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I'm Sorry, What Did You Say?


I think I've mentioned it before, but according to the CDC just about 10% of women of reproductive age have some type of infertility. Pretty significant isn't it? That almost necessarily means that we ALL know somebody who has dealt with infertility. The catch is that we may not always know who these people are. Infertility is an exceptionally personal struggle that many may never share with others. Still, it's somehow acceptable to ask newly married couples "when are you going to start having children" or ask the couple that is juggling a two year old "when are you going to give Billy a baby brother or sister".


Yes, I know these questions are asked with the best of intentions, but it's these words that strike the hearts of those struggling to become parents for the first time or maybe the second. Fertility is never a guarantee, don't assume that because a couple has one child that others will necessarily follow. First of all, some couples want one child and this blessing completes their family. Second of all, it's not your business. It is NEVER your business when a couple will attempt to conceive, if they will attempt to conceive, or how many times they hope to conceive. Somewhere in time it became acceptable to ask these questions, but let me remind you, it's a little bit rude and it's a lot a bit painful.


No matter how many times somebody asks me these questions I will smile and answer as politely as I can. However, please don't call me rude when my response becomes curt as I lose patience with the questions and lose empathy for the people asking. I know that you may not know what is going on in my reproductive life, but unless I invite you into it, please don't barge into it yourself.


With that said, we all need support. Even though I hate answering these questions from strangers, I crave them to be asked by family and friends. If you are in my immediate circle, please ask me questions. Ask me how I am holding up, ask me if there is anything you can do to support me, ask me where our heads are at or what our plan is, ask me to go for coffee and vent, ask the question you want to ask, it's fine.


Here's the kicker though, don't give me your advice, unless I specifically ask for it. If I open up to you about our struggles don't look at me with pity before showering me with meaningless cordiality. In my smallest of circles, there is nobody (that I know of anyway) that has gone through this situation, so your advice and techniques for getting pregnant just are not wanted. I don't want to hear them. You got pregnant the first month you tried because you cut out sugar and ate tons of grapefruits? That's fantastic! I really am so happy for you, but that's your experience. Not mine. Don't tell me "Just relax, stop trying for a couple months, and it'll happen". Don't tell me to "keep your legs raised for a while after having sex". Don't tell me "You're young you have plenty of time", or "Just do IVF or adopt". Having a child is no small thing, I promise Aaron and I will become parents, but how we do it and when we do it is our business.


Of course these are my thoughts based on my own experience, but what I really want you to take away from this post is don't ask your coworker or a friend of friend or a cousin you don't see often when they are going to have kids. I promise they will share with you whatever they are comfortable with without you prodding for information. AND when they do tell you what's going on in their life, ask them exactly what they need from you to feel supported because what I need may be very different from the woman in your life dealing with infertility. So ask her, ask her what you can do for her and what she needs from you during this time. She will tell you, but more importantly she will be eternally grateful that you asked.

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