How can you help?
Bob and I have an awesome group of friends and family around us. Seriously, the best. Everyone wants to know how they can help, what they can say and do, how they should act, etc. Sometimes, the hardest part is that infertility is such a hush hush subject. Many people feel shame and alienation when it happens to them - us included. Because of that, people that have never dealt with it, or known anyone that has dealt with it, have no idea how to act or what to do. I'm not an expert, but I can tell you what has helped us this year. If you're reading this page, it's because you care about us - that alone is a huge help.
- Listen. Sometimes, we may just want to throw a pity party. Other times, we may want to make inappropriate jokes about it because it makes it hurt less. This may not seem like the biggest problem in the world to you, but to us, it's the hardest thing we've ever dealt with. (I know that we're also blessed because this is the hardest thing we've been through together, but that doesn't make it easier)
- Remember, we're still Bob and Melissa. We still want to hang out, celebrate your joys and accomplishments, and hear what's going on with you. But, hope that you remember that this is a major part of what's going on with us.
- Trust us. We have a doctor that we are paying to give us advice and expertise to help us. We have asked him about all the "remedies" that we have read about online. We have asked why IVF is our only option. This is where we are. We appreciate that you want to be helpful and supportive, but please don't make us question whether or not we are making the best choice for us.
- Understand that sometimes, it makes me a crazy person. It could be a random baby in a restaurant, a sweet commercial, a line from a song, a post on Facebook, or for no reason at all, but sometimes, I just have bad days. It's okay. The next day will (probably) be better, but for right now, I need to vent/cry/whatever. I hope it doesn't make you uncomfortable, but I need to take care of myself.
- Be respectful. IVF is a hot topic. I know there are many people in the world that don't support it. But, we have talked and thought and prayed extensively about it, and for us, it is our next option. We are on this path together, and hope you will join us in it. If you choose not to, that's okay, but please don't be rude.
- Don't hide your happiness from us. I promise, if you're pregnant, we're excited for you. If your baby said his first word, we think that's awesome. Please don't leave us out because you don't think we can handle it. But, please also remember, that even though we are thrilled for you, we are sad for us. Also, please don't take your pregnancy/baby for granted. We know what we can handle - let us decide.
Also, in an effort to feel more connected to people in the same situation, I have been reading a lot of blogs. Here are what other blogs suggest:
- Don't tell us to relax. Also, don't tell us to stand on our head, try more, try less, try different...you get the idea.
- Don't minimize the problem.
- Don't tell me I'm still so young so I should just give it time.
- Don't say we aren't meant to be parents. Really. Don't.
- Don't act like we are ignorant
- Don't push adoption (disclaimer - there are many people in my life that wouldn't be here if it weren't for adoption. People that I love and cherish dearly. I'm not saying adoption isn't a good option or isn't an option for us. It's just not our option yet.)
- Support our decisions about treatments
- Realize that not all fertility cases are the same. What works for one may not work for another.
- If you don't know what to say/how to act, etc. - Ask!
And, something everyone is guilty of at some point (including me). When a couple is newlywed, married for a couple years, etc - don't constantly ask them when they are going to start a family. Maybe they're trying. Maybe they have tried and lost a baby. Maybe they're in the same spot as we are right now. It's a hard question to answer. Also, just because someone has successfully had one baby, doesn't mean following kids will come as easily. Be sensitive to their privacy, too. And be warned - if they're honest, it may make you a lot more uncomfortable than it makes them.
Bob and I are very lucky. We have many amazing people in our lives. Some have known about our struggle since day one, some found out later, and some are just finding out. This is part of our process. Infertility doesn't define who we are, but it does define a lot of who we are right now. We know that this is just a step on our journey together. We know that we are lucky for so many things in our lives. Even still, that knowledge doesn't fill the hole of what we feel is missing. Thank you for being part of our support system.