I take far too much for granted. As I sit sunken down in the sweet spot of my couch with legs tucked in and blanket snugly wrapped around me while typing these words, I realize how spoiled I actually am. I have a home with running water, electricity, and a refrigerator filled with food. I have clothes, shoes, and every other need provided for. Yep, spoiled rotten. And on top of all this (as if that weren’t enough), love essentially engulfs my home. God has graciously gifted me with not just one but three precious children. Sadly, on days when my patience wears thin and I’m frustratingly barking out orders because no one is listening and the toys are strewn everywhere and I’m hovered over the kitchen floor scraping up day-old yogurt, I don’t appreciate these gifts like I should. Some people would kill to have my “problems” and would gladly walk a day in my shoes. These people are the ones who find themselves with tear-streaked cheeks month after month, gripping tightly to the hope that miracles still happen and that their little bundle of joy will be in their arms… one day. Infertility is a joy-robbing, heartbreaking reality that far too many friends and family members live through. I wish I could simply speak this condition away and witness firsthand these sweet men and women finally experiencing what I experience every single day. But since I can’t make it all go away, I desire to do my own part in encouraging and uplifting these friends, and I hope you will join me in doing the same. Here are a few ways we can help.
- We need to stop asking so many questions and inserting unsolicited advice. I am guilty of doing this myself. Is anyone else out there a Google expert like me? All problems can be solved via Google, right? If Dr. Google says this herb or that oil combined with this diet and that particular yoga exercise regimen will cure your infertility, I am all mouth trying to “help” out my friend who obviously couldn’t handle Dr. Google herself. Insert foot in mouth and palm to forehead here. More than likely your eye-opening revelation is old news to your friend struggling with infertility and probably only reminding her of the lie that there must be something “wrong” with her. Could it possibly be that God simply has a different plan in mind for our dear friends right now? Let’s chew on that for a while.
- We need to stop changing our behavior and speaking in hushed tones about our children around them. They are still our friends and are glad to see us happy just as we are pleased when they are happy. They don’t mind hearing about our lives which happen to include our children and don’t wish to be isolated just because they are in a different season of life. They would like to still be included in our lives. And just in case you didn’t realize, they make the perfect adopted aunts and uncles for our kids!
- While we include them in our conversations, we need to think before we speak. Tact should be our middle name. It would be insensitive to gush over every tiny detail of our pregnancies, sharing all the intimate details of the sweetness of baby kicks or how frustrated we are over nothing fitting right during those final months. We could unintentionally hurt our friends with our words. I know that the last thing I want to do is to be the cause of my friend’s tears that night while she lies in bed unable to sleep.
- We should NOT act like we understand how they feel when we clearly do not. Waiting for our dream job to come along or even waiting for a spouse is not the same as wondering if you will ever have a child of your own. It’s just not. Even the pain of a miscarriage (after already birthing one or two children of our own) is not comparable to the pain of infertility. Yes, it’s painful (I don’t want to downplay that), but that pain would probably best be expressed with someone else. Once again, it’s all about tact! When it comes down to it, when our friends share their hurt with us, they don’t need us to understand. They simply need us to be there for them and to listen. Sometimes silence and a hug is best.
- Don’t be offended when your friend struggling with infertility misses a baby shower or your child’s birthday party. Just because she misses a party doesn’t mean she doesn’t care. Perhaps the pain of another baby shower will set her in a tailspin of sadness and even depression that she absolutely needs to avoid for her own sanity and well-being. It’s not personal. Don’t worry. She will still show love to you and your children in her own way minus the festivities.
- Stop complaining about your children. I get it. Mom life is hard some days, and sometimes you need to vent. We all do. But venting to your childless friend is about as tactful as a clown at a funeral. Just don’t. That friend of yours wants nothing more than the pleasure of having such trivial complaints. She dreams of toddler tantrums and “Dora the Explorer” reruns. And quite honestly, we all complain way too much as it is anyway.
- More than anything else, we need to ask our friends how we can best help them. Do they want our prayers? Let’s find out specifically what areas they need prayer for—fertility treatments, adoption plans, or simply a full night of sleep. Do they need a listening ear? Let’s shut our mouths and listen. Do they need our support in spreading awareness of infertility? Let’s start using our social media apps for good rather than just the daily gossip. There is so much we can do. We just have to ask!
Infertility can be such a lonely place for so many sweet couples. It’s up to us to encourage and uplift these precious friends and family members. Let’s show them that they are not alone!