Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rules of Engagement

I have a group of about 20 or so women I talk with often who have all been impacted by infertility. There's this unwritten code we all abide by, a way of communicating with each other that makes our feelings safe. Next to the pain of dealing with infertility the most popular topic we all can relate to is "crap people say/do". All most all of the things said or done that hurt happen with the best intentions but totally miss the mark. I could easily do a full blog post on each of the items I'll mention but I do want you to actually read it so I promise to keep it brief.I want to share on behalf of all those who can't or don't know how to. Here's my attempt at translating the language of our secret society.

News About Pregnancy
With my close group of couples we quickly established a rule of communicating this news only by email and always a day or so before we'd meet next. This allows everyone to process the information in private with no expectation of reaction. Sometimes you just need a minute to process it on your own. I also beg of those who have no trouble with infertility to follow this same practice. I've had lots of people hold off sharing the news with me to spare my feelings. This hurts and trust me...we know. We want the chance to be happy for you so please include us, just allow us some space to do so.

Invites to Kid/Family Events
A few years ago we went through some painful friend losses because people around us had kids and we did not. They avoided inviting us to events that were just for kids or families because we didn't meet their life circumstance. The lack of invites was often to "spare" us from feeling obligated to go to a potentially emotionally painful event. The way this really feels is that we're being punished further for not having kids. We want the option to come and your understanding if we don't feel up to it. We began having this conversation with our friends which was hard and awkward but not everyone may be up for that talk yet. I really encourage those dealing with infertility to tell their friends and family what they need.

I Could Never...
One of the biggest punches to the gut is comments about how someone couldn't imagine doing "x". This came up often when I was going through IVF and mentioned the shots. I hate needles and still can't even look when they draw blood. None of that matters when you really want something and you just don't have another option. When people say they couldn't do that it's almost like hearing "thank God it's you dealing with this because I couldn't". The same is when people say things like you must have been given this challenge because you have a big heart. The truth is you can't judge what anyone will do until you're in it. I'm really conscious of this now and try to never make comments like this. Instead I will say "I admire your courage and perseverance".

These are just a few of them but pretty major rules. This is all my personal opinion and experience. I hope more women can talk about their needs with those they love. If they can't do that, I hope this helps.

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