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How To Support The Infertile Loved One

How To Support The Infertile Loved One
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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 July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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