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Monday, April 7, 2014

Infertility Etiquette (Part Two)

This is part two of the post I started yesterday, Infertility Etiquette. I hope this doesn't come across as a bossy list of do's and don't''s not intended that way. I just want to try to reach out and make sure everyone understands how to help their loved ones who are dealing with infertility. Those who haven't had trouble getting pregnant often don't realize it, but infertility has emotional and social consequences that a person struggles with daily. Whether it may be holding a loved ones' new baby, attending a baby shower, or hearing a new pregnancy announcement...all of these things bring up emotions and struggles in an infertile couple. It is so important that we try to be sensitive to them and help them through this trial.

I am going to pick up where I left off on my last post:

7. Don't tell them they can always love other people's children instead. I have nephews and a niece whom I love sooo much. I love being their aunt. I also have friend's with children and I love their kids too. It is nice to be able to watch these kids who are in my life and it's easier for me to do that without my own kids, but watching someone else's kids will never take away the desire to have my own child. A part of my husband and myself. It just isn't the same. To those infertile couples I say take advantage of this extra time and be a blessing to the children in your lives and their parents. But to everyone else remember, they are still your kids, they call you mom and dad. They go home with you every night, it's not the same as having your own kids.

8. Remember them on Mother's Day. It is often such a busy day that we often don't think about those women who can't be a mom. I have to be pretty real here, I dread this day. I mean really dread it. And it never fails, I always start my period on Mother's Day. Seriously?! What a great reminder that you are not a mom...ha. We always have a special time at church to honor all the Mother's and rightfully so. They deserve the special time for all their hard work and dedication, but its tough on those who don't have kids (not by their own choice.) It's one of those days that is a painful reminder and makes you feel excluded. I'm not saying Mothers shouldn't be noticed on this day, they should! Just don't get too busy to forget about those hurting. I also think about those who are single or have had miscarriages on this day too. Try to do a little something to let them know they aren't forgotten.

9. Be sensitive when you find out you're expecting. It's not that they aren't happy for you to be having another's one of those happy for you, sad for me moments. So please handle it with care. The best thing you can do for them is tell them yourself and tell them privately, but be compassionate. Then give them space to have their own reaction and work through it. They need that. I can assure you that they feel guilty for feeling upset/jealous or whatever they feel and they don't need a crowd watching them work through those emotions. Please don't put your friend in that position. I have friends who are seriously so considerate. And I love them for it, really. They will send me a text or tell me privately and I can just tell the compassion and understanding they have towards me and it helps me so much. They know I love them and I'm happy for them, but they also know this kind of news can be tough. The fact that they specifically think of me and my feelings means so much to me. Please, please do this for your friends, I can't put enough emphasis on this.

10. Don't be critical of how they handle things. It is so true that we have no clue how we would react if we were placed in a situation. I have learned I may think I would react a certain way, until I'm in that situation and that's not typically how it goes. Infertility is an emotional roller coaster. Women will go through feeling hopeful, hopeless, jealous, angry, and just plain hormonal. If you add fertility medications on top of that..oh boy. Try to be patient. Maybe you don't get why they had such a hard time attending a baby shower or coming up to see your new baby at the hospital. If you haven't had infertility problems you can't understand and that's me, we don't wish for you to know what it feels like. But remember, I said it's a grieving process, an emotional roller coaster. How would you treat someone who had just lost a loved one? You would have grace and understanding. You would expect that they would be going through many different emotions and you would be fine with it. It really is no different. If they decide to do treatments or decide to adopt, quit trying, struggle with feelings of anger, or feeling down, whatever it is and you don't agree, please hold your tongue. Until you walk that road you just don't know what you would do. Please don't add your doubts and criticism to their already fragile emotions. Love them through it and most importantly pray for them. Also don't talk to others about your opinion on their actions and decisions. How uncomfortable to know that your private life is the hot topic of your family and friends. Nothing will isolate a person faster than that! The general rule of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" applies here.

11. Don't give advice (unless asked.) If it took you two months to get pregnant and you're giving advice to a friend who has been trying for 2 or 3 years, they are probably secretly wanting to strangle you. Not really, but I can tell you what's going through their mind might not be pretty. It's not that they don't appreciate your advice it's just that more than likely at that point they know more about the female reproductive system than you ever dreamed possible and they have probably tried everything! I know everyone wants to help and they mean well, but how much does a new mom REALLY like hearing everyone and their sister's opinion on her parenting/newborn? Not too well... When our reproductive systems are open to discussion and tips without our consent it's just not a fun time! Now if a person comes to you wanting to talk and asking for advice by all means go for it! But shouting out at the dinner table "have you tried such and such, my sister did that and got pregnant!" Well, it's just not a good idea. Trust me on this.

These are the main things I think of that by avoiding them, you can really help your infertile friends. On Part Three we will go over what you CAN do to support them.

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