Monday, April 23, 2012

National Infertility Awareness Week - Don't Ignore the Pain

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
For more information about National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit
For more information about etiquette in talking to your friend or family member about their infertility, please visit


  1. Mmm very interesting and true, people react and offer support very differently. Some are just polite when asking how things are and they don't really want to hear about it, it's more like something they just say. But for me, by now I know who does care and are willing to listen.. before figuring that out, it can be tricky.

  2. This is incredibly thoughtful and well written. I never considered it this way before, but you're right - some people want to help by being supportive and some people want to "help" by making the infertility "go away" figuratively. It might "go away" easily for them, but they aren't living it, it *never* goes away for us.

  3. Yes, very well put. Your language evokes a different perspective on all this, a way of looking at it that is unique. Fix vs. support, your feelings & pain vs. theirs. You always amaze me, your power with words! Your powers of expression! Love you!

  4. I think this is an interesting perspective. I've been very surprised how some people have reacted. My sil stopped sending me pictures of my nieces and my mil stopped mentioning them to me at all. I know it was intended to protect me, but it just hurt to feel so left out.

  5. I think a lot of people just don't know what to say, which is why they lean towards dismissive. Doesn't make it okay exactly. What we don't understand makes us uncomfortable.

  6. Hello from ICLW! What a beautiful poem. I also echo your sentiments about offering up any kind word or sincere support, it can make a world of a difference to an infertile. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story and doing your part to spread awareness about infertility. I wish you all the best on your journey to baby.

  7. Wow, this... "those who want my infertility to be out of *their* way" is so so so unfortunately true. I had friends tell me I was being insensitive to ask them to make an effort not to talk about their kids exclusively, always, on and on, around me. My infertility was such an inconvenience to *them*. So wild. Really great post.

    Here from ICLW!

  8. Anonymous9:01 AM

    I love your poem! people can be so insensitive, it will never cease to amaze me, like my problems make them unconfortable! boo!!

  9. "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"

  10. Anonymous12:23 PM

    Thanks much .