What do we need from the people we love?
We frequently talk about what we don’t need from our family and friends when it comes to their commentary or prodding questions about infertility. We talk a lot less about what we do need from them when we feel stress or pressure while we're trying to conceive. Sometimes people refrain from sharing their experiences about infertility with their family and friends, not because they don’t want them to know, but because they don’t know how to broach the subject.
Start with "IF ettiquette"
Many people are worried that their relatives or friends won’t respect their privacy or may not understand what it's like to face difficulty trying to become pregnant. If you do decide that you want help from your family and friends, it may be best to be explicit about what you expect from them. Author, Fran Meadows, offers some insight on asking loved ones for what she calls “IF etiquette”:
“Telling family and friends was hard and that is why I kept my journey silent [for so long]. Each family is different and each person knows their family, their reaction styles, and how they would either respect their privacy or if it would be more stress with them knowing. In confidence, you tell family or friends that you want them to respect your privacy and not tell everyone about your situation. It is something that you as a person needs to be comfortable and ready to open up at your own pace”. If you're not sure how to set the perameters of your infertility conversation at your own pace, you can read these seven tips from RESOLVE.
Describe Your Needs
“Telling or not telling is complex. The key is to remember that you can’t untell…or expect people to read your mind”. In her book, Conquering Infertility, Dr. Alice Domar talks about relationships with others in several contexts.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if what you heard on a daily basis was ‘I am sorry that you have to go through infertility treatment. What can I do to support you?’ or ‘I know it must be painful for you that your best friend is pregnant. Should I go buy her a shower gift for you?’”
Dr. Domar also offers advice directly to friends and family members. “DO be supportive and offer words of educated encouragement (check out resolve.org for ideas for friends and family). Most people who experience infertility do end up as parents. We all want that happy ending”.
It's okay to ask for what you need
Sometimes the people that normally bring us the most love and support, can add to our stress or feelings of pressure, when they don't understand what we're going through, or don't understand infertility. It's okay to tell them how they can be helpful, because many times, they really do just want to help. To learn more about how to manage the people you love the most when you're having trouble getting pregnant, download our free mini e-book, "How to Talk to Friends and Family About Infertility".