One thing that I've noticed throughout this infertility journey has been the tendency of some people to want to brush aside the effect that infertility has on me and that pain that I feel as a result of this disease. From my perspective (which the therapist in me is obligated to point out is a limited one), it seems like the people that know about the infertility and its effect on me are divided into two camps: those who want my infertility to be out of my way and those who want my infertility to be out of their way.
That doesn't mean that the people in the second camp don't care about me. I know they do. They show it in other ways and in other areas of my life. And sometimes they try to help me deal with the infertility, too. But there's a very distinct difference in how it comes across.
The difference shows in how people talk to me and how they talk about me. It shows in how they ask me how I'm doing and how they offer advice. It shows in how they tell me about their pregnancies and how they relate to me after telling me about their pregnancies. It shows in how often they check in to see how I'm doing and in how they react if I tell them I'm having a hard time. It's the difference between whether they want to support me or whether instead they want to fix me.
I've been surprised at times by who has fallen into one camp or the other. People that I generally expect to be more of the "fix it and forget it" type have said things that have really touched me or have told me they're available any time I need or want to talk. People that have been there for me in other areas have offered platitudes or repeated the same advice without listening to what I'm really saying.
I wrote this poem last winter about how it feels when the pain is ignored:
Tear tracks stiffen and dry out,
Cracks in my armor,
Cracks in my soul
Leaving oozing open wounds.
My essence drains through
The sieve of my heart
And lies on the floor like sand
To be swept into a corner,
You can't fix the pain of my infertility. No one can. But please don't ignore it, either. Please, ask me how I'm feeling. Ask me what I need. Ask how you can support me.
For more information about infertility, please visit http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
For more information about National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html
For more information about etiquette in talking to your friend or family member about their infertility, please visit http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family--friends/infertility-etiquette.html