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.

Struggling to conceive can really take you by surprise. (Read more about the range of reactions to infertility here.) After you see several negative tests in a row, many of us start trying to “take action” to make things happen beyond “just having sex.” There are some really great evidence-based resources for this – things like cycle monitoring and timed intercourse during your fertile window. (Side note, although lots of us monitor our temperatures to track ovulation, reproductive endocrinologists and the ASRM state that temperature monitoring is not a reliable method of improving fertility! And to think the many months and money I spent on a fancy ovulation-predicting thermometer.) We can wind up spending a lot of time and energy trying to increase our odds of conception.

For women who are still not pregnant after 6 to 12 months, going to a specialist and getting an infertility diagnosis is both daunting and an admission that your efforts are not working (we’ll talk more about that unhelpful thought in another post!). Then comes the time and added stress of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs). These also are very prescribed (taking medications at specific times, having sexual intercourse on the days you are told (or avoiding intercourse as instructed…) and take a lot of effort and mental energy.

It is a LOT!

Your life is defined by many unique moments – no one moment defines the entirety of you.

And in the midst of these cycles, it can very much feel like infertility defines who you are. Not only have you spent a year or more wanting to be and stay pregnant, you need to focus on following instructions that includes medications several times a day, monitoring appointments at the clinic sometimes daily – it is understandable that infertility is occupying a good amount of your brain space. But you can easily become preoccupied with thoughts of infertility.

While some of this focus can help you to stick to the medical recommendations, in the midst of it we can sometimes lose sight of who we are and what brings us joy.

“It is understandable that infertility is occupying a good amount of your brain space. But you can easily become preoccupied with thoughts of infertility..”

It can help to stop and remind yourself of what really defines you. Yes, infertility may be a big part of your story right now. In the middle of an ART cycle, it impacts a lot of your behaviors. But this moment and struggle is not the whole of you – it is but one chapter in a book that tells a much more varied and interesting story about you.
Think back to when you were a child. What defined you then? Often times, it was your interests and relationships at the time. Perhaps your day was defined by the number of shapes you could find in the clouds. Or learning a new skill, like a cartwheel. As you grew, perhaps you gained interests in reading mysteries, or painting, or pursuing a degree and career. You had friends that contributed a lot to your life. Some of them you may have still, and others likely are now part of the past, part of THAT chapter of your life.

The truth is, our lives have phases that are defined by different things. None of these phases, interests, or activities define our entire life or our worth. Every person, every being is worthy of kindness, compassion, and love. Every person has the capability of contributing to their relationships, the community, and the greater society. Infertility often gives us blinders as we focus on “solving” the problem. I encourage you to widen your focus a bit. Remind yourself of the other things you enjoy. And remember that YOU are not going to “solve” this alone. Infertility is a disease. It effects 1 in 8 of us. There is a whole specialty of physicians to help with the medical part – make sure you are with a physician you trust, and let them guide the medical part. Your job is to focus on you – because you are worth it.

We all need support to help keep us afloat.

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Guide to navigating infertility

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