life, love, and maybe babies

Friday, May 22, 2015

5 Questions You Can and SHOULD Ask an Infertile

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember once hearing a teacher talking to someone (likely a parent) about how she approaches disciplining children different than some other teachers did. She used positive reinforcement rather than speaking down to a child for misbehaving. 

For example, instead of screaming "DON'T RUN IN THE HALL!" at little Jimmy, she would instead say, "Walk, please, Jimmy!" Her theory was that kids respond to requests better than demands. This makes sense to me. No one likes to be preached at or told what to do. Rather, being given a set of guidelines on what to do seems to be more effective. 

So, I'm taking a different approach today. In past blogs, I've touted what not to say to an infertile. Don't get me wrong, this type of information is important. Infertiles are dealing with a lot and there are some major no-no comments that should never be uttered. But what if I try something else? How's about I tell you (and all your friends you'll surely forward this post to) what you should say to someone going through infertility? Maybe those words will stick better than me barking orders at everyone like a squeaky chihuahua. 

1. How are you feeling?

It sounds so simple and that's probably why it's my favorite question to be asked. It doesn't come right out and say "please tell me about your infertility!" This question is broad, so if on that particular day I'm not feeling like sharing, I can just tell you I'm feeling annoyed that someone at work is stepping on my toes or I'm worried about the new recipe I'm trying tonight coming out right. If I am feeling like I want to get some fertility stuff off my chest, it leaves me open to do that. I can say, "in general I'm feeling okay, but I did have this test that was awful..." To me, asking how I'm feeling is just a great way to inquire about my journey without putting me on the spot.

2. When is the last time you had a totally awesome and stress free dinner?

Notice this question doesn't mention anything about drowning in over-priced cocktails. As an infertile going through treatment, it's likely that I am on a strict no caffeine and no alcohol regimen...and it's killing me. As sweet as it is for someone to offer a night out on the town with wine and jello shots to forget my worries, it's important to remember that I'm trying to get away from nights on the town. I need an environment free of stress where I can decompress. A cozy corner booth at a restaurant with amazing cheese fries is just the ticket. Or maybe a nice manicure for all the times my feet have to be up in the stirrups so the doctor can examine my inner workings. Now you're talking.

3. I have a friend starting fertility treatments. Would you mind if I talked with her about what I know you have already gone through?

For myself, I didn't particularly mind if someone shared my story with their friend, mother, brother or printer cartridge provider. I had been relatively open with what I was experiencing, so I knew it was probably coming up every now and again in conversation. However, I am not representative of every infertile on earth. Some people are fiercely protective of their experience and do not want it shared under any circumstances. Some women are in families that highly disapprove of IVF. Some women are just not sharers. If, by some chance, you have gotten word that Sally is going through infertility, do not walk up to Sally and say that you hope her fertility treatments are going well. It's always best to ask before you go around sharing that someone is struggling to get pregnant.

4. I read about a treatment called Clomid the other day and I thought of you. I don't know that I understand what that is. Is that something you have tried?

Notice what this question doesn't do. It doesn't tell me what I'm doing wrong. I can't tell you how many times someone offered up, "My friend tried Clomid and it worked right away!" as though, duh, just do this and it will get you pregnant. Unless you are a doctor or have experienced infertility and can offer first hand experience, you are not in a place to tell someone what treatment they should be trying. Even if you have heard that XYZ drug is the next best thing in fertility, you might be doing unintentional damage to your friend by mentioning it as a solution. 

Infertility is a mind freak. One minute you're positive you're doing the right thing and the next you're questioning whether you should switch doctors or even quit altogether. One day you're positive the medicine is working and the next day you're getting your period 10 days early. Advice on prescriptions and treatment is better left alone. There's nothing wrong with mentioning a drug or procedure and asking if your infertile friend has heard of it. Just don't push it as a solution - that's what their doc is for.

5. I am so proud of you.

Okay, okay, technically this isn't a question. But it's an important thing to say. Infertiles are going through so, so much. And many times they aren't talking about it. We stuff a lot of it way down deep into the pit of our stomachs and try not to think about it. But I can tell you that hearing that someone is proud of you (especially if it's someone you respect and admire) is like heroin. It might just be what I need to hear to get me through the HSG procedure I'm having next week. Or maybe I just found out this month's IVF treatment didn't work and I feel like a failure. Hearing that you're proud of me might just be the jolt of love I needed to propel me into the next day. So say it and say it a lot. It won't go unnoticed.


1 comment:

Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

Love the concept of this post. I like the idea of telling people what they SHOULD say. I also like the dinner suggestion. Holy crap I would have LOVED to go get plastered to forget the bad test results and BFN's but sadly that was not allowed. Showing that level of foresight would have been greatly appreciated.

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