Support and understanding is VITAL with infertility

It is such a shame that not all of us are lucky enough to have full support when going through the infertility journey. Most of the time this is due to people not knowing what to do or say, but actually I think that they should try a little harder. If a family member or close friend had cancer or other terrible illness, we would do our best to help them through it; give them lifts to appointments, visit them, buy them books/flowers…that kind of thing. But for some reason infertility makes people clam up, and I think it’s because it’s such a heartbreaking problem that it touches us all so deeply inside that we involuntarily ‘look away’. To be truly empathic is to open your heart up and be vulnerable to what life could do deny you, and whilst personal illness is similar in that we don’t like to accept ‘it could happen to us’, it doesn’t involve children. And that, I think is the key.

I have been deeply moved by other bloggers telling their infertility stories, but I am always sadly surprised at the lack of support some women seem to receive. As far as I see it, this is what an infertile woman needs support with (I fully accept that partners need support too, but this is from my perspective);

  • general emotional support – facing the fact that they may never have their own child, dealing with the emotions brought on naturally and from the IVF drugs, coping with constantly seeing babies/pushchairs/pregnant women.
  • financial understanding – this doesn’t mean you need to help pay the costs of IVF but you could be more empathic to the fact that your infertile friends suddenly can’t afford to go out all the time. Financial stress is very real and IVF is very expensive.
  • anger management/understanding – there are many times and many reasons when an infertile will be angry. It does make us angry when friends announce their pregnancies, not because we are angry at them but because it is a reminder that our own bodies aren’t getting pregnant. It does make us angry when people repeatedly tell us to ‘relax and it will happen’ or ‘have you tried…’ because we’ve been trying for years, know what we are doing and have seen specialists thanks! Yes that may be a bit rotten of us, but we can’t help it.
  • loneliness/seclusion – not all of us find it easy to share and talk about how we feel which leaves us feeling very lonely with our feelings. Sometimes just friendly smiles and someone noticing that we aren’t ourselves can make a real difference. In a social group when everyone has children, it can feel really daunting and we infertiles perfect the ‘plastic smile’ for when we see our pregnant friends or beaming new mums.
  • positive support – we know infertility is depressing, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be positive about what we’re trying to do. A positive attitude can achieve more than a negative one surely? So if an infertile is sad and down, try to point out that by trying IVF for example they are attempting to change the future 🙂 I know I would appreciate a friend who tried to cheer me up when I was feeling down, especially if it was over such a delicate subject as infertility, and that takes a lot of balls from the friend and would deserve a lot of respect.
  • couple support – the stress on the relationship can vary from couple to couple, but friends/family should be aware that arguments may be triggered by infertility. Just go easy on us, don’t introduce extra, seemingly trivial things for us to start worrying about. We have enough on our plate.

It has been my mission with my blog to not only have an outlet for my emotions on my own infertility journey, but also to help people better understand infertility even if they don’t have it. I have always been the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and believes that a problem shared is a problem halved and I think it is such a shame that infertility is still sometimes a taboo subject. So here are some suggestions if you know someone who is infertile, on what to say to them as an ice breaker if you like;

  • Oh bugger that sucks. I have no idea what I can do, but just let me know if I can help in any way (apart from the obvious of course, I think your hubby may beat me up) <Humour has its place in infertility>
  • Poor you! I don’t know anything about infertility, so you’ll have to educate me.
  • Good for you, going for IVF! Such a positive step, you’re both very strong.

It is my choice to be positive and it’s not easy, but with smiles and kind words from those around me it helps. If we haven’t reached the end of our infertility journey and are still trying for that baby, then I think it’s essential to be positive. If you ask someone who has children what would they do for their child, they would tell you anything and everything without hesitation. Well that’s what we infertiles are doing, we just haven’t got our children here yet, but we’re still doing everything we can for them.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by babysocks2008 on February 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Thanks Jodie. You helped me understand my anger a bit more with this post. Lately I am so ANGRY with all my pregnant friend and my brother with a new baby. BUT I am not mad at them, their babies are just a painful reminder of what happened with my ectopic and subsequent infertility. You are a wise lady. XOXO


    • Hi Babysocks, thanks for your comment. So glad you feel better about your anger. Our emotions make us who we are, and maybe our anger helps to spur us forward when times are difficult. Let’s face it, we either get angry or we cry, and I think anger at least pushes us and motivates us. You take care of yourself young lady 🙂 xxx


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