This week marks an important week in the world of infertility as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week where people unite, help educate others about infertility and open up conversations to all that it all entails. I am so grateful for the infertility community and RESOLVE as we work to educate others on what it’s like to wear these shoes.
Let’s talk about the facts here. Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8. That’s tragic. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate – it touches men and women. Black and white. Rich and poor. Young and old. You are all in once you get the diagnosis. Your heart becomes invested, your body becomes tormented and your faith is tested. You learn to deal with grief daily, wishing things were different, coping with the loss of dreams, and navigating your way through anger, jealousy, sadness and brokenness.
This year, RESOLVE has set the theme for NIAW by spreading the message to “Flip the Script”. There are so many ways to branch out on this topic, but today I want to touch on helping those around us flip the script on what they say once they hear about our infertility.
We’ve all been there. Aunt Marge asks “When are you and Jimmy going to have a baby?! You aren’t getting any younger!” You feel the sting and quickly reply with a tense grin “We are trying, it’s not always that easy.” “Of course it is!” she barks back, “Just lay with your legs up a little longer. Or go on vacation and relax! This family is fertile.”
I know you understand.
After you spend 10 minutes in the bathroom pulling yourself together and wiping dry the blood caused from the lip you had to bite to keep from screaming, you walk out and pretend like you aren’t hurting. I’ve been there, I know you have too.
Let’s flip the script. Let’s start EDUCATING people on what not to say when we share our hardships. Can you imagine if someone told you they had cancer, and you replied that they just need to relax a little, get drunk on vacation, and try drinking Robitussin? Let’s be honest, that would never happen. We need to do our part to continue to educate others, to help others show sympathy when they hear of our diagnosis’s, and teach them what to say and what not to say. I hope this list helps you in that direction today! Please, feel free to share this to get the conversations going!
What Not To Say: “Ohhh, you just need to relax.” Or “You’re trying too hard!” or “Don’t think too much about it”
What to Say Instead: “I am so sorry you are going through this.”
What Not to Say: “You should just adopt.” or the infamous “I know someone who tried for a long time and as soon as they adopted, they got pregnant.”
What to Say Instead: “I am so sorry, this must be so difficult. What can I do for you?”
What Not to Say: “It’s okay, there must be a reason.”
What to Say Instead: “I am here for you whenever you want to talk.”
What Not To Say: “Well, you are sooooo young, you have time.”
What to Say Instead: “I cannot imagine how hard it must be to want to start your family and be unable to. I am here for you and will be praying for you.”
What Not to Say: “Oh, I wish I had that problem! I just look at my husband and BOOM! We are pregnant.”
What to Say Instead: “It must be so hard to see so many pregnant women all the time. You are stronger than you will ever realize.”
What Not to Say: “The cost of all of these doctors’ appointments will be so worth it when you are holding your child.”
What to Say Instead: “All of those doctor’s appointment sand medications must add up. If you ever want me to bring over dinner and a movie and hang out at home, please let me know.”
What Not to Say: “You want a child? Ha! Here, take mine!”
What to Say Instead: “I care and I am so sorry you are experiencing this kind of pain. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make this burden easier.”
Bottom line – In order to flip the script, in order to stop creating more pain and start creating more empathy, we all have to be willing to be vulnerable and enter into someone else’s intimate sorrow. And we have to be willing to speak up when someone says something insensitive and hurtful, as hard as that is. It’s okay if not everyone identifies with the struggle, but sensitivity can go a long way.
Chelsea is a Midwestern girl who loves connecting with fellow women and bloggers about the topic of infertility, living authentically, and motherhood. She’s been married to Josh for almost 13 years and now celebrates life as a twin mom to Kirsten and Logan, born after nearly a decade of infertility. Chelsea loves a good cup of coffee, a cozy bookshop and mindless reality TV. She values engaging her faith and embracing difficult seasons with joy. She also co-authored the devotional In the Wait, which you can find on Amazon.