Kate's back with another installment in a series about the many facets of infertility, from how to begin the adoption process to how to be sensitive in conversation with those who have adopted children or who are struggling with infertility. Thank you for the comments you left on her first post. We think this will be a very enlightening journey - thanks for bringing us along, Kate.
I've LOVED all the comments, interest and questions I've gotten from you! SO many good things to talk about! I've been debating what to cover first and I think I'll go somewhat chronologically. Starting with fertility and how to be supportive of family and friends who are going through the struggle of trying to have a baby. Please keep in mind, this is written from my personal experience. You may feel differently! I only want to help.
As I remember back to that time of my life what sticks out the most is how not myself I was. I felt very volatile emotionally, even if I thought I wasn't. It just sort of snuck in. I thought I was acting normally but I wasn't. It was a combination of a few things I think. First, the hormones and drugs necessary during fertility treatments made me different than I normally was. My emotions were all over the board. At one point they put my body into menopause for a little while and I experienced real side effects (hot flashes for one). I was up, I was down, I was crazy! Let's be honest. It's not fun.
Second, the fact that infertility is a very personal thing makes it more difficult to go through. Most couples don't just talk about their exact plans to conceive. Awkward! Couple that with the fact that I felt like a crazy person, then there was the fact that it wasn't just my husband and I. There were nurses, doctors, offices, diagnoses, and (loving) family that wanted to know what was happening and it was sometimes just all too much to handle. Not to mention the endless awkward moments that come with fertility treatments (you know what I'm talking about if you've been there). It was so hard (for me) to strike a balance. Sometimes I'd be fine talking about what was next/happening and then sometimes I would rather shrivel up and sink into the crack in the floor than talk about it.
Now not everyone is like me. Some people are just more open and ok with talking about their infertility. For me, it was new, it was scary, it was uncertain, it was personal, it was different, it was unexpected. A baby was something I wanted so badly and it just seemed like we were always so far away from that goal.
This can be difficult for family and friends who just want to be there for us infertile gals. They don't know what to say, how far to question, what we need. And that's totally normal. Sometimes we just aren't forthcoming with new information simply because of the fact that we need to get to the point where we are ok with what we are learning about our bodies and infertility. You go through life thinking, "someday I'll get married and have babies because that is what my body is supposed to do, so that's what will happen." Then when it doesn't work out that way it sort of feels like you're broken. And then you're faced with, "now what do we do?"
So here's what insight I have for family and friends who have people in their life struggling with infertility. Know that any love and concern you show is appreciated even if it's not immediately reciprocated. Let your loved one know you love them and that you're there. Be aware of delicate situations. A hug, a hand squeeze and loving look showing you care and understand can really go a long way. Nothing needs to be said unless they want to talk and open up about it. Be a listening ear. You're not going to know what they're going through. Try to just sympathize with how hard/sad/frustrating/heartbreaking it is. Don't tip toe around sensitive issues and keep secrets because you're afraid they're going to hurt your friends feelings. For example, if you're pregnant. Obviously don't put her in a situation where she finds out around others or through others. Tell her yourself. Be sensitive and loving but remember it's happy news for you. She will most likely cry about it when she's alone (and that's ok and totally normal). She's grieving her loss but that doesn't mean she's not genuinely happy for you. Because she really is, she's just sad it's not her turn to give the happy news.
And for those struggling with infertility I'd say don't be afraid to open up to those you love. They love you and they worry about you. They want to be there for you when you need someone. They'd do anything for you. It's hard to open up, so go at your own pace, but also know that it's therapeutic to talk about it sometimes. Let this be something that binds you and your husband together. Let it strengthen your marriage. It has the potential to drive a wedge; instead let it do the opposite. You are going through this together. Your husband (like mine) might not be as sad about it as you are, so let him deal with it in his own way and be ok with how he does it. Husbands, comfort your wives. She needs your love and unquestioning support. All you have is each other.
And lastly, have fun together! Try your darn hardest not to take this all too seriously. Take as much advantage of the fact that you don't have any children yet! (trust me, HARD to do) Do things that you love to do together. Take trips, make the most of dates, enjoy sleeping. You have this unique time together. You're young and free. Have faith that things are going to work out. It's definitely not going to be your timing but if you keep trying (treatments or adoption) you will be blessed with little feet.
Next I'll talk about starting the adoption process! It's fun, it's scary, it's uncertain, and it's amazing!!! And if you have any questions that you don't want to leave in the comments feel free to email me at email@example.com.