Libby Brown, PsyD at Center for Healing Arts and Wellness Services
Fertility treatments have come a long way since their introduction—from both a scientific and stigma perspective. Women and their partners have many more effective options to achieve their fertility goals, whether they are dealing with immediate issues or want to preserve their eggs for future use.
Dr. Libby Brown, clinical psychologist and wellness and counseling expert at Deaconess the Women's Hospital, guides women along the final stages of that journey.
“Women have multiple things they do on their journey, lab work and genetic testing, being examined physically with the doctor. But part of that, after they do all those steps, they come to see me. After they see me, they are usually toward the end of the journey and ready for one of the procedures such as in vitro fertilization. I'm part of that team as a professional, to bring the whole piece of the journey together.”
Dr. Brown counsels all types of women, whether they are going through IVF or are using a gestational carrier to achieve their parental goals. No one woman’s journey is the same, and Dr. Brown is equipped to address any issues or questions her patients encounter.
Why Mental Health Support Is So Important
It’s not uncommon for Dr. Brown’s patients to wonder why they are seeing a psychologist. Yet, there is so much benefit to mental health care throughout one’s fertility journey. Many couples are simply exhausted by the time they reach this stage. But, they might put on appearances for each other and not broach what they’re actually feeling.
Dr. Brown offers a safe space for honesty and openness about what each person is going through. She helps answer questions about, “Who should we tell among our family and friends?” or “At some point should we tell our child about this process?”
“I'm not an obstacle. I think many worry there's some kind of test or clearance that's not going to let them go forward. I immediately try to put them at ease and let this be a place where they can discuss their frustrations and their fears,” she explains. “It’s support for the process, helping label some of the anxiety, the frustrations, the disappointments, the sense of loss if something didn't work.”
Normalizing the Fertility Process
Dr. Brown also helps women and their partners navigate all the emotions that accompany seeing others in their life have an “easy” time of conception and delivery. It’s easy to fall into feelings of jealousy or anger—and then guilt—when another person in their life has a seemingly seamless experience.
“You can't help but be a little jealous of someone who just had to try once. Or, you're at an age where you're going to a lot of baby showers,” she shares. “My goal is to support people who are going through that and let them know their range of emotions is real and honest and to express it and get it out to your partner or a good friend rather than holding that in. Eventually in your journey, you'll be at a point where you either are or not having children, but you'll be past the point where those negative feelings are there.”