I am 1 in 8 women struggling with infertility. Did you know that a whopping 12% of married women have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy? Here are 10 things that the infertile in your life wants you to know about their struggle.
- The experience is more common than you think. I read an article once that says infertility can be more difficult to deal with than cancer or other major illness. Most people don’t see infertility as a medical diagnosis so they don’t understand how difficult it is for us.
- Please don’t tell us to just relax, we aren’t meant to be parents, or to just get over it. These have actually been said to me and it is hurtful regardless of the intention behind the words.
- Your pregnancy announcement can be difficult for us, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t thrilled for your miracle. We may need a little time to process. The initial news can sting a bit and then most of us can move right into happiness. If we have just had a miscarriage, failed IVF or IUI it may take a little longer.
- Please understand if we can’t attend your baby shower. We don’t want to inadvertently ruin your important moment. In fact, talking to us before sending us an invitation can alleviate hurt feelings on both sides-especially if you are a close friend or family member. I haven’t attended one in about 4 years (we have been trying for 8 years) and it’s mostly because tears fall without my permission and I’m terrified of stealing the joy from the happy couple. Terrified. I haven’t attended a shower for any of my nieces and nephew, or for my best friends. I was lucky that timing gave me an out in some cases but I had to admit to the rest that I just couldn’t do it. That admission makes a person feel very small. I was lucky that most understood and were incredibly gracious. They are simply wonderful people.
- Don’t tell us that we can “just adopt.” Yes, it is an option that is the perfect answer for some but it will not heal the pain of our desire to see a little mini me running around. In fact, that process doesn’t always end in a baby/child. The pain of a failed adoption after years of infertility is hard too. After paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to conceive, one may not have the money to adopt. It isn’t cheap.
- We want to hear about your baby/child and celebrate the little miracle with you. It just may have to be on our terms depending on what is happening on our journey at the moment. We have a new baby niece in the family and one of my best experiences of this past Christmas season was shopping for the little cutie.
- The process doesn’t feel fair – to anyone. For all of the feelings that we are experiencing about the fairness of our situation, there are just as many feelings that you might be feeling about us and our inability to celebrate with you. If you are willing, we can get through it together.
- Our parents suffer too. I remember my mother trying her hardest to balance the joy of my brother’s new baby and the pain I was experiencing because of a failed treatment. She also endured years of friends telling her we needed to “just adopt” before we got too old. Even during cancer treatment she allowed me to just cry in her arms when I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant. I can’t imagine the helplessness she felt in that moment. This great article helps parents understand how their role is pivotal in a healthy family unit and how to support your fertile and infertile children.
- Men suffer in silence. Face it, women are better at communication, so we often reach out to family and friends. Men often find it difficult to express their emotions. In some cases, the infertility may happen because of complications they are having. The burden they are under is very heavy. This isn’t the case in our story, but my husband most definitely hurts too.
- We are on an emotional roller coaster. Each negative pregnancy test, hormone treatment, miscarriage, etc. is incredibly hard. On the flip side, a positive test (even if it doesn’t result in a baby), an insemination or IVF gives us profound hope and excitement.
If you have more, I’d love to hear them!