Infertility Takes Toll on Romance, Relationships


"But groups are much more proactive than that. I often work with patients to explore other ways to be more socially involved – maybe with friends they hadn't seen in a long time or not had close relations with. We often get creative."

Couples should also work on communication, according to Applegarth, who said men and women often "disconnect" while trying to get pregnant.

"The wife or female partner tends to over-communicate and be over-emotional and caught up in this," she said. "That is the only thing she wants to talk about and it's always on her mind…If she is distressed, he doesn't know what to do to make her feel better and the tendency is for the husband to withdraw emotionally. That's when it breaks down. He feels helpless and she thinks he isn't trying or doesn't want the child as much as she does."

She advises putting a 10-minute time limit on discussion the topic. "You cannot talk about it all night long or through the football game he is desperate to watch," she said. "There's got to be a time limit, then he's more willing to listen."

Family members also need to "step back" and not demand to know what's going on. "It's unfair and invasive of a couple's boundaries," she said.

But most marriages, if they have a loving "basic core" can get stronger through infertility, according to Applegarth.

Meanwhile, Heather Chatfield said she is "one of the lucky ones," who has supportive family and friends.

Her brother has three children, the youngest one conceived and born in the middle of Chatfield's journey. She loves her nephews, but says, "It's painful to watch my parents be such wonderful grandparents to those boys knowing that we may never have a grandchild to hand to them."

Jessica Barkley knows exactly what she means.

"It's really about having your head on straight," she said. "This is really not for the weak of heart. It's a roller coaster."

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