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How To Support The Infertile Loved One

How To Support The Infertile Loved One

Being a mother is so much more than just the process of conceiving a child and giving birth to him or her – it is something most women feel compelled to do; born to do in fact.

Yet, there are a staggering amount of women out there who are fighting a battle they cannot see; a battle from within that often extends to a cry of frustrations to the heavens. This battle is infertility and it has caused a suffering that simply cannot be explained by words. It entails sacrifices, disappointment and never-ending nights spent sobbing because the ache within your soul is just too much to bear and no one could possibly understand – despite how many times they try and tell you they do.

Firstly, I want to start off by talking to the loved one who was once a little girl who that laid on the floor with her best friends and dreamed of the perfect life with a bunch of children running around in the backyard, the ideal spouse and the perfect house. A dream they might have put at bay once to focus on obtaining their degree, doing great in their career or even just because they had not yet found the person they wanted to share a child with.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with guilt because you did not grab the opportunity to have a child with both hands, I want you to stop for a second and hear me out: You have no reason to feel guilt-ridden that you were not at a place where you were ready to be taking care of a child – you had to go through a process; a refinement and whether you believe in God or not, there is a time and a place for everything and you do not know what would have happened if you did indeed have a baby at a time when you did not feel mentally or physically prepared. You have to start re-directing your thoughts towards a place of acceptance, love and peace.

This world and everything in it is fickle – we have to stop blaming ourselves for things we have absolutely no control over. Guilt, resentment and shame are natural emotions one has to experience, but too allow it to take complete control over your life and relationships is not healthy. We often forget how damaged we become once we allow those emotions to consume us. Allow the emotions to enter, feel it, and embrace it if you must – but then try and move past it. It is the only way you and your spouse will survive the road ahead, you have to take each other’s hands and walk side by side on this journey.

And here is how:

Please Don’t Avoid the Elephant in the Room

Many times you will feel you have to talk around your friend’s painful situation or avoid talking about your kids and the experiences you have with them – all just to make them feel better. Yet, what you have to be aware of is that if they get the sense that you are walking on egg-shells around them, they will feel even more self-aware and ashamed. You are only highlighting their predicament and how it has already penetrated and influenced your relationship.

Respect them enough to not avoid the issue. This does not necessarily mean they want to talk about it, but be aware that your discomfort around them will hurt them even more. They do not always need consolation, but they do need to know that you are always there for them. This brings me to my next point:

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All They Need is A Shoulder to Lean On

Coping with infertility is extremely exhausting, physically and emotionally. Often all they need is someone to help lighten the load – whether it be with physical acts like offering to drive them to the fertility clinics, or just taking them away from all the tension and drama in their lives for a couples retreat or girls weekend away in the mountains or at the beach.

Hold their hand and walk with them. Do not scold them for the emotions they are feeling, especially if they are angry. It is their right to feel frustrated at the fact that the one thing they were biologically created to do seems to only end in futility. It is immensely heart breaking – so much so that it resembles the grief one feels when one loses someone; a grief that completely changes you.

This grief is often brought to a climatic point when they are overwhelmed by social media feeds of their friends having their first sonar, the birth of their babies, the babies’ first everything – this is by no means a persuasion for the friends to stop sharing their happiness, but to simply understand if the loved one becomes quiet and withdrawn. It is not that they resent you, they just crave what you have – and this often makes keeping the relationship hard.

Be aware that they will most likely try and pull away socially – but that you need to pull them back. Depression is a dangerous pit, especially if one falls in it alone. You have to pull them out and away from it; remind them that despite the fact that they might not be able to conceive, the world is still filled with wonder and it is still possible to have a great life with phenomenal experiences.

If your loved one feels ashamed because of it – it is your duty to let them know that they have nothing to be ashamed off; assure them that their struggle doesn’t make them less human, or less a parent. They need a support system that might not always understand exactly what they are going through, but that supports them all the same.

They need to be able to vent all their frustrations, their fears and their anxieties and if you cannot always be that person, help them find support groups that will provide them with the right people and tools that will aid them. There are numerous online support groups where one can find people who truly understands the process of trying to get pregnant and the emotions that go along with it. It might also be a place where they can be provided with a lifeline of hope.

Provide Them With a Beacon of Light:

Infertility makes a person feel completely alone and defeated; they are fighting a battle that cannot be seen, with different weapons that might not always help them. It is up to you to let them know that despite how they feel – they are not alone and there are many other options out there for them to tap into that intrinsic nature they so desire to express.

If IVF treatment is not working, you need to help your loved one come to the realization that it is not the pregnancy that makes them a parent – but the nurturing and the care that they can give a child, whether it be through pregnancy, adoption, being a part of a foster care system or volunteering to help out with fundraisers that support and bring comfort to disadvantaged children in the world.

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However, also inform them that there have been a number of cases where the impossible was made possible – where miracles happened right in front of the couples’ eyes; leaving not only themselves in awe, but also the family and friends who were a part of every step in the couples’ struggling journey.

One such case is of a dignified lady that is my aunt by blood, but whom I consider more my sister and best friend. I will leave you with Chantelle’s testimony and I hope that it brings forth a sense of inspiration and new found hope for those who find themselves lost in the darkness of defeat – because despite what the world might want you to believe, there is a bigger plan at work and often all you have to do is trust that it is all working together for your good. Hold on to this relentless faith – more often than not, this is the weapon that will bring you the victory you ache for.

Please bear in mind that this is a testimony used as a banner for hope and it is by no means used to “convert” anyone; this is an inspiring and truthful testimony that deserves to be told. My request is that you see it as such and respect it:

Don’t quit just before your miracle – this phrase gives me goose bumps, and as I am sitting here I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. For eleven years I looked at motivational phrases like these, and made it my inspiration in the midst of my longing.

Yes I longed. I longed to be a mother and no matter what we tried, it just never happened.  I received a word from God that I will have a child, and that I should name her Abigail, which means ‘her father’s joy / The Lord has heard and the Lord has provided.’  Being able to hold on to this promise helped me, but some days it just made it so much worse – especially when everyone around me seemed to be announcing their pregnancies, which led to me feeling like God’s orphan child.

I would ask questions like ‘Why God?  Why is everyone getting what I am longing for? Why are they receiving what You have promised to give me?’ In my heart I felt like Sarah, always trying to help God along with His promise; I felt like I had to do something. I felt that I couldn’t just sit around passively and wait for something to happen.

My husband and I went for IUI’s – all unsuccessful. Eventually the struggle took its toll on me and I decided to just take a break. I was tired beyond words and emotionally drained, consumed by my emotions with only a one-worded question that penetrated my mind ‘Why?’

A few days later, I walked straight into a farm attack.

I came home and six armed robbers were waiting for us. They already had my mother in law and one of our workers tied up inside the house. Our Rhodesian ridgeback acted funny and I couldn’t understand why.  He was barking at the one wall, and I followed him towards it.

When I turned the corner, the attacker grabbed me in front of my chest, and stuck a gun against my head.  His words were:  “Today I’m going to kill you.”  I was so shocked, yet somehow an unexplainable, quiet calmness came over me.

They kicked us, threw us around, tied us up and wanted our money. I started praying quietly, as I knew that this was a battle against an evil beyond our control and that we could not win this alone.  For a split second, the answer came to me: This is why you did not became pregnant: Today you might die and if you were pregnant, so would your baby.  After that thought came to mind, a distinctive determination came over me and I decided to pray aloud!

Ten minutes later, the house became quiet, and they fled! We know the statistics of our country; farm attacks do not end this way! As soon as everything was over, I was so thankful towards God, and I knew that my life had a purpose.

I also knew that my time was coming.

A few months later, I went in for a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy in order for the doctor to find out what the reason behind me not getting pregnant was.  My husband and I thought the doctor would tell us that they’ve found and removed cysts or endometriosis and that all will be well to go forward with treatments.

The outcome was everything but: The doctor said that he was sorry, but that I should forget to have children. He went on to say that my fallopian tubes were abnormal, and if I should – wonder above wonder – ever fall pregnant, that it would end up as an ectopic pregnancy.

My husband and I were broken! I told God that I was done trying to help Him. I told Him that I knew His word never comes back empty, and He promised me a child!  No obstacle was too big or too small for Him, and I knew that He loves situations where He could show His abilities to work miracles.

I felt like Hannah from the Bible: shattered and aching, but I left it there.  For the first time in my life, I made peace – what else could I do?

Two months down the line, my husband tells me that he is sure that I’m pregnant.  I thought he was ridiculous, and I got so angry at him for bringing this sensitive issue up again. He made me take a pregnancy test and I did it just to tell him “I told you so!”

Well, there they were: Two clear stripes….I WAS PREGNANT!!!  How did this happen?  I went in to see my doctor and there it was, a clear heartbeat. I was 5 weeks pregnant!!!  My doctor was flabbergasted, so was I – yet so, so thankful.

He is my little miracle, my constant reminder that GOD’S WORD NEVER RETURNS EMPTY!

Here is a picture of my miracle:

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    I want you to hold on – your miracle, whatever it might be to you, is on is on its way and waiting to happen. Hold on to hope, to faith and to the relentless belief that miracles do still happen.”

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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