To the cheerleaders, the coaches, the fans on the sidelines, welcome.
I want to dedicate some space and time to reach out to you, the family and friends of my infertility sisters.
I know watching your loved ones deal with the pain that comes along with infertility is overwhelming, heartbreaking, even uncomfortable. I want to help. Ask me your questions, I won’t judge you. Let’s start a conversation.
One-in-six couples deal with infertility.
It affects you whether you know it or not. Your neighbour, your co-worker, the receptionist at your dentist’s office. Infertility is everywhere. Let’s chat.
My husband and I have been trying to conceive for four years. We had a miscarriage right out of the gate but knew it was pretty common so we went on with our lives.
Flash-forward to four years later, three fertility clinics, multiple rounds of IVF cycles and 3 more miscarriages, the reality of our infertility has hit us pretty hard.
Like most couples suffering from infertility, we kept what we were going through on the DL. We wanted what everyone wants, a nice big surprise celebration of cupcakes with “We’re Pregnant!” scribbled on them.
But after a while, it got too hard to handle on our own, we needed to let people in. We needed support.
Other than the physical and financial strain of infertility, the first thing to know is that those in the trenches are like icebergs, 90% of their suffering is hidden below the surface.
The monthly cycle of loss, whether it be eggs, embryos, frosty’s, miscarriages, IUIs, IVFs, PGS testing (if these terms sound foreign to you, you’re one of the lucky ones), it wears on you. It’s a monthly cycle of mourning. And every month deeper into the gorge of infertility is further into the loss of our children and dreams of having a family.
Since it’s so prevalent out there in the world, just being aware of this can help. Being empathetic, being mindful. And when someone chooses to open up to you and share his or her struggle, being prepared.
Maybe don’t say things like –
“Do you really want kids?” (said as her 2 wonderful children run crazily around the house playing)
“Oh I had a miscarriage too, it’s not the end of the world” (says the woman with two children who conceived naturally
“How old are you?” (followed by an assessment of whether or not you ‘still have time’)
“A friend of a friend tried for 4 years and then just got pregnant on her own!” (btw- I know a bunch of infertile friends who told their friends that too after they were tired of explaining the lengths they had gone through to conceive)
If you want to support a friend, loved one or family member going through this, let’s start with an overview of what you can do to help.
My husband’s Aunt came to me one day with a book on infertility,
“I bought you this, and I bought one for myself too, so I can try to understand what you’re going through”.
The book didn’t matter (albeit it was an interesting read) but the idea of her trying to understand what I was going through was everything I had ever wanted. It was the single most caring thing anyone had ever done for me.
Try being empathetic, you can say things like –
“I’m so sorry you’re going through this” (and then sit quietly, listen, then offer to make them a cup of herbal tea because their acupuncturist probably has them off caffeine
“How are you? Do you want to talk about it?” (give them the option. I know it makes you feel uncomfortable, but try it out)
After a miscarriage, failed cycle, or just because you know that they’re going through a monthly struggle, send flowers, a card or candy. Acknowledge that they just lost the baby they’d been hoping for, or that another month of disappointment went by.
Since you don’t always know how many people around you are in the depths of this affliction, I encourage you to share this message, who knows how many people you will inadvertently help.