Thank you all for your funny and encouraging comments! I got some really funny stuff via email! I do have to say, it's nice to know I have not been the only one who got an offer for a surrogate. Though, I kind of wish I was the only one!
In light of the emails I received, I just have to add one more to the "Not-so helpful" list of things people say to women walking through infertility!
- #11 "Just touch me and let my fertileness rub off on you! Every time my husband looks at me, I get pregnant!" I'll just let that one speak for itself ;)
Now, as promised, I'll list out some "Helpful Comments/Gestures" people can do for couples walking through this painful time. From the statistics on the last post, it was the most read blog post I've ever written. I hope this one gets even more hits... since this one really is more important!
The HELPFUL Things:
- #1 Be aware of how deeply infertility affects the couple and especially the woman. They are going through so much, not just emotionally, but also physically and spiritually. And infertility can put any marriage into the deep end where neither partner knows how to swim. At some point in a marriage, most couples are going to deal with some kind of "conflict" in the bedroom. Think of the toll infertility takes on that aspect of marriage. People make jokes, but it's a big deal. Depending on what is causing the infertility, the woman could be in severe physical pain, sometimes daily... that alone takes a huge toll on anyone. Then not to mention what she's going through physically if she's going any sort of fertility treatments. If she does get pregnant, it's likely a high-risk pregnancy, meaning the same rules do not apply to her. It's a different ball-game. And spiritually... there is a whole range of things they could be experiencing from questioning God/faith, deep anger, feeling forgotten, and also having their faith deepened. Just being aware of all this helps people to have compassion and know how to engage in conversation.
- #2 Know that adopting will not "fix" her problem. It will not take away her desire to birth her own child and she probably won't get pregnant after they adopt. Her desire may never go away. How she deals with it, is her choice. God commanded us all to be fruitful and multiply. The desire to have one's own child is innate and very good. And for the sake of goodness among humanity, recognize that every Christian family should consider adoption. The Bible demands it. Just because people can procreate is NO reason to not adopt children. We are all "called" to the orphan.
- #3 Let her know you are praying or you are thinking of her. You can also let her know that you are there to listen if she would like to talk to someone. I got many sweet emails or notes simply letting me know that I was on their heart. Random flowers would be very sweet. Even years into her struggle... let her know you too are still thinking about her pain. She is.
- #4 If appropriate (as in after a surgery, major procedure or miscarriage), by all means take them a meal! Or organize a Care Calender for them! It's a very generous way to serve. Be aware that they may or may not want this or be up for visiting at the time you bring the meal. Just be sensitive.
- #5 If it's a close friend or relative, it may be appropriate to ask questions (i.e. how did the "procedure" go?). Tread lightly here as much of it is personal and not everyone wants to answer those questions. If you have specific questions about how a certain procedure works and it's just to satisfy your own curiosity... Google it!
- #6 A lot about the topic of infertility and treatments for it is ridiculously "Joke-worthy!" But! Let them make jokes first. I've personally learned this the hard way. I laugh at most things (even the ridiculously painful and especially about men "donating" their sperm in little cups hidden in paper bags!) but not everyone does ;)
- #7 Sit in your own ability to not be able to "fix" anything or "take away" any pain for anyone. It's a hard place to be because we all want to help. We do wish we could have a baby for them or make a way for her to able to do it. But we just can't. You don't know how they feel, you don't have the solution, and you can't make it all go away. Your advice is not needed. But you can simply be with them in it.
- #8 Recognize loss when it happens. Grieve with them, mourn for them. Also, recognize that the loss of embryos in an IVF cycle or a miscarriage at any stage IS the loss of one or more children. After we lost our embryos, it was such a strange emotion because most of the world didn't seem to recognize it as the loss of our children. But I did receive one note from a friend, a "sympathy card"... and it was so beautiful. It was water to my soul... someone saying they were sorry for my loss. I felt deeply loved. Our best friends stayed very near to us during this time and would always call after a procedure or major loss. They just repeatedly wanted us to know they were "with us" if we wanted them to be. Once, we shocked them after a major disappointment when we just wanted to come over and laugh together. We needed to NOT grieve that day. And they let us. Thanks Mark and Ceci!
- #9 Ask what you CAN do to help. At the end of 2009 (the worst year of our lives I call it), I was simply exhausted and spent with grief. And my body had been through the ringer. I had a hard time getting dressed much less cleaning my house. My girlfriends, after asking what they could do to help, came over one night and Deep Cleaned my house! We all had some wine, some dessert and worked for 3 hours on my house! It was a wonderful gift... and way better than hiring someone to do it! Also, when my husband's friends would take him out to do something fun (that I wasn't in the mood for)... it was so life-giving to him!
- #10 Some may have different opinions on this, but I say, still invite them to baby showers and birthday parties. They may feel more alienated if you don't. And just give them grace if they don't show.
- And #11 Pray. Pray for your friends. Pray for God to "remember them." Every instance I can think of where a womb was opened in the Bible, it says "And God remembered Sarah...," or "God remembered her prayer..." etc. Pray for them to not lose heart or grow bitter. Pray for courage to endure. Pray for them to find a path to thankfulness. Pray for wisdom (lots of decisions are needed on this journey). Pray for faith. Pray for babies! Just pray. And let them know you are praying.
I do hope you've found this to be... helpful!
Following up on this list, I'll soon write a blog of encouragement for women currently dealing with infertility. No advice at all... just things that were/are helpful for me. It's just my story and it may be of encouragement. You may take it or leave it :-)