Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Being Sensitive to Those With Infertility (Part 3)

Over the past two posts, I have shared the need for awareness among families who are struggling with primary or secondary infertility and my own struggle with infertility. In this one of the graces that I've received is strength and support from my sister in laws. Honestly I'm still getting used to having "siblings" but it's a great blessing. One thing that my sister in law told me was that she was there for me. Although she has great fertility and the sweetest nephews and niece I could ask for, she told me she was glad to know what we were going through. She didn't try to offer advice, she didn't didn't try to tell me "it's God's will" she just let me talk. Below are things that can help those who are dealing with infertility.

1. Know that we are grieving.

Grief is often known as huge or mounting sadness caused by loss. While for those with infertility, they may not have suffered a miscarriage, though many have, they are grieving the loss of their dreams for the "perfect" family. Also just like grieving a loved one there will be strange triggers that may bring back deep feelings of grief.

2. Don't belittle our losses.

One of the hardest things I've ever heard was someone telling me I could always get pregnant again after I had lost my child. While a child who is miscarried may not be "real" to you, that child is very real to a parent who lost them. There are always outside influences that you may not know of that caused this loss and the parents are trying to deal with them.

3. Please listen to what we are saying...

I know for me, talking about infertility can be really hard. When I come to my friends and just need to talk, thes best thing is to know that we are being listened too. We may stumble, cry and laugh in one sentence, but feel comfortable and safe talking to you.

4. ... and don't offer solutions.

Many people know of the options that are open to them being infertile. Adoption may not always be the best option for those who are infertile. The same would be for being foster families or other medical options. It is in the best interest of a couple to find the best option for them rather than finding that an option will not be fruitful if pursued. Also, everyone knows someone who got pregnant after doing (insert topic here). Just because it worked for one person doesn't mean it will happen for the person you are talking to.

5. Don't be afraid to share your joy.

Pregnancy and birth announcements can be understandably hard. Don't be afraid to share your joy. It may be easier to let those who are experiencing infertility know before you make a big public announcement. This will give those dealing with infertility a chance to process their emotions before being present at a large family function or seeing major announcements on 

6. Find community.

For those who are dealing with infertility a welcoming community can help to sort out emotions and feelings regarding infertility. For those readers who are practicing Natural Family Planning there is a Christian forum over at with separate boards for men and women. This is a forum for those who use Natural Family Planning or are curious about it. They have great resources for those on any step of the journey: those trying to conceive, avoid pregnancy, work through infertility or miscarriage, during pregnancy and after.

7. Don't think of our friendship as "weird".

It can be difficult to maintain a friendship with those who do not have children after you have given birth. Truly, continue and maintain your friendship. A good friend will realize that though things have changed, a good friendship is worth maintaining.

While this is only a short list of ideas, what would you add to this list?

Dear Mr. Barnes - A photographer's perspective

Dear Mr. Barnes,

Your recent use of cameras and death in your post A Possible Anthropological Origin of the Duckface was quite a stretch for me to read today as a person who also takes joy in photography.

Let me start with my beginnings with a camera and move forward. I caught my first shutterbug when I was 6 and my mom let me take photos during the dolphin show at the Brookfield Zoo on my first family vacation. My mom showed me how to hold the little point and click 35mm film camera and aim it at my unsuspecting swimming mammalian targets. Some how I knew the patience of waiting for the right moment to try to capture the moment of the dolphins flying in mid air, because that’s what subjectively we see.

Moving forward into high school I was the lead photographer and “Senior Editor” of our small school yearbook. I would capture candids of my peers, the thrill of games and the action behind the scenes. I learned what photoshop was, how to manipulate, cut and frame. Photos became more than a snapshot of time but a story unto themselves.

Fast forward to today. I take photos to capture the dichotomy between light and dark, the contrast of colors, joy in my day, and memories I am proud of and choose to share. I never ask my subjects to pose or be different of who they are, generally I’m happy if I can catch them still enough to snap a quick one before running away. I play with sliders to balance and shade. To match the lens of the artificial to my eye and memory. Just with any story passed down from relative to relative, there may be an occasional embellishment but the essence is the same.

A photo is nothing more than a reflection of the captured and the intent that a person chooses to see. I capture photos because there is a stirring in my heart or something I deem to be precious. Sure, their worth is not necessarily known to those that I share my photos with. To share my photos, regardless of the content, is an objective act of myself showing my subjective feelings towards myself and those people and places I’ve encountered

Certainly we have all posed for cameras in our lives. It may be that we want to have more of our subjectivity shown to others or that we are making a choice for our behavior. Anyone who is the subject of a photo should remember that they will be viewed objectively by another person and be reacted to by their subjectivity.

Not posing, finally standing still :)

The duckface is not only an action or pose by the person doing it, but reaction created by the person viewing it. The old adage of “A photo is worth a thousand words” is not the words of the subject but those of the viewer. Even in the most basic of stories, a picture or illustration proves to guide our hearts and minds toward the author’s intent.

Lastly for the topic of death. We as Catholics still treat a person’s corpse with every respect that we should have treated them in life. The reason that the Church still prefers the body present during the funeral rites is that it recalls our loved one’s life and death. If a body is so easily discarded and has no worth after we have died, the Catholic Church would not teach so strongly on the Resurrection of the body and soul.

It is hard to react to death because our selfish tendency wants those we hold closest to never permanently leave us. Our repulsion to corpses is that we have so many human memories wrapped up in the objectivity that this person had. We long for the goodness that was brought into our lives by their objective presence and miss that it will no longer be a constant presence in our lives.

I have watched as my loved ones have planned funerals and find myself in that same boat now. As I am taking care of loved ones and learning their final wishes, I am blessed to have the opportunities to know how lives will be celebrated.

For those who I love who are terminally ill, there is a very thin line between objectivity and subjectivity because we can visibly see the struggle they have in communicating and that struggle shows me more of their spirit and who they are.

When their time has come and I know that they have seen God for who He truly is; back here there will be tears and pictures. These pictures will show us glimpses of who they were and keep their memories alive in our hearts.

Thank you for your perspective and I hope you appreciate mine.

Amanda Castro