Sensitivity to those dealing with infertility

Lilies of the valley... so pretty and delicate. Delicate like our feelings.
Infertility has been on my mind a lot. I often pray for those dealing with primary infertility and secondary infertility. I didn't even know secondary infertility existed until 2 years ago. I was fully aware of primary infertility as I have seen relatives dealing with it first hand. So when I was lucky to have one child never did it enter my mind that having another may not be possible.
I've gone back and fourth about writing this post but decided I needed to share awareness about this issue. It is extremely painful for those dealing with it. Many keep their pain to themselves. But I want to offer support and help family and friends of loved ones who are struggling with infertility to not say the wrong things that cause more pain to the situation.
If you know a friend or loved one that is struggling to have a baby please read these posts:
Infertility Etiquette from Resolve
Infertility by Awestruck Wonder
Some good information on secondary infertility by Maggie O'Farrell

Everyone dealing with infertility will have a little different story, with how they are dealing with it, what treatments they choose to do, if adoption is an option. What will be the same for everyone is they will have a roller coaster of emotions over and over again. Hope to heartbreak time and time again. People will say hurtful things. Unless you have personally experienced infertility you just won't understand the emotional pain that is involved.

A lot of people don't understand secondary infertility. They say "You're lucky to have one." From personal experience, yes, you feel blessed every day and thank God for the one you have. But everyday you also watch the one you have grow and get to an age where they ask for a sibling, they go to the park and try to join other kids who are playing with their siblings, only to be rejected... they don't want to play with your kid. Your heart breaks time and time again. You know the complete joy and miracle it was to have one and you may not get to experience it again no matter how much you would like to. You really want to give your child a sibling but at what cost can you make it happen? Yes their are options, but they are expensive! That is part of the hurt secondary infertility parents feel.

How you can help?
When someone shares their fertility issues with you it is a BIG deal. It is an issue that is difficult to even talk about. No one wants to admit something is wrong with them. Be a good listener. Be careful what you say. (Read the above links.) If you don't know what to say, just let them know you care and that you will support them and listen any time. Pray for them... but only say it if you mean it!

I want to add one HUGE don't to the list that wasn't on the links and that is if you know a couple who has been having fertility problems DO NOT say you aren't in a rush to have a/another baby or anything remotely close to this scenario when in fact you are trying or will be very soon! One thing it is a lie and no one deserves to be lied to in my opinion, and that has to be the worst stab in the heart you can imagine to an infertile couple that hears you are expecting soon after you said you were in no rush! Be open and honest with them. If they have been open to you be open back and tell them that you are trying for a baby so they know the news could be coming soon, otherwise you may lose their trust for good.

My husband and I have been on the secondary infertility roller coaster for over 2 and a half years. It is all me, so yes that adds more guilt and stress on me but it has taught me so much! One of the biggest lessons is to be very considerate of other's feelings. You don't know what some people may be dealing with. In my case it was Graves Disease that messed up my body. What was supposed to be an easy 6 month radioactive iodine treatment 2 yrs ago ended up being anything but easy. It literally felt like my body was shutting down on the inside. After seeing 5 doctors I've found one that actually listens and is getting me back to feeling "normal". I pray often for good health and giving my daughter a sibling... all in HIS time.


martinealison said...

Ma chère Jodi c'est avec beaucoup d'émotion que j'ai lu et relu votre dernière publication.
Je suis l'heureuse maman de 4 enfants. Un jour après une grave intervention chirurgicale celui-ci me demanda si j'avais des enfants. D'après lui je n'en aurai plus...
J'avais un fils que j'avais eu avec de grosses difficultés.
J'ai été multi-opérée pour avoir la chance d'avoir mes trois autres enfants... Des grossesses à risques et une nécessité de rester strictement allongée en clinique du 3ème mois après cerclages jusqu'à la naissance. J'ai eu 3 grands prématurés. Ce ne fut pas simple... Mais aujourd'hui lorsque je les regarde je suis une maman très fière.
Je vous fais de gros bisous ma chère Judy sans oublier votre adorable petite fille.

Jodi Ulschmid said...

Thank you Martine for sharing your words and journey. I am so sorry for the struggle you had to go through. Life can't be easy can it!? So glad you were able to push through the difficulties to have 4! They are so lucky to have you for a mama! :)
I don't mind when people talk about the one I have and I know questions like "aren't you going to have more?" are coming. For me it is the comments where people aren't honest with you or make you feel bad by saying your child needs siblings. Those sting. Anyway, thank you for listening and your support! It means so much to me. :)