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  • Allison Ramsey, Asheville Infertility Counseling

Coping with Infertility as a Stepparent

Coping with infertility as a stepparent

Coping with Infertility as a Stepparent

Creating a family certainly doesn't always go the way people expect it will. Some people are lucky to find each other a little later in life and there are a lot of benefits of that - knowing yourselves better, having careers, being more grown up! And sometimes relationships bring with them step children. Anyone who has had this experience knows there are pros and cons. And that is definitely the case when it comes to infertility.

Often times in my infertility counseling practice I'll see a woman who has married a man who already has children. The way she might describe her husband when it comes to conceiving is "He wants what I want, but he already has kids so it doesn't feel like he's as invested as I am." Regardless of how true this is for the partner, the woman feels even more isolated and alone on her journey to parenthood. She feels left out that her husband already gets to celebrate Father's Day or has watched joyful little faces open Christmas presents. It's an experience many infertile couples have together, but in second marriages the woman can feel very separate from the rest of the family.

I've heard some sweet stories where the step children designate a special mother's day for their dear stepmother (because they spend the real holiday with their own mother) but women feel guilty that they feel like it isn't enough. For many women there is an undeniable innate desire to carry her own biological children. But you should know that without this urge there would have been difficulty for the survival of our species. It's normal and easier to make sense of this feeling when we view it from a biological perspective.

So what to do about this division in the family? First, tell your partner what you're feeling. To help him understand, think of a time that he has felt isolated and alone and try to use that as a metaphor. Like, "Remember when you and your best friend Randy wanted to join a softball team and once you found one they only wanted Randy? Do you remember how you felt?" Sometimes we cannot force someone to understand the situation we are in, but we can help them understand the emotions we have about it. Secondly, you can acknowledge that you feel how you feel and that is valid. Try seeking out other women in your situation online or through acquaintances.

Infertility is hard enough. Going through it feeling like you don't have the full support of your partner is even worse. You can get the help you need to make it a little less hard, potentially strengthening the bond with your spouse in the process.

Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and completed their certificate training in mental health counseling for infertility. Contact her to start feeling better.

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