Infertility Awareness Week
Infertility Awareness Week
Infertility happens more than you think. Medically, infertility is diagnosed when a couple has been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 12 months. Infertility may mean inability to conceive, or inability to carry a pregnancy to term, resulting in a miscarriage. About 15-25% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. You may think “That hasn’t happened to me, I don’t know anyone who it has happened to.” But people tend to keep these health concerns very private. Emotionally, infertility shows up in a lot of different ways. People in my Asheville counseling practice tell me how isolated and invalid they feel. By a certain age people become surrounded by pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, and then annual invitations to birthday parties to support the children of their friends and family. Meanwhile, they are experiencing a health crisis alone.
There are a lot of causes and diseases that get their own awareness day, week, or month. So what do you do for infertility awareness week now that you’re aware of infertility? Care. Through the lens that not all people are able to get pregnant at the drop of a hat, consider your questions before you ask. I cringe every time I think about how many times I asked married couples about their intention to have children, or a second child, before I struggled with my own infertility. I was blissfully unaware. I’m not asking you to tiptoe around every woman in her thirties, I work with women in my practice to navigate insensitive comments from friends, family, and even strangers. Just be aware of who you might be talking to. If you're reading this amidst your own infertility, read about the grief of infertility here.
The question of having children is bound to come up. People who are thinking about it want to know that their friends are thinking about it too. They want to make sure they’ll have a village within which to raise their child. You can ask, “Are you thinking about having kids?” And they can answer however they like, and you have to be okay with the answer. Do not pry. If someone close to you discloses their struggles with infertility, do not try to fix it for them. Ask, how can I help? One of the complaints I hear the most in my counseling office is when a friend or loved one suggests something they’ve already tried. Your loved one has access to the internet for suggestions and answers, and trust me they’ve looked. What they need from you is a listening ear, not answers. They need you to invite them to go on a walk, to lunch, to a movie, to the art show, to help retile your bathroom, anything. Keep them a part of your life.
Resolve is the National Infertility Association and offers this great resource for helping your loved one through their infertility.