Spotlight: The Nine, Jill Oulman

I’m so excited that my good friend, Jill Oulman agreed to guest blog this week! Jill is a Fertility and Marriage Therapist out of Denver, Colorado. Her practice focuses on helping individuals navigate through the emotions involved in conception, pregnancy, motherhood, infertility, post-partum and grief and loss. Ten years ago (yikes, gasp!!), we used to work together in the fashion industry in NYC. I asked Jill to give us  a few thoughts on TTC and infertility . . . Thank you, Jill!! Xx

“Even though our brain knows that fairy tales aren’t real, we often hope and dream for the perfect man, perfect home, perfect baby, our own happily ever after.  But what happens when a baby is part of your dreams but not your reality?  Many women interpret infertility or pregnancy loss as failure.  We have been told all our lives that we can ‘have it all’ and it can be embarrassing, confusing, disappointing and frustrating when our personal goals include having a baby and those dreams remain unfulfilled.  This is one area in our lives where we can’t work harder to make it happen.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t work.  Unintended pregnancy loss occurs in 15-20% of pregnancies and 15% of couples will experience infertility at some point in their lives.  It can help to know you are not alone.  The support and compassion of a therapist and groups can be just what women need to transition and process their emotions.

Many women report feeling alone in their fertility journey.  And for some women losing a baby feels even more isolating.  For starters, it is not something widely talked about in our culture.  This silence can lead many women to feel alone, ashamed and fearful, which can lead to feelings of failure and self-blame.  Did I drink too much coffee?  Did I work out too much?  Did I not work out enough?  There are many reasons why a pregnancy sometimes doesn’t stick and more often than not, our actions don’t cause them.  If we’re not willing to be transparent with our feelings and our struggles, we can assume the worst and allow our emotions to tell us what our brains know isn’t true.  Women do so many things in groups; shopping, working out, happy hour, even going to the bathroom. Why are we so afraid to share our loss with others and seek support in a group setting?

Additionally, infertility takes a toll on relationships.  One partner can blame the other, sex becomes mechanical and communication breaks down.  Men and women often “disconnect’ while trying to get pregnant.  The key in the process is communication.  “The wife or female partner can tend to over-communicate and be over-emotional and caught up in this,” according to Linda Applegarth, director of psychological services at the The Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.. “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.”

We don’t need clinical research to tell us that talking can feel good.  Opening up and sharing your story with others, and just as importantly, hearing their very similar stories can be like salve to an open wound.  Whether it’s to your partner, your friends or strangers in a group, opening up and sharing can be the release you need to begin healing and moving forward, whatever the goal.”

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