Ever wondered what living with infertility is really like? Is it really as hard as people make it out to be? This week for National Infertility Awareness Week, I’ve been sharing a bit about our journey with infertility. I’ve been thinking and praying about how to help people understand what the infertility journey is really like. Today it hit me. I’m going to share with you a look at what our typical month looks like. This is what every month looks like for us, and has looked like for us for the last … oh about 10 years. I’m not writing this for people who are dealing with infertility. Instead, I am writing this for those who want to understand.
Take a deep breath, muster up the courage to think positive, come up with a plan for what we can do this month to increase the chance that I will ovulate and that we might get pregnant. Try to form a positive mindset, because mindset is critical no matter what you are working on. (some people also begin monitoring their temperature every day, I don’t because it about drove me batty. Be careful what you eat, drink, think, take supplements, go to acupuncture, and hope that you are doing everything you need to do to increase chances of ovulation.
Start monitoring body signs for any hint that ovulation may be impending. Get excited when I find some clue that looks like maybe, just maybe I might ovulate this month. Figure out when the optimal chances of conception are. Take ovulation tests, ignore the fact that it is negative, and make up an excuse about why it is probably wrong OR look at the fact that it looks like it might be positive, and hope like heck that it is. Be careful what you eat, drink, think, take supplements, go to acupuncture, and hope that you are doing everything you need to do to help ovulation and improve chances of implantation if pregnancy did occur.
Wait…. try not to think about the fact that you may or may not have conceived. Wait some more, wait, wait… wait some more. Figure out about when implantation would be if you actually did conceive. Be careful what you eat, drink, think, take supplements, go to acupuncture, and hope that you are doing everything you need to do to increase chances of implantation.
Wait, wait, wait, wait… try to prepare yourself in case the test is negative. Try not to get your hopes up to high. Notice every little twinge of nausea or anything else that may mean pregnancy. Remind yourself that those probably mean nothing. Wait, wait, wait some more. Try to make a plan for how to cope if you aren’t pregnant again, and what you’ll do next month. Wait, wait, dream about what it would be like if you really are pregnant. Try to maintain a positive mindset without getting hopes to high, wait, wait. Be careful what you eat, drink, think, take supplements, go to acupuncture, after all you might have gotten pregnant and you need to do everything possible to avoid miscarriage.
End of Week 4:
Take pregnancy test, find out it is negative. Wonder if period will start, because if it does that means you might have ovulated and just not gotten pregnant… wait, wait… maybe it starts, maybe it doesn’t… Cry, fight being depressed. Pull yourself together and go back to week 1.
I know often we want to help our friends with their struggles, but don’t know how, and we’re afraid of making things worse. Here are some tips to help:
- Ask how you can help support them. Do they want to talk about it, or would they rather not.
- Find out if there is a time that is particularly hard for them (for most women it’s the end of the cycle, when the test comes back negative), and if you can support them during that time with an extra hug, some time to talk, whatever they need.
- If you are available and they are going through medical treatments, ask if they would like you to go some appointments with them. Husbands can’t always take off for every appointment, and the emotional support is more valuable than you can imagine.
- Listen and understand that every month the wound will be reopened when they find out that they did not get pregnant. Be understanding and let them vent about it. It’s easy to wonder why we get so upset each month, but they are not just griping. Every month brings new hope, new fears, and can bring new sadness when it passes.
- Be prepared to celebrate with them when they finally do get a positive, and be prepared for their worries, miscarriages are sadly more likely after a struggle with infertility.
- Why don’t you just adopt? Not everyone is called to adopt. My husband and I are big fans of adoption, yet the more we prayed about it, the more we felt it was not the way we were being led to go. There are many reasons people choose not to adopt, and some families haven’t even ruled out adoption, but still want to try to have a child naturally.
- It’ll happen, I know it’ll happen, You’ll get pregnant soon, etc. The fact is, you don’t know that it will happen and neither do they. These may sound like reassuring words, but they sting. Instead things like I hope you get pregnant soon, I’m praying for, I’m rooting for you, are much kinder words that really convey what you are probably trying to say anyways.
- Maybe you just aren’t meant to have children or Maybe God just doesn’t want you to have children. Even if you believe it’s true, don’t say it! This is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone who is struggling with infertility. You don’t know what they are "meant" to do or what God has planned for them. Choose to be supportive of their choice, and trust God to guide them to do what is right for their families.