Books on Emotional Wellness
Struggling to complete your family can be one of the most difficult challenges you can face. The months of negative home pregnancy tests, miscarriages, failed fertility treatments take their toll on everyone. Paying attention to your emotional needs is essential and these books can be excellence resources along the way.
I highly recommend ‘Three Makes Baby: How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child’ by Jana M. Rupnow, LPC.for anyone considering or has completed their family ‘unconventionally.’ There are many different ways to build a family including donor sperm, donor egg, embryo donation, gestational surrogacy, and adoption. These third party or collaborative reproductive options are common but outside the ‘typical’ boy meets girl and baby makes three fairy tale and can lead to many emotions and questions. Jana is a fertility counselor who is open in this book about her own ‘unconventional’ family building. She follows ASRM’s recommendation for honesty and disclosure of the truth to the children but she reviews how this can lead to conflict and a multitude of emotions. She reviews exercises and techniques for disclosure to different aged children and walks through common questions kids may ask. She encourages anyone proceeding to third party options for fertility care to seek counseling to review all the emotions that go along with that decision. While there is a lot of information in this book - it’s compact into about 150 pages which is wonderful for most people that want guidelines but not a textbook.
Stick It To Me, Baby! Inserting Spirit Into the Science of Fertility by Danica Thornberry, L.Ac. with Kuwana Haulsey, 2016
This is a supportive, spiritual but not-faith based book on the struggles of infertility and miscarriage. This is not a self-help book with tips on lifestyle or treatment options. Danica Thornberry, L.Ac. is an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility and struggled with her own diagnoses of endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserve but went on to conceive her 2 children naturally. She weaves messages of the importance of forgiveness, practicing gratitude, having faith in yourself with her own story and the stories of other women who she has helped achieved their family building goals. The book gives a positive message and encourages having a positive attitude in the process. Uplifting, supportive, positive are all words that describe this unique book.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, 2017
I lost my Dad suddenly during my sophomore year in college and I wish I had this book then. Grief is a club you don't want to join but once your deep in it - hearing how other people deal with it can be a part of the healing process. Sheryl Sandberg, CFO of Facebook and author of Lean In, co-authors this book with Adam Grant, a psychologist and Wharton Professor; but it's written in her voice and from her perspective. In the book, Sheryl weaves her personal story of sudden loss of her husband, other people's stories of grief, and reflection on ways to cope, heal, and 'kick the shot out of Option B' when option A (life with her husband) is not available. Her personal perspective on telling her children about his death, her struggles re-asimilating with work, and beyond ring true to my own experience with grief. Losing someone so close or going through tragedy and struggles like miscarriages and infertility shake us to our core and we can all learn ways to crawl back out of that dark hole, function, and even be better because of it. That's right - you can be stronger, more resilient, and learn more about yourself through struggle. I highly recommend this book.
Healing Mind, Healthy Woman: Using the Mond-Body Connection to Manage Stress and Take Control of Your Life by Alice Domar, Ph.D. and Henry Dreher, 1996
Description: Dr. Alice Domar is passionate about the mind-body connection in all aspects of women’s health. She has dedicated her career to investigating and writing on this topic and a true thought leader in the field of the emotional impact of infertility and other issues in women’s health. This is her first book co-authored with Henry Dreher, a science and medical writer, which explains her program for mind-body healing. She weaves research studies in with real life stories and gives concrete advice on how to decrease stress and improve overall wellness.
Dr. Shahine says: Dr. Domar is a pioneer in the field of the mind-body connection and I cannot thank her enough for bringing this concept to light for women’s health. One of the most common questions I get as a fertility specialist is ‘Does stress cause infertility?’ and Dr. Domar not only answers that question but focuses on the most important point: stress and infertility are inter-related and let’s focus on methods to decrease stress to improve overall wellness.
Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Effectively as Your Care for Everyone Else by Alice Domar, Ph.D. and Henry Dreher, 2000
Summary: Dr. Alice Domar has dedicated her career to studying and writing on the mind-body connection for women’s health. She has written several books on the topic and this one focuses on helping women to recognize the importance of caring for themselves: self-nurture. She weaves personal and patient stories in with research facts and advice on steps to allow women to not feel guilty about caring for themselves as well as them selflessly care for others around them.
Dr. Shahine says: As soon as I finished this book I wanted to give it to all the women in my life. Many women give and give and give until they are drained and nothing left except exhaustion. Dr. Domar reflects on the importance of self-nuture as a means to be a better you as well as a better support to those you love. It is an empowering read.
Conquering Infertility: Dr. AliceDomar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice Domar, Ph.D. and Alice Lesch Kelly, 2002
Summary: Dr. Alice Domar has spent her career studying and writing on the mind body connection in women’s health and has written several books on the topic. This one is focused on the mind/body connection for women with infertility. Dr. Domar’s work has shown that women with infertility show signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety as often as women diagnosed with other chronic illness like cancer and HIV. She reviews the literature on infertility and stress and guides the reader through practical tips on ways to cope with stress during a woman’s family building journey.
Dr. Shahine says: Every person struggling to have their family should read this book. It is a practical and helpful guide which, not only allows people to recognize how infertility impacts every aspect of life: partner relationships, family and friend relationships, career, feelings of self-worth and isolation, but gives concrete advice on how to cope. Dr. Domar has chapters on specific triggers like ‘Infertility and Your Career’, ‘Coping When Everyone But You Has a Baby’, and a whole chapter on the faith crisis that can occur with infertility, “Why Won’t God Give me a Baby.’ I highly recommend this book to patients I care for.
Finding the Calm for the Expectant Mom: Tools for Reducing Stress, Anxiety and Mood Swings During Pregnancy by Alice Domar, Ph.D. and Sheila Curry Oakes, 2016
Summary: A excellent resource for anyone who is pregnant. Dr. Domar says it best in the book “I could fill this book with claims people make about the glow of pregnancy. It is an idea that is entrenched in our pregnancy mythology. It is something we all want to believe: wouldn’t it be wonderful to be radiant for 9 months? Except for one thing: It’s simply not true.” She goes on to explain that pregnancy is full of many emotions both good and bad and that women can feel guilty about worries and negative feelings that some with pregnancy because society tells them they should be glowing and elated the whole pregnancy. She gives solid advice on how to recognize and cope with the stress and anxiety that can come with pregnancy.
Dr. Shahine says: As a fertility specialist, his is a wonderful resource for so many of my patients! We are all so often focused on conceiving that once that happens we expect bliss – getting pregnancy was the whole point of fertility treatment, right? However, the stress and anxiety of struggling to conceive can spill over into a worried and stressful pregnancy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant and interested in coping mechanisms to help through pregnancy and beyond.