Allison Ramsey, MS, LCMHC
When Infertility Makes You Mad
You're only thirty something. There are certain things you've just always been able to do. Up until this point you've been able to rely on yourself to get places, to kick a ball, ride a bike, think thoughts, make and execute plans, turn off the stove, remember birthdays. Having a baby is something you always figured you'd be able to do when you were ready. Like you had some sort of control over it. You've been on birth control for 15 years - didn't that mean you had control over when you were going to give birth?!
An unexpected and normal response to infertility is anger. Especially anger at your body. For women who've always relied on their bodies to come through for them, not being able to get pregnant is an enormous disappointment leaving them infuriated.
Like all emotions, anger is energy. Energy cannot stay bottled up, it has to go somewhere. You know, how you yell out when you stub your toe. Or the bounce of your leg when you're anxious, or the need to smile or move when you're excited. So that angry energy comes out whether we plan for it or not. It comes out at work, on your spouse, your OB, your reproductive endocrinologist, your sister or friend who can't stop getting pregnant, your mom who never says the right thing, the sign at the grocery store that says "parking for expectant mothers or people with young children".
With each month you're not getting pregnant, that anger builds. And much like your dog needs a place to run, the anger needs a place to go. Help yourself expend that energy on a regular basis before it winds you up in a fight with your spouse about what you're having for dinner.
- Write every day. It can be a few lines, written or typed, there are great free journal apps if you frequently find yourself without your journal when you need it.
- Move your body every day. A twenty minute walk can do wonders for defusing the built up energy of anger.
-Have compassion for your body, act lovingly and kind toward it. Promise it you will continue to take care of it while you figure out what is wrong. Treat your self the way you would a good friend, encourage your body to rest and eat nourishing food. You and your body can't get where you want to go if you are at odds with each other.
- Do more with your body. Infertility can make you incredibly angry and disappointed with your body. Try taking on a new physical feat like yoga, tennis, aerial arts, or dance that can help you get reacquainted with the abilities your body does have.
- Talk to someone about how you're feeling, in addition to your spouse. This can be through a dedicated, private facebook group, a friend who is going through infertility or is able to listen (preferably not a friend who is pregnant or has small children). Therapists that specialize in helping people through infertility can be found asrm.org.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of Resolve, The Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Contact her to start feeling better.