Pathways to Parenthood

Fertility Challenges: Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch

Alice Domar, Ph.D. is the psychologist who is most recognized as an international leader in the field of mind/body medicine and women’s health. She is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, and the premier researcher of the link between stress and infertility. Her book is informative and friendly, delivering the message that emotional well-being has a profound effect on health with sound science and heartfelt compassion. For more on Dr. Domar visit www.domarcenter.com

The Couple’s Guide to Fertility by Gary Berger, Marc Goldstein, and Mark Fuerst

A comprehensive reference book. The authors examine all the known causes of infertility along with the diagnostic tests associated with each condition. Factual information is interspersed with stories of patients told in their own words. The authors report on all available therapies as well as alternatives to further treatment, including adoption and surrogate parenting. They supply a directory of fertility specialists in the United States and fertility clinics in Canada, and also suggest questions you may want to ask your doctor so you can participate fully in your own care.

Healing the Infertile Family: Strengthening Your Relationship in the Search for Parenthood by Gay Becker

The stress of infertility and the intrusiveness of treatment can often strain the marriage for those going through this painful passage. This book offers encouragement and advice to help couples in maintaining their sexual identity and sense of unity as they face pressure from family and friends, and as they handle the frustrations of treatment.

Wanting Another Child: Coping with Secondary Infertility by Harriet Simons

Those who have a child and then encounter infertility often find themselves even more isolated than those who experience primary infertility. But how do you validate the ache and the loneliness when the world thinks you should just be grateful and get over it?

The Ache for a Child by Debra Bridwell

Written from a Christian perspective, this book offers hope and insight into the emotional side of pregnancy loss and infertility. It takes a candid look into the moral, ethical, medical, and spiritual struggles that infertile couples face. Issues are addressed from the compassionate viewpoint of someone who has been there.

And Hannah Wept : Infertility, Adoption, and the Jewish Couple by Michael Gold

Although there are many books written by and for Christians about the Christian response to infertility, there are not many similar books that speak to issues of faith and infertility for Jewish couples.  This sensitive and compelling book does just.

The Endometriosis Sourcebook by Mary Lou Ballweg and the Endometriosis Association

This is a very technical reference book that is full of information on research, new treatments, alternative treatments, common myths and advice for coping. It also contains personal case histories and useful advice.  It’s a bit heady but some people cope best with lots of technical information.

Sweet Grapes: How to stop being infertile and start living again. by Jean W. Carter and Michael Carter

This book is slanted toward the option of childfree living. It presents and discusses available options and emphasizes that every couple must make a conscious choice about which path to take. The authors reflect on their choice to remain childfree.

What to expect when you’re experiencing infertility: How to cope with the emotional crisis and survive by Debby Peoples and Harriet Ferguson

This book addresses the emotional stages of coming to terms with infertility: crisis, acceptance, resolution, and epilogue. The authors use a question-and-answer format to offer practical advice on how to contend with the emotional ups and downs of infertility – from learning how to communicate feelings more effectively to coping with the losses of failed treatments or miscarriages.

Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence and How they Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives by Lori Leibowitz

This book is a collection of stories told by professional writers about their real lived experiences rather than collected wisdom and advice from medical professionals and other purveyors of expert knowledge.

Web Resources

RESOLVE: National Infertility Support Organization RESOLVE is a national organization specifically created to offer advocacy, support, and information to those experiencing infertility. This organization can connect you with someone to talk to who knows what it’s like to struggle with infertility and its treatment.

The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination Also called INCIID (pronounced “inside”). This is a not-for-profit organization dedicated exclusively to providing easily accessible information to couples experiencing infertility. Their site has a comprehensive directory of infertility resources, links to bulletin boards and chat rooms, news reports on treatment and technology, and regular “Round Table” chat events with recognized experts in the area of infertility treatment. This site is a must-see for the information hungry.

BabyMed.com Several of my infertility patients have mentioned that babymed.com has been a helpful website for them while they were trying to get pregnant. The site contains much helpful information including a tracking calendar for calculating ovulation but it’s quite commercial and you will be advertised to incessantly.

American Society of Reproductive Medicine The ASRM is a professional association (primarily of physicians) devoted to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive medicine and biology. The ASRM is a voluntary non-profit organization. Members must demonstrate the high ethical principles of the medical profession, evidence an interest in reproductive medicine and biology, and adhere to the objectives of the Society. This web page offers a FAQ section including questions like: “How do I know if I could benefit from counseling?” and “How can therapy help me cope with infertility?”.

Endometriosis Association “An organization of women supporting women.” This organization is a non-profit, self-help organization dedicated to keeping up with the latest developments on endometriosis and offering support to those experiencing this medical condition.

Institute for the Study and Treatment of Endometriosis The ISTE supports and conducts basic and clinical research to: (1) elucidate the pathophysiology of endometriosis, (2) clarify the association between endometriosis and infertility, (3) develop new, non-invasive diagnostic techniques, (4) develop and test new preventative and therapeutic measures, and (5) identify medical and societal barriers to the diagnosis of endometriosis.

Infant loss

Coping with Miscarriage: A Simple, Reassuring Guide to Emotional and Physical Healing by Mimi Luebbermann

Just what the title promises. The author explains the physical, emotional, and social effects of miscarriage, giving the reader ample permission to grieve.

Surviving Pregnancy Loss: A Complete Sourcebook for Women and Their Families by Rochelle Friedman and Bonnie Gradstein

Miscarriage and pregnancy loss are painful losses that are often not talked about and families and friends of those who have suffered such a loss often don’t know how best to offer support and comfort during this difficult time of grief.  Friedman and Gradstein cover every possible kind of pregnancy loss with care and compassion, offering information on the physical as well as the emotional aspects of each kind of loss.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah Davis

This sensitive book offers reassurance and encouragement to parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair in the process of grieving the death of a baby by walking them through each step of the grieving process and normalizing it.  Several of my patients continue to go back and re-read passages that were particularly helpful long after the initial stages have passed because the truth is, you never really get “over” the loss of a baby or child.

Pregnancy & Birthing

The American Pregnancy Association is a not for profit organization dedicated to promoting pregnancy wellness, is loaded with useful information and links to other resources—everything from a due date calendar to the latest articles from WebMD.

Good sleep is the foundation of both physical and mental health.  Sleep disruptions are the number one risk factor for postpartum depression in new parents—whether moms, dads, birthparents or adoptive.  The Tuck foundation aims to provide the latest research and information on sleep. Read more at Guide to Pregnancy and Sleep

One of the best gifts you can give your baby is the gift of good sleep.  Sleep habits are learned from the first days of life.  Good sleep habits are foundational for health and emotional wellbeing.  Learn more about teaching your baby good sleep habits: Parent’s Guide to Healthy Sleep

For those expecting multiples, there are not for profit organizations and websites with helpful information on how to take care of yourself and what to expect. Some useful sites include Expecting Twins and the Expecting Multiples FAQs

Joanne Dahill is a DONA certified birth doula in Durham that I have worked closely with to help prevent postpartum depression in a patient who had experienced psychosis after the birth of her second child. Joanne is also a certified massage therapist and Feldenkrais practitioner with many helpful tools and techniques that can help prevent depression by reducing the risk of sleep disturbance.  The benefits of massage are many and have been well documented in the general population as well as with pregnant women and new mothers.

Motherhood without a Partner

Traditionally, families start with a couple, but increasingly, many women are starting their families alone. Some useful sites for those who are choosing to tackle parenthood alone include Single Mothers by Choice and Choosing Single Motherhood.

Adoption, ART and Surrogacy

Adopting after Infertility by Patricia Irwin Johnston is a wonderful resource for anyone going through infertility whether or not they feel that adoption is for them. It addresses all sorts of questions most people don’t dare ask, questions like “does the fact that I still feel pain I about infertility mean I’m not ready to adopt?” Or is there something mean or wrong with my character if I want a child that looks like me? Am I am bad person if I don’t want to adopt a child with a disability or medical problems? Is love something I can just turn on like a tap for any child, or where do I learn it? My patients find this book immensely helpful because it cuts through the platitudes gets straight to the emotional realities.

The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child by Dawn Davenport is a sourcebook of practical information about the ins and outs of international adoption. The 393 pages comes with worksheets and practical suggestions for how to organize all the paperwork you’ll need for this process. This book is engaging and readable, neither too boring nor too superficial, but rather the kind of just right information that people need when they begin this kind of journey.

Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation by Elen Sarashon Glazer and Eveline Weideman Sterling is a helpful resource book for anyone looking for objective, practical information about the ins and outs of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) involving donor eggs. Although the book got some negative reviews, my patients have found it helpful.

Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination by Carol Frost Vercollone is a compassionate and comprehensive guide for those who are considering donor insemination as a means of family building. The book was written to help people explore all the issues, both positive and negative, practical, and emotional around this common but not often discussed form of family building.

Adoption.org is a community service oriented, not-for-profit organization, not an adoption agency. At this site, families can communicate and to gather information. The organization works to make quality adoption information available and transfers individuals interested in adoption to adoption agencies and attorneys to complete the adoption process. It provides links to various adoption agencies, bulletin boards, and chat rooms.

The North Carolina Division of Social Services This site provides information on the process of adopting through domestic channels local to the North Carolina area. It is often the first stop for couples trying to get information on local adoption.

Religious Organizations

Hannah’s prayer: Christian support for fertility challenges This website is an entry point for an extensive ring of websites serving the Christian community. It includes resources for infertility or the death of a baby at any time from conception through early infancy. Christian resources on adoption and resources for men can also be found on this site.

Stars of David International A non-profit information and support network for Jewish and partly-Jewish adoptive families of all sizes, ages, and origins. It provides help for all members of the triad including Jewish birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents, prospective parents, single parents, grandparents, interfaith couples, and so on. This site is linked to an extensive ring of websites serving the Jewish community.