So I am in the excruciating 2ww (two week wait) right now. Actually, to be honest I am expecting my friend tomorrow...and she is coming...UNFORTUNATELY! I was pondering how hard this is for me and it inspired me to make a consolidated list of "do's and don'ts of infertile. Having to explain your fertility status to everybody in your life can be humiliating, (DUH? That's why I blast every minute detail on the Internet). I am one of the few that find it cathartic to entertain the world with my woes. As crazy as I am, I couldn't help but cry while writing this, because it is so true. I drew several conclusions, the first of which is that I'm pretty sure my infertility is George Bush Jrs fault. (lol) No really, here is my take on how to delicately deal with this painful and "sore" subject (again cracking myself up). So for those of you wondering what to say, or how to handle a person that is dealing with infertility, here it is in black and white (or purple)! Read on!
Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, the majority of people are very uncomfortable with the subject. It has been my experience that people get awkward, and stumble to try to find the words to say, when you explain your predicament.
Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, they aren't coming back. Unless you are delusional or a witch, there is no hope that they will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.
The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know.=( They grieve the loss of that baby that may have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple AGAIN. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right as it starts to heal.
The effects are far reaching. The experience takes on a mind of it's own. The fun of sex goes out the window and "BABY MAKIN" is in full force. It becomes organized and methodical. For me personally, it became an acrobatics act and I was the contortionist. I finagled my body into positions I never knew I could perform to try to kick those swimmers into high gear! WELL OBVIOUSLY that didn't work!
Reaching some kind of resolution can take years, so us infertile peeps need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes you want to
punch them in the face cry . Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support to us "special people"!
Please, for the love of God and all things holy...DO NOT TELL THEM TO RELAX!
Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.
Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress , particularly for 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.
These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. Don't you think that we have tried to relax? There is NOTHING relaxing about this whole journey. While I understand that relaxing for the male is much easier, my thoughts went something like this..."JUST RELAX? YEAH RIGHT". It is impossible to relax when you are constantly bombarded with this, like it or not. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." it does not help validate that there is a real problem and they have real feelings. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.
Don't Minimize the Problem
Failure to conceive a baby is very painful. When you are constantly surrounded by families with children, it is hard to watch your friends give birth to two or three children, and watch those children grow while we go home to the silence of an empty house.
Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer us comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards (unless you are a complete idiot that is). Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.
Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job? To the person experiencing this, I can tell you that is the WORST thing. To me, my sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility is my worst nightmare.
People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead (again, unless you want the taste slapped out of your mouth)". Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.
What you should do is offer kind words of encouragement. Be legitimate. Don't try to BS your way through a speech about your neighbor. Instead, be honest. If you don't know what to say, say that. I appreciate all of the kind words that people say, but more than that, I appreciate the candid, honest people that simply say "I have no idea what that must feel like, but I'm sorry and I'll pray for you". That works for me! Also, don't offer me your sperm (J. Davis) LOL. I don't want anymore sperm! ahahahahaha.I'm trying to quit.
So to recap. You are pretty much screwed no matter what you say, but be sensitive anyway. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? (probably not say the word screwed, but you get the point)
I Love all of y'all. And one of these days, I'm going to blog about how much I love parenting the perfect child, because we all know...that my baby will be a perfect angel!!!!!! (He will get that from me)!