National Infertility Awareness Week

April 24-30 is National Infertility Awareness week and the theme this year is “You Are Not Alone”. This is such an appropriate message, as many women and couples say they feel disenfranchised in their journey to becoming parents when faced with infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 – 44 have trouble conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term – which is almost one out of every eight women/couples. Getting pregnant and having a baby is often assumed to be one of the most exciting times of a couple’s life – relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors come together to offer celebratory gifts of congratulations. But for couples struggling with infertility and fertility related complexities, trying to get pregnant takes on a whole new meaning. Couples now become shrouded with layers of medical and financial problems they never thought possible – not to mention the physical, emotional, psychological, religious/spiritual and societal stressors that it creates as well. Couples facing infertility are laden with grief. The inability to conceive a child can certainly evoke feelings of shock, disbelief, confusion and loss – similar to those who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. Here are 10 things Grief Support of the Rockies have found to be helpful for those dealing with infertility:

  1. Know you are not alone. Many couples suffer in silence. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk about infertility. Over 60% of couples hide their struggle of getting pregnant from friends and family.
  2. Those dealing with infertility don’t need advice or to be told a story about how someone you knew got pregnant by “just relaxing” or by some other plausible story. The couple trying to conceive has tried or is trying everything!
  3. Sharing with someone dealing with infertility that you are pregnant will hurt, but not telling them hurts even more. Include them in everything while also recognizing that this news may be difficult to hear. Offer the space for your friend or family member to let you know what is or is not okay.
  4. Those dealing with infertility may decline family gatherings for a while. Please be patient, they are doing their best moment to moment. However, a sincere, “We will miss you” can be a very comfortable way to show your support.
  5. Remember that infertility is a medical disease and is no longer considered to be a woman’s problem – 30% male, 30% female and 20% both partners and 10% is unexplained.
  6. Communication is important, as men and women will experience this journey differently. Talk about your limitations and what options are plausible – be respectful and open to discussion.
  7. Stress does not cause infertility; however, infertility will cause stress. Finding ways to reduce stress is helpful. Remember to eat healthy, exercise reasonably and most importantly, have some fun.
  8. Secondary infertility is real. As one woman wrote us, “Even though I was blessed to have one child, the inability not to conceive again, to me, is just as devastating as other infertile couples.”
  9. Know when to seek help – it is okay and normal to want to reach out to others for support and guidance. Meeting with a certified or licensed mental health professional who specializes in this field can help women/couples work through their grief, fear, anxiety and other emotions they experience. Friends and family often hope to offer support as well. If friends and family haven’t reached out for a while, they sometimes simply need an invitation to do so. Often friends and family are concerned they won’t “say the right thing” or will “remind” the couple of their journey, unintentionally alienating those they want to help the most. Peer support can also be a valuable resource to help normalize the journey you are on.
  10. Wherever you are in your journey, please know there are also wonderful gifts that come while on this path. Pay attention to them, as you are more than your fertility journey!
Resources:

Resolve: The National Infertility Association

American Society of Reproductive Medicine

Talking About Men’s Health

Breaking the Silence on Infertility

Infertility: A Hidden Struggle

Grief Support of the Rockies offers a coordinated healing plan for those who are impacted by grief. We take pride in the services we provide and the clinicians who are here to serve you are experts in the field. We are in the process of updating our website and hope to have all our programs and services available online in the next several weeks. In the meantime, please contact us directly for questions or more information. Please know we are here to support you. gsrockies@gmail.com (970) 235-2076