Coping with infertility after IVF is a modern day phenomenon. There is no disorder in a diagnostic manual for the shame, despair, the fragile sense of self, and the inadequacy that the woman of today feels when successive infertility treatments do not work. This is especially devastating when a woman has been successful in every other aspect of her life; and now biology fails in the most seemingly simple act of nature. This “failure” impacts not only the woman but also her partner, her parents, and her in-laws, among others. This is often not a private mourning; rather, it becomes public information.
Successively, the idea of conceiving, being pregnant and giving birth becomes overinflated; and, the act of mothering and creating a family takes the back burner. There’s little validation from the mental health community for the systemic pain that infertility causes. The psychological ramifications of the “next step” – may it be surrogacy, egg donor, adoption, or not having children at all – is rarely discussed.
I firmly believe that whatever we, as women, can do to prevent the possibility of infertility, we should do. Taking precautions to freeze your eggs or exploring the idea of surrogacy and egg donors at an early age (when you’re not pressured to “perform”) could possibly alleviate future pain. There needs to be more transparency and acceptance of what it means to become a mother with an egg donor or a surrogate. For example, using alternative fertility methods may delay the bonding and attachment process between mother and child.
I often tell my son that he has been my best teacher. Becoming his mom is a role I will never have regrets about, although it took rounds of IVF to get there myself. I am hoping that this book reinforces the idea of choice without stigma. It is liberating to have knowledge and options, and then to intelligently pursue the road best suited for them.
Further, it is my hope that transparency will help to encourage discussion between partners so they can be mutually more compassionate.