This week is National Infertility Awareness week. It is the time we are reminded that 1 out of 8 couples are affected by infertility. Despite these astronomical numbers, infertility can feel very isolating. One of the reasons is that it may be difficult for people diagnosed with infertility to speak about it, and often once they do, others have difficulty knowing what to say or do. This post addresses this specifically.
If you know someone struggling with infertility it is most likely because they have trusted you with this personal information. Consequently there is an even greater hope that you will offer support to your friend or loved one, even if it feels a little outside of your comfort zone. Here are a few ways you can do this:
1) Send a card validating them and the struggles they are having.
2) Let them know you are thinking of them and are open to listening if they would ever like to talk about infertility. I stress the LISTEN piece because this is the most important part, and is least likely to result in them feeling minimized or misunderstood. If you, or someone close to you, hasn’t experienced infertility, the best you can offer someone is a listening ear – not advice which they most likely have heard many times over. You don’t need to have any answers, simply be available to listen.
3) If you know someone is longing to parent it is ok to say “I know you are going to be a great parent someday!” or “Your child is going to be so lucky to have you as their Mommy.” The infertility struggle can undermine confidence in our bodies and our dreams and leave you wondering, in your hardest hours, if you are worthy of parenting at all. Even if we aren’t believing in ourselves that day, comments like these remind us of what we are striving for.
4) Treat your friend to lunch or an outing. In most States, coverage for infertility treatments are not mandatory. Consequently, patients can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for treatment and have less money left in the budget for dining out or recreation.
5) Give them a hug! If you are from Minnesota and uncomfortable with such a bold display of affection consider a donation to Resolve – The National Infertility Association. This organization advocates and offers support to your loved one and more than 7 million others who have experienced infertility.
April 19-26 is National Infertility Awareness week. This is a perfect time to reach out to someone you know who is struggling with family building and offer your support and encouragement. This week is a great week to remind our loved ones struggling with infertility that they are not alone. Please feel free to offer additional support next week, and the week after that too!
I am forever grateful to the friends, family members and medical providers ( including the accupuncturist ) who walked our journey with us. I will not forget, many years into the infertility diagnosis, receiving a package in the mail from a dear friend from Maryland. In it was a simple wall hanging which read “Believe in Miracles” Not only did it affirm our journey at a time when many others had stopped asking or talking about it with us, but it was just what I needed to remember that day. The plaque now hangs in our Miracle’s bedroom.
If you or someone you love is looking for a therapist who specializes in family building and Third-party reproduction please contact Trisha Falvey, LMFT