Over the past 7 years of dealing with infertility, I have come to some conclusions. One of these conclusions is that it can wreak havoc on many of your relationships. Ups and downs, ins and outs, over years and years for some.
In the infertile community, there isn’t much talk about how to treat someone dealing with the difficult physical and emotional stress of infertility, whether it is a friend, family member or you, personally. There have been a few articles written in the past 4-5 years with bulleted lists of “what not to say” to someone who has been diagnosed or is going through treatment and some of those things are helpful, but many of them are redundant and completely surface. I have found the advice on www.resolve.org to be the most helpful and realistic. Believe me, us infertile woman can be quite touchy and not everything works for all of us.
It is not often discussed how we, the infertile, are supposed to deal with others or ourselves during the rough times on our journey to a family… Just how should we deal with spouse, mom, dad, sister, brother, friend during this horrific nightmare? How are we supposed to protect ourselves? How do we find the right words to say or the way to behave that is not only acceptable to others, but is also acceptable (and true) to our fragile selves?
We in the IF (infertile) community understand how our IF sisters feel and break it down like such simple building blocks with words and acronyms that would be Greek to anyone else. We even use humor, maybe in a bit of a spiteful way, to get us through the most difficult times. I doubt that many of us would verbalize some of the jokes we have posted on our sacred support sites about others that have unintentionally said something hurtful to us during a particularly rough time. This is where we IF girls need some help in protecting ourselves, as well as our relationships. Still after countless procedures and needles, losing a child from early labor and a half-dozen IVF’s, I find myself walking away from some conversations mumbling things I should have said. The truth is we are the minority and most people have no clue what we are dealing with on a daily basis.
Here is how I have managed to stay on good terms with family, friends and acquaintances over the years. Breathe first and think of how much the person that you are having this conversation with means to you. Know that they are not being hurtful on purpose, but you need to use your words to gently explain how they have affected you. Make sure you are forthright and honest. When the relationship is strong enough it can withstand the truth!
I have some amazing friends and family. I have people who have been there crying with me since day 1. They have not counted how many times I did not call them back, how many times I did not show up, or how many days/weeks/months they did not hear much from me. There is such strength in these relationships and I am blessed to have these people in my life—I hope they know who they are!
**What are some things that you have said to loved ones during treatment?
**How have you stayed true to yourself during this time?