Monday, March 18, 2013

To the friends/family of someone struggling with infertility

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days.

We are still in a torturous holding pattern. I'm not sure what else to say about it hence why I haven't really had anything to write about. We are still braced for the news of a blighted ovum miscarriage on Wednesday. I lie awake almost every night with a heavy heart and a injured soul. It is becoming easier to face the facts than hold out unjustified hope. It feels like it's the right thing to do at the moment and acknowledge where this is headed, as painful as it is. We can't explain away the non-doubling betas or the empty sac at 7 weeks. That's just the reality of it. Unless a actual miracle happens, we've come to terms with this ending badly.

On top of everything, we are bleeding money left and right for these ultrasounds and lab work appointments because my RE's billing staff still has not processed our claim properly for the FET and it appears our deductible for 2013 has not been met, when it really has. I'm so upset over that. I hope it can get worked out this week. I am riding them like crazy but it doesn't seem to matter. I hate to say this, but if I have a D&C (surgery to remove the contents of a miscarriage from a uterus) in my future and I have to pay out of pocket needlessly for it, I'm going to blow an emotional gasket and probably have a nervous breakdown. Or I could just spontaneously start bleeding at the moment I least expect it. Like at work, during a meeting, or while laying in bed. I can't begin to describe the emotions we are working through.

On a separate but related note, I receive daily emails from a Christian infertility organization called Sarah's Laughter. I liked this one and thought I would share.

I have heard friends and family say to us "I was going to reach out but I just didn't know what to say." That's a tough situation to be in. Those suffering need the support and love from their family and friends. Hopefully this post will help those of you know how to best support someone in your life who is suffering from infertility/loss.

For Friends & Family


I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.  
Philippians 4:13-14

If you are the one struggling with infertility, guess what?  Today’s Daily Double Portion is not for you!  Please print this copy out, hand it to the nearest friend or family member, turn your computer off and patiently wait until tomorrow for your next Daily Double Portion!

If you love someone who is carrying the heavy load of unplanned “un-pregnancy”,  you may find it difficult to know how to offer support for their struggle.  They definitely need your encouragement, but it is sometimes so difficult for friends and family to know how to offer the support.  As we struggle with infertility, our relationships with friends and family are undeniably touched.  Those who conceive easily may have difficulty truly understanding the struggle an infertile couple faces every single day.  In our effort to offer support for those who struggle, we submit these suggestions for ways that friends and family can offer their own support to those they love.  These are simple, practical ways to show your love and support.  If Sarah’s Laughter can help you in any way, please feel free to contact us at any time.

What to Say...

  • I’m so sorry.
  • I’m praying for you. (Only say this if you really will pray.)
  • How would you like me to pray for you? (Join in agreement with them in prayer.  Don’t assume you know what they’re praying for.  They may be praying for something that seems totally off the wall to you.  You don’t have to understand why certain things are important.  It may be important for your friend to not be invited to her cousin’s shower, or to be called into work on what should have been her due date.  When you validate their feelings by praying in agreement with them, it can be a beautifully healing thing.)
  • I’m here if you need to talk. (Then don’t be afraid of what they may say.  Don’t be offended if they don’t want to talk.  Being available to them as a sounding board is priceless.)

What NOT to say...

  • Relax, honey.  It will happen.  (This minimizes the hurt the couple is feeling.  Also, sometimes it doesn't happen.)
  • You’re so lucky not to be tied down with kids.  You can go on vacation any time you want.
  • At least...you were only a few weeks along, At least...you have one child.At least...you have time with just the two of you.  (A good rule of thumb is--if you start a sentence with “at least” it’s probably the wrong thing to say!) In our case, "At least you have one embryo left" can fall into this category.
  • So whose fault is it--yours or his?  (Infertility is not an issue of fault.  It is a medical condition that carries a heavy emotional and spiritual burden.  This is an intensely personal battle.  If they want--or need--to share personal, medical information with you, let them.  It’s really quite an honor to be trusted with such vulnerable information. If they don’t want to share, please don’t ask.)
  • You can always have another baby.  (Unfortunately, many who experience infertility also experience loss.  Even if they are blessed with a houseful of other children, they still grieve the baby they've lost.  They love  this baby.  They want this baby.
  • I know how you feel.  (No, you don’t.  Even if you suffered with infertility or miscarriage, you cannot know exactly how this person feels.  You may have a good idea based on your own experience, but not the specifics of this situation.)   
  • Don’t cry.  It’ll be okay.  (Let them cry.  Let them cry with you or on you. Just let them cry.)

Be Sensitive...

  • Infertility and loss are excruciating experiences which tend to be extremely private.  If someone dares to trust in you and shares these experiences with you, take their hurt very seriously even if you cannot relate to their pain.  Maintain their confidence.  If someone else questions you about your friend’s childlessness, keep the information to yourself.  Even when others ask out of concern, remember the intimacy of this situation.  If and when your friend wants to share with others, she will--just as she shared with you.  
  • Don’t ask infertile women or mothers who have miscarried to pass out gifts on Mother’s Day, host baby showers, etc.  These are excruciating events for those who struggle.
  • Realize that the grief an infertile couple carries begins anew approximately every 28 days.
  • Don’t panic if the couple “emotionally vomits” on you.  Don’t cringe if they start talking about sperm counts or post-coital tests.  Your support can be life giving to someone who feels like they are going to collapse under the weight of an empty cradle.
  • Don’t be afraid of anger.  Hurting people tend to lash out.  If they are angry at their spouse, their doctor, their baby, their body or even at God, let them vent.
  • Give hurting couples an “out” on Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, on days when you have a baby dedication at church, for baby showers, children's birthday parties, etc.  Let them know about the dedication in advance if you are comfortable doing so, so that they can decide if they want to attend that Sunday.  These are hard events to attend.  Don’t criticize if they do not attend.  However, follow up with them if they miss more than just the difficult days or if they are pulling away too much.
  • Let them know you care.  However it works for you and those you care for, just let them know you care. 

As Philippians 4:13-14 says, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, but it is so good of you to share with your infertile friends/family in their trouble. Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for caring for hurting people and making such a wonderful effort to ease the pain of unintentional childlessness.

22 comments:

  1. I hope that regardless what you find out Wednesday, you are able to find acceptance in your heart. It is so hard going through this. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

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    1. BTW, I just realized that I had been following your blog under anonymous, sorry about that. I recently lost our little one at eight weeks pregnant. The uncertainty before the loss was the worse. When it happened I almost felt a sense of relief that after weeks we knew something for sure. I am thinking of you and hoping that the u/s this week is promising news.

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    2. Thank you so much for the kind words. I definitely do not wish for me to miscarry. However, if that is this pregnancy's destiny, I just want to know it as soon as possible. I am just aching for closure. It feels so similar to when my mom was at the end of hear life suffering. I wanted her to die, I wanted her and our family to finally have peace and to be able to move forward. This has actually been worse, believe it or not, but it's the same idea. It sounds like you completely understand. Again, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss but you understand what I'm feeling. I also would never wish this on my worst enemy ever.

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  2. You are very much in my prayers!

    I do greatly appreciate that list... When we had been trying for over 2 years my cousin and his wife got pregnant after trying for a month... I was pressured into hosting a baby shower (I really do love them, but it was just very difficult!). My mom didn't understand why I had reservations and was so reluctant to go meet the baby once she was born. It hurts. I really had to turn off emotions to keep from bawling from our lack of a baby when I met the precious little girl.

    You are in my prayers daily, Liz. I just ask for God to be with you and comfort you, but anything more specific that you can think of, I'd be glad to pray for.

    Godspeed.

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    1. I'm glad you found this list helpful. I'd be a wreck if i had to throw a baby shower for someone, I think you've got to be a really strong woman to do that. Thank you for the prayers. As bad as it hurts, I honestly feel like I'm doing better than I thought I would being faced with such a horrific thing. Prayers help. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jess. I've been praying for you too. I hope everything calms down around your household and your next cycle is a big success.

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  4. Big hugs. I'm thinking of you every day. <3

    I had uncertainty too, between a bad ultrasound, but good betas that had the OB "cautiously optimistic." Uncertainty is awful.. And I wish there was something I could do.... :(

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    1. Yeah, it's so difficult not just having our answer already. I'm ready for it to be "it's over" (as much as I'll never ACTUALLY be ready) or for us to just hear a miracle heartbeat. I'm just tired. :(

      Did you have a blighted ovum m/c if you don't mind me asking? It means a lot that you're thinking of me and for the hugs. We've been on a long road together...I still can't believe how far back you and I go.

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    2. It was never diagnosed as a blighted ovum, but that was the thought initially. At 8w2d, my u/s showed me at 5w1(?)d. But then they drew my betas and they were like 15k, so the OB said she was optimistic. 3 days later I started to miscarry. Though I'd been spotting the entire time from about 5w on -- looking back I wonder if that was the first sign it was failing, because that's only as big as it grew.

      After seeing an RE, I was diagnosed with a Septate Uterus, basically a big spot of avascular tissue in the middle of my uterus, right in prime implantation area. The thought is that was the cause of my losses... because any potential embryo that tried to implant there wouldn't get any blood/nutrients. But the world may never know.

      We certainly have been on a long, if somewhat different, road together. And I just want this for you so much! <3

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    3. That's just awful and I'm so sorry you went through that. I'm hoping that THIS is it for you and everything turns out great in your case. *hug*

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  5. Thanks for posting this article. Lots of good information in there. Been thinking about your Liz. Hang in there for Wed.

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    1. I'm glad you found the article helpful. I have been thinking about you too. How have you been?

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    2. Oh no, I am so incredibly sorry. I'm sending you massive hugs through this computer screen right now. If you need anyone to talk to about it, please email me and I'm here for you. wishingonasnowflake at gmail.com

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  6. I wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you and praying for you and your little one.

    I am just about the same weeks pregnant as you and I have started bleeding. I am stuck in the uncertainty with you now. I had an ultrasound that put the baby behind about a week with a fetal pole and a yolk sac but I continue to bleed so I am worried and want to know the outcome of this pregnancy like right now. I hate waiting. I go in for my very first ever beta today and again in 48 hours to see if the numbers come out right.

    I just wanted to let you know I am right there with ya and I am thinking about you!

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    1. Oh sweetie, big hugs. This is just the most cruel thing to go through. I pray your baby is okay and the betas are reassuring. I'll hold your hand through this process if you hold mine. Thanks so much!

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  7. Thank you for posting this!!! So often my husband and I have heard "Well at least you have your daughter." Yes that is so true! I thank God every day for her, however it does make our our journey any less difficult. It doesn't take away the fact that we have done 3 FETs since having her and have miscarried 3 babies. Sometimes I just want to scream at people for being so stupid! This is such a nice polite, kind way of explaining to others how to handle us infertiles. I hope you don't mind if I repost this! THANK YOU!

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    1. I'm glad you liked it as much as I did. Feel free to share it, in fact the top of the email said to print it out and share. :)

      I know friends/family mean well and want to help and hopefully this will allow them to be better empowered to do so without unknowingly hurting their loved one who is suffering.

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  8. Is there another RE you can go to? Yours just sounds like such a hot mess.

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    1. There are really only two "good" ones in our area. The first is the RE I was seeing for over a year who did our fresh IVF attempt. Unfortunately, when we adopted donor embryos, there was some FDA red tape that office wasn't willing to deal with. So we are with our current RE because they were willing to take it on. The REs themselves at my clinic are top notch. The nurses and billing staff make me want to bang my head against the wall. If we are forced to use them for the FET of our remaining embryo, I will probably ask that my other RE do the u/s monitoring since I don't trust the current RE's nurses AT ALL. Otherwise, I'm not sure what else to do. Maybe I'll plead and beg with the original RE to reconsider the FDA stuff. No idea...but you're right. It's such a hot mess right now and it's causing me massive MASSIVE stress.

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  9. I've been thinking about you!!

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