point to pursue the latest information, and attend conferences and continuing education courses, so that I am familiar with the most cutting-edge reproductive medicine offerings.
Building a family can be a long, painful road with many unexpected ups and downs. However, I want you to know that therapy can help you to find peace with your situation, whatever path your journey may take.
I work with people for whom parenthood has been heartrendingly elusive. I help people to develop agency in their reproductive lives, and to grow trust in their capacity to persist, whatever the outcome of their fertility journey.
You May Still Have Questions About Fertility Counseling…
How is therapy going to help me have a baby?
There is a lot more that goes into having a child than the physical mechanics of the process. Therapy will give you skills to handle stress and to keep your relationships healthy. Additionally, it can help you continue treatment by putting you in a better place psychologically, making it more likely that you’ll succeed.
I’m worried that fertility counseling will be too expensive.
While an understandable concern—especially given the significant financial resources required by the other pieces of your family-building journey—I would counter that people are often more successful when they have the necessary support structures in place. On your own, it can be easy to get discouraged. You may revert to unhelpful or even self-destructive coping strategies that lead to painful outcomes, such as dropping out of fertility treatment. Therapy can renew your optimism and help you to keep going, if that is what you decide is the right path for you.
I’m worried you’ll think my problems have to do with my childhood, not the present.
There’s a common misconception that therapy is always about “digging up the past,” but that isn’t always true. We only have to talk about whatever comes up. As things arise, I may ask questions about your history in an effort to better understand where you are today and, if you do want to talk about something from your past, that’s perfectly fine. Overall, I am most concerned with helping you now and with making sure that you have tools and coping mechanisms to help you achieve what you want most.
Schedule A Free Consultation
If you have any questions about fertility therapy, I offer a free 20-minute phone consultation. You are welcome to schedule a consult directly through my calendar by clicking the button below, send me an email at erin(at)onlinetherapyNYC(dot)com, or you can call me at (347) 248-6025. It would be my privilege to support you on the road to building your family—whatever that road might look like.