Today I have a very special guest post for you all. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Infertility is something that comes in all shapes and sizes. To read more stories head over to Lauren’s blog Our Crazy Ever After. She put together this awesome blog swap.
Today Lisa is sharing with us some ways we can help support a friend who is dealing with infertility. Thank you Lisa, for sharing your story!
How to Support a Friend Dealing With Infertility
Infertility affects 1 out of every 8 couples of child-bearing age, so the odds are high that someone you care about is currently experiencing infertility to some degree. I myself have been battling infertility for over two years, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, emotionally, and financially.
The problem with infertility is that it’s a very private and sensitive matter. Some women are open to discussing it with friends and family, while others prefer to remain private. And sometimes a woman’s willingness to talk about her infertility can change depending on how she’s feeling that day.
Here are some ideas for caring for a friend dealing with infertility while respecting her possible need for privacy.
Don’t minimize or compare her pain
Most women with an infertility diagnosis only receive such diagnosis after they’ve tried unsuccessfully to have a baby for quite awhile. Some women have never seen a positive pregnancy test, while others have had several miscarriages. It’s important to remember that all pain is pain. It’s not helpful to say something like, “At least your miscarriage was early,” or “You’ve never had positive pregnancy test, but at least you’ve never miscarried.” Instead, be sure to acknowledge her suffering and let her know you’re sorry she has to deal with it.
Respect her need to skip “kid-centered” events
If you’re friends with people you have kids, you probably get invited to a lot of “kid-centered” events. There are baby showers, birthday parties, baptisms, christenings, and Easter Egg hunts. It’s important to understand that these types of events may be extremely painful for an infertile woman because they remind her of what she does not have. Most of us infertiles feel terribly guilty about skipping these events, but we’re also worried about getting upset or crying at the party and causing a scene. Don’t exclude your friend from an invite to your kid-centered event, but consider including a personal note saying you understand if she can’t make it.
Invite her on “kid-free” outings
Infertility can be an isolating experience, especially if most women if your social circle are mothers. So if you really want to encourage a friend going through infertility, invite her on a kid-free outing. Not only should you leave your kids at home, but try to minimize the kid-talk. Focus on topics other than parenting or motherhood. Be willing to listen to her if she wants to talk about her infertility, but don’t force the issue.
Finally, let your friend know that you’re there for her. You may not understand what she’s going through, but make sure she knows you want to be a supportive presence in her life. Consider sending her a card or a small gift after she’s suffered a miscarriage or a failed treatment. Offer to bring her food or some movies while she’s recovering from an intense procedure (like egg retrieval during IVF). Above all, don’t act like everything is okay and ignore what she’s going through. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell her that you don’t know what to say. Your presence is the most important thing.
Lisa writes about her infertility journey at AmateurNester.com. Her goal is to encourage other women who are also in the midst of infertility. She lives in California with her husband and their very spoiled cat, Hemingway.