Shortly after our last miscarriage, I was looking at puppies for sale on KSL E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y. I was desperately hoping that our landlord would let us get a puppy and was convinced that was the only way that I was going to heal and move forward. Now, I only occasionally look at KSL and it is mostly for the area news. I am glad that I looked today because there was this great article:
Infertility requires a changing dynamic in friendships
February 13, 2014
Many women who are experiencing infertility watch as their friends become pregnant and experience childbirth. An event that is life-changing is now a topic of conversation that may become “sticky” among friendships.
Just like most personal events, it’s difficult to understand infertility if you haven’t lived it. People understand things like cancer better. Interestingly, studies completed by Dr. Alice Domar suggest those experiencing infertility have the same levels of stress as those recently diagnosed with cancer. Regardless, the pain of infertility is largely misunderstood and at times not taken seriously.
Those experiencing infertility often hear “don’t worry it will happen, maybe if you just relax.” Being relaxed has no correlation with conception.
Here are a few things to think about if someone you care about is experiencing infertility.
- Don't minimize.
Infertility is the death of a dream. Many couples imagine and plan for
their family well in advance. When it starts to become clear that this
may not be a reality, they feel a loss of control, disappointment in
one's body, and anger.
Reproduction is often viewed as a basic
human task, not being able to do what, on a most basic level, our bodies
are “meant” to do, can be quite devastating. Many of us ascribe to the
idea that if we work hard for something we will achieve it; infertility
flies in the face of this concept. In particular, during "child-bearing
years," couples may feel they have jumped through the hoops of
education, employment and financial stability only to find that a family
(created in the traditional way) isn't easily attainable.
Your friends are facing a loss of something they always thought would be there. It can't be underestimated.
- Rely on other friends or family to discuss your pregnancy. If you are expecting and an infertile friend is not, share your joys and complaints with other friends or family. Although it is sad you aren't able to share such a rite of passage with a friend, you'll save your friendship if you rely on other parts of your support network during this time. For someone trying to conceive, the birth of a child may too much to talk about and be reminded of. They won't feel this way forever, just honor the time that they do.
- Show them you care. Do what you would do if someone had a newly diagnosed condition, which could mean casseroles, cards, flowers, long lunches with a listening ear. This isn't anything different. Let them know that you want to be supportive. Ask them, “Do you want me to ask about how things are going, or wait until you share it?” Some feel that infertility is a private matter, others seek support.
Whitney Barrell, LCSW, has a master's of social work from the University of Utah. In her private practice she enjoys working with children and families on myriad mental health issues. She can be reached at www.whitneybarrellcounseling.com