Over the past year-and-a-half I have had the pleasure of researching and writing quite a bit on the impact IVF has on couples and the burden that is born by taxpayers in Canada. The province of Quebec, in recognizing this, has been funding IVF treatments and thus reducing the stress on families and the costs on taxpayers. My hope, and the hope of organizations like Conceivable Dreams, http://www.conceivabledreams.org/ is that other provinces in Canada will step forward, understand the true impact of infertility and in the very least, fund IVF treatments while researching the causes of infertility to help those in need.
One area which I had neglected to review was the toll infertility takes on the couple’s extended family – specifically grandparents – both current grandparents and the future grandparents. I found some articles on the Internet on IVF and grandparents and there were written by some pretty amazing people who have gone through IVF treatments and they discuss the difficult time they had discussing their feelings with their families and friends but found solace in their grandparents and the support – financial and emotional – whic helped them through the treatments whether successfully or unsuccessfully. I also found much discussion around the shame associated with infertility and the typical responses to infertility from those unprepared to have this significant discussion.
There is no question that struggling to get pregnant can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of both women and men – women unable to carry the baby and men unable to create the child. It impacts their relationship and can cause permanent discord which some relationships are never able to recover from. Imagine a couple going through this difficult and challenging time without support from their parents? Who could they turn to for support? What if they have no close friends who understand infertility? It can be very isolating, I would imagine.
In researching the role that grandparents play in infertility issues, I came across Dr.Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., the executive director of The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, Boston IVF who pointed out that; “The desire to start a family is a strong one, and failing to achieve that can impact everything from the marital relationship to interactions with future grandparents and friends who become pregnant.”
Unfortunately, many couples find it easier to hide their infertility troubles than announce it to family and friends which often results in these couples feeling isolated and adds additional stress to them. I read, and have heard, from the many people that I have spoken to, that couple resort to telling others that they have decided to not have children, rather that confessing that they are having fertility issues. That is very sad that there is a stigma attached to infertility among those who have not had to go through it, yet those who have had challenges getting pregnant fully understand the stress and would be more than willing to offer support without hesitation. Often in discussions about children, it rarely comes up that there were difficulties unless the conversation starts there. Couples assume they are alone with their infertility issues and that it was easy for other couples to have children, but often they realize that is far from the case.
I also found some great resources for grandparents if they want to have this discussion with their children / grandchildren around the issue of infertility at www.Grandparents.com, in an article entitles, “10 Ways to Support a Fertility-Challenged Couple”.
This author of this article suffered from infertility issues and required IVF treatments in order to have her baby, and she points out ways (prospective) grandparents can help, more than financially, the couple and outlines ways in which the grandparents can actually cause more harm than good by withholding certain information or pressuring the couple.
I absolutely agree with this author and feel that the common sense rule applies here (and in SO many other aspects of our lives). If after reviewing the scenario in your head doing or saying something might hurt or offend the other person – or you if you were in their shoes – then it’s best to not say it at all. Chances are they have already thought it and stressed about it.
I also think it’s best to get the issue out there, especially to parents in order to set the ground rules. Most couple do not expect to have issues getting pregnant and after having issues, research has showed that they felt they should have started seeking answers earlier, but clearly going through it is a long, stressful, frustrating process and having a loved-one shoot out a comment like; “Relax” or “Stop worrying” or “It will happen for you. It just takes time”, may be seen as being encouraging by those who say it, but show the couple they have no support there.
Link to the original article here; http://www.grandparents.com/health-and-wellbeing/emotional-wellbeing/supporting-a-fertility-challenged-couple
Another great article I came across is here; http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100122/Infertility-can-lead-to-isolation-and-impact-on-couplee28099s-relationships.aspx, outlines how infertility can bring a couple closer together but also leads to them holding back information from prospective grandparents in order to keep their stress levels lower since most parents would do anything for their children and will try to offer the best suggestion to help the couple conceive when the couple just needs support and understanding.
This puts the grandparents in an awkward position as they want to help out and do what is best for their children but usually by the time they find out that their children are suffering from infertility, the couple has already met with specialists, confirmed the infertility, read a ton of articles, Googled it, and have spoken to friends or acquaintances who themselves had fertility issues. Deep into the stressful period of infertility, couples usually have little time or patience for questions or suggestions which show a lack of understanding of the actual root cause of the infertility or the stress the couple has been holding in.
There are also some wonderful Canadian sources, such as this blog posted by @TJZmommy on her site “Telling My Story”. http://tjzmommy.blogspot.ca/2012/09/the-impact-of-ivf-on-grandparents.html about the support she received through her battle with infertility.
If you have been impacted by infertility I welcome you to share your story in the comment section of my blog and I guarantee you will be supported by me, and the many readers who have expressed their support for IVF Funding across Canada.
You should also take a moment to check out Conceivable Dreams and please follow @OHIP4IVF on Twitter or the hash tag #OHIP4IVF to support government funding for IVF.
I support OHIP funding for IVF here in Ontario, and strongly feel that helping other couples become parents, who really want to be parents, should be accomplished without the financial burden that comes with infertility – for the couple and the taxpayers.
You can also help the cause by sending a note to the Minister of Health in your province to tell them that funding IVF treatments is the right thing to do, both emotionally and fiscally for everyone involved.
The Ministers of Health are;
Alberta – Fred Horne; firstname.lastname@example.org
Saskatchewan – Dwight Duncan; email@example.com
B.C. – Michael de Jong; firstname.lastname@example.org
Manitoba – Theresa Oswald; email@example.com
New Brunswick – Madeleine (Mado) Dubé; firstname.lastname@example.org
Nova Scotia – Maureen MacDonald; email@example.com
Newfoundland – Susan Sullivan; SusanSullivan@gov.nl.ca
PEI – Doug Currie – firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada – The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq – Minister_Ministre@hc-sc.gc.ca
*Disclosure: I am honoured to share this story of IVF as a valued and compensated member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team.
- IVF Part 2. Provincial Funding of IVF and Infertility are needed. Addressing Reader Emails. (urbandaddy.wordpress.com)