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Monday, May 14, 2007

How to help your friend or family member through infertility

A few simple pointers to make things easier for everyone:

1. Listen and learn


Listen to what your loved one tells you about their infertility, their feelings and their treatment. Trust that their feelings are valid and don’t try to dismiss them or interpret them using a framework that you understand. The more they feel they can talk to you, the more you will be able to help them.

2. Avoid platitudes

It is better to say nothing at all than to say the wrong thing. Don’t try to offer words of consolation such as “I know it will happen for you” or the classic “Just relax and it will happen”. Just a simple “sorry” and a hug will do.

3. Don’t offer unsolicited advice

By the time an infertile couple has decided to look for help, they probably already know more about trying to conceive than any fertile couple has ever needed to know. Once they have started medical investigations, they will have talked through their treatment options with their doctor and will be as informed as they need to be.

4. Educate yourself

Read up as much as possible about what your loved one is going through. That way you can talk to them on their level about the investigations they are having done, or the treatments they are enduring. Not only will it help you avoid offering them irritating platitudes and annoying unsolicited advice, they will also appreciate that you care enough to do this.

5. If you’re not sure, ask

If you don’t know how to act or what to say, ask your loved one. Only they can tell you the best thing to do. There will be times when it is too hard for them to talk and others when they will welcome a chat – let them decide.

If you have any suggestions for improving the list, I would love to hear them.

16 Comments:

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Discreid said...

Jesus Feebee you've done it again. You've written a brilliant post that I only wish I could have the talent and sensitivity to put together. Good for you. I was going to say I like point 1 - when I had only read it - but I like all of the points, all so valid!

 
At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As in everything in life how the hell are you supposed to know the 'right' thing to say unless you are going through the exact same situation as the other person.
Sometimes there simply is no right thing to say as no matter what you say or do you will hurt someone.
So people say nothing and people assume they don't care or are not interested.
After months of reading and commenting I have decided to stop....but hope you get to where you need to be.
Take care XXX A

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Feebee said...

Amber - I'm sorry my post upset you. It was genuinely intended to do the complete opposite - to try to give people an idea of how they can help their infertile friends and family members, to let them know that there doesn't have to be a "right" thing to say. I'm sorry you feel you can't read and comment any more - best of luck with your pregnancy and beyond.

If anyone else is offended by this post then I'd appreciate if you would let me know. It is directed at non-infertiles, and if it is pissing them off then I have obviously got the tone and content of the message wrong.

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feebee will PM you to explain myself a bit better, think that comment came out the exact opposite of the way it was intended, in fact re reading it I know it did.
Not offended in the least...will PM and explain.
A

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI THERE

Thanks for the advice. I have friends going through this at the moment and it is difficut to know what way to approach the subject.

Any pointers on websites that could be useful as medical insight for people who are not going through fertility problems but would like to get some general info?

btw i have read through some of your blog and found it both heartbreaking and inspirational. thankyou

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Feebee said...

Thanks Amber! Misunderstanding over.

Anonymous - thank you, hope you found it of some help. There is a lot of info here - http://www.conceivingconcepts.com/education.shtml
- info on fertility treatment and coping mechanisms for infertiles, might be helpful.

 
At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! I have lost count of the "Oh, just stop thinking about it, and it'll happen..." comments and anecdotes, and have sorely missed the big hugs I needed in the moments of desperation during and after miscarriage. I know it's hard for the person who is trying to be sympathetic, but please don't try to give me advice or cheer me up. All I ask is to be able to dampen your shoulder with my tears. Then I'll be fine, promise.
m

 
At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't tell someone with primary fertility problems how lucky they are not to have kids. (I don't know if those with secondary infertility get "you're lucky not to have more kids than you already do," because we only had primary infertility.) For some reason, my dh's side of the family had a lot of people who loved to tell us how much trouble kids are (and they knew we were having problems getting pg). Gee, thanks. That's very validating. Not to mention, what a great thing for your poor kids to overhear.

Lisa (not Lisau)

 
At 3:21 AM, Blogger Bumble said...

Well said Feebee. Well said. x

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Feebee said...

Lisa - we get "why can't you just be happy with what you've got?", as if wanting another child means you forget about your firstborn - maybe fertiles do, maybe that's why they keep saying it to me. Hope everything went well with your pregnancy.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Feebee said...

Lisa - hope I have the right Lisa! If not, I apologise.

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's that Lisa. I'm so impressed that you remember me! Everything went well with my pregnancy. Violet's getting close to a year, and seeing her with Isaac makes it very clear to me one way in which secondary infertility is harder than primary. When you're trying to have a second (or third or...), you're not just trying to have a son or daughter, but also a brother or sister. I'm so grateful that we were able to use the knowledge that we got when trying to conceive Isaac (that being, I need metformin!) in order to get pg so quickly with Violet, but my heart breaks for you and everyone else who has to keep trying and trying. I hope things turn around for you soon!

Lisa

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I just wanted to say that I thought your post was well written, and when you think about it, could apply to lots of things that people go through.

C.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger Feebee said...

Thanks C!

Lisa - glad to hear everything is going well for you.

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pointers. I still am confused though about what to do about my OWN feelings for my infertile friend. Her approach is to not discuss it with me. But I am eaten up with not knowing if I am causing her acute distress by talking about my own kids.

Anyhow. I suppose as long as keeps listening politely I will keep talking. Or maybe not.

 
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