I'm Carole

Hello! I’m Dr. Carole Swiecicki, a licensed clinical psychologist with a 15 year career in helping people overcome trauma. I am also an infertility survivor, an IVF warrior, and a mom.

When you are faced with infertility, the fact that your path to parenthood was not what you thought it would be (or what it is for the 7 in 8 people not facing infertility) has an impact. Moving through the steps in the infertility journey can leave us not feeling like ourselves – the whole process is sometimes surreal.

And while that may seem surprising to some, it is important to remember that infertility is a disease. It is defined by the World Health Organization as “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”

It is completely normal to not always feel like yourself when you are managing a disease and the many treatments that come with that.

I am a very Type A person and generally pretty silly in my personal life. I like predictability and control, and I also like to laugh and do silly dances around the kitchen. Those two traits don’t always seem like they’d go together, but they work for me! 😊 Infertility and the related assisted reproductive technologies takes so much control. And while there are ways to combat that, it is still hard to handle. It can weigh on you and you don’t necessarily feel like yourself. I didn’t always feel like being silly after doing injections in my abdomen, you know?

I started painting after my first miscarriage, and I found I really loved it.  I don’t always find time to do it, but when I do, there is a zone I get in that is both fun and relaxing. 

And while some of that is normal, I do want to note that it is important to keep an eye on how much this feeling invades your time and well-being. Are you so “not yourself” that you aren’t enjoying anything, or doing any activities you used to? Those are signs of Major Depression – which is one of the most common mental health conditions and certainly co-occurs with infertility. It also is very treatable by a mental health professional – and talking with a therapist or physician can be really helpful.

But if you are reading this and realizing that you hadn’t noticed the old you in a while, this is your sign that you can get some of that back even now!

“How do we move forward in our fertility journeys AND feel like ourselves more?”

So how do we move forward in our fertility journeys AND feel like ourselves more? The answer may seem simpler than you realize (it’s a bit like the Good Witch telling Dorothy she had the power all along…). One powerful way you can do this is by scheduling and doing activities the “old you” really enjoyed.

I said it sounded simple! But if you think about it, are you saying, “Gee, it HAS been a really long time since I did (fill in activity you used to love)?” Spending time doing things we enjoy actually contributes to a better mood overall, and helps us have a better mood when we have to do things that we don’t love so much. In fact, research shows that scheduling AND doing positive behaviors (doing them is key!) – even if you didn’t really feel like doing them when the time came – have a really positive impact on our emotions.

This is something that is especially important to think about for your own self-care along the entire motherhood journey. Making space to do things that bring you joy or fulfillment feed your well-being. Regardless of where your journey leads you – doing these things are very important for your happiness in those next phases, too. If your journey leads you to having a child, you will only have less time to do things like read or walk the beach – but if you make space to do it now, you will be practiced at it and be in a better place to find 10 minutes to do it then – and model self-care for your child.

What is your version of “dance like nobody is watching?”  What brings you joy?

So, I’m issuing you a challenge! Make a list of things that you really love doing (even if you don’t feel like doing them right this minute). What have been a few things in your life that bring you true, authentic joy? We are talking, “dance like nobody’s watching, I love this no matter how silly I look and no matter who else likes it” happiness. (If you can’t think of any of these, activities that you kind of like will work okay to start with!) Is it getting a pedicure? Do it! Yoga? Watch a Zoom class or see if there is a local class in the park. Perhaps it’s binge watching Million Dollar Listing New York? (This is one of my favvvvves!) Watch a show this week just because you like it. These activities, as silly as they may sound, can make that monitoring appointment next week a little more bearable. And the more of them you do, the more you will start noticing that you are the same “old you,” still in there waiting to be found.

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Guide to navigating infertility

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