NIAW: Talking About Infertility


Are you infertile?

Are you unsure about how you should tell your family and/or friends that you’re dealing with infertility?

I found this article on RESOLVE.org that can help you broach the subject if you’re wanting to “come out of the closet” but aren’t sure what to say.

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Talking about Infertility

When you are experiencing infertility, communicating with family and friends can be difficult and challenging. Even the most caring relative or friend may offer a “helpful” suggestion that will appear wildly insensitive to you.

Here are some tips for talking about infertility with family and friends, if you decide to do so.

  • Decide how much detail you and your partner want to share. Respect each other’s need for privacy about certain details.
  • It may help to rehearse exactly what you are going to say. Decide on specific words or phrases to use, such as of ”infertility” or “we are trying to get pregnant and seem to be having a problem”
  • Pick a time to talk when people are not rushed or distracted. Make sure it is a private place where you won’t feel embarrassed to show emotion.
  • Explain that infertility is a life crisis, and that 1 in 8 couples, or more than 7 million people experience it
  • Let them know how they can support you—whether you want phone calls, questions, etc.
  • Explain that you may need a break from family gatherings, and that it isn’t about them—it’s about using your energy wisely.
  • Tell them that you will share results about a treatment or procedure when you feel up to it, and not to ask about pregnancy tests or treatment results.

The following are scenarios that many of our members have found themselves in and responses you can use when you are asked a sensitive question.

What they said…
When are you going to stop concentrating on your career and start a family?

Response A:
“I don’t believe my job and a family are mutually exclusive. My career is advancing, and I’m very proud of my work. When we feel the time is right, we will consider starting our family.”

Response B:
“Right now I have two careers: one is my job which you know about and the other is trying to become pregnant. You probably wouldn’t believe how exhausting and time-consuming infertility treatment can be; it really feels like a second job.”

What they said…
“You used to talk about combining a career and a family. How are those plans coming along? Will we ever get to be grandparents?”

Response:
“I truly hope that someday you will have grandchildren. Whether I have children biologically or through adoption, I look forward to sharing that happiness with you.”

What they said…
“I wish you’d take one of my kids—they drive my absolutely crazy!”

Response A:
“Oh thanks, then they’d drive me crazy!”

Response B:
“I know that parenting is a really difficult job, but I’m really looking forward to that challenge and experience.”

What they said…
“You can always adopt.”

Response A:
“Adoption is an option I am considering. I have to resolve some medical issues and must grieve the loss of the possibility of not having a biological child before considering adoption.”

Response B:
“I have considered adoption very carefully and have decided it is not for me, and am considering a childfree life, if I am unable to conceive a child.”

How to deal when someone close is pregnant “Guess what? I’m pregnant!”

These are the hardest words to hear from a friend or relative. The best you can do with this one is explain why you are unable to celebrate wholeheartedly.

Response A (keep it short and sweet):
“That is great news. Congratulations.”

Response B:
“I’m happy for you, but it is difficult to hear when I cannot get pregnant. That is a really tough time for me, so please understand if I am unable to attend your shower or listen to your happy moments. I am working through my infertility, and the pain is still great.”

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I, personally, wish I’d had some of these responses at the ready when I first started going through this. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’ve had some pretty hurtful things said to me from well-meaning people.

Hopefully I’ll have a personal post up soon. My days are very crazy right now and I don’t have much brain energy left to write a thoughtful post about my feelings on infertility.

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Comments

  1. Those are some great responses. We were pretty open about our struggles with infertility. I’m an over-sharer anyway so being able to talk about this with family helped me. It’s different for everyone.

    Infertility is in the rearview mirror for us now but I still talk about it from time to time as a way to open a conversation for someone who may want to talk about it but is unsure how to start the converstaion.

  2. Yes, these are perfect responses – I’ve had these types of questions asked before and didn’t know at the time how to respond, so I’d end up responding poorly and then fuming about the conversation later on! Definitely NOT the way to handle it:) Thanks for sharing. It is such a difficult thing to talk about but I agree, it was so much better when we did (we didn’t tell anyone what was going on for two years).

    Hope you’re having a good week.

  3. I love some of these responses! The take my kids one is great! Do people realize how insensitive they are when they say things like that? Or when they try to explain to you how difficult parenting is?

    It drives me crazy!

  4. I am so excited that you are posting about NIAW as well…

    Loved this post!

    Speaking of Resolve, one of my giveaways on my review page has to do with Resolve.org ; it’s a bookmark that I am giving away, however all proceeds from the selling of these bookmarks go to Resolve.org to help infertility couples…I thought that was amazing…

    Happy Infertility Awareness Week…WE WILL get through this!

    Love, Hugs and Prayers

  5. You won an award go and check it out! 🙂 Just wanted to show you some Washington blog love!

  6. Thanks for sharing. Since I’m a celibate single, my likely infertility (due to PCOS) isn’t affecting my current life much, but it does the future. I’m thankful that God has long since placed the desire to adopt in my heart.

  7. I think it is so great that there are programs like this, nobody really knows how to deal with infertility.

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