A Letter to the Fertile

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Dear Fertile Friend,

1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. And whileA Letter To the Fertile | Denver Metro Moms Blog that is not you, it most certainly is your sister, your bestie, your neighbor, or your co-worker. Chances are you do not know what to say or do in their presence. You feel guilty expressing happiness surrounding your pregnancy {or worse yet complaining about it}. You avoid showing an infertile friend the video of your daughter’s first step. Will she ever have a daughter? You so badly want to share your positive pregnancy test news, but don’t want to crush the spirits of your infertile sister who has struggled to get pregnant.

I am part of the statistic. My husband and I struggled to conceive and ultimately turned to IVF. Our story has a happy ending after an arduous journey with hormone injections, bed rest, cerclage surgery, hospitalizations, and difficult deliveries. We have a 3 ½ year old and 16 month old twins. We are so blessed. But, as I reflect on this part of our story during infertility month a few tips come to mind for those who aren’t experiencing this journey first hand, but are on the side lines watching their daughters, girlfriends, and neighbors struggle. You want to be there, to offer kind words and hope, but you fumble, and understandably so. Here are a few tips to help you navigate along with that best friend or family member who is struggling with infertility.

Choose your words wisely. The old childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” is inherently false. This goes for conversations with friends who you know are struggling to get pregnant as well as those you don’t. Often women are working through an infertility struggle in secret. For whatever reason they aren’t ready to share their journey publicly just yet. I remember struggling with feelings of failure, guilt, and feeling broken. You may think your casual interrogation about when she wants to get pregnant and is she off birth control is flippant, but those are questions that haunt her dreams. Not the when, but the will we? Will we ever get pregnant? Will we ever hold our very own baby in our arms? Just because she is of child-bearing years does not beg the question, when? When women are ready to offer up such personal details about their lives they will come to you. Until then, find another topic.

Babies are a gift and yours brings her hope. Just because a friend is struggling to get pregnant does not mean she is not thrilled for you and your pregnancy. She will have moments in private where she ugly cries into her pillow and grieves what feels like a loss as you celebrate your gain. I remember being in the throws of our struggle and feeling like everyone in my life was pregnant except me. Suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere. It’s like driving your new car off the lot and then only seeing your exact make and model on the road. You knew they were out there, but never paid much attention. Suddenly, it is all you see. Give her the space to let you know how she’s feeling. She may want to throw you that perfect baby shower and join you as you register for the nursery. Or she may not. Do not turn your back on her or hide these milestone moments because you think you’re doing her a favor. Your celebrations do not add to her struggle.

Stop talking and start listening. Really listening. There is no quick fix for infertility. As your neighbor walks through this journey she will need time to vent about the painful injections, the hormones that make her feel like a crazy person, the weight gain that just seems unfair when she isn’t even pregnant, the financial strain, and marital woes that accompany infertility. When she finds herself deep in the dark well of infertility sadness, quietly climb down into the well, sit beside her, put an arm around her, and cry too. Do not attempt to stay in the light up above, looking down on her to shout, “Hey, you ok down there?” “Have you tried relaxing?” “Things could always be worse!” “Maybe you just weren’t meant to have kids.” Hold her hand and be there. You may not know this particular sadness, but you know sadness. You may not know this particular pain, but you know pain. Go to that dark place even though it’s uncomfortable and it makes your heart hurt. There is no better gift you can give a friend struggling with infertility than empathy.

 

Sincerely,

The Infertile

 

 

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Mom to a 3 ½ year old boy and 16 month old girl/boy twins, Liz Fendell is a recovering perfectionist hailing from St. Louis. Her current aspirations are showering three times a week and keeping all three of her precious munchkins alive. She survives on her ability to laugh at herself and with her nearest and dearest. Her new mantra is, “I am enough” and believes a healthy dose of humility and grace can get her through anything. And if that doesn’t work there’s always Plan B: witness protection. She exercises when she can and has recently pondered strapping her Fitbit to her 3 ½ year old son. Surely that kid is reaching 10,000 steps per day! A full time stay-at-home mom and talented lifestyle photographer {at Liz Fendell Photography}; she is passionate about capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary moments in her clients’ lives.

6 COMMENTS

    • I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling to conceive baby number 2. My thoughts are with you all. I know it’s a lonely road but I’m always hear if you want to chat or just vent!!

  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this beautiful post. I have struggled with infertility for nearly 3 years and it does not get easier with time. The heartbreak is present daily, even when you’re feeling hopeful and positive. Having friends who easily conceive only makes it more difficult to grieve your own loss and illuminates feelings of loneliness and shame. As Mother’s Day approaches, I hope my friends and loved ones will remember to not only celebrate the women who have carried children but also to support and nourish those who long to be mothers themselves. I hope people read this post you have eloquently written and heed your advice for the infertile women amongst them.

    p.s. I went to the University of Richmond AND live in Colorado so we have that in common, too 🙂

    • Oh Mary, your comment brought tears to my eyes. Three years feels like an eternity because it is one. I hope you found the support you so deserved on Mother’s Day and every day for that matter.
      Did we know each other at Richmond? What a small world.
      Thinking of you often. You’re not alone:-)

  2. Thank you for this. I have a couple friends who are really want to start their parenthood journey and for some reason or other it’s taking them longer than they hoped. No one has been told they are infertile, yet, but I really needed to read this so I can know how to best support them.

    I’m so happy for you that you were able to have your happy family after all!

    • Thanks Sarah. The fact that you’re wondering how best to support them means you’re doing it right. Empathy all day every day:) Wishing your friends the best.

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