life, love, and maybe babies

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Hope and "Not Giving Up in the Infertility Community: A Respectful Response

Infertility is a yucky thing. It just is. It's awkward and weird and emotional and sensitive. Oftentimes people think it's better to brush it under the rug than address what they're really thinking. In turn, those feelings get internalized and stress them out, making it all so, so much worse.

That's why I'm so grateful for bloggers. We put ourselves out there, nakedly. We know that what we're saying might cause a little squirming or push back, but we do it anyway. It's the only way to grow.

Yesterday I came across a blog post from Greg over at A Few Missing Pieces of Normalcy. He posted a long-time-coming opinion blog explaining how telling infertiles to have "hope" and to "not give up" can be misleading, or elude to false hope. After all, there are those out there who are physically unable to have children. Whether it's a damaged womb, or an inability to create sperm, there are always going to be those that will not get pregnant, no matter how much hope and positive energy they generate.

I totally get that. In fact, I'll add on. There are some who will never, in a gazillion years, be able to afford the infertility treatments that could even allow them the small chance to conceive. 

The long and short of it is...some of us will never, ever get pregnant.

All that being said, I do have to respectfully disagree with Greg when he says that telling a couple to be "hopeful" and to "not give up" is the emotional equivalent to telling them to "relax and it will happen." To this, I totally disagree.

Here's why.

Not everyone is traveling in the "we will never, ever, ever get pregnant" boat. In fact, a lot of us aren't in that boat. Many of us are in the "it's possible, and we've got to keep trying" boat. What about us?

Hope is a beautiful thing. It's what keeps a lot of us in the IF community going, day after day, year after year. Hope is what has kept me from throwing my hands up in the air and saying, "Eff you, infertility. I'm out." Hope is what keeps bringing me back to the doctor after failed Clomid cycles and failed IUI's. Hope is what gets me up in the morning. If I don't have hope to cling to, I don't have a lot left.

And that's a scary place for me to be.

So here's where I think Greg is right. For those people who truly have no chance of becoming pregnant, definitely don't be all "Oh, just hang in there. Your day is coming!" Because, let's face it, that day isn't going to come for them. And you shouting your rainbows and unicorns Hallmark greetings isn't going to change any of that.

But for those of us who do hold a small candle of hope for that little embryo to take hold and grow into a wild, crazy-eyed teenager someday...I beg you...don't take my hope away. Don't let me give up. Because I want to keep pushing and I want to keep trying and I want to get to that end result I've seen a million times in my head. And sometimes I do want to wash my hands of it, eat three bags of Cheetos and 19 Snickers bars and never come out of my bedroom ever again. Hope is what will pull me through it.

So, here's the rub. You, as a supporter of an infertile and IF community, need to use your brain and be sensitive. That's what Greg is asking for. Thoughtfulness. Don't offer blanket well-wishes that could be emotionally damaging. Rather than telling someone you barely know to have hope and keep on trying, simply offer, 'I'm thinking of you.' Enough said. Because you don't know that person's story or their journey or where they're headed next. There is nothing more potentially damaging than offering a solution or a sentiment to someone whose story you don't fully comprehend.

Think of it this way. You wouldn't walk up to a stranger you've seen twice in the hospital and say, 'Hey man, not sure what's going on with you, but be hopeful. You're going to make it!', would you?  Um...I would hope not. You don't know your booty from your boobs. For all you know, that poor guy has terminal cancer. So instead, you offer a thoughtful sentiment like, 'I've seen you around at the hospital. I'm sending you good vibes and prayers for whatever you're facing.'

Ahhh...much better.

Lastly, I'll say this. Rarely - and I mean super-uber-doober rarely - does anyone offering a message of hope have ill intentions. Like I said before, infertility is weird. And 90% of the population (including those in the IF community) have no idea how to handle it or what to say in response to it. So give 'em a break. I know that might be hard when you read a cringe-worthy tweet. But like the old saying goes, "it's the thought that counts."

Finally, as Greg reminded us, let's be mindful that everyone is on a different journey. Try and be sensitive to those around you and in the Twittersphere. Be mindful to those going through other trials and tribulations too, because I promise infertility is not the only thing out there wreaking havoc on people's lives.

We've all got to be good to each other. Supportive. Helpful. Positive. That's the community I want to be a part of, and that's what blogs and tweets do. They foster growth in the community through conversation and love.

Kumbaya, ya'll.


1 comment:

The Purple Guru said...

So glad I read this my lovely :) it's taken me a while to catch up with stuff as the festive season also collides with hubby's birthday! Anyway, if you've read my last blogpost you'll know hope is something I'm struggling with at the moment.... So thank you xxx

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