5-Star Rated Healing in Toronto, ON

Coping With Feelings Of Alienation When You’re Struggling With Infertility

The struggle with infertility is in many ways a journey. Perhaps a journey that you……

The struggle with infertility is in many ways a journey. Perhaps a journey that you don’t necessarily wish to be on, but nevertheless, one in which you gain a greater insight, a deeper intuition, and an evolved self-awareness, regardless of how painful it may be.

Part of what you learn about yourself is how you interact with and respond to others — the people who don’t know what you’re going through, those who haven’t been in your shoes. They may harmlessly comment, or perhaps unintentionally say something wrong, and because you are consumed by this quest to conceive, you interpret their words through the medium of your pain. As far as your interrelationships go, infertility becomes the nearly insurmountable subtext.

I remember that time in my own life well, that period during which I came to resent those who didn’t understand the anguish I felt at not being able to conceive. I was just another woman trying to get pregnant and having a hard time of it. This was my vulnerability summed up by what I intuited as a couple of callous sentences.

They didn’t know — they couldn’t know — but I still blamed them. Plagued by an ongoing internal dialogue associated with having to navigate social scenarios in order to avoid being asked the dreaded question, “Are you planning on having any more children?” I shrank further and further into the background, while my anger and jealousy seethed over into the foreground of my being.

Shame and feelings of defectiveness dominated my journey. I could not conceive. Something that should be so simple, so basic a practice for any woman, and yet here I was, my body unwilling and/or unable to perform as it should. Slowly, I removed myself from many social situations, especially those that involved being around big round bellies and babies. I came up with excuses as to why I couldn’t attend a gathering or make a party. I started avoiding playdates for my 2-year-old daughter.

I projected my yearning and feelings of inferiority onto those around me, including my own 2-year-old daughter. She wasn’t even talking in full sentences yet, but I was certain that she was asking for a sibling. I was filled with feelings of jealousy, guilt, and fear.

My world became very small and narrow. I was only able to experience things through the lens of a woman who couldn’t conceive, even though ironically I had this beautiful little girl by my side. And yet, I frantically thought, what if there were to be no more? What if I could not produce a brother or sister for my child? Without another baby, I was somehow not good enough. This seriously impacted my relationships. It affected the way I perceived myself and how I thought others perceived me: the woman who couldn’t have more than one child, the woman whose body wasn’t sufficient enough to carry a baby.

Fertility treatment after fertility treatment came and went with the same humiliating result: no pregnancy. The implicit condescension of the negative test results made me just want to retreat further into myself and away from people who now had the proof to label me as defective.

After over a year and a half of fertility treatments, I did finally get pregnant through in vitro fertilization with twins. They are now 6 years old. My story ended with the most amazing blessing possible — blessings to be exact. For some, however, this sadly may not be the case.

My experience is not a unique one. Interpersonal relationships and dealing with “the other” while struggling with infertility is one of the most popular topics in the mind-body fertility groups I lead. It comes up in every session, and the women are eager to acquire the tools they need in order to ease the negative feelings associated with their various social relationships when struggling to conceive.

I refer to the phenomenon as the “fertility inferiority complex” — such as is characterized by having a lack of self-worth, coupled with feelings of doubt, uncertainty, and not measuring up to the status quo. The thinking goes something like this: “I can’t seem to get pregnant, so therefore, I am worth less than you.” This incredibly penetrating feeling has a particularly virulent sting, as we are dealing with our body and its supposed natural abilities.

For women who are actively trying to conceive, it takes very little to trigger this complex. Perhaps the glimpse of a pregnant belly, a mother pushing a stroller, two toddlers playing in a sandbox, or even a simple, albeit unintentional, fertility-based remark from a good friend, can immediately cripple the woman and send her into that helpless despair, locked inside the prison of her own negative thinking. There is no escaping the fact that you can’t do what you so yearn to, and so you project, blame, and eventually just shy away from others.

Published in ScaryMommy

Amira Posner

Amira Posner is Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Manitoba. In addition to working with individuals, couples and families providing therapy in a secure and safe setting, she is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Amira is also a certified hypnotherapist.

Amira Posner

July 7, 2023 • 4 minutes

You are no longer alone.
Let’s get started. You deserve a chance to start receiving support now.
My services are covered under many different insurance plans.
cta bg img