So many times throughout our journey with infertility, I was asked by family and friends what they could possibly do to help us through this time. And to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure. Because it was something I could have never imagined for myself. To find ourselves on this journey was quite a shock to the system. It literally took navigating through it, and dealing with people attempting to “help” to figure out what truly was helpful, and wasn’t.
It’s a title. A statistic. A word. A description. A club that you NEVER want to be part of. But for many, that’s right where they find themselves. In fact, statistics say that 10% of the population deals with it in some form (www.Resolve.org). That means, it is very likely that you know someone dealing with the diagnosis – a family member, a friend, a coworker, an acquaintance. And let me be the first to encourage you, be there for them. Even if it feels uncomfortable in the beginning.
Educate yourself. Lawd have mercy, please educate yourself. Learn the ins and outs of the different processes and procedures. Take time to learn the lingo. Did you know there is a whole ‘nother language that goes along with infertility? I didn’t either, until I was thrust into it! Learn what their particular diagnosis means, then become a safe place for them to land as they start to navigate through it. Allow them to open up to you. To share their thoughts, fears, anxieties, and stresses. Do not pretend to know it all, or to know what they are experiencing. Do not offer advice (i.e.-relax, adopt, etc). Instead, be a shoulder to cry on. An ear to listen. And then encourage them to keep going. To keep fighting and pushing through. To pursue their dreams of having a family regardless of the roadblocks that have popped up, and will continue to pop up. Be an advocate for them. Be their strength when they no longer have any.
For those of you finding yourself with this new label, please remember to have a little patience for those around you who are completely new to this as well. There is a massive learning curve that comes with this for everyone. People will not know the right words to say, or when. They’ll ask more questions than necessary. They won’t ever fully “get it” even though they are trying. But remember, they are trying and are asking because they care and want to learn.
Connect with others
Whether you just found yourself in this place, or you’ve been clawing your way through it for years, please know that I am in your corner. If you feel alone, I promise you that you aren’t. Find your tribe. A friend or a group-if meeting people in person isn’t your thing, there is an incredible online presence on Instagram (this is a direct link to my page-For the Love Of Mom Genes), or just search the hashtags: #ttc, #ttccommunity, and #infertility to get started. If those don’t seem doable….there’s always just little ol’ me. I’d be honored to walk this journey with you. It’s as easy as an email or direct message. Whatever you decide, please don’t try to navigate this alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is a community of warriors ready and willing to be that shoulder when you need to cry, the ear when you scream, the arms when you need to be picked back up and carried through, and the feet when you need a swift kick to keep moving forward.
I realize that this is such a personal thing to go through, and we all process and share things differently, but for those of you who feel comfortable sharing, let’s use those voices to shed some light this week. Let’s start conversations. Let’s answer questions. Let’s start talking. You don’t have to share your personal story, or maybe this will give you the opportunity to open up that you’ve been waiting for. I don’t know. What I do know is that there are plenty of stats and resources and quotes and stories that we can share. It’s time for the stigma and taboo and the dark cloud that gets attached to an infertility diagnosis to hit the road.
There is no shame in our journey.
We are not broken.
We are stronger than we think.
We are warriors.
We are 1 in 8.