National Infertility Awareness Week: You Are Not Alone!
Five years ago I never imagined I would be one of the 6.7 million women and 1 in 8 couples who have trouble conceiving. When I was younger I had a friend who was unable to conceive due to endometriosis. I was as supportive as I knew how to be but I didn’t really know what to do or say. I now know exactly how she felt. Twenty years later we are still friends and now she is supporting me during my own infertility journey.
So what should you say to support a friend or family member dealing with the pain of infertility? Here are 5 Infertility Etiquette Tips to let them know they are not alone.
- “I’m here for you.” Sometimes these simple words are all you need to say to a friend or loved one. No advice, no opinions. Just allowing this person to know you are there for them if they need you is enough. I am thankful to have friends I can count on to join me at a doctor’s appointment or just listen to me talk about my follicle sizes!
- Don’t minimize the situation. For most women each month is a reminder of another failed attempt at pregnancy. Unsuccessful infertility treatments can be even more difficult. There can be feelings of loss and mourning (especially with miscarriage) each unsuccessful cycle. Being respectful and sympathetic to these feelings means more than you can imagine.
- Don’t push adoption. While adoption is a wonderful way for infertile couples to become parents, it’s a very personal decision. Couples should first be able to grieve the loss of the biological child with daddy’s eyes and grandma’s nose before making this choice. Just be supportive and allow them to bring up the topic if/when they are ready.
- Don’t forget about the men. Women tend to be more open with sharing details of their infertility. Men not only experience the same pain and disappointment (especially in the case of male factor) but also carry the burden of being strong and supportive for their women. Guys need an encouraging word or a “man hug” too!
- Support their decision to stop treatments. Not all infertility journeys will end in a successful pregnancy or adoption. Sometimes couples decide to stop treatments for personal or financial reasons. This is their choice to make and they shouldn’t be made to feel like they’ve given up. The best thing to do is support their decision and allow them heal in their own way.
If you are dealing with the heartache of infertility please know you are not alone. There are millions of women just like me who stand with you and hope that this month will be your BFP! Keep believing, be kind to your body and surround yourself with positive people. As difficult as this journey can be, don’t allow your infertility define you. This journey has made me stronger and healthier. I believe this is the season I am supposed to be in and I will bloom where I’m planted.