Longing. Loneliness. Heartache. Bitterness. Rejection.
A Broken Heart.
All of those things can be a result of infertility.
The seemingly endless cycle of infertility is daunting and terrible. Just when you think you’ve given up and you can move on, something new sets a spark within you. You have to keep trying just a little longer, only to face failure again, and again, and again.
I shared last year about the struggle my husband and I had in achieving our dreams of becoming parents. It’s impossible to think of our struggle without realizing how close we were to losing everything. At the time, I thought I was Superwoman and I could handle anything (maybe you do too), but I was on the verge of breaking . . . and losing EVERYTHING I loved.
My mind was set on one thing. I really wanted to be a mom. I attempted to go through the motions of normal life. But each new cycle of deflated hope broke me apart. At one point, I even debated whether one of us should have an affair so that a pregnancy could occur and everything could work out ok. What?!? Was that really the best solution I could envision? In my brokenness, it seemed like a better option than our failed turkey baster intercourse.
I had no idea what to do next!
That’s around the time when my family and friends stepped in. I’m so glad they did!
Here are a few of the helpful things they did for me that might also help a friend of yours who is struggling with infertility.
Tip #1: If a friend has trusted you enough to share personal details of their life story, then don’t be afraid to ask how things are going.
For me, infertility was always the huge, purple elephant in a bikini waltzing through the room. Even when no one was talking about it, it always seemed to pop back up.
If my coworker said, “I heard Gershmelda is having ANOTHER baby.” Bam! There was my infertility again. I couldn’t even have ONE.
If my friend said, “Want to go out with us this weekend?” Kapow! There it was again. I was scheduled to be ovulating this weekend and would need to stay at home to have planned intercourse, elevate my legs in the air for hours on end while eating pineapple and NOT drinking alcohol because that might hurt my possible unborn child.
So, like I said, don’t be afraid to bring it up. Chances are, your friend has already brought it up in her mind eighteen times and could really benefit from the knowledge that you are helping bear the struggle, even if just by listening.
Tip #2: If your friend is struggling to keep up appearances at public events like baby showers and children’s birthday parties, don’t take it personally.
They are not trying to be rude by saying they can’t make it to certain events. Chances are, they feel stab wounds in their chest when they see that cute little baby shower invitation. They want to feel happy for their friend, but instead they feel guilty for wishing it was a party for their baby instead. Perhaps they’re thinking that if they had gotten pregnant when they first started trying, their little one would be celebrating the same birthday as the child in the invitation. You never know what is going on inside of their heart and mind. Infertility opens up feelings that are difficult to explain and even harder to resolve. If you feel comfortable asking them about their feelings concerning public events, then do it.
Just don’t you dare tell them how they should or should not feel! They already know how they should feel. That’s why it makes them feel terrible that they don’t.
Tip #3: Your friend might unwillingly be overthinking everything people say. So watch your words.
I’m not saying that every person struggling with infertility is a crazy person who is about to fly off into a fit of rage or uncontrollable sobbing at the mere mention of baby socks. On the contrary, you will probably never know that your words have the effect they do. I made adorable little cookies for a work party one Christmas, and a coworker commented that it was obvious I didn’t have kids at home because I sure had a lot of time on my hands. Yes. I had poured hours of time into meaningless cookies. I was devastated by her words and felt them judge me. Pointless words about cookies could make me ugly cry (and I’m not usually a crier). A bit of forethought is preferable when judging a woman by her cookies.
On the other hand, some other people spoke very positive, loving words into my life and helped me to maintain hope and persevere at times when I almost gave up. Words are powerful! Watch them work wonders in positive ways!
Tip #4: Help your friend seek out a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist.
When we suspected we might be having more than a normal amount of difficulty becoming pregnant, I went to a doctor who basically made me feel like I was stupid and didn’t know how babies were made. My mom was a nurse practitioner and recognized the less than helpful advice. She encouraged us to seek out a fertility specialist instead.
The best thing we ever did was take her advice to go see fertility specialist Dr. Lee Caperton of Caperton Fertility Institute.
Over the course of our treatment, Dr. Lee Caperton and his amazing staff showed us that dreams do come true. They helped turn our dream for a family into a reality.
You can’t go wrong by encouraging your struggling friend or family member to schedule a consultation with Dr. Caperton. He’s full of great ideas, expertise, and hopeful inspiration for growing families in Albuquerque and beyond!
I’m so thankful to everyone who helped my husband and I achieve our dreams for a family. I wish every couple experiencing the pain of infertility had an amazing friend or thoughtful family member to support them. Also, I wish I hadn’t tried to handle my issues and pain on my own for so long. I put myself and my husband through unnecessary heartache because I didn’t seek help sooner.
If you need help finding positive words to say, if you’re searching for basic information about infertility, or if you want to help your friend research possibilities, you can also check out Resolve.
Resolve is a nonprofit organization whose aim is to help the 7.3 million Americans struggling with infertility. They also raise awareness about this unspoken illness by hosting National Infertility Awareness Week (which is April 22-28 this year). Maybe you can help your friend #flipthescript by offering encouragement and support in a time of need.
Dr. Lee Caperton is the only Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Fertility Specialist practicing and living in the State of New Mexico. He is also Board Certified as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. As the Founder, CEO and Medical Director of Caperton Fertility Institute, Dr. Caperton focuses on innovation and technical advancement of the practice, and has pioneered the implementation of techniques in many areas including genetic screening of embryos (PGS/PGD), single embryo transfer (SET), and laser-assisted reproductive techniques (assisted hatching, CGH). He brings a wealth of expertise to his patients and has cared for thousands of individuals struggling with infertility to help them realize their dreams of parenthood.