February 14, 2010

Intimate Voices - Infertility

     Infertility, from a mental health perspective, is known to have a profound effect on the lives and identities of women. In most cultures, parenthood is considered to be the norm – an expected rite of passage on the way to full adulthood. Whether consciously or not, many of us dreamed of our futures as married/partnered with children. Becoming a parent is a way to experience a “love like no other” and serves to solidify our connection to our partner, yet conveys many more benefits. It is a way to deepen our relationships with our own mothers, sisters, and friends; it is a way to connect with and participate in the larger community around us, both with and through our children; and it is an organic way of giving back to the world. A disruption in this expected life course can be devastating.

     Complicating the chronic crisis of infertility is the lack of public acknowledgment that there has been a loss. There is no baby, no body to bury, no public rituals that usually accompany a death, yet there has been an unfathomable, unanticipated loss. Compounding this is the shame that many, both men and women, experience around infertility, making it a silent loss, and rendering those suffering from it vulnerable to unintentionally insensitive comments from others. The hurt can seem never-ending.

     It is imperative that a more public discourse around infertility is set in motion.; too many women suffer alone. It is estimated that 15% of couples in the U.S. experience infertility; approximately 50% of these will never bear biological children. While there is much support around adoption and other alternatives to family building, it is important to acknowledge and mourn the losses that come with infertility, often a lifelong process.

Article written by Marni Rosner.  Marni Rosner is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, specializing in anxiety, relationship, and infertility issues. For more information you can email Marni at marni.rosner@gmail.com.
This post was inspired by an upcoming event for the organization Help Us Adopt.  Visit their site to learn more about their work and ways to get involved!

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