"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born." Isaiah 66:9

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Infertility--How can you help?!?

I'm borrowing this from the RESOLVE website and my dear friend at Baby On My Mind. It's an article on how to handle Infertility with someone that you know and love. Thanks so much for posting this and allowing me to pass it on. This is of course, not all encompassing, but it will give you a good idea.

How Can I Help? The Dos And The Don'ts Of Support
By Diane Clapp, BSN, RN and Merle Bombardieri, LICSW

Coping with Infertility can be extremely difficult for the family and friends of the couple going through infertility. As with any crisis it is difficult to know what to say. Because infertility is such a sensitive topic it is important to understand what you can and cannot say.

Let's start with what doesn't help, because the more you continue to say the wrong thing inadvertently, the deeper the rift will be between you and the couple. There is a universal list of No-No's that most infertile couples agree on. The following do's and don'ts should help you support the individual or couple who is struggling with infertility.

Don't Try to minimize the problem by saying, "Don't worry. At least you have each other and don't have cancer."

Do Listen to what the couple has to say about their experience and express empathy for their difficulties.

Don't Tell a couple who has had a miscarriage that it wasn't meant to be or that you know that they will be pregnant again soon and it will work the next time.

Do Realize that the couple has just lost a specific potential child who will never come again, no matter how wonderful the next pregnancy may be. Acknowledge how sad they must feel. Use the words "loss and sorrow"; don't be afraid to use the words that probably describe how the couple must feel.

Don't Give medical advice or doctor referrals without being asked or hearing the couple say they are looking for new information or referrals.

Do Tell the couple know that you'll be happy to listen to any details they want to share with you and that you would like to offer support during any procedures by a phone call or by offering to go with them to a medical appointment.

Don't Assume that new medical breakthroughs you read about in the paper will solve the couple's problems. The breakthrough announced by the news media may be irrelevant and if it is relevant, chances are the couple has seen the article and their medical team is knowledgeable about it.

Do Ask the couple if there are any books or articles that you could read to understand what they are going through medically.

Don't Expect the couple to act happy about attending baby showers, christenings and other family events that feature pregnant women and new babies.

Do Give them plenty of opportunity to decide whether to attend an event or whether to come late or leave early. They will not feel the need to avoid babies forever, but less contact right now may be a necessary part of their healing process.

Don't Start a discussion about infertility without paying attention to timing and to the couple's openness.

Do Choose a time when the couple's privacy is assured and ask the couple if they would like to talk. Couples experiencing infertility often feel out of control. Your letting them choose whether and when to talk about it gives them back some control.

Don't Assume that it is fine if you talk to your son's wife or your daughter's husband about their situation.

Do Respect the privacy needs of each individual and do not assume that they both want to talk about it with you.

Don't Offer unsolicited stories about others who have been successful at treatment or adoption. DO Tell them if they are ever interested you could put them in touch with a couple willing to talk about their infertility experience or adoption process. Let them decide whether they want to pursue that information. As a parent, family member, or friend, you want to make it better for the couple, to take away the pain. But probably the greatest gift you can give your loved one or friend is to be a listener, a sounding board. Instead of erasing the pain, you can diminish it by your caring. One of the hardest questions to ask someone is, "How can I help you?" It is such a difficult question because you should be prepared for their answer and not the answer that you think they will say or should say. To ask that question and to trust the response that you hear is a powerful step in your efforts to help the couple struggling with this kind of crisis.

Article taken from

For those family members and friends who have to deal with us infertiles, we know it's hard, believe us, we're living it, but we do appreciate that you want to help and make things better. I would like to make one big warning and put it out there...

PLEASE, please, please do not ask a woman or man (couple) struggling with infertility if they have considered adoption. I can assure you that the thought has run through their mind, and if they aren't in a place to be ready for that, or if they don't feel comfortable with it ever, you will only hurt them further. I'm not sure if I can adequately put it into words, but I'll try...It's like saying to them, you have no hope of having a biological child. You might as well give up. You're hopeless and broken and should move on. Now, now, I know that's generally NOT what anyone means by that, but when you feel those things inside, when you struggle daily with being unable to do the one thing you were MADE to do, that is immediately what runs through your head, consciously or not. It's painful! You may say as the article says that you have people who've battled infertility and you'd be glad to get them in touch with them or something along those lines. I find it helpful to give them links to these great blogs that are out there, so pass it on all you like!!

I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but my blog is meant to be real, truthful, and honest, and I'm hoping that it's just that and can help someone out there!!


  1. Sweet Friend,

    I recently read a post on Leah's blog that was written by her hubby and he said something very profound. He said "I once read somewhere that infertility is the second greatest form of Grief". I agree, it is...

    And, I say ditto with regard to asking a couple if they have considered adoption. Its as if they are saying "get a baby and your heart will be whole...move on". Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. That hole in the heart closes very slowly, but never completely.

    Thanks for the great post. Now, do you suppose we should post this in every newspaper in the country??? Or, ask for this info to be discussed on Good Morning America or the Today Show? Today recently did a story on infertility, a whole whopping 3 minute segment! They didn't even scratch the surface...sad.

    Much Love and thanks for the TRUTH.

  2. I read this today and all I can say is it is soooooo true! Thanks for posting this!

  3. I love this! And I don't think it is harsh at all. These type of posts are so important in educating others. I think there are a lot of people who really do mean well, they just don't realize that they are the 10th, 20th, 50th... person to tell us that if we just did _______, we would get pregnant. For me, I never really liked hearing about the miracle pregnancy that happened to someone's family member, friend, or neighbor. Because my issue was never not believing that God could do a miracle, it was the fact that I was still waiting for the miracle.