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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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    Bianca Gouws

    Freelance Writer, Director and Actress

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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