SUPPORTING LOVED ONES THROUGH INFERTILITY
Odds are, you will know a friend, loved-one or family member who is struggling with infertility as an estimated 30,000 women undertake IVF in Australia each year. However, we are sometimes uninformed or uncertain about how to best give emotional support to our loved ones who are faced with infertility.
Infertility can be an exceedingly uncertain journey coupled with heartbreak. The pain can be associated with the grief of losing a loved one. However, it is sometimes described as a unique type of grief as it can be a reoccurring cycle when the women or couple grieve the loss of a baby they have not yet met.
Conceiving a child can take an extended amount of time, even years with those enduring fertility problems benefiting from your emotional support during their journey.
Unfortunately, some people don’t know what to say and may end up saying the wrong thing, which only can make the experience so much harder and even isolating for those faced with infertility.
Knowing what to say and providing understanding is imperative to providing them support.
DON’T DOWNPLAY THEIR FERTILITY
Failure to conceive a baby is an exceedingly painful time. Infertile couples are surrounded by both friends and family with children. These couples watch their friends and relatives give birth or expand their families.
They watch those children grow, witnessing the happiness a child can bring into someone’s life which may leave them to experience feelings of emptiness or leaving them to feel longing, unable to experience the same joy of parenthood.
Comments such as, “at least you don’t have to endure the sleep deprivation of a newborn baby” or “at least you have the freedom to go out and do things” do not provide comfort or support. Instead, these comments may make those with infertility issues feel like you are downplaying their emotional pain.
You wouldn’t tell somebody whose Mother has recently passed to be thankful they no longer need to purchase gifts or cards for Mother’s Day as that scenario doesn’t outweigh for the loss of a parent passing. In the same way, looking after a new baby or having the freedom to do things doesn’t necessarily provide comfort to somebody who is struggling to conceive a child.
DON’T ASK WHY THEY AREN’T TRYING IVF
In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) which is commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) can be used to overcome a range of fertility issues and for many couples, providing them the best chance of having a baby.
People may frequently ask those with fertility problems, “Why don’t you just try IVF?” in the same fashion they would use to ask, “Why don’t you try shopping for that pair of shoes at another store?”
IVF is an immense journey to undertake not just from a financial perspective, but also it is taxing both physically and emotionally with each cycle taking about six weeks from treatment to awaiting the pregnancy test result. It is essential those considering and undergoing fertility treatment are provided a significant amount of emotional support.
LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE THINKING OF THEM
One of the best things you can do is let those faced with infertility know that you care. Let them cry on your shoulder, lend an ear or let them know that they’re in your thoughts.
Offer the same support you would provide to a friend or family member who has lost a loved one or is going through a hard time. Just knowing they can lean on you to be there can help them feel less isolated and will let them know that they aren’t going through their struggle alone.
REMEMBER THEM ON MOTHERS’ DAY
With all the build-up for Mothers’ Day, people tend to become wound up in the hype and may forget about friends and family who cannot or are yet to become parents.
Mother’s Day can be an incredibly emotional day for women faced with infertility. Leading up to Mothers’ Day, it can be hard to dissociate from it. From the commercials on TV to the posters at shopping malls, even memes on social celebrating motherhood and mothers, it’s hard not to be consumed by it all.
While Mother’s Day is an important celebration, it is also important to remember those struggling with fertility on Mother’s Day with providing a gesture to let them know you are thinking of them.
They will be appreciative knowing that you haven’t forgotten about them and that they are in your thoughts.
SUPPORT THEIR DECISION TO END FERTILITY TREATMENT
No couple can continue infertility treatments forever, and at some point, they may make the decision to stop trying for a baby. For those, it can be an incredibly difficult decision to make as they grieve the loss of that child.
Once a couple has come to the decision to stop fertility treatments, it is important to support their choice. Don’t try to encourage them to try again, if that is their decision.
Once the couple has reached an outcome, they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. By providing unconditional support for their decision is paramount to aid both in their closure and strength to move on.
Read More About Dr. Joseph Sgroi