By Kira Copperman, LMSW –
Being a patient at a fertility clinic brings moments of anxiety, hope, excitement, fear, and stress. The time and effort to become pregnant can feel like an emotional roller coaster and certainly a different route to conception than one may have imagined. A Harvard Medical School study showed that patients going through fertility treatments experience comparable levels of stress to patients who are going through treatment for cancer and heart disease.
This is no surprise as patients experience the daily, weekly, sometimes hourly ups and downs as they are progressing through their treatment. The focus of all of these treatments leads up to the day the pregnancy test is taken. Many couples use up their financial, emotional and physical resources to go through treatment and they have a tremendous amount riding on the hope that their pregnancy test will be positive and that their journey was a success.
Regrettably, approximately 30 percent of all pregnancies (including fertility patients) result in a miscarriage, and being prepared to handle this type of loss is nearly impossible. After going through all the treatments to conceive a child, finding out that the whole process did not succeed in an ongoing pregnancy can result in a complex grieving process.
The feelings of grief may extend beyond the loss of the pregnancy to thoughts that the dream of having a family has been shattered, the loss of trust in how your body works, the feelings of being inadequate as a woman or couple. It may involve questioning oneself, ones’ worth; it may result in feelings of guilt and shame. If it was an early miscarriage, your feelings might be minimized or invalidated or not understood by the people you turn to for support. Because of the nature of the loss, some friends and family may not have even known that you were pregnant, which brings on additional considerations.
Women or couples who have experienced a miscarriage and are grieving need to experience their feelings for themselves and seek the help and support that will work for them when they are ready. There is no right way to feel, no right way to think, no right way to behave. There is no correct length of time to wait before you think about trying again, no prescription for what to do or say after you experience a miscarriage.
There are many ways to get support if that is what you feel you need. It has been shown that women who experience a miscarriage find the most support from other women who have also miscarried. That shared bond can allow women and couples to learn how others have coped and to continue their way through their complicated feelings.
There is also an organization called RESOLVE that runs support groups locally for women who have miscarried. Many hospitals and healthcare centers also run support groups for women who have miscarried. There are websites, books, blogs, chat rooms, therapists, (see below) designed to provide outlets for you to express your feelings and to bond with others who have had similar experiences.
Kira B. Copperman, LMSW, is the President of KBC Consulting www.kbcconsult.com, a boutique healthcare consulting firm that specializes in helping physicians, dentists and hospitals improve their frontline customer service. Prior to KBC Consulting, she was the Practice Manager for a large fertility center in Manhattan entitled Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York (RMA of New York). While at RMA of New York, her experience with patients dealing with the emotional side effects that can accompany infertility had a profoud effect on her and was one of the main reasons she created KBC Consulting. Ms. Copperman is also a published author and presenter on topics relating to healthcare.Tags: grief, hope