i realized the other day that i have written a TON about my experience with infertility but i haven't written very much about how people who AREN'T going through infertility can help those who are.
i know how hard it can be to be a bystander to someone's infertility journey & honestly just not know what to do. for years, i prayed for my sister & brother-in-law to have a baby. i didn't know what else to do so i just prayed. i didn't feel awkward around her, but i definitely felt like i wasn't doing enough. but i wasn't sure what i could do to make it better for her.
after being on a similar journey to my dear sister's for two years now, i've come to this conclusion: there isn't anything you can do to make it better.
before you get discouraged, there are things you can do to help & that's what this post is about. it's not about fixing or healing someone's infertility, it's about taking their hand & helping them through their journey. some of these tips will be things to NOT do, because there are a lot of things that, as it turns out, are pretty insensitive. we've all done them so don't feel too bad, but we can all do better. okay. without further rambling, how to help a friend going through infertility:
it seems simple, but knowing that people are praying for you is so, so helpful. knowing that people in your sphere care enough to ask God to bless you is a source of strength that is recognized & appreciated.
- mourn with those that mourn & comfort those that stand in need of comfort
this scripture has taken on a whole new meaning for me. mourning with those that mourn means empathizing. it doesn't mean offering solutions or downplaying someone's grief because someone else has had it worse. it means feeling sadness because someone else is feeling sad. it means having a shoulder to cry on & a spare tissue. you don't have to know what it feels like to grieve with someone. you just have to recognize that whatever they are going through is hard for them & love them through it.
- don't complain about your kids/pregnancy to them
i'm not saying you can't complain about your kids or pregnancy at all-- i'm SURE that parenting & pregnancy are super hard!! i'm just saying that complaining to someone who would literally give their left leg for a kid/to be pregnant is probably not going to get you the sympathy you're looking for. & to be quite frank, it's a really awkward position to be put in. (it's kind of like when the skinny girl complains about being fat. everyone just wants to punch her. that's how infertile people feel when pregnant people/moms complain)
- don't tell them they need more faith
faith the size of a mustard seed, right? that's what makes miracles? that's what moves mountains? telling someone that if they had more faith or believed more or prayed more or fasted more, etc. is probably one of the rudest things i can think of. (it's one of the things that hurt me the most in my journey) i was already struggling enough, but feeling like my mustard seed faith wasn't enough was a new low. i felt as though God wasn't listening to me because i didn't have enough faith-- even though i KNOW He is a literal miracle worker & i KNOW He can do whatever is asked. so when you're thinking about saying something about faith, just take a turn & let your friend's relationship with God be theirs.
on a similar note: saying "Eve was a mother before she had children" isn't helpful either. eve was the first woman on earth. she had to have kids for mankind to legit be a thing. just remember that.
- check in & listen
you can ask how things are going. don't expect a detailed report of every doctor appointment, but let them know that you care. ask how they're doing & then just listen. every feeling that your friend is feeling is completely valid & real. so just listen with love.
- ask about things that don't have to do with infertility
if i'm being completely real, infertility takes over your whole life. so when people ask or talk about something other than infertility, it's like a breath of fresh air.
those are just a few ideas, i've got a lot more, but i don't want you to feel overwhelmed or like you're not doing enough. because i want you to know that if you're trying, we see you. we feel your love & we are so grateful for the fact that you are trying. if i have a hard day, know it's not because of you, but simply because this journey is such a battle. the feelings of inadequacy, that i'm not doing enough or being enough are so real & they often make daily life kinda hard. but for you family members & friends who are trying to show your love, sympathy & kindness, i just want you to know that your efforts are not in vain. i truly feel that love & i am so grateful for it. i hope you feel loved in return.