Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Salt isn't just a Seasoning

Support from family and friends can go a long way in dealing with the emotional struggles of infertility and/or adoption. There are lots of things that seem to be the "normal" response to these topics, but tend to "pour salt in the wound".

I hid our struggles from the majority of our family and even our closest friends.  I hated seeing the pain in their eyes or hearing it in their voice when we had yet another negative pregnancy test.  To me, that pain was salt in my wound... so I didn't talk about it.  I hid my sadness, anger, and envy behind laughter and jokes:  "Who's needs children?  I have three dogs that I can leave unattended while I am at work!" HAHAHAHA! (tears) HAHAHAHA!  Granted I talked about our cycles, our treatments, our struggles, my anger, my disappoinment with a wonderful group of women.. a group of women (thank you WTE Ladies) I may never meet but who have been there for me when I couldn't wouldn't share those things with people I knew/know and love.

So if I had to go back, would I do it differently?  Probably... I'd probably be more open about all of it, so that others could learn, could help me Adjust, Alter, Amend perceptions and conversations.

What can I do now? 
What can you do now?

Ask How You Can Be Supportive:  The best way to be supportive is by asking what you can do. This allows the couple involved to determine the kind of role you will play in support. And it allows them to retain control over a very personal issue. If the couple tells you that there is nothing that you can do, respect their requests, and offer to be there for them in the future should they need you.  Possible offer a hand to hold at a doctor's appointment or buying a mutual friend's baby gift to spare your pal the pain of doing it themselves.

Don't Force the Issue:  Even though you may want to talk about the diagnosis or treatment options that your friends are pursuing, they might not feel the same way. It is important to allow them to discuss their emotions and concerns about infertility in their own time. Don't make comments such as, "When are you going to get pregnant?" or "What treatment are you going to try next?" These comments can be hurtful and inappropriate. Make your friends aware that you are available to talk at any time, but don't force your advice upon them.

Resist Comparisons:  Though it can be tempting to tell your family members about people you know who are also going through fertility treatments, this is generally not a wise idea. Everyone's experience with infertility is different, and most couples who are experiencing it don't want to hear about other people's battles. Unless your family asks you to tell them about other people's experiences, refrain from doing so.

Don't Be Overly Optimistic or Pessimistic:  Fertility treatments can be very successful sometimes. IUI and IVF offer success rates of up to 25% per cycle. However, even if your friend is undergoing treatment, there is a possibility that a pregnancy won't result. Many women do become pregnant, but experience miscarriage early on. So try to avoid being overly optimistic about treatments. However, this does not mean that you should be negative about treatment either. Try to be supportive without leaning one way or the other.

Avoid Recommending Treatments: If a family member or close friend is undergoing fertility treatments, then you will probably be interested in finding out more about these procedures. But try to avoid recommending one procedure over another. Choosing fertility treatment needs to be a personal decision and it should only be made between the individuals directly involved. Feel free to offer support about treatment, but try not to favor one treatment over another.

Remember Both Partners:  There is usually more than one individual involved in an diagnosis of infertility. Unfortunately, because infertility is often seen as a "woman's disease," male partners often get left out of the picture. In fact, up to 50% of infertility diagnoses are due to male factor infertility. It is important that male partners get all the support and concern that you can provide. [Source]

3 comments:

  1. Great post! Some things are just hard to talk about... and some people are just not aware of issues such as this one!
    Love you Maddie!

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  2. Hello, we have 1 bio dd 3.5 from IVF and no success since, and am just now looking into fostering. I would love to chat with you more, thank you for this blog, I am also in MI and was given this link by someone on the adoption forums. I am mom2bemore there if you dont mind dropping me a line, I would leave my email but I dont want it public.

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