Dear friends and family, I have infertility
I hope that you will find this blog helpful if your loved one has been diagnosed with infertility. Thank you for supporting them and being there to support them as they walk through this disease and the road to building their family.
Unfortunately, strains in family relationships and friendships over time can happen and are often caused by impaired communications and interactions. My hope is this blog can prevent this from occurring or mend strained relationships. We understand that often you simply don’t know what to say or do, which leads to the wrong thing said, and strain occurs. The good news is if you know what not to say, you are on the right path to providing so much support to your loved one.
The goal of this is to explain better what we are feeling when going through infertility. Did you know that 61 percent of women don’t share their diagnosis with friends and family? And that infertility is the 4th leading cause of trauma in women. This diagnosis often leads to us feeling isolated and abandoned. There is so much loss that happens and when that isn’t acknowledged, we pull back and suppress. Loss may be in the form of a negative pregnancy test month after month or the actual loss that occurs with a miscarriage, an embryo that didn’t implant, and failed treatment cycle. No matter how we try to prepare ourselves for possible bad news, we still have hope that every month that pregnancy test will have two lines or say pregnant. It has been described as walking through the five stages of grief every month, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now let’s throw the fact that cost is the number one barrier to care on top of all these emotions, which adds stress. Our relationships with our spouses are often strained, and we are working hard to just take care of ourselves.
3 ways you can support your loved one with infertility
Here are three ways you can support your loved one while following infertility etiquette.
1. Do not minimize my pain or disease – do acknowledge the pain and struggle.
We want to avoid saying things like “just relax”, “ it could be worse,” “ at least you don’t”, “ you should be happy for”. You may not be able to understand their feelings fully unless you have experienced the pain yourself. The best thing to do is allow them to have the feelings they have. This is a disease that impacts every aspect of our daily lives and consumes us in so many ways. A simple text message saying “ Hi, I am thinking of you.” can go a long way.
2.Do not offer a solution- Do listen and let them know you care.
When it comes to the point a couple is open about their struggle to conceive, I can almost guarantee they have tried everything they possibly can and then some before seeking out medical treatment. Each couple has to decide what route they will go and know this can change as they advance through this diagnosis. It is incredibly hard to make these decisions and can even cause tension between the couple themselves. Allow them to talk about infertility in his or her own time, and then just listen.
3. Avoid these statements or ones that are similar:
Referring to infertility treatment as elective.
Why don’t you adopt?
You can have my kids anytime you want.
It will happen, don’t worry.
My one friend tried (inset thing)
Have you tried (insert anything)?
Have you tried (insert position) ?
You will get pregnant when the time is right.
Don’t worry so much!
There are so many kids in foster care who need a good home!
You’re young and have plenty of time.
I want to close with this. How a couple will grow their family can only be made by them and in their time. The outcome of their journey will be they will conceive and have a baby. Or this will not occur, and they will live child-free. They may decide to grow their family through adoption or foster care. There is a high cost that comes along with adoption and lots of emotional ups and downs. The decision to proceed with adoption and foster care is a gift that anyone can give, not just those diagnosed with the disease of infertility. It is not a cure to the disease but rather a family-building option for all.