The Taboo Subject of Infertility
This week I have found myself surrounded by baby announcements, pregnancy announcements, new births, baby birthday pictures, and other “baby” things. Yes, I tend to notice these sorts of things more so than probably a few of you. You see when you struggle with infertility, whether it be first time infertility or secondary infertility, you notice everything “baby.” With all of that being said, it has prompted me to write this blog post. I have felt like sharing this for a little while, but have always hesitated and held back. So, today you get it in all of its glory (or lack thereof).
For those who do not know what it is like to struggle with infertility, it can prove to be very difficult when trying to offer comfort or help to someone who is struggling with it. And although the intentions may be meant in a very positive way, sometimes words spoken can actually do more harm than good. So, here are some things to consider when you are trying to comfort or help someone who is struggling with infertility:
1. Do not say, “It’s not the right time yet.” Ummm, you basically just told this woman who has been trying to conceive a child for who knows how long that she got the timing all wrong. And so this woman is now going to think about the 16 year old cheerleader at the local high school who just found out she is pregnant, and question why it was the “right” time for the teenager but not for her. This statement offers no help or comfort at all.
2. Do not say, “God knows what’s best.” I know you mean well, and I know that God knows what is best for His children, but making this statement to a woman struggling with infertility sends the message that maybe God doesn’t think she will make a good Mom. I know, you are probably thinking that is crazy, but it’s true. That is exactly where her mind will go. She will begin questioning why God is “punishing” her instead of taking your words as an encouragement.
3. “You can have my kid(s) anytime.” A woman struggling with infertility does not find this humorous. It’s not funny, no matter how much you try to laugh about it. A woman struggling with infertility would gladly take all the children in the world, but making these kind of statements comes across as a slap in the face more than a funny joke.
4. Do not say “Just relax. It will happen.” I’m sorry, but for the past who knows how long this woman has done everything she can think of trying to conceive. When all you want is to get pregnant and have that precious bundle of joy of your own, it kind of consumes you. Relaxing is meant for a vacation, not as advice to a woman struggling with infertility.
5. “You already have a child (children), why would you want another one? Just be happy with what you have.” Oh, our children mean the world to us. It has nothing to do with not being happy with what we have. We have a desire to be pregnant again, to feel that sweet precious life growing within our womb again, and to add to our family. We want to be “fruitful and multiply.” For those of us who struggle with secondary infertility, we still love the children we have. Please do not treat our desire as something negative.
And lastly, here are some things to consider when dealing with a woman struggling with infertility:
1. She is hurting deeper than you realize. She may smile at you. She may go to the movies and laugh at your jokes, but deep down she is hurting. Infertility is a pain that goes way deeper than surface level. So when a woman who struggles with infertility tells you she is “fine,” know that deep down she is not fine. She just doesn’t want you to know that.
2. She truly wants to be happy for you. For those of you who are becoming first-time parents, or expecting another addition to your family, a woman struggling with infertility genuinely wants to be happy for you. It is just hard. Seeing or hearing about your pregnancy announcements, pregnancy updates, baby pictures, and other things of that nature is hard for her. It is a reminder of what she so desperately desires for herself, yet has not yet obtained it for whatever reason. So, don’t take offense if she kindly declines from your baby shower, baby’s birthday party, or ends up hiding your posts from her Facebook newsfeed. It just hurts too much at the time.
3. Women who struggle with infertility are everywhere. Infertility is kind of a taboo subject that doesn’t get talked about a lot. But there are more women and couples struggling with infertility than you realize. They are in your neighborhood, at your job, in your church, in your community, and even in your family.
Women and couples struggling with infertility need your love, understanding, and prayers. If you don’t understand what they are going through, simply say that and pray for them. If you don’t know what to say, share that in a nice way and pray for them. Love on them without being awkward.
I hope this post helps someone, whether you are a fellow woman struggling with infertility or someone who knows someone who is. Please feel free to reach out to me if you struggle with infertility, or if you just want to understand a bit more. I welcome questions, tears, vents, and comments. Praying for my fellow women who long for their child of promise.