Women with Infertility Issues in Cycle of Regret
The ability to conceive is met with all sorts of emotions. Sadness is a common one. Months after months passing without the telltale signs of pregnancy lead to long stretches of melancholy, wondering why that elusive baby isn’t coming yet, despite months – or years – of trying.
Anger is another common emotion associated with infertility. It’s just not fair, you think, that your sister, best friend, co-worker can get pregnant, but you can’t. How dare they be happily involved in motherhood while you stand aside and watch! Has God or some other higher power abandoned you? Why aren’t your prayers answered? Why has your body failed you?.
And then there’s envy. That can be a very destructive one. You see others with babies and you not only feel envious, but you start to hate them. You resent their happiness. You avoid friends and family members that are pregnant or have little ones and relationships start to suffer and break down. Envy can hurt feelings and have long-lasting effects. Envy pushes people away.
Helplessness is often part of the picture as well. Women often feel as if the issues of infertility are simply out of their hands and that they have no control over the situation. Whether or not they get pregnant seems to be in someone else’s hands – their spouse, their doctor. It’s frustrating when there’s seemingly nothing they can do to change their circumstances.
But the hardest emotional hurdle to get over is regret, say professionals working with women who are having difficulty conceiving. Regret is all about things you did or didn’t do in the past. It’s about things that you can’t change, no matter now much you’d like to do so. Regret causes immense amounts of pain, piles of tears, plenty of arguments, and a good deal of self-loathing.
What do infertile women regret? Women who are nearing the end of their child-bearing years often regret not “trying” sooner. They regret not getting married or being in a serious relationship when they were younger. Others think they should have changed doctors when they weren’t getting the results they wanted. They believe their doctor wasn’t being honest about their chances to conceive. Some think they should have frozen their eggs years ago.
All of those thoughts are valid in the heads of these women, but they do little good. Of course, that’s easy for others to say but a reality that’s hard for regretful women to grasp. And one of the biggest problems with regret, therapists say, is that fertility treatment decisions begin to be made with an eye on anticipatory regret. Because of this, these women may continue IVF treatments way beyond the point where it’s obvious that it won’t be successful, or they may spend more money than they can afford on treatment.
Other emotions can often be overcome, but what can be done about regret? Some professionals suggest a “ritual” to rid the psyche of any regretful thoughts. One social worker offers the image of a small wooden boat floating away from the shore with a pile of regrets stacked atop it. The regrets are then “cast away” and the person doing the casting promises not to swim after the boat. He regrets are gone and won’t be returning.
Will it work? Well, certainly, it may not work for everyone, these same experts say, but it’s a good start. And if the boat scenario doesn’t do the trick, they suggest that anyone struggling with regret find their own meaningful ways of putting the past in the past, forging forward into the future where a baby may very well be part of the happy picture.