It's National Infertility Week and I've been thinking about a few ways to help educate others and support those going through infertility. I have a list of 8 Dos and Don'ts- 8, because 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility.
1. Don't ask couples when they are going to have kids/if they want to have kids.
This one is #1 for a reason. This is a difficult question to answer if you are TTC (trying to conceive). Also, this makes couples think they actually get to decide when they want to have a baby, making the wait even more difficult once they find out the truth. This also goes for couples who already have a child, as secondary infertility exists.
2. Don't suggest adoption.
Adoption is beautiful. I'm a big fan. But it is not a replacement for infertility, it is its own wonderful thing, but couples need to come to it on their own, if it's right for them.
3. Don't tell the one story you know of your friend's co-worker's cousin who stopped trying or adopted, and then immediately got pregnant.
Yes, it happens, but not always, not usually, and it's not very helpful, it kind of gets our hopes up and crushes us later. Even if its true- if they have been TTC for years, then get pregnant, I would not call it immediate.
4. Don't complain about your pregnancy/child birth/children and tell them they are lucky.
Making light of another's struggle and focusing on your own difficulties in pregnancy, childbirth, or parenthood is unkind and hurtful. If you don't know what to say, just say your sorry and that you'll pray for them/support them (and then do).
5. Don't give suggestions.
Chances are they have already researched and tried countless supplements/kits/diets/tricks to help them conceive naturally. Unless they ask, don't offer.
6. DO be sensitive.
Choose your words wisely and be careful not to say things in passing that could be hurtful. Don’t make jokes about them maybe being pregnant (‘oh maybe you are pregnant?!’ = not cool). Be understanding and especially sensitive at baby showers, on Mother's Day, and with pregnancy announcements.
7. DO show kindness.
Be supportive, be loving. Tell them it's not their fault and that you are there for them. Pray for them, check up on them, be a friend.
8. DO talk about it.
Just like any struggle, it helps to talk about it. If you have a close relationship with the person, ask them how they are doing. You don't need to offer advice, but just listen and love on them.
My Story: I have been TTC for 4 years now. My husband and I have adopted two beautiful boys, and we love them with our whole hearts. I am so thankful to be a Mom, and even though infertility has been and still is difficult, I wouldn't change my story for anything. It has led me to my 2nd son, given me a greater appreciate for my children, and a deeper understanding and compassion for others. I do hope this list helps us be more sensitive and loving to the 1 in 8 couples we know who have faced/are facing/or will face infertility. It is important to talk about. Couples need to know that pregnancy is not always immediate, not always guaranteed, and not always easy. All of us can benefit from learning to be more kind, compassionate, and sensitive to others.
Blessings and Joy!