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 www.livingthesacrament.com 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?