While I was unsuccessfully growing my family I was very vocal about my pain and suffering. Consequently, I heard many hurtful words from loved ones who wanted to help. Infertility isn’t new, but talking about it is. There are ways you can communicate with your infertile friends that will instill hope instead of making matters worse.
1. “Just stop thinking about it, and you will get pregnant.”
My husband and I started trying to get pregnant as I turned 28- years-old. We conceived naturally, and then lost that baby at eight weeks.
We’ve never been pregnant again naturally, despite trying for over 7 years to reproduce. Birth control has never been a part of our picture; not a month goes by that I don’t think about getting pregnant. Even now, when I don’t actually want more kids, creating them still haunts my thoughts.
When a doctor tells you that there is something wrong with your body, it’s nearly impossible to put it out of your mind.
When I was trying to get pregnant every twinge was a sign I was implanting; every odd smell was an indicator of early nausea. Each time I looked at a calendar I would count the days. Every pregnant woman or bundled baby was a reminder of what I didn’t have.
We will always be thinking about getting pregnant. Oblivion is not the magic pill to cure infertility.
2. “Just relax and it will happen.”
The forklift of fertility drugs they deliver to your door when you start treatment doesn’t make you instantly think of a day at the spa. There is nothing relaxing about shots and hormones and timed sex.
Even if you aren’t using assisted reproduction, the frustrations and anger that come with being unable to get pregnant makes you tense.
When I conceived my middle girl (our only biological child), I was traveling abroad, confused about which medication to take and when.
I received shots in the stomach while being photographed in a bikini at work. Bloat and bruises were not part of the script.
Simultaneously, I was communicating with the birth mother (of our soon to be first daughter) who had a bullet in her back and was nearing homelessness. Plus, I was spending about ten grand a month we didn’t have on all of this joy.
Relax? I was the most stressed I’ve ever been. Yet, somehow I got pregnant. If someone tells you to just relax and you will get pregnant, punch ‘em.
3. “Pray Harder.”
This is a hard one for us who love Jesus. I wouldn’t have survived the years of depression and loss I experienced during fertility treatments if it weren’t for the grace of our Heavenly Father.
Knowing the Lord is what kept me from going down some nasty paths that would’ve led to the destruction of my marriage, my heart and perhaps, my life.
I was on my knees daily praying for Him to bless us with the child He had promised. But too often my Christian sisters tried to help by quoting Bible verses and popular pithy phrases of hope that left me feeling further away from my faith.
Don’t tell a woman how to relate to her Lord when she is in crisis.
Don’t tell her to pray harder or different or that she should let the Lord’s will be done.
Don’t quote Bible study bumper stickers when a woman is bleeding out her baby.
Do ask her how you can help; do pray with her.
4. Don’t Do Nothing
If you’re not familiar with infertility, it can be a natural reaction to keep quiet about the subject. You may fear saying the wrong thing.
If you have one take away from this article, let it be this: don’t avoid the situation. Ask how she is doing, ask how she feels, let her talk about it and cry with you. Send meals and flowers when she miscarries – she just lost a child! It isn’t like getting a cold; it’s a lifelong loss.
Share your story with her without judging. Let her know she isn’t alone and that she is loved.
Infertility feels like inadequacy. If you avoid her like the plague you reinforce her fear that she is to blame. And when you get pregnant share it with her.
Be prepared that she may cry and be conflicted but that we are truly happy for you. We want to be a part of your joy even when it hurts, and please above all, be a part of ours.