Dealing with Infertility – A How To for Friends and Family

Another year has come and gone and either you or somebody you know, is still trying to conceive. Infertility can be a tricky subject to navigate. Don’t worry – I have compiled a list of things that may be able to help you along the way.

What is Infertility?
I often hear that I’m not truly infertile since I have given birth to three wonderful children. In reality, it’s not so black and white. Infertility is a diagnosis given to somebody who has unsuccessfully tried to conceive for over one year. In my case, and many others, it is diagnosed after six months due to other accompanied diagnosis. Infertility can be further classified as primary and secondary, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Be Supportive.
The journey to conceive can differ from person to person, but there are some things to keep in mind when helping a friend navigate this bumpy road. First off, remember that not everybody is completely open about their fertility (or lack thereof). Some people choose to struggle silently, while others are an open book. This is particularly important to keep in mind because of the emotions and financial impacts of infertility.

During fertility treatments, it’s expected that one would be a glass case of emotions. There’s always a plethora of mood swings when you’re pumping your body full of hormones, but there’s an additional layer added when you have the concerns over finances as well. Sadly, most insurance companies do not cover medications or treatments, so we are left coming up with the resources on our own. The cost of medications can vary greatly, as can the cost of treatments. In my personal experience, we spent almost $50,000 to have our three children. We were lucky because my insurance covered the four unsuccessful IUI procedures and monitoring.

Be Mindful of Dates.
Dates may seem inconsequential to somebody who isn’t going through this, but they are everything to somebody undergoing treatments. The date of your last period (LMP), how many days past transfer (_DPT), the date of your expected transfer/IUI/ovulation, estimated due date (EDD), and pregnancy test (Beta) are a few examples of important dates. Estimated Due Date (EDD) is one to be particularly mindful of as many women have miscarriages and those dates always hurt – and happen once a year.

Announcing Pregnancies.
We know you’re excited to announce your pregnancy, and we are excited for you. (Really, we are. I promise.) We dream of the day we can have a cute announcement of our own, but sometimes it’s too much to handle. There’s nothing worse than logging into Facebook after a long day at work and seeing a pregnancy announcement. We don’t want to be bitter, but sometimes it feels like rubbing salt in a fresh wound. One of the things I appreciated most was when friends would take me aside and tell me that they were pregnant before telling the world.

One of my dearest friends back in Texas struggled with telling me she was expecting number three. She wanted to do it at the right time and not upset me. After she finally told me, she said that it was a huge weight off of her shoulders and wished she had just told me sooner. You know what? It didn’t hurt that time. She was aware of my journey and knew that although I had three beautiful miracles of my own that it still may hurt. Such a thoughtful, considerate thing to do – don’t you think?

Inclusion and Understanding.
This is something that can be a little more difficult. Some people want to be included and not left out, while others would rather not. (Hence, the inclusion and understanding.) Invitations to celebrate pregnancies and birthdays are usually appreciated, but please remember it may be too much for some people. To this day, I still cannot bring myself to attend a baby shower. It brings back so many emotions. So, if we don’t RSVP or attend, please don’t take it personally.

Additionally, please do not take offense if we don’t come visit at the hospital. we want to be in that hospital bed so badly that it can be particularly difficult to visit. My best suggestion for these situations is this – if you know a person is dealing with infertility, take them to the side and ask if they want to be included. Let them know it means a lot to you but you understand if they cannot stand the thought of coming.

Never Compare.
My journey isn’t your journey. Please don’t compare your two difficult months of trying to get pregnant to our year. We understand that those two months were tumultuous, filled with emotions and anxiety. If those two months were tough for you, imagine going through that for months on end. The excitement, hope, and disappointment month after month. Additionally, don’t compare those raging pregnancy hormones to what we experience while trying to get pregnant. There is absolutely no comparison, and more often than not it’s just going to upset those in the thick of it even more.

!!! Important !!!
There are some definite things you should NEVER say to somebody, regardless of where they are on this journey. Here is a brief list of some of those things:
“You can always adopt.”
“Oh! You should become a foster parent!”
“Just relax.”
“Maybe there’s a reason you can’t get pregnant.”
“Stop worrying so much about it.”

Remember.
Infertility can, and sometimes does, still hurt. While this isn’t the case for everybody, it can be for some, despite their success. Believe me when I say that I’m truly happy for those that conceive easily, but deep down there’s still that part of me that hurts and yearns for another baby. Infertility never goes away, even if some (lucky) people go on to conceive naturally after treatments. And, most importantly, every case is different. Some people don’t let infertility trip them up, they accept the hand they were dealt and make the best of it.

All of this being said, I wouldn’t trade my journey for all the money in the world. My babies are worth every penny, tear, shot, and test I endured. I truly hope this list helps you, or somebody you care about, through this difficult time.

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