It is estimated that 1 in every 8 couples deals with infertility. If that’s true, you know someone struggling with infertility. Many couples with infertility choose not to talk about it, so you have no idea who these couples are. And it isn’t only couples who don’t have children or who have miscarried. Secondary infertility is when a couple who already has a child or children, and who just can’t seem to have another.
Infertility is such a sensitive topic. How do you handle a friend with it?
First off, because it is a sensitive topic, don’t assume couples with no children (or those with only 1) have chosen to not have kids. People tend to assume because I don’t have children that I must not want them, but couldn’t be farther from the truth. At the time of writing, when it comes to having kids, I could take it or leave it. But I haven’t always felt like this. There were some days that’s all I thought about, where I was so obsessed with the idea. So to have someone ask me while at a baby shower, “what about you, don’t you want kids?” can really feel like a stab in the heart. Words can really hurt, so if you don’t know why someone has no children, don’t make any assumptions.
Speaking of baby showers, be sensitive when inviting a friend with infertility. Yes we want to be included, but at least for me, I’m really not dying to plan or help decorate for someone else’s shower, when all I can think is, why isn’t it my turn? Since I was on a church’s staff for a few years, I’ve had to plan or help plan many baby showers. I probably should have said no, but I didn’t know how to say no without opening up and explaining how painful it would be. So I bottled up my emotions and did it, feeling sad about it the entire time. The problem was, the people who asked me to help knew I was struggling with infertility, so I’m kind of blown away that they still asked. I feel like it should be obvious but since it isn’t, be extra sensitive when it comes to baby showers. Because everyone reacts so differently, I can only share my personal feelings. But maybe ask them privately how involved with the shower they want to be (if at all), especially if it’s for a close friend or loved one. And don’t be offended if they don’t want to be involved at all. When your in the throes of infertility, it can ruin your entire day or more to feel like your turn will never come while everyone else is getting theirs.
One topic people frequently bring up when they find out a couple is infertile is adoption. While I LOVE the idea of adoption and support it, it isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers. I could get into the finances of it and the emotional hurdles of fostering, but let’s stick to it in relation to infertility. When you’ve just gotten your period AGAIN or you are grieving over a miscarriage, you really don’t want adoption brought up as an alternative. Women struggling with infertility are longing for their own child, and may not be emotionally ready to think about adoption. It very well may be something she does down the road and finds great joy from, but in the midst of infertility, just support her and listen to her right where she’s at. Don’t bombard her with suggestions. Just listen.
Listening really is the biggest thing I’ve needed during my emotional journey struggling with infertility. Having people who truly listened got me through. People who could read me, pick up on my depressed mood, and who remembered to pray for me made all the difference in the world. And hearing often that they prayed for me made me feel remembered and noticed. Let your friend with infertility know she can trust you to keep what she says in confidence. Be the support she needs. Especially when many people in your shared circle of friends are getting pregnant, let her know you remember what she’s going through and you’re there for her.
If you’re struggling with infertility, leave a comment down below and share what you appreciate in others during your journey. If you’re a friend of someone struggling, tell us how you support her.