One of the things that has really disappointed me about myself and other infertiles is that we tend to expect everyone to read our minds. We know better than that and so I’ve often wondered why we do this. Do we really think the people around us have special, magical powers? None of us holds that belief… at least I hope not. Ha!
I’ve come to realize, we hope they read our minds so that we don’t have to do the brutally hard work of opening up about something so painful.
Like when we hope that a bad situation just ‘goes away’, we infertiles hope that they will just read between the lines and make the right assumptions. When they don’t and end up saying or doing the wrong thing, we get mad.
That’s not fair.
Let me repeat… THAT’S. NOT. FAIR! To them…
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, you’ve been silent about your struggle, expecting your loved ones, friends, and whoever else to magically understand it all. Not working out, is it? Which means, what? It’s time to get out of the insanity trap and do something different.
We can’t expect the person who is not on this same path as us to spontaneously ‘get it’. Girls and boys, I hate to say it but you’re going to have to talk about it.
Don’t hate me for saying it… You know I’m right!
So, how can we work on this? I’ve assembled a few tips from my own experiences that I hope will help you. It’s not a check list per say. But, it’s some character qualities that YOU NEED TO WORK ON.
Advice for the Infertile Couple
BE INTENTIONAL – Know that from here on out, this work is going to take intentional, meaningful action. These changes are not going to happen overnight and yes, you will have to use some muscle. Not arm muscle, but heart & mind muscle.
BE UNDERSTANDING – Take a moment and breath before lashing out or internally combusting. ? Realize that you are fighting a cultural battle. What the general public is hearing over and over today is talk about women’s rights to abortion. Little is ever heard about women WANTING to have children but can’t.
Infertility is nothing new. But, we infertile couples are JUST BEGINNING to open up about it. People have no clue what it is or the toll that it takes. Cancer fighters, veterans suffering PTSD, and the like have had the same problem as they began to share their stories. Now, it’s almost ‘normal’ and something you hear about all the time. The awareness and understanding of it has increased.
So, embrace this fact and know that infertility is a relatively new term on people’s mind.
BE BRAVE & BE TRANSPARENT – Know that it is going to take more and more awareness for infertility to be understood. It will take us being brave little souls to get the word out about the diseases and emotional hardship that we face each and everyday. People won’t know unless they hear it. They won’t hear it unless you speak it.
EXERCISE YOUR GRACE MUSCLE – Of all people, I know exactly the pain and frustration you feel every time you face a pregnancy announcement, insult or insensitive comment. The night out with your girlfriends who are all talking about “baby” this and “my child” that. Seriously, I know. You just sit there and think “I wish I could contribute to this conversation but I can’t. I have a dog. Let’s talk about “my dog” this and “my dog” that. At least then I can contribute.”
In those cases, we infertile women and men need to practice our GRACE MUSCLE. As you find yourself in these instances, remember the previous pieces of advice… take a moment and realize the need for your understanding. Your girlfriends need your support as they walk through the struggles of parenting JUST AS MUCH AS you need their support as you walk through infertility.
Start being a team player! Learn to support them as they learn to support you!
BE PATIENT – As I’ve said, this is going take some time. But, start viewing each and every instance of misunderstanding as an opportunity to educate. Instead of lashing out or keeping it all in, practice the balance of the two, which is to respond in a gracefully, poised way. Share a tidbit of how hard it is to live with _____(insert your disease or hardship). PCOS, unexplained infertility, male factor infertility, obesity, etc. whatever is the cause of your infertility.
BE KIND… TO YOURSELF – Listen, I know how hard it is to open up. For crying out loud, it took me 8 years to do share my story! Eight!
But, here’s the thing I’ve been learning… the only thing that matters is that you are bold and brave enough to tell it. It doesn’t matter if you tell it with the strength of WonderWoman or with eyes full of tears. Even the kind of storytelling that has you in the middle of a big ugly cry. You know, when your whole body is shaking, your voice is so high it’s inaudible, and you got all kinds of snot coming out. Doesn’t matter a hill of beans. Just tell it in whatever way it comes out because that means you are being real. And being real makes your story that much more effective.
The other thing that doesn’t matter is your platform. Yes, there are platforms that reach more people like a blog or public speaking engagements. But, that part doesn’t really matter. Simply telling your family, friends, and the stranger in the grocery line is by far ENOUGH of an impact to change the world. Because then the people who’ve heard your story will understand the issues better and will have a different approach to the other childless couples in their life.