A few months back, I wrote a post on what NOT to say to your infertile friend (It can be found here: https://disorderlylove.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/things-not-to-say-to-your-infertile-friend/ ).
We’d just learned we were new members of an exclusive club no one wants to be in. It may begin with an I but, I assure you, it is the furthest thing from all inclusive. Our I, like the 1 in 8 couples in this country, is infertility.
One of the 1st things I learned, long before learning to allow my husband to stab me in the stomach with pointy needles, was that people would have less than perfect responses to our baby making woes. A lot of the time, these responses weren’t just unhelpful, they were downright hurtful. With each one, our hearts stung a little more & we felt even more alone in this daunting process.
& that is what I focused on at first, what I didn’t want people to say. In my most recent session with my therapist, after I vented about just that, she asked me a question that has stuck with me ever since.
“What would you like people to say?”
Before this, as simple & surprising as it may sound, I’d never really put that much thought into it.
After much thought, I feel like what I want is fairly simple….so here it goes:
- “I’m really sorry you have to go through this, it must be really hard.” This statement, as easy & uncomplicated as it may seem, does a lot of things. For one, it acknowledges our pain. Instead of trying to minimize what it is we’re going through, it provides empathy & support in the midst of less than perfect circumstances.
- Act interested. While some infertile couples may not wish to share their treatment, etc with others, others do. There may be times when they want to share & there may be others they do not. I feel that many of our friends don’t ask, or say anything in regards to our fertility issues because they fear saying the wrong thing. They fear hurting our feelings may result from bringing it up. & so they say nothing…&, for me, that has been the very worst thing. Infertility is an incredibly trying experience. It is isolating. Please don’t isolate us further by not texting, or calling while we’re in a treatment cycle.
- Listen, don’t talk. If you’re too worried about saying the wrong things, put yourself at ease & just listen. You’ll never know how helpful you’re being.
- Support our decisions. I’ve had sooooooooooooo many people ask if we were sure about pursing fertility treatments. I’ve heard the adoption question more times that I can count. A lot of people have asked if this is the right time for us. Others have, “pointed out,” how young I am…..I say this kindly, we want a baby…not your opinion. I am aware of my age. I am aware I am finishing up my last year of grad school in the fall. I am veryyyyy aware of the nasty effects fertility drugs/treatments have on my body…nonetheless, we want this more than anything…& would appreciate your support in whatever decisions we may choose along the way.
- Remember us on Mother’s Day & Father’s Day. I think these are two of the single most painful days for infertile couples.
- Tell us you’ll pray for us….& then actually do just that. There can never be too many prayers for two devastated people who want a baby with all their hearts but can’t have one. Believe me, we would appreciate this sooooooo much more than hearing, “If God wants you to be parents, you will be.” or…”If it’s God will, I’m sure it will happen.” Would you tell someone who was just diagnosed with cancer that, if it was God’s will, you’re sure they’d live? No? Well, don’t say it to an infertile either.
- Cards, emails, & others acts of kindness will be more appreciated than you will ever know. With infertility, comes a lot of pain. A lot of isolation. & so much hurt. Anxiety, depression, & poor self-esteem are also equal players here. Any of the above mentioned things could serve as encouragement to get through the toughest of days in this drawn out struggle.
- Please be understanding if we cannot attend your baby shower. While it may appear as insensitive & uninterested on our part, I assure you, there is nothing I would love more than being able to share in that happiness with you & celebrate the life that you’re about to bring into this world. I just can’t do that right now. Attending my sister’s baby shower was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done…& made me all too aware that I just may not be able to put myself through that again. Please know that if I do not attend this special day, that I so want to…