Most of you reading this post probably do not have an “official” Fertility Plan, but likely have given much thought and consideration to how and when you will have a baby. Creating an “official” Fertility Plan is a very effective way for couples to cope with the difficult emotions that are a result of an infertility diagnosis. Also, a Fertility Plan is helpful in navigating the decision-making process of treatment and family-building options. Perhaps the biggest benefit of developing a Fertility Plan with your spouse or partner, is that it offers the opportunity to communicate effectively about the important points related to treatment and family-building options.
A Fertility Plan does not have to be a formal written plan, but I strongly encourage you to have a form of documentation that is written that you and your spouse or partner each have a copy of. This helps clarify exactly what each of you understands to be the plan, and it is good to be able to refer back to. A Fertility Plan is not meant to be an ironclad agreement. Rather, it is best if thought of as a compass giving you direction when you may feel lost and unsure. It helps give you some control over a life experience of which you have limited or no control at times.
There is not an exact outline to be followed when doing your Fertility Plan, but most Fertility Plans answer the following questions:
- Are there any family building options you will not consider? These may include adoption, using donor sperm, donor egg, or a gestational carrier.
- If pursuing medical treatment, what length of time do you see yourself devoting to the treatment process? And/or how long do you pursue one avenue of treatment before moving in a different direction?
- What are your physical, spiritual, emotional and financial limits?
- If one path of family building is not successful, how will you proceed?
- What is the agreed upon strategy for coming to compromise if your views or goals differ?
It may take weeks or months to do a complete Fertility Plan, but having one is worth the time you invest in doing it. If you find that you and your partner have a difficult time doing a Fertility Plan, or if the thought of doing one overwhelms or scares you, counseling regarding couples communication and decision-making can be helpful.
–The above was authored by guest contributor Kerry Christifano, M.A., LPC. Kerry is the Executive Director of Counseling and Mind/Body Infertility Services for Complementary Care Group for Infertility, located in Kansas City, MO. She has been helping individuals and couples with infertility-related psychological and emotional issues utilizing mind/body approaches since 2005. In addition, she makes herself available to Reproductive Resource Center (RRC) patients as they face infertility issues.
*image courtesy of R_x-renee barron / creative commons