This post is part of Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week.
Infertility continues to be treated as a disease that only affects individuals or couples. That couple over there, the girl I grew up with, my brother and his wife….
Given the silence that inevitably surrounds infertility, it’s an easy conclusion to draw.
You might know about it, but the actual infertility only affects them or her.
The truth is that, with 1 in 8 couples affected by infertility, infertility actually affects everyone.
It tears families apart, it tests the strength of marriages, and it destroys friendships…if we let it.
I lost a friend to infertility. It’s been years since we last attempted to connect; we both seemed to know that it would never be the same. It doesn’t make me miss her any less.
It was days after my second devastating miscarriage (yet another loss at 13 weeks) that I was supposed to take part in her wedding. She stood by my side two years before, and I was honored to do the same for her.
The dress was resized, the back up shoes with lower heels in the same shade of silver were purchased, the rooms reserved, and the flight was on schedule.
But, without any warning, my body betrayed me for the second time in six months. The ultrasound revealed another lost life within me.
Tearful messages were exchanged.
It’s ok, I will understand; let me know what the doctor says.
Those statements, it turned out, were just words. Things people to say to cover the hurt and fill the silence.
The second D&C was every bit as painful as the first. Instructions were given. Rest was suggested, followed by a mandatory follow up appointment…to occur days after the wedding date.
Frantic phone calls were made.
I’m so sorry. This is a nightmare. I never thought this would happen twice. I love you so much and I want to be with you. I can’t believe this is happening.
Guilt set in.
The phone calls went unreturned. For months and months, I made the same apologetic call.
As the infertility wore on, and the silence continued, I became anxious, depressed, and isolated.
At some point, my husband had the good sense to intervene.
You are going through enough. You have to let go for right now.
That friendship never did come back to me. That friendship was just another casualty of infertility.
Friendships and family relationships often suffer as a result of infertility. How could they not? It’s very difficult to know what to say, how to react, and how to provide support when you have little knowledge to draw upon.
Having lost a dear friend early on in my battle, and having dealt with statement after statement that shattered my soul, I did what many other infertiles do along the way: I hid. I got wrapped up in treatments, tests, and attempts to conceive. Life became a project, and I was no longer willing to share.
I decided that I would rather go it alone than continue to explain my feelings and frustrations only to be told, “you need to relax”, “the fun is in the trying”, or “it’s just not the right time for you”.
Some studies suggest that stress plays a significant role in infertility, and that participation in mind/body programs (including group support) might help reduce that stress.
That, of course, is where this site comes in. My greatest is hope is to create a little community where we can share our stories, provide support to one another, and seek help if we need it.
But our friends in the land of the fertile can help us too. Friendships and family relationships shouldn’t have to suffer.
Ways for friends and family to provide support:
- Listen; really listen.
- Avoid stating opinions based on something read in a magazine.
- Avoid clichés.
- Ask questions to gain understanding.
- Offer to be there for appointments or immediately following appointments.
- Check in often.
- Use the words miscarriage, infertility, and pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to call it like it is.
- Invite us to parties, showers, and evenings out. Let us decide what we can handle.
- Talk to us, not about us.
- Invite us for coffee, a movie, or lunch.
- Bring us books and magazines.
- Pour the Cabernet.
If friendship and support can decrease stress, and less stress can increase fertility, then we are most certainly in this together.
Please…DON’T IGNORE INFERTILE FRIENDS.
For more information on understanding infertility, please visit: