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Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. 1 in 8 couples is affected, yet most of us have no idea how to provide emotional support.

Infertility is a very painful struggle. The pain is often compared to the grief over losing a loved one, although I don’t think the grief of infertility is so cut and dry.

Couples with infertility grieve the loss of the baby they may never know. They grieve the baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. Each month, there is a glimmer of hope that maybe things will change. But, they don’t. This happens month after month, year after year, and it is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

In addition to the emotional struggles facing couples with infertility, they also deal with a serious financial burden. Each month there is a new procedure to try or a new drug to inject. It is very expensive and very stressful.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

What Not to Do:

  1. Don’t tell them to relax
  2. Don’t minimize the problem
  3. Don’t say there are worse things that could happen
  4. Don’t say they are not meant to be parents
  5. Don’t ask why they aren’t trying IVF
  6. Don’t offer to help, unless you are very sincere
  7. Don’t complain about your pregnancy, or your kids
  8. Don’t assume they are naive about the responsibilities of parenthood
  9. Don’t gossip about your friend’s condition
  10. Don’t push adoption

How to help:

  1. Let them know that you care
  2. Remember them on Mother’s Day
  3. Support their decision to stop treatments

When I was going through infertility treatments, I most appreciated people telling me that they would pray for me. There is truly nothing else anyone can do, but it’s nice to know that people want to support you.


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