Managing Infertility Treatment in the Midst of Covid-19
As anyone who has ever faced infertility will confirm, there is never a “good” time to be infertile. Coping with uncertainty and infertility during Covid-19 is an especially challenging. Many of the experiences of infertility—waiting, uncertainty, isolation—are hallmarks of the pandemic. These days many pandemic weary people saying,“I could cope with it if I only knew how long it will last,” words are all too familiar to anyone who has dealt with infertility. How can you navigate this double whammy: managing infertility treatment in the midst of Covid-19? Here are tips to help you reduce isolation and identify ways to cope with waiting and wondering.
Reducing Isolation Through Support Groups
Feeling isolated is common for those experiencing infertility and it is becoming all too familiar for everyone living through the pandemic. Still, we see—through zoom meetings, classes, tours, and even celebrations—that people are finding creative ways to stay in touch and to build connections. Many infertile people are feeling an intensified need for connection. In “the good old days,” the infertility experience offered some built in companionship. Patients sat together in crowded waiting rooms, chatted with nurses during blood draws and technicians during ultrasounds. Yes, there was tension, but the experience of seeing others as you waited, reminded you that you were not alone. A blood draw or an ultrasound, while not exactly fun, often brought support, encouragement and good humor from compassionate caregivers. These were also times to ask questions and seek reassurance. All this can still happen, but it feels different behind masks and shields and all the details of necessary protocol.
Anyone feeling isolated in their infertility is encouraged to consider joining a support group. Infertility support groups, offered through Resolve of New England (as well as other organizations and private practitioners) have long been a “go to” resource during infertility. For women, in particular, these groups have offered camaraderie, support and a chance to share information and experiences. In some instances, life long friendships have been formed and for most, they bring vital traveling companions through the journey of infertility.
With many of us at home and almost all support groups are virtual, it is ever so much easier to join a group. For those who are shy, reluctant to share their experience, afraid they might not fit in, virtual groups make it easier to join in.
Making Time Purposeful
It has been forty years, but I can still remember the first couple I knew who had a baby through IVF. I remember feeling so happy for them and being surprised by their response to my jubilation. Their words went something like this,“Yes, of course we are overjoyed but we are also sad about all the time we lost. Our thirties are a blurred decade.” I took these words to heart and since then have always encouraged people to make good use of the time they spend in infertility. Advice I gave on a regular basis:
- Invest in your future by making home improvements, career enhancements and skills.
- Create memories—schedule weekends away or vacations that you can look forward to and remember fondly.
- Try to find ways to capture the advantages of being child “free” rather than focusing only on being child “less”.
Not so easy these days. No one I know is planning a weekend away, let alone an adventure vacation. People aren’t booking reservations at their favorite restaurants or planning an evening out at a concert or theatre. It feels like there is a lot less to look forward to and for many of us, a lot more time on our hands.
I encourage people going through infertility to do your best to “think outside the box” and find ways to make this time feel purposeful. For some, this may be a good time to embark on a home improvement project, to explore more education or even a career change. For others, it may help to begin to think and learn about alternative paths to parenthood—egg and sperm donation, surrogacy, adoption. Considering these options should not in any way signify pessimism or defeat but beginning to craft a back up plan helps remind you that you will not remain “stuck” in the dark tunnel of infertility. The important thing here is to do what you can to avoid looking back with regret: make affirmative and informed decisions about how you spend your time.
The pandemic is not forever and alike the experience of infertility treatment will be behind you. May you look back on both with a sense that you used the time as best you could and that you will have discovered that you are more resourceful and resilient than you thought you were. These qualities will serve you well in parenthood.
Managing infertility treatment in the midst of Covid-19 can be stressful and feel more uncertain than ever, but we are here to help. If you have more questions, please contact us to schedule your free initial consultation.
*Your consultation is FREE if you don’t have infertility insurance coverage.
Ellen Glazer is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in infertility, adoption, gamete donation and surrogacy. She is the author or co-author of six books, most recently Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation. Ellen can be reached by clicking here.