Donia Scicluna B Sc. (Psych)
Dip. Gestalt Therapy (GPTIM)
Member of BICA
For more than five years it was a very lonely journey, fighting to start a family. It was a rollercoaster journey during which, most of the time, I was in the bottom of the ride and couldn’t see the top. At this time I had no knowledge of the medical side of things.
My journey was more of anger since most of the time I felt betrayed by my husband and persons that I trusted. I don’t think my husband knew how to support me, and besides, he was so angry at the doctors that he would have been incapable of offering support. This led to comfort eating, which, although now I am aware of it I still do it because I can’t help it.
My first attitude was that if I help others and make them feel happy because of my help God for sure will grant me my wish and give me a baby. Not even my husband ever sat down next to me and cared about my feelings, but on the contrary because he was always angry because I am making the doctors rich with my obsession to have a child.
But when nothing happened, and I didn’t get pregnant, I convinced myself that I am not a good person and God does not trust me to have children. This broad with it a lot of anger because I felt this was not fair for me as I am a person that loves to see others happy.
After four years in this situation I got pregnant and although we were always afraid that something could happen to the baby we were very happy. But my biggest fear came true on my thirty fourth week of pregnancy when I was rushed to hospital for a caesarean and our baby was born. My placenta had died and the baby had no oxygen. It was a battle of life and death; she lost the battle after six weeks. My husband did everything to move on and as always I did as I was told to do because I think he is much stronger than me.
But after two other attempts of IVF that failed I started to lose all my energy. From a workaholic, like my husband, I became the most disorganized and lethargic person. My energy was dried out and all I did was sleep and eat. At the time I did not understand what was happening to me and I felt confused.
With the help of an infertility counsellor I started to feel better because everything made sense then. However I also got to know my condition that it is called Polycystic Ovary System and if I was treated for it may be our daughter wouldn’t have died.
I also understood that being infertile has nothing to do with being a good person or not. I also became aware that because I was on infertility medication for a long time it was their side-affect that they made me feel very upset and why sometimes I felt confused with a lot of different emotions is like you have another person living inside you. However I also understood that it is quite common as couple we experience infertility and the loss of our child differently.
My husband and I have been living with unexplained infertility for the past 7 years. The first couple of years brought extreme heartache and despair, together with a loss of identity and future prospective. I was grieving, but no one understood. In the midst of this psychological turmoil I discovered WAW infertility support group. Little by little the other couples in this group and the group facilitator began pulling me out of the black hole that had swallowed me. We cried, released our frustrations, shared our worries and laughed together. I began rediscovering myself, my marriage, my potentials and a way to cope with infertility. Through other’s experiences we saw medical treatments through the perspective of those who undergone them and not only through that of medical professionals, thus enabling us to make informed decisions.
Being active members for the last 5 years has supported my husband and me through the different stages and needs in our lives, as well as supporting other people. Infertility is a lifelong companion, but one which no longer determines the course of my life. Thanks to WAW I consider myself a survivor.
My husband and I have been facing alone the problem of infertility for 5 years, when after a failed IVF treatment, and through a programme on TV we heard of the WAW support group and decided to start attending and meeting this group.
We met Donia as the leader of this group for the first time and we soon felt free to talk about our problem with her, which was not that easy since there isn't a lot of awareness among the general public about this problem. Once we started to know her, we started to attend therapy sessions with her alone and discussing all our feelings freely and understanding ourselves and our emotions towards this monster, and she also helped us to understand that all our feelings of guilt and loneliness were normal for someone in our situation, ‘cause in this type of situation it is very difficult to find someone who understand you, even among your closest relatives.
After a couple of therapy sessions alone we also started attending therapy sessions with the group in which Donia used to encourage us to discuss our feelings with the other couples, and different situations which we encountered daily and which sometimes used to make all of us feeling very bad. During these sessions as a group we used to share experiences and learnt how to become stronger in accepting the situation and go on with our lives.
Today we can say that with Donia's help and with the shared experiences as a whole group we accepted the situation and are ready to move on no matter what! We really think that a lot of more help should be given to couples encountering our problem 'cause the WAW support group is the only reference for these couples here in this country.
However with the support from Donia and also from the group that by then we became like a family, we felt confident to risk another IVF and today we are the parents.
About 5 years ago my husband and I have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility after a year of trying to conceive. After this we were advised to try to conceive with simple pharmacological treatment for 3 months to aid in this regard. This also failed and we were both very devastated. Following this I had a very difficult time and I resorted to a qualified registered psychologist. I stayed in therapy for 8 months. I then decided to stop since I was finding that this was not working. Basically the therapist had no idea what I was talking about! The isolation, the pain, the feeling out of place everywhere, the broken soul, the feeling of being a disappointment to my husband and my family because of infertility, halting all my projects were issues that my therapist was not helping me in since she was not understanding what this is all about! So, I stopped therapy … thinking that maybe I was sort of unresponsive to therapy or else there was no hope for me.
In the meantime there was a period of about 2 years where we continued to try and finally conceived naturally. Unfortunately I lost the baby at 9 weeks. Another pregnancy followed in a couple of months, and the same ordeal followed. This left be at a loss with myself, my family and with my faith. After this through my work (I work in the medical profession) I was referred to Donia, by Dr. Anna Maria Vella. So I started personal therapy in October 2009.
Through my therapy with Donia I finally found professional help with someone who was understating what infertility and the whole cascade of its effects are about. She helped me to acknowledge the pain and stay with it, to let myself undergo the process of bereavement. She was always very supportive and available when I needed more care. This process helped me to get lead of my life again…. to strengthen my marriage, to progress in my career and to start the adoption programme not as a couple that wants to have a family but as a family who will give a new family and life to children who do not have a mother and father.
Basically, therapy through Donia was a turning point in my life… which restored myself, my marriage and my faith in God.
I got in contact with Donia through a TV programme in July 2008, following our first attempt at IVF. Although successful at first, we miscarried very shortly later.
My husband and I were understandably distraught, and felt both lost and alone. Moreover, coping with the uncomfortable feeling of people around us not knowing what to say or how to react in our presence was undoubtedly an additional burden to carry.
Donia’s contribution has been of great help and support to us, in that she was particularly approachable and easy to open up to. Donia empathised greatly with our pain, and also helped us through our second failed IVF attempt. She was of constant support throughout the process, and especially afterwards, being there for us and helping us to accept and manage our situation far better than I feel we could have done without her assistance.
I have no reserves on recommending Donia on matters of coping with infertility, so much so that I have already recommended her to a personal friend.
I started attending counseling sessions with Donia around 3 years ago after coming across some information about WAW on TV.
My infertility problems started almost 7 years ago when my husband and I started trying to conceive. The realization that having a child was not as simple as we had always expected, came as a very hard blow to us, particularly to myself.
A year later, I started the first attempts at treating my fertility issues and after 6 months of treatments I was left even more shattered. The feeling of emptiness and hopelessness stayed with me for many years and nothing my husband would say or do helped me.
When I first met Donia and confided to her my roller-coaster of emotions, I realized immediately that she would be of immense support to me. She listened and encouraged me, but most important of all, she understood me, because she had ridden that same roller-coaster as me.
I cannot be thankful enough for what Donia has done for me. I am still fighting infertility, but I'm doing it with a different spirit now thanks to her!
It was a tremendous shock for my husband and me when we were told that it would be difficult for us to have our own children. At first we tried to overcome this great news by trying to ignore it, by saying to ourselves that it cannot be true, hoping that it was a mistake but as time went by as a couple we had to face reality. The endless pain would never wear off and I was going crazy.
We could no longer deal with this trauma on our own – we simply needed help and guidance. Through a programme on TV I got to know about WAW Infertility support Group. My husband and I joined the support group and personally felt much better from the first day. Whereas before I had no one to share my feelings and despair with, now I found out that what I was going through was a common ground to the other couples who were experiencing the same trauma as my husband and me. With the help of the group leader who is a very professional, sensitive and caring person, I am now feeling much better. I look forward for our individual sessions and to the bi-monthly meetings which are held at the Cana premises in Floriana.
In our sessions with Donia and the group is a place where I can finally let my emotions free. There I no longer have to smile, where I feel like crying, I no longer have to pretend I am happy where I feel sad. It is a place where I feel accepted, and do not need to hide my infertile state for fear of making people around me uncomfortable with my presence. There I meet people who share my feelings and realise I am not alone in a world to which I don’t feel I belong. WAW gives me courage to face a life which to me seems cruel, and restores my enthusiasm for life by giving me a sense of belonging. It provides me with information and first hand experiences, which help in the difficult decisions an infertile couple frequently has to face.
We got to know about “WAW” (Wanting and Waiting) support group through our local Chaplin. We had several group and individual meetings with Ms Donia Scicluna. She helped us a lot; we were completely destroyed with the news that for us was going to be very difficult to conceive. It was as if everything around us had fallen apart, all our dreams of having a family were devastated, and we just could not handle our emotional trauma.
Donia set quite a good number of individual sessions with us. Together we went through all the difficult phases that we had in life. She helped us to set to focus again our goals in life even if perhaps we might be a childless couple. We have learnt how to function again as a couple and to integrate back in the social life.
Donia not only helped us to deal with and except infertility but also how to gain back our self esteem, and how to except each other just the way we are. We really appreciate Donia’s efforts and dedication because she made the change in our lives through her support.
Some three years after we got married, we discovered that we were experiencing problems regarding our possibility of conceiving a child. We were obviously shocked and traumatized by this news and were finding it difficult to cope with this unforeseen situation. After seeing Ms Donia Scicluna delivering presentations on various sections of the local media about infertile couples and how the group was helping these couples go through this difficult moment, we decided to give Ms Scicluna a try.
We attended the personal therapy sessions that she used to prepare for us where we discussed with her our experiences related to this problem. We found a lot of help in these sessions and through her experience and expertise, Ms Scicluna gave us hints and tips on how to deal with our problem. She was always there to listen to us, avoiding judgment and give us help. Attending her sessions made us feel emotionally better and helped us accept our problem. Later on, Ms Scicluna invited us to attend the group where we felt we could discuss our situation, without inhibitions, with other people going through the same ordeal.
We are truly convinced that the personal therapy sessions with Ms Scicluna as well the WAW group were highly beneficial to us as a couple and that these have contributed to our better well-being.
Along my infertility journey I found support and understanding through counseling. Not only did I feel understood but I also realized that what I was feeling at the moment was normal and a natural part of the healing process. Mrs. Donia Scicluna guided me through the stages of acceptance of the situation as well ad helped me find within myself the strength to keep on fighting for what I longed for. I also came to terms with the 'waiting' part of the process and accepted the fact that it might take me longer than other women to reach my goal'
We are a couple that is passing through the painful problem of infertility. We can say that Donia is our ray of light. Before we began to attend our sessions with Donia we were lost in our anger and hurt. We were experiencing feelings that were destroying us as individual and our marriage.
We have been to other counselors before but Donia is one in a blue moon. I realized that from our first encounter, Donia understood all our emotions. It was such a relief. Whenever we were under the weather she was there to support us.
Me as a woman had different feelings from my husband. I had problems to hold my horses and my husband to keeping his hat on, but she could cater for us both.
She went out on a limb to help us. There were difficult times that we couldn’t make it for the session because of my health after a treatment and she used to come up to our house herself.