Managing two families: How to cope with infertility as a stepmom
Note: This article was written by The Conception Diaries for Social Stepmom.
Trying to conceive is hard. Having infertility can be harder. Starting a family while managing kids, especially as a stepmom, might be the hardest! Many women feel like they are straddling two lives and two families, and they feel guilty and stressed if they feel they are prioritizing one side over another.
Dealing with infertility as a stepmom can be challenging. You have kids in the house who have complex schedules, lots of drop-offs and pickups and many activities to manage. At the same time, you have to schedule in your early-morning monitoring appointments at the fertility clinic and deal with the hormonal side effects of being on fertility medication.
You are not alone! Many women are in the same boat. It is very normal to want to start a family with a partner who may have children from a prior relationship. While confusing, and often a bit stressful, this can be a very happy time as you start building a new family together.
How do you keep it all together?
Be open with your partner.
Discuss options for family planning and explain your desire to have children. You might love their children but still feel it is very important to have a child genetically linked to you. If that is how you feel, make sure you are able to communicate that to your partner.
Be ready to adjust.
A new baby will affect the family dynamics. While the family dynamics will change, being aware and creative in scheduling will help to balance your time with your child and your partner’s time with their current children. Blended families are becoming increasingly common, and with good communication and good scheduling, both partners can feel satisfied and build great relationships with each other and all of their children.
Consult a specialist together.
Try to have your partner come to the appointments with the fertility doctor (at least the initial consultation). It is important that they are there to hear about the various options and treatments and that they understand the impact of things like advanced reproductive age. Many stepmoms are older and hear their biological clock ticking loudly. They need their partners to understand that age and timing are important factors in conceiving.
Talk about how many children you want to have.
When one partner has children from a prior relationship, the thought of multiple children is scary. Often, couples will worry about twins, birth defects and genetic issues, particularly if they’re older. Your fertility specialist can speak to you about the many assisted reproductive techniques, such as IVF with PGS (preimplantation genetic screening), that can reduce the risk of a multiple or abnormal pregnancy.
If having biological children with your new partner is not in the cards right now, but you are worried about getting older, consider freezing your eggs or embryos (your eggs and your partner’s sperm combined). This allows you to “preserve” your fertility while considering your options and timeline for having children. This process involves undergoing an IVF cycle. Talk to your fertility doctor about this option to see if it is right for you.
Talk with a fertility counselor.
Most fertility clinics have specialized counselors to help patients through this process. Stress when trying to conceive is normal. Speaking to someone can often help allay fears and facilitate communication between partners coping with the infertility process.
Try to enjoy this. Creating a family, and the hope of starting a family to complement your current one, can be fun and exciting!