When you are experiencing infertility, one of the most difficult challenges is communicating with family and friends about what may be a devastating life crisis. Even the most caring relative or friend may offer a "helpful" suggestion, which will appear wildly insensitive to you. Here are some questions you may encounter-and answers you can use to deal with your in-laws and friends.
Infertility is a process, and it may mean letting go of initial dreams. Stay informed about the wide range of options available to you. Also, try to connect with others facing similar experiences. The Internet is a great way to do this.
"Resolve" is a national non-profit organization that, for more than 20 years, has been helping people deal with infertility by providing information, support, and advocacy through publications, infertility support groups, physical referrals, and a hotline. Their Internet address is http://www.resolve.org/.
Question: "So, when are you going to start a family? You two aren't getting any younger!"
Question: "When are you going to stop concentrating on your career and start a family?"
Answer: "I don't believe my job and a family are mutually exclusive. My career is advancing, and I'm very proud of my work. When we feel the time is right, we will consider starting our family."
Question: "Well, I guess we'll never be grandparents."
Answer: "We truly hope that someday you will have grandchildren. Whether we have children biologically or through adoption, we look forward to sharing our happiness with you."
Question: "I wish you'd take one of my kids -- they drive my absolutely crazy!"
Answer: "Oh thanks, then they'd drive me crazy!"
Question: "I've heard about a tremendous new experimental infertility treatment. Why don't you try that?"
Answer: "It may sound easy, but infertility treatments are very complicated -- not all the new developments apply to every case."
Answer: "We consider ourselves a family now. We love children and especially enjoy our nieces, nephews, and friends' kids. If we decide to expand our family, we'll be sure to let you know."
Parents, after your children have explained their infertility to you, give them a rest. Don't demand news of every test, procedure, and medication. Assure them that you may not understand how difficult this must be for them, but you extend your love. In addition, refrain from sharing "helpful" tidbits about getting pregnant, such as Aunt Sherry's use of Vitamin E, surefire sexual positions, and bizarre herbal remedies like powered grasshoppers in mint tea.
As stressful and painful as infertility is, it can also be a chance for families to come together and support each other. An understanding and loving comment can go a long way to help a family member deal with this painful time. In-laws will long remember the kindness done to them at this time.