Day One: Finding Purpose in the Waiting
Day Two: Lies Women Believe About Infertility
Day Three: Infertility Resources
Day Five: Don’t Waste this Season
I’ve spent this week trying to encourage women (and men) who are facing the almost unbearable journey of infertility. It is truly my heart’s desire to know that something I’ve written has offered hope to someone who is battling an otherwise hopeless battle.
But the truth is, there are so few words that offer encouragement and hope to those of us battling infertility. There are no words that offer healing, and very few that are actually helpful. My goal today is to offer helpful tips on how to be a friend of an infertile couple.
Tell them you’re praying for them. And pray for them. Pray for comfort and healing and answers. For those of you who are not religious, tell your infertile friends that you’re thinking of them and hope for nothing but the best for them.
Identify the boundaries. This is tough. When we finally opened up about our battle with infertility, we wrote a letter to friends and family with very clear boundaries that laid out what we are and are not okay discussing. We wanted our friends and family to be aware of our situation, but we did not want to open the door for a truck-load of questions and recommendations that actually aren’t as helpful as people think.
Not everyone is going to be as direct as The Professor and I were about where our boundaries are. You may be able to determine your friends’ boundaries by how much (or how little) they’ve opened up about their journey. If you’re really close to them, you may feel comfortable enough to let them know you’re willing to listen if they ever need a safe place to break down and have a cry fest.
Listen, don’t talk. As helpful as you think it is to share “miracle stories” you’ve heard or read, they really are not as encouraging as you would think. And besides that, every infertile couple has already heard amazing miracle stories of women who conceived after they finally stopped “trying,” adopted their 5th child, or took some miracle herb that makes your ovaries sing the hallelujah chorus. We know that many people conceive after they finally give up trying, likely because the stress of infertility is finally lifted and their bodies are better able to support a pregnancy. We know that adopting a child is a perfectly legitimate (and even Biblical) way to grow a family. But all that knowledge does not bring healing, and it doesn’t make us any less infertile.
Remember them on holidays. Especially Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas. These holidays are incredibly difficult for couples who are in the throes of infertility. Acknowledge that you know this is a difficult time for them, and offer encouraging words like, “I’m praying for you today,” or “I hope you find unexpected joy today.”
Support their decisions. After nearly 3 years of not conceiving on our own, including a year of trying alternative therapies (including fertility charting, essential oils, and drastic dietary changes), The Professor and I decided to pursue fertility testing and treatment with a reproductive endocrinologist.
Deciding to pursue fertility treatments is not a decision that most people take lightly. Their are ethical implications that require a fabulous amount of prayer and research before one can reach a decision they made. Some people may decide to pursue a treatment option that you yourself feel is unethical. Please don’t mention that to them. They’ve likely wrestled with their decision, and may continue to question. Instead of sharing your own opinion, offer genuine encouragement that you’re thankful they can afford the treatment, or that you sincerely hope the treatment results in a pregnancy.
Besides the obvious ethical questions, fertility treatments often require a severe financial risk. If you’re in a position to treat a friend to a cup of coffee or a dinner out, do it. Give them a gift card to Starbucks or their favorite restaurant. If they’ve altered their eating habits, accommodate them when you invite them over for dinner.
What not to say to an infertile friend
What to say to an infertile friend
When Someone You Know is Infertile
5 Things Infertile Couples want Friends, Family, and Churches to Know
Creating a Family: For Family and Friends
The Top Ten Myths About Infertility
How Friends and Family Can Help the Infertile Couple
Have you battled infertility? What means the most to you when your friends reach out and join you in the journey?
P.S. Thank you for all of your encouragement and support this week. It is truly appreciated.