9 Ways to Support a Couple Experiencing Infertility
April 21, 2015
Today I’m thrilled to be playing hostess to the lovely and oh-so-talented Amanda Teixeira of True Good and Beautiful. Amanda and her husband Jonathan recently brought home sweet baby Josie, culminating an adoption story only God could have designed. Now she’s blogging and mothering her little lady while hubby Jonathan serves as the brains behind the great digital content you’ve seen FOCUS cranking out lately. Amanda, thanks for being here!
1 in 8 couples will battle the lonely road of infertility.
Chances are you know someone carrying this cross and since it’s National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to provide some ways you can lift up those closest to you walking this path.
Having experienced infertility for the past 3.5 years, each of these actions have lifted my spirits immensely. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting point, speaking from personal experience, on loving couples in the trenches on infertility.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard, “You’re in my prayers!” as we’ve battled infertility. It touches me that others would take the time to intercede with God on my behalf for strength, wisdom, courage, healing, and joy while I carry this cross. I would have fallen into despair long ago were it not for the prayers of others.
So when you say you will pray for your friends who are experiencing infertility – do it.
Don’t let it be a phrase you throw around when others are in pain or hurting…actually get on your knees and pray since prayer is powerful and will make a difference. When I would receive spiritual bouquets or cards saying we were enrolled in prayer at a religious community, it strengthened my spirit to keep going another day.
Resist the Urge to Fix
I know the temptation to try and recommend the treatment protocol that healed your mailman’s sister’s neighbor’s daughter of infertility but just don’t do it.
I can’t tell you how often someone will ask me “BUT HAVE YOU HEARD OF NAPROTECHNOLOGY?!?” with extreme eagerness as if it will be my cure-all. Then I have to burst their bubble that I’ve been a Napro patient for a decade now…and still am infertile.
This also goes for offering practices against Church teaching or even ones that haven’t been spoken on by the Church at this time. No, we aren’t doing in-vitro fertilization or any other form of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART). It’s immoral and I really don’t want to have to get into a battle about that while I am just trying to stay emotionally sane dealing with infertility. Also, just because the Church hasn’t definitively spoken on some things like embryo adoption doesn’t mean I need to rush out and do it. I want to wait on the Church to continue making decisions about such weighty matters before I act.
Notes of Encouragement
This type of action is helpful for anyone carrying any cross. Just getting a note from someone cheering you on is incredibly uplifting. Many days when things have been bleary with various treatments or procedures, a sincere note encouraging me onwards toward heaven was just what I needed.
Ask How I’m Doing
Infertility is a super private matter…and because of that no one wants to touch the subject with a 10-foot pole. Soon the couple dealing with infertility begins to feel like lepers in Catholic communities since everyone seemingly only wants to talk about pregnancy and babies…not the inability to have them.
Bridge the gap. Jump in and just ask how it’s going. If I am not in a place to talk, I will tell you.
Cook a Meal
I know, you may think, “But they don’t have kids, why cook a meal?”
I’ve had 3 surgeries, dozens of ultrasounds, and about a gazillion blood draws. There are just some days where cooking is the absolute last thing I could have done. A meal or a gift card during an intense treatment time would be a god-send.
Invite Us Over
We don’t fit in the single crowd.
We don’t fit in the married-with-kids crowd.
The crowd of married without kids is a super narrow and small window of couples. If we make friends with a newlywed couple they are typically expecting a baby within weeks or months so they quickly move on to make friends with other pregnant couples or couples with kids.
The infertile couple gets forgotten about. Left out. Extend an invite to them for your next social gathering. If they are in a painful place where being around pregnancy or children would hurt, they will decline but will always be grateful for the invitation.
Minimize the Kid Chat
Some of the most painful experiences I have are of us sitting around in a group of couples and the only topic of conversation is their children or pregnancy. Now that I am a mom, I get how easy it can be to talk about the kiddos and to talk about how tiring raising them can be.
Just be emotionally intelligent! If there is someone present who can’t join in the conversation, no matter what it’s about, turn the topic towards something everyone can participate it. It’s just kind.
Remember Big Days
Maybe it’s the anniversary of a miscarriage. Or a wedding anniversary, marking one more year of childlessness. Or perhaps it’s Mother’s and Father’s Day.
Again, bridge the gap and step into those painful days with your friends so they know they aren’t alone.
I can’t tell you how often it meant the world to me when friends or family would send small gifts to lift me up. Usually they would send them when I was undergoing a series of blood tests several days in a row or impatiently enduring yet another “two week wait”to see if I was hopefully pregnant.
Flowers. Gift cards to have a date night with. Sporting event tickets. Something to show your support while also providing a much needed distraction.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list but a few concrete ways others have showed their love for my husband and me as we’ve walked the road of infertility. Simply letting couples know they aren’t alone is what they need most and as long as you gear your actions towards that end, you really can’t go wrong.
Lastly, dive into the other articles out there on the interwebs during National Infertility Awareness Week, exploring the topic of infertility. Learn more about it and then find some concrete ways to show your support to the loved ones you know fighting this battle.