Thank you to everyone who sent your love, support and prayers in regards to my post about infertility yesterday on Facebook. It is appreciated more then you will ever know. Since it is National Infertility Awareness Week I am going to continue spreading awareness and sharing a little about our journey thus far with Secondary Infertility. Unfortunately, I am that 1 in 3 million women who are having troubles conceiving again.
This situation has been very isolating, emotional, physically draining, financially hard, and by far the biggest struggle in my marriage. I was brave, and did something big. I “came out of the closet” so to speak on my Facebook page. I don’t like to “air out my dirty laundry” for all to see but I am just so tired of hiding. I am tired of infertility being something that isn’t talked about but mostly I wanted to spread awareness in hopes my bravery in “coming out” will help someone else who is struggling. Since going through this, and with the few people I have shared my story, I am amazed at how many have said they have struggled with a similar situation in their journey to have children too. As much as I don’t wish this upon anyone, I must say it is always nice to find someone who understands just what it is that I am going through. These people have been the best sources of support in my journey and some have even become great friends. They are the people who you don’t have to explain yourself too because they just simply know, they also know the heartache and are the less judgmental ones.
Yesterday in my post on Facebook, I talked a little bit about how much your support means to someone going through infertility whether it be primary or secondary infertility. Below is a great article on tips on how to support someone during this struggle in their lives. In my journey thus far, I have learned that there are many who offer advice or support in some way with good intention but oftentimes I am left feeling even more upset after because comments that were meant well are often insensitive or just plain to do not support or acknowledge how I feel. Please take the time to read this article. You never know when you may need to use these tips! The article is courteous of Resolve.org:
25 Things to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone Living with Infertility
Let them know that you care. The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care.
- Do your research. Read up about infertility, and possibly treatments or other family building options your friend is considering, so that you are informed when your friend needs to talk.
- Act interested. Some people don’t want to talk about infertility, but some do. Let them know you’re available if they want to talk.
- Ask them what they need. They may also appreciate if you ask them what the most helpful things to say are.
- Provide extra outreach to your male friends. Infertility is not a woman’s-centric issue; your male friends are most likely grieving silently. Don’t push, but let them know you’re available.
- When appropriate, encourage therapy. If you feel your friend could benefit from talking to a professional to handle his or her grief, suggest therapy gently. If you go to therapy regularly, or ever have, share your personal story.
- Support their decision to stop treatment. No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief.
- Remember them on Mother’s and Father’s Day. With all of the activity on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, people tend to forget about those who cannot become mothers and fathers. Remember your infertile friends on these days; they will appreciate knowing that you haven’t forgotten them.
- Attend difficult appointments with them. You can offer to stay in the waiting room or come into the appointment with them. But the offer lets them know how committed you are to supporting them.
- Watch their older kids. Attending appointments may be difficult if they have older kids at home.
- Offer to be an exercise buddy. Sometimes losing weight is necessary to make treatments more effective. If you know they are trying to lose weight, you could offer to join them because it would help you achieve your personal fitness goals as well.
- Let them know about your pregnancy. But deliver the news in a way that lets them handle their initial reaction privately – email is best.
Not To Say:
- Don’t tell them to relax. Comments such as “just relax” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
- Don’t minimize the problem. Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain.
- Don’t say there are worse things that could happen. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
- Don’t say they are not meant to be parents. “One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, ‘Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.’” Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
- Don’t ask why they are not trying IVF. Because most insurance plans do not cover IVF treatment, many are unable to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses. Infertility stress is physical, emotional, and financial.
- Don’t push adoption or another solution. So often infertile couples are asked, “Why don’t you just adopt?” The couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision or chose another family building option.
- Don’t say, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant.” Know the facts. It’s recommended that women under 35 see a fertility specialist after being unable to conceive for one year. Being young increases your chance of fertility treatments working, but it does not guarantee success.
- Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition. For some, infertility treatments are a very private matter, which is why you should respect your friend’s privacy.
- Don’t be crude. Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like, “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.
- Don’t complain about your pregnancy. For many facing infertility, it can be hard to be around other women who are pregnant. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Not complaining can make things a little easier for your friend.
- Don’t question their sadness about being unable to conceive a second child. Having one child does not mean a couple feels they have completed their family. Also, a couple may have had their first child naturally and easily but are now experiencing secondary infertility – infertility that comes after you’ve already had a child.
- Don’t ask whose “fault” it is. Male or female factor. Just because a friend has told you he or she is experiencing infertility as a couple, does not mean he or she wants to discuss the details.
- On the other hand, don’t assume the infertility is female factor. 1/3 of infertility is female factor, 1/3 is male factor, and 1/3 is unexplained.
- How Can I Support A Friend with Infertility
- 12 Things Not to Say to Someone with Infertility
- 10 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Support Someone with Infertility
- How Not to Be a Dick to your Infertile Friend