Friday, April 13, 2012


About a year into the TTC journey, it became clear that I needed to find a therapist. The continual monthly reminders that things were not working was a source of stress that was greatly affecting daily life. Add in the fact that it seemed everyone around me (be it in real life or on internet support groups) was able to achieve pregnancy and I was one big ball of anxiety.

I'm no stranger to therapy. From the time I was a teenager, I would periodically see a therapist to manage my depression as well as for referrals for medication (my family's preferred form of dealing with these issues).  So when I started as a process of seeking help, I figured it was just a matter of finding someone who I could connect with. I mean, how hard could it be?

Finding a needle in a haystack would have been easier.

The issue with infertility is that it is a disease that few people understand. Because of this, finding a counselor becomes incredibly difficult as most don't know how to address the grief and anxiety that comes from treatments, waiting and recovering from loss. I had one well-meaning counselor who was dynamite at dealing with depression and anxiety as well as marital stress. But when Grey and I started talking with her about infertility, she could not connect. I remember one session where I had to spell out that I was grieving from the months of failed natural cycles and though she did have the "ah ha" moment, I knew that I could't invest my energy training her on how to help me.

So, I began looking for support. First joined a support group, which was helpful for a time, but quickly fell apart when our leader was no longer there to guide us (mind you, I have no problem with support groups, but one person CAN alter a group dynamic). Following my mother trying to push adoption of my second cousin, I decided it was time to get serious and solicited names of counselors from my clinic as well as from trusted sources.

What I ended up with was a list of 10 counselors in the Seattle area, all of them reputable but with limits as far was when they had appointments (all of them were booked solid), what insurance they took and when they could meet.

Long story short, it took about 6 months of talking, hunting and strong-arming my insurance to finally find Dee. And that process would have been a LOT longer if all those counselors hadn't helped me with suggestions of who else to talk with if things didn't line up.

The anatomy of an infertility counselor is different than most. First of all, everyone single one of them have been touched by infertility. One counselor I talked with made of point of saying she did not recommend counselors who hadn't lived with infertility as there was no way they could understand this disease otherwise (and she had plenty of examples from those failed attempts). Another thing that is important is that they have all resolved, be it through adoption, IVF, surrogacy, donor gamete or even choosing to live child-free. A final component is that they have additional training to deal specifically with infertility, be it Mind/Body (one I met actually trained with Ali Domer) or some sort of cognitive therapy.

Enter Dee. I met her in November 2011 just as I was start Lupron and finishing BCPs for IVF#1. During our couple of phone conversations it became very clear to both of us that I needed to be seen ASAP as I was processing why too much shit and not very well. Dee specializes in EMDR, a form of therapy that is specialized with trauma-related disorders. Dee's thought (and I agree with her) is that infertility is a form of trauma. Add in the fact that I'm a survivor of an emotionally abusive parent and it became clear I'm a textbook patient.

Dee helped me during IVF #1 with processing my fear. A lot of our sessions where spent with her letting me talk, allowing her to gain the necessary information to start tailoring therapy. Following my first miscarriage, I took a break from therapy, thinking that I needed to focus on healing and preparing for FET #1. With news of my second miscarriage, I knew I wasn't doing well and immediately contacted Dee for an appointment.

This past Wednesday, Grey and I met with Dee to talk about how we were processing this recent loss. It was a hard appointment, where it became clear that we both needed to talk. But what we came away with was a plan for moving forward. Starting in a couple of weeks, I will begin EMDR. Dee has all the information she needs and wants to begin working through all the trauma I've experienced, both recently as well as past. In addition, she wants to have sessions where Grey and I met with her together. Dee was quick to point out how common it is for infertility to drive couples apart, leading to separations and even affairs. Though Grey and I are not at that point, she feels that the check-ins will help prevent further destruction caused by this horrible disease if not help strength our relationship. In fact, Dee firmly believes that most couples will emerge from this experience with stronger marriages/partnerships that fair better than the average couple.

There's a lot of work to be done. I recognize now that infertility isn't the sole cause of a lot of my unhappiness and that resolving is no longer just about bringing home a baby. But as Grey and I have talked more, we've both realized that the one gift infertility has given us is the push to finally address all the dysfunction and rot that exists in our lives. Though initially it was easier to pretend it didn't exist, we now are so emotionally fragile that we have to address it. Who knew that some aspects of infertility could actually be a blessing.


  1. I think it's awesome that you are doing this! I am trained as a counselor, but don't practice. I've been thinking about going to see someone myself to talk through all the emotions and trauma that IF brings. I think you're right about how important it is to find someone who has dealt with IF themselves. This is journey you just can't understand unless you've gone through is yourself. Best of luck as you continue to see Dee!

  2. Therapy is such a brave but rewarding step... hard to go through but certainly worth it. Your so wise to search to find someone exactly right for you and I agree that IF is a trauma... and every turn adds new trauma. Thinking of you xo

  3. Therapy is CRUCIAL during times like these. I am so glad you found someone great. I kid my therapist that I should have a plaque up on her wall for the patient hall of fame :) I'm glad you and Grey can go together too...DH and I haven't done that but I often consider it. Hang in there sweet girl.

  4. I had never considered therapy until my failed IVF. I realized I was out of coping mechanisms and needed a help. A friend who had also dealt with IF had been gently suggesting it for months, and I finally took her up on her recommendations. I never realized how helpful it would be to talk for an hour. But I think it has saved me (and at the bargain price of $17 per hour!). Best of luck and you go through the healing process. It sounds like you have the right person to guide you through it all.

  5. I always refer to infertililty and loss as trauma. We have PTSD and it's very real. I think the fact that you and your hubs are facing all of this head on and making it a priority is something to be admired. My therapist is wonderful, but her hours are very limited so it makes it a real problem to see her, let alone find time to come with my husband. If things happen to get worse out here in IF land, I may suggest he make the effort to come with me. It's hard enough already to deal with being unable to get pregnant, but to loose that pregnancy is very traumatizing.

  6. Therapy helps J and I too with coping skills in this battle with infertility. I'm glad that you have Dee.

  7. I'm really proud of you (is it ok that I say that?) for getting help when you need it. It's sometimes the hardest thing to do in situations like this.
    Sending lots of love your way!

  8. I am so glad that you found Dee. I also did sessions with an infertility therapist (who came via Resolve) and they were invaluable.

  9. It's so true that resolving infertility is not just about bringing home a baby. There are so many residual effects. I, too, am a (young) counsellor and have thought about being an infertility counsellor in the future. I also think EMDR is quite applicable to infertility, especially when there are losses involved. Right now I'm searching for a counsellor but live in a small town and there are no IF counsellors. Also it's a bit odd to receive care from a potential colleague.

  10. I'm so glad you found Dee and that she will see you and Grey together. That's so important. I really lucked out when looking for an IF therapist because there's an excellent one at my fertility clinic. I switched from the general psychiatrist I'd been seeing for 8 yrs to start seeing someone who really gets it.

    I relate to your saying that IF/loss has brought up relationship issues that needed to be dealt with, anyway. That's totally the case with my marriage and I do appreciate how IF has positively influenced our intimacy in that way.

    I hope you find the EMDR to be helpful and therapeutic.

  11. It sounds like Dee will be able to help you and Grey out in numerous of ways. Having a therapist that specializes in trauma seems like a very good way to go during infertility. I was constantly telling my therapist that I thought I was suffering from PTSD after my surgery.

    This whole thing is traumatic and I agree, its not just about the bring home the baby. It seeps into every aspect of our lives. I hope Dee can help you and Grey out.

  12. It's really great that you found someone who knows what it's like. When I looked for a therapist in my area, I only found one person who had some lived experience and she wasn't currently practising. It made me commit to my plan to go into private practice one day when this is all over (I already have a social work degree).

    I did research when I took a sex therapy class on infertility and the impact on the sexual relationship -- I wasn't surprised to find that the research was that the sexual relationship was drastically impacted, but I was surprised that the rate of marriage failure was lower than the average rate.

    And finally... I'll be interested to know what your experience with EMDR is... I'm not sure if I buy it. My current counsellor does EMDR and she offered it to me but I'm a skeptic.

  13. Cristy, your posts lately have really given me so much to think about. I'm glad that you're returning to therapy. Since joining the blog community, I've found myself talking more about my experience with therapy than I ever have before. I keep encouraging people to go if they (or their partner) feel that they need help, but I completely agree that finding the *right* therapist is essential, and can be hard. BG and I saw different people while in grad school, and our experiences were so very different. He had a hard time with someone who couldn't relate to his experiences, while I met with a therapist (who practiced CBT) who was very good at asking the right questions and giving a helpful perspective, and having the patience to let me understand where I needed to go next, even though now I see that she must have known long before I did.

    You have been such an inspiration lately, staying true to the name of your blog and finding the silver lining in your experiences. I know this road your on is hard and bumpy, and I just want to say thanks for letting us ride along with you. I very much appreciate hearing your thoughts and insights on your journey and IF in general.

    I hope you're having a happy, lazy Sunday. Take care!

  14. One sentence - You are an absolute inspiration to us all :-)

  15. I wanted to thank you for the sock exchange. My socks arrived from Trisha at the elusive second line this morning. Check out my post today, they are really lovely. Thank you, I am really looking forward to giving them an airing at my next appointment.

  16. I am so glad you found Dee. Finding a wonderful therapist is such a good thing. I haven't gone through as much as you with IF, but I also have an emotionally abusive parent. My therapist hasn't gone through IF, but she is amazing. Like you said, if it wasn't for IF my Hubby and I would probably still have horrible communication skills. Going through this has taught us to talk and really work through things.

  17. It is HARD to find a good therapist, especially when you need something specific (says the therapist). I'm SO glad you found Dee!!


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