Friday, April 30, 2010

How to be a Friend to someone with Infertility

I posted this post last June, but because it is National Infertility Awareness Week, I decided to do a repost, and maybe edit it a little bit. Here is an edited version of the post I posted in June 2009:

Since it has been over a year and a half (edit: It has been 2 1/2 years now) since we've been trying we've gotten a TON of comments about when we are going to have kids, what we need to do to have them, etc. I am going to cover this topic today because it is a VERY important topic. These are things that should never be said to anyone, let alone someone dealing with infertility! In most of these cases, the people knew we were dealing with infertility when we were told this. I feel if I cover this topic it will help people understand how much their well meaning comments actually do hurt. I will also suggest a few good things to say to someone dealing with infertility and miscarriage.

1. "When are you going to get pregnant?" or "When are you having kids?"

This question is a hard question to hear. In my honest opinion it is also an extremely rude question to ask. It is right up there with "when are you going to lose weight?". I know that those asking this question mean well, but it can be a VERY difficult question to take, especially when it is asked to someone who is going through infertility or suffering from a miscarriage (or both). Most of the time the asker does not know what the person is going through, which is why it is such a difficult question. How are we supposed to answer it? Sometimes I really do feel like asking a rude question back, but I'm not rude. I just force myself to smile and say something like "we are trying", or "when we want to" or if I want to be a little cunning I will say something like "9 months after I conceive". But inside my heart is ripping apart because I am wondering the same question myself.

2. "Just relax and it will happen."

Seriously, it is beyond relaxing at this point. My body does not work correctly. Relaxing will not help me get pregnant. It may help me to relax when I am going through the treatments because, let's face it, stress really is not a help at all, however at this point not relaxing is not why I haven't gotten pregnant. This response makes anyone dealing with infertility want to SCREAM. We have to suffer through countless uncomfortable tests and heartbreak and embarrassment along the way. Relaxing at this point is MINOR.

3. This one is a doozy. I was told by someone who meant well that I was not getting pregnant because I was not being faithful to God.

How heartbreaking to hear this. This person was a family member to, and someone I did not expect to hear it from. It broke my heart to hear this and it makes me cry to this day. I had just finished telling the person about our infertility. I now feel like I can no longer tell this person about anything else. I do not believe that God punishes anyone this way. If so, then are the teens getting pregnant more faithful than me? Or are the prostitutes or druggies more faithful than me? I believe that we go through things to prepare us for something in the future and that I am chosen for this journey to prepare myself for something in the future. Perhaps it is so I appreciate the children I have even more than I would have if this would have been easy for me. I do not know, but I know that God would not punish me by making me infertile.

4. Told to me after I suffered my miscarriage: "At least you know you can get pregnant".

This does not help someone suffering the loss of their child. My miscarriage was very early. I had already miscarried before I found out I was even pregnant. It does not put my mind at easy. I still think "what if my body can not stay pregnant?" and "why did that baby die?".

5. "You can always adopt."

This is said as if adoption is an easy alternative. Adoption is not easy. There is a long process you have to go through, not to mention a lot of money. Also, choosing to adopt means that you first need to go through a grieving process knowing that you may never have your own biological child. It also implies that the adoption is a replacement for biological children. I don't see it as a replacement. I see it as an addition to your family. Often times this comment is also followed by "I know someone who has adopted and they got pregnant as soon as they started the process". Adoption is not a miracle for infertility. Those people were blessed, but that does not mean that it will happen for everyone, and at that point the couple who are adopting have already chosen to start their family in a new way, so that pregnancy was a surprise.

6. "Now that I know about your infertility, you won't be able to surprise me with your pregnancy".

I refuse to allow this to be taken from me. I will be telling everyone in a special way when I am finally blessed with the miracle of pregnancy. I will not just be able to tell them because it is no longer a surprise. It will still be a surprise and it will be a happy moment and I will tell them in a fun way. I can not give this part up. It is important to me. I have dreamt about this from the time I was little and I can not wait to tell everyone in a special way.

What to say to someone who is going through infertility:

Just tell them you will be praying for them, or thinking of them. If you are closer with them, ask them how their procedures are going.

What to say to someone who went through a miscarriage:

Just say "I'm sorry" and/or "I will pray for you". There is nothing more you really can say to make someone feel better. You can let them know you are thinking of them by sending them a card or something.

Added: Please also do not make the person feel bad if they decide that they can't come to your baby shower, child's 4th birthday party, or even to your house because you have babies. They may be having a difficult day dealing with infertility and being around children or pregnant women is very hard. It isn't that we are angry with you for being pregnant. It is that people going through infertility often have difficult times with things like this because they don't know if it will ever happen for them. They are not trying to be mean or spite you. I had a friend tell me that I treat her differently now that she had her "oops" baby.

Infertility and miscarriage are difficult subjects for people to talk about, even more difficult for those who are walking the path, and it just adds to the difficulty to hear the above comments, and others that I did not mention.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

Hi Abbie,

It was good to read this post... good and hard. Even though it was almost 2 years ago, the feelings I had surrounding my miscarriage are still very real and fresh in my mind and heart. I whole-heartedly agree with you about God preparing you for something in your future, and even in your present circumstances. I have been able to grieve with others who have had similar losses like I never could before. God works in all things.

I will definitely be praying for you.

Thanks for sharing your heart!