I asked social media what they wanted to know about infertility and this one surprised me in the best way
Infertility can make us pretty selfish. It's not really how I'd like to describe myself let alone any friends I know going through it, but for me, there's no better word for it. We're constantly thinking of ourselves, our futures, and our sadness while staving off feelings of envy and jealousy.
It's not really shocking then that social media shared their confusion about how to handle appropriately friendships with those going through this stuff.
Obviously I can't speak for everyone in my position, so I took a little time to meditate on the subject and come up with some insight I believe most women struggling with infertility can appreciate from their inner (and outer) circles of friends.
something you need to know first
For me, my infertility became my grief. It didn't equate to the immediate pain I felt when my dad passed away 2 1/2 years ago, but it did give me the same sense of loss. My internal compass malfunctioned and after 1 year of question marks, I lost my way. I'm not sure how often you've truly felt lost, but when it happened to me, I questioned things like how do you continue navigating news that comes without warning? How do you accept that your future is doing a complete 180? How do you ask for help with something that's out of your control? How do you get help when nothing is "wrong?"
Please understand this... Regardless of how your friend describes their infertility process, there are moments of extreme loneliness. It gets pretty tough to keep a positive outlook For all of the advice I share, know that everything feels better when it comes from a place of empathy, not sympathy.
Whether you have children or not, we all have the capacity to recall a time when life was not panning out the way we envisioned it to be.
After reflecting on my own infertility, I realized that what I needed most from friends and family came down to 2 basic needs:
Notice If They've Stopped Reaching Out
When someone goes silent or is acting differently, don't write it off as nothing. You're friends for a reason! You know what is normal vs out of the ordinary for the people in your circle. Use it as an opportunity to open the door to really connecting on whatever is going on for them, infertility-related or not. By choosing not to turn a blind eye, you're letting your friends know that you're looking out for them as they walk their path, on good days and bad.
Don't Make Their Story Your Own
When something difficult comes up for someone else, we naturally try to make a connection to it with a story of our own. It's a common human response, however, it's not the most helpful. When my father passed away, hearing stories of other people's loss didn't necessarily make me feel better. It was the act of me telling MY story that helped the hurt subside, not hearing others' pain in my moment of sharing. Give your friends space to share. You don't need to try to understand the actual experience other than the fact that it's hard and at times, painful. Simply asking, "what can I do to support you right now?" instead of making assumptions.
#adventureinspiresadventure + adventure coach
Are you the friend or family member of someone navigating infertility? Need a little more support in how to support them without overstepping your bounds? Book a pay-what-you-can coaching session around open communication and meaningful support this week for strategies you can implement right away. As always, you set the price to eliminate the barrier of cost and all coaching income goes directly into my own infertility/IVF savings for June 2020.