One in six couples struggles with infertility, so that means someone, somewhere in your life is trying to cope with the stress and heartbreak brought on by not being able to build a family. Offering the people in your life support over such a private, personal issue can be difficult. Here's my advice for being there when you're needed.
First and foremost, don’t gloss over the fact that your friend or loved one is in crisis. In our culture, we tend to go that route and it just isn’t helpful. When someone learns that they can’t have a biological child, that brutal reality is crushing. Imagine being told that the one thing you wanted most in life was an absolute impossibility. Let that notion sink in for a moment.
Now, if it were you, how would you like it if someone simply ignored your agony?
Learning that you have to seek alternative solutions to build your family is not like to having to choose another neighborhood because you can’t afford to purchase a home in the one you really wish to live. It’s also not even close to attending your second choice college or university. I know this because my husband and I have built our family through fertility treatments and adoption.
Some people tell their friends and family when they have endured a pregnancy loss. Others withhold that information for various reasons. Just because someone doesn't share the news that they have suffered a miscarriage doesn't mean they aren't in pain because their hopes and dreams are in serious jeopardy of ever coming true.
When couples are encountering fertility issues, it’s not uncommon for them to disagree over how they should create their family. There are so many factors that go into mapping out a parental path especially when it requires the assistance of third parties.
In addition to being forced to accept the fact that any future children will not share both partners' DNA, the couple must now make a significant financial investment. Can you imagine spending $20,000 or more without the guarantee of parenting a child in the end? The stress of trying to figure out from where the money will come from while absorbing the shock that your body has forsaken you takes an enormous emotional toll.
Having said all of this, the question I’m sure you continue to ask yourself is, “How do I support my loved one during all of this uncertainty?” To start, put yourself in his/her shoes. Really think about what it would be like to embrace the possibility of never being able to parent a child if that was your lifelong dream.
Ultimately, the person you love just wants to feel understood. They need to hear the words, “I’m so sorry!” I urge you to listen to them—really listen. Prior to asking a question, rehearse it in your head before it leaves your lips. That exercise could save you from having to apologize for inflicting unintentional pain for what may have been an insensitive remark. Try to refrain from offering the usual platitudes and definitely don’t say, “It will all be ok!” The bottom line is that you can’t assure him/her a child. Your loved one’s doctors and/or adoption facilitators can’t even grant them their wish with 100% certainty.
I realize you may feel like everything you say/do these days is all wrong. I seriously doubt that is the case, however. But sadly, I think you would agree that your predicament is far less precarious than the one your loved one is currently facing. At this particular juncture, your quiet and unconditional love is what’s needed most. In my no-so-humble opinion, these are the ways in which you may support someone who is experiencing infertility.
To learn more about Denise Steele or to read additional posts, please go to: Hope4Fertility