It’s been a dizzying couple of months. Just when we thought our world couldn’t get any closer to the bone of life and death, we witnessed the slow, vicious killing of an unarmed Black man by a white policeman. In an historic show of protest, people around the country rose up and took to the streets for weeks, demanding the end of what our nation has never acknowledged—that it’s been built on a structural, institutionalized system of racial inequality that has inflicted, and continues to inflict, profound suffering.
We’re in a national emergency, and therapists are in the thick of it. As healers and as citizens, clinicians are struggling to grapple with the rage, grief, and confusion that churn within them, in many of their clients, and in the fractured society we inhabit. Given the deadline constraints of a bimonthly publication, we’ll have to wait for the next issue to more fully address the social and clinical implications of the crisis. In these pages, however, we’re republishing a passionate, first-person piece by Ken Hardy on the lived experience of being a Black therapist in America that appeared in the Networker a few years ago and seems very relevant today.
Meanwhile, we’re still living in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve become almost accustomed to the daily rollout of bad news—new cases, deaths, deepening poverty. But less news coverage has been given to another COVID-created crisis, which is the shutdown of health services deemed “inessential” during the pandemic but vital to those who count on them. In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo trained a spotlight on one such category of care, announcing that treatments for infertility would now be considered essential in the State of New York. Cuomo’s announcement brought a new immediacy and sense of urgency to the question we had planned to address in this issue: What is life like for the more than six million women in the U.S. who face reproductive challenges? In simpler terms, what happens when you want a baby but things don’t turn out as you dreamed?
First, psychologist and infertility specialist Janet Jaffe examines the profound sense of loss and isolation suffered by people who try repeatedly to get pregnant without success, as well as those who do get pregnant but then lose the baby to miscarriage. Then, psychologist Martha Manning dives deeply into the latter issue, writing about her own grief, as well as that of her husband and young daughter, in the wake of her mid-pregnancy miscarriage. And, in a lively interview, Lori Gottlieb, psychotherapist and bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, candidly discusses her decision to become a single mom using a sperm donor as well as how her experience informs her work with clients as a fertility counselor.
Each author wrestles with an underlying question: When your reproductive dreams go awry, how is it possible to recover your wholeness, and perhaps even grow from the experience? With so many options in reproductive medicine these days, how can therapists knowledgeably guide clients on this complicated and harrowing journey?
Altogether, we’re living in complicated, challenging times. As I write this letter in late June, I’m aware that by the time you read it, our lives will have shifted further, most likely in ways we couldn’t have predicted. All we can do is try to be ready for change, and when it comes, to learn as much as we can from it.