Infertility, What Others Don’t Know
Posted On: August 14, 2018
Robyne F. Howard Psy.D.
Lakefront Counseling Group, Ltd.
Not being able to conceive is a hidden, oftentimes lonely and painful place to find oneself. One in eight couples has trouble conceiving or carrying a child to full term. I have treated women for many years who struggle significantly when their body does not do what it was designed for. This struggle is frequently kept concealed and covert. Often for several understandable reasons.
Friends, family members and others often don’t understand what it is like when month after month you find that your body does not create a child or results in a miscarriage. There is pain attached to not feeling normal or like others, fear that you will never become a parent, anger that your body does not work correctly and sadness that you and your partner cannot share in the joy of growing your family.
A myriad of tests, specialist visits and costs accrue while critical decision-making drives choices related to how many IVF cycles are needed, when you stop them, when you change doctors, do you consider adoption or other options, like using a donor egg, along with how your faith might factor into these decisions?
While all of these considerations are being processed and interventions to your body are taking place, friends and family continue to host baby showers, conceive themselves, talk about their many children and sometimes, unintentionally forget to imagine what it might be like to not know if you will ever be a parent.
So, what should friends and family know about infertility?
- Don’t assume that your friend or family member wants or doesn’t want to talk about whether they conceived this month or not.
- Ask how to support them and what they need from you.
- Be aware and empathic to how very difficult and painful infertility is.
- Be mindful of what you share remembering that if you describe your painful pregnancy, that they would likely give anything to have a painful pregnancy.
- Reduce jokes about how much fun they might be having trying to conceive, it’s not fun at all.
- Adoption is a difficult choice, don’t minimize their struggle by offering this up – they know the options.
- It’s hard to not be sure whether to invite your best friend to your second baby shower when they are going through infertility treatment. Again, ask them, be empathic to what it might be like for them, allow them room to say no or yes
- Be present and available and try not to judge.
- Don’t forget that they need you now.