Coping Tips For Empty Arm Syndrome

There is a strong societal expectation that couples will go on to have children within a "reasonable" amount of time. When this doesn't happen, it follows that a couple feels somehow abnormal or flawed. This is a very hard self-judgment to face.

That's why it's important to read and learn about methods of coping in the face of infertility. Infertility may be the most difficult challenge you'll ever experience, but experts say that the key to getting through it all intact is acknowledgment of your situation. So says Kate Marosek, who has counseled infertile couples in Washington, D.C. for more than a decade.  

"It's normal to feel a monumental sense of loss, to feel stressed, sad, or overwhelmed," says Marosek. "Don't chastise yourself for feeling this way."

Banish Blame

Rather, says Marosek, a couple needs to face and accept these feelings, even embrace them, in order to move past them. Blame must be banished from your inner vocabulary. Try to resist the desire to turn on yourself in anger. Don't allow thoughts such as, "I shouldn't have waited so long," or, "This is my punishment for having that abortion," to enter your head. There are just too many ways for you to take this on your shoulders: you could have lost that extra weight, or spent more time exercising. It's not helpful to indulge these negative thoughts.

According to Yakov M. Epstein, who co-wrote the book Getting Pregnant When You Thought You Couldn't, there is a tendency for people to get caught up in patterns of negative thinking and this exacerbates the emotional pain, which in turn will hamper your ability to cope. "Instead of berating yourself, look forward to how you and your partner are going to manage the situation," says Epstein, who is also a psychologist at Rutgers University.

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Whenever thoughts pop up that begin with, "could have," or, "should have," you need to substitute the truth: your infertility is not your fault. No matter what mistakes or wrong decisions you might have made, these are past history and you cannot change them. The only thing you can affect is your future and this is where you need to focus.

Fertility brings a feeling of isolation which can be combated by encouraging a team spirit between you and your partner, who, after all, is going through the same situation alongside you. Help each other to get through this crisis and never succumb to accusations or laying blame one upon the other for your fertility issues. But remember that the fact that you are having the same crisis does not mean that you share the exact same feelings at one and the same time. It means, rather, that you need to watch your partner and try to understand his experience of the situation. "If you're taking care of each other emotionally, you can unite to fight the problem," says Marosek.

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