Maybe you have always known you wanted to be a parent. Perhaps the maternal/paternal feelings didn’t come until later in your life. There are those who have actively sought out parenthood. Or maybe the transition came without warning. However the journey unfolds, parenthood is an exciting time. Many claim that the day of their child’s birth is the best day of their lives. But unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan. There are chances of miscarriages, infertility, and loss of child. With those tragic experiences come feelings of sadness, anger, grief, guilt, and shame. How do people get through these horrible tragedies? In today’s post, we want to talk about coping with reproductive issues. And share our own stories of our therapists helping patients through this distressing time.
Cristina Panaccione, LPC – Owner
I have to say that infertility and miscarriage are the most emotionally impactful cases I work with. There’s a lot of blame and shame attached with loss of a baby or the inability to conceive. In my experience, I’ve worked one on one with women who are struggling with grief of an unborn baby, going through the physical pains of miscarriage, and trying to start over again all while pretending that she is ok. We take our time and process through the grief symptoms and then begin to heal and she can then decide if this is something she and her partner want to attempt again.
I’ve worked with medical mysteries where there are no real answers as to why they can’t get pregnant. I’ve also worked with couples who are sad, angry, frustrated, confused…you name it! We focus on maintaining the connection of the couple and how to talk through difficult feelings with each other. Not every story had a happy ending, and for some I don’t know what happened after they worked through their initial emotional struggles. But I have seen some ridiculously cute babies come out of this (not always on their parents time line!!) and I’ve watched people end one chapter and start another who are now the coolest Aunts and Uncles and are finding peace and fulfillment. I’ve seen adoptions, and I’ve seen heartbreak.
The biggest thing to get out of all of this is that you are allowed to cry, be angry, and feel all these powerful emotions. You have the right to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself breaks and take days off as you need them. And in the end, no matter what, you will be ok.
Alyssa Thomas – LPC, CAADC, NCC
I started working with this client almost three years ago and she had been struggling with infertility for years. She began therapy just a few months after her son was born. She and her husband conceived their first and only child through a myriad of fertility treatments. My client’s anxiety was severe as she worried about her son’s health constantly and through weekly therapy to process her thoughts and feelings about the situation, in combination as well as regularly seeing a psychiatrist for medication management, she began to improve.
Two years into treatment, she and her husband decided to utilize fertility treatments again in hopes of a second child. Unfortunately, it was not successful and my client’s anxiety resumed in severity as a result of the miscarriage. We walked through the grief process as she struggled with this loss. While she is certainly and understandably continuing to grieve this loss, we have begun talking about alternative options for children in the future in sessions as of late to help provide hope in her goal of expanding her family.
Click here to watch my video regarding women’s counseling!
Susan Rosemeier – MA
I worked with a woman who was struggling with infertility after having a child previously. After a couple years of trying, she came to therapy struggling with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sadness. She felt guilt over discontentment with having “only” one child, her anxiousness was rooted in the reality of growing older, and sadness stemmed from being unable to fully enjoy the present moments. After several months of meeting together in individual and couples sessions, she grew to find contentment, meaning, and joy in every day life – regardless of circumstances outside of her control. This change became possible by not only allowing herself to fully experience her range of emotions, but also creating new perspectives, learning how to have compassion on herself, and strengthening those relationships closest to her.
Click here to view my approach using the Gottman method at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling.
Two years ago, a woman came to me looking for therapy. She had explained that she experienced a stillbirth a few months prior. And she has not been able to cope with her emotions since. The woman was reporting high anxiety and depression, constantly doubting herself and turning to the Internet for answers. She reported that she was feeling afraid of trying to have another baby and experiencing the same thing.
During therapy, we worked together to better understand this traumatic event in her life. We worked to understand this was not her fault. And that there was nothing that she could have done to change it. She worked to increase her ability to communicate her feelings to her husband, who was trying to understand her pain, as well as his own. During her time, she came to acknowledge her feelings and face her fears. She learned coping skills to better manage her anxiety and depression, and found ways to love herself again. Now, this woman is the mother of a beautiful baby girl, and reported that she could not be happier.
We Want to Help You Cope
Coping with reproductive issues isn’t easy. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult problems to come to terms with. But at Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling, we want to remind you that you are not alone in facing these demons. We pledge to do our best to help you and your partner get through this together through love, compassion, and empathy. CPA has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you today!