Meeting with the Shrink

November 23, 2009

While I’m down here, I thought it would be a good idea to talk to the psychologist at the clinic. She actually had two children via DE so I thought she would be ideal.

I had been experiencing a lot of stress in the last week, which I didn’t expect. Since I decided to take this route, I have felt mostly positive about it and sure that with a 50 percent success rate, we would get our baby. But the closer I get to the transfer date, the more reticent I become. I have all these doubts and also, there is that nagging feeling of ‘what if?’ Let’s not even get into all the what ifs that float around one’s head! Let’s just say there is a definite giving up of having one’s own genetic child. It’s like a little death. This was exacerbated by the ultrasound tech from the week before, with her opinion that with my amount of follicles I should be able to get pregnant. I realize, of course, that she spoke out of turn and that her opinion is completely unfounded; but still, there’s that kernel that’s doubt on one side and hope on the other.

Apparently these feelings are all completely normal. Phew! The psychologist said that there is a very good chance that on the day of transfer, I will still be feeling torn. Wonderful. Yet somehow, knowing in advance what I will feel is oddly comforting.

We talk about the fact that I have to make room for the husband’s feelings too. I find it very difficult, because I know that he is hugely excited that we might finally be parents. Yet he also says he feels my grief. He says that it hurts him that we won’t have our own child, and I believe him. Sometimes when I’m really cranky, I have to work very hard at believing him. But in a relationship you do have to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

A big issue that we discuss is the difference between privacy and keeping a secret. We have told a number of people that we consider our support base. They’ve been through the whole infertility journey with us and although I wish we’d told fewer people about this donor cycle, it was such a huge leap for me that I needed more support than usual. Thankfully, all of these friends are the type of people that are good at respecting privacy. But it occurred to me recently that while I’ve created a cocoon of support for myself, I have inadvertently compromised the privacy of any child that may result. I feel horribly guilty about this. I’m not even pregnant yet and I’m already making potentially bad decisions for my kid. Or thinking of myself first. Aaack!

Regarding all of this, the shrink seems to think it’s natural to need support and that frankly, you could go crazy by keeping it all to yourself without the ability to lean on someone else. She also pointed out that within a couple, each person will experience the event differently and will require different people for support at different times. She suggested that we approach everyone we told with the request that they guard our privacy. She also said that a good policy is to separate people into two groups: the need-to-know basis group and the support group. We can use this criteria going forward so that in the end, our child will not be known in the community as “that donor kid”!

Speaking of kids, she also explained how she told her own children about their origins. The prevailing wisdom these days is to tell kids earlier rather than later, just like adoption. There have been some longitudinal studies on adopted children that show that an honest approach from earlier ages creates the most stable children and family life. She herself started talking to her child before he was born. She repeated it over and over and refined her story so that she became comfortable with it. She talked to her child when he was an infant and didn’t understand a single word and in this way, her child grew up with the story of how he was conceived. He does not find it weird or unnatural and she also said that using adult language makes it all matter-of-fact. Kids will ask questions when they are ready and they will absorb the information and try it on for size in myriad ways. But she said if you have an open relationship from that start, you can always trust kids to come to you whenever they have a follow-up question or want to have a conversation about it. This is all very reassuring and I feel like I’ve left this meeting with firm expectations and a plan.

Lots of clinics have associated psychologists that specialize in infertility or donor cycles. I highly recommend it if you haven’t talked to someone already. Hopefully your experience will give you some peace of mind.