Sunday, January 26, 2014

When You Want to Help and Just Don't Know How

I struggled with what direction I wanted to take my post tonight.  My original thoughts were placed on the back burner for the time being, but I will be addressing "What NOT to Say to Someone Struggling with IF" in the near future. That being said, the beautiful words of support we received after telling our family and friends the other night was very comforting to both B and I.  Honestly, some of the most kind comments came from rather unexpected sources, and we are forever grateful to have those to fall back on when we are having a down day (or week).

Many people wanted to know what they could do to help.  There really is no easy answer to that question. It sucks to say, but some days we have no issue discussing what is going on, some days we just want to ignore our IF problems exist. Sometimes we want to go hang out, enjoy time with family and friends; sometimes we just want to sit at home and ignore the world.  Sometimes we can handle seeing babies/pregnant women; sometimes we need a break from it all.  Honestly, we are just like every other couple out there.  We have our ups and downs, our good days and bad, and most of the time, if isn't even because of IF or our struggles.  We could simply be having a bad day. Who knew??

Moving on- how you can help.
Question: How Can I Support a Friend with Infertility?
So a friend or family member has confided in you that they are struggling to conceive. Maybe you already suspected they were dealing with infertility, in which case this isn't a big surprise. Or maybe you're really shocked. No matter how you took the news, the fact that they've told you is a big deal. This means they trust you, and that they think you'll be supportive.
Answer:
Even if you intend to be supportive, knowing how to actually give that support can be tricky, especially if you've never experienced infertility yourself.

Learn More About Infertility

Read up on at least the basics of infertility to be a more supportive friend. Not so you can offer advice, which will most likely be unwelcome, but so you can offer support in a more understanding fashion. Knowing the basics of IVF, for example, will make it easier for your friend to talk about her cycle. You won't react with shock that she needs to give herself numerous injections, since you'll already know that.
Another reason to brush up on the basics is so you don't find yourself repeating common myths. The fertility challenged are used to hearing myths, but it'd be nice if the person they have trusted to offer support - you - wouldn't be one of those myth-repeating people.
Here are some articles you can read on the basics and infertility myths:

Ask Them What They Need

Asking a friend what she or he needs sounds so simple, and yet, few people do so! Maybe because they are embarrassed about not knowing what to do, or perhaps because we're concerned it makes us less supportive. (Don't we all dream of people knowing what we need without having to spell things out? And yet, few people are good at mind reading.)
Conversely, people who are struggling often hesitate to ask for what they need. They don't want to be a burden, or they are so overwhelmed that asking for help doesn't even occur to them.
Here are a few things you can offer as help:
  • Attend difficult appointments with them. Whether they'd like you to just sit in the waiting room or come in and hold their hand.
  • Offer to be an exercise buddy, if you know they're trying to lose weight. Sometimes women (and men) need to lose weight to make treatments more effective. It's much easier to lose weight when you have a buddy working out with you. (Just don't suggest the weight loss plan on your own!)

Know What to Say

When you're not sure what to say, you may want to try one of these responses:
  • I'm sorry to hear that.
  • What can I do to help?
  • Do you want to talk about it?
  • I'm here to listen, whenever you need me.
  • I wish I knew what to say to comfort you.
  • I wish there something I could do or say that would make it all better.
.Above adapted from About.com

Still want to help?

Send positive thoughts, light a candle, say a prayer. Know that this struggle has been a very long and painful road, and that we are trying everything we can to make our dream a reality.

Or simply leave a comment showing your support.  Let us know that you are thinking about us.  Support is one of the greatest things that all people with IF need, and you can never have too much!