Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Do's and Don'ts of Having an Infertile Friend...

This entry is written for family and friends, old and new, who may have a sneaking suspicion that DH and I are having problems. It's not easy to admit that this is happening, nor is it easy to talk about. I would like to share with you my innermost feelings so that our relationship might whether this storm - because at the end of the day, you are important to me.

Infertility is a reality for us right now. Some of you might be shocked at the use of this word, but one in six couples experiences infertility - it's more common than you think. When you are around me, please keep the following thoughts in your heart -

Don't ask me if I'm pregnant, or speculate with others. This hurts me more than you could ever know. Plus, it makes me feel fat. When the time comes, I'll share the blessed news. But being asked all the time if I am pregnant is a constant reminder that I am NOT.

Don't feel compelled to share the latest "get pregnant" trick. Believe me, we've tried them all. Putting my feet up. Simultaneous orgasms. Drinking raspberry leaf tea. OPK sticks. Fertility monitors. Pineapple juice. Vitamin B. Acupuncture. Chinese herbs. Cutting out caffeine. Going on a vacation. If I had a dollar for every trick we've tried, we could afford to travel in Europe for the summer.

Don't tell me to relax. Until you've suffered the sorrow of trying fruitlessly for years, you'll never know the anxiety and the stress that yet another period causes. The fear of not being able to have a child can be all encompassing. There's nothing relaxing about seeing everyone around you get pregnant, or attending the tenth baby shower of the year, after having looked at yet another negative HPT. Relaxing is impossible.

Don't tell me I can always adopt. It's easy for many of you to say; you've likely felt the joy of feeling your baby kick you for the first time, or marveled at the way your baby giggles just like his daddy. Your mother has probably said to you "She has her great-grandma's dimples!", or your father has said "He has his mama's temper!" These are the things that I want to experience. Adoption isn't right for everyone.

If you are pregnant, don't tell me that you're ready for it to be over. Right now, I would kill for the chance to have swollen feet or heartburn. I would love to feel the goo of the ultrasound gel on my big belly. I'd revel at being able to actually wear maternity clothes, not just touch them and wish. Don't take for granted your pregnancy - it really is a miracle.

If you are pregnant, please don't share every detail with me. While I really am happy for you, it doesn't help me to hear all about the things that I fear I will never get to experience. Don't tell me that you could feel your baby being conceived, or that your cravings are getting stronger, or that your prenatal yoga classes are making your baby dance in your tummy. It'll just make me feel guilty that I feel sad about your happiness.

Don't tell me that you feel sorry for me when we are at a baby shower. I don't need your pity. I need your understanding. I need your distraction. I need your love and support. I need your shoulder to cry on, or your ear to bend. I need you to be a friend.

Which brings me to the "Do's" of having an infertile friend...

Do ask me how I'm doing and let me know that you are there to listen.

Do give me the time and space to share when I want to, and if I want to. Respect my privacy and refrain from judging.

Do help me by distracting me with your friendship. Meet me for a coffee. Take me window shopping. Gossip with me on the phone. Do everything you can NOT to avoid me. I need your support.

It's as simple as that. Just help me to feel loved right now, because I really need it. This has been one of the most isolating times in my life. And I'm not sure it'll ever be over...


CJDR said...

Wow SR, you have put into words everything I have felt for the past 2 1/2 years!! I wish I could print off your post and hand it out to people ;) Its just so sad that we get to be the ones who have to feel this way.....

Anonymous said...

Thank you Spring Roll...this is just perfect. I have tried explaining much of this to family and friends as we have gone through this process but you have worded it just the way I feel!

Although this IF experience has been an uphill battle, I truly believe I have grown as a person because of it. 3 years ago I would have said much of what I hate to hear people say these days. "Relax", "It will happen", "You are still young"...etc. But this isn't always the case, and through my experience I feel I am now more understanding of others problems, or possible problems. I don't ask questions or give advice about things I know nothing about, and I always make sure I listen instead of trying to "solve". If anything positive is going to come out of my IF, I think this is it.

Thanks again Springroll! You have a great way of putting all of our feelings in words;)


zabe77 said...

SR, you sure hit the nail on the head. I wish I could hand it to ppl too. Even a close friend who had fertility problems for way longer than me recently told me (after she got pg via IVF)to not think about it and let it happen naturally. Huh? I've had 3 mc?! It 'happens' all the time for me thanks to careful planning. I know she was only doing her best to console me, but I think a hug would have been way more valued.

~S~ said...

that is so so so true.

could i copy it to my blog? (dont worry, i'll link it back to you)