It sure was a long time since I had the time and the energy to sit down and compose a new blog post here. A lot of things have happened since my last post in November but most of them are positive so I won’t complain. This week is NIAW – National Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to write something here during this week. Because I think it is important with increased awareness. Actually, I think it was time for increased awareness already yesterday. Awareness. Of. People. Who. Struggle. Trying. To. Overcome. Their. Infertility. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but I think it is best described by the fact that when you fight against infertility it means you are fighting both the present and the future. Or I should rather say, you fight FOR the present and the future. Not an easy battle, and you’ll need all the support you can get. Unfortunately, this is normally not very easy to find. Infertility often creates a vacuum around the couple who is trying so hard to build a family.
One of the things I find so heartbreaking with regards to Infertility is that people struggling on this very challenging journey, do not only have to fight their actual issues of trying to conceive, but also the stigma around infertility. Often people who find out about friends and/or family having problems to become parents, begin to not only view them differently but actually act in a let’s say “non-appropriate” way. Lots of times you will hear comments like “Cheer up, I am sure you will soon become pregnant. You know, I have another friend/colleague/cousin who tried for a long time and when she finally began taking yoga classes and stopped trying actively to conceive, she became pregnant in a heartbeat. It is all about not stressing. You should really try to relax, have more fun and not focus so much on the whole baby thing…” I know most of the time people just mean well. They are trying so hard to give you some kind of comfort. To help you look at it from the bright side. To infuse your tired, exhausted body and mind with energy boosting words so that you can bounce back to a cheery, happy and sparkling self. Or sometimes, they’re trying to avoid an embarrassing breakdown.
The other type of reaction is mainly just not to talk about it. At all. Not mentioning anything that could potentially open up the scary box of tears and frustration that most people on the infertility journey is dragging behind them like a heavy luggage. However, none of these reactions are helping. People who are fighting a difficult battle do not need cheerleading. At least not in this way. And they are certainly not in need of people who feel so uncomfortable around them that they tiptoe around and around to avoid the far too big elephant in the room. Silence can be golden, but some kind of silence is just so obvious it becomes deafening.
So how can you support? How can you help? How can you actually show your friend, your colleague, your cousin that you care and that they can confide in you if they would want to? Well, everyone is different, but I’d say that the best way to be supportive is to be natural. Not to put that extra layer of happy frosting on your face. There is no need for extra sparkles or botox-like smiles. Also, if you feel embarrassed and don’t know how to behave when you meet a friend who you know has been trying for quite some time to conceive, the same goes for you. Just act as natural as you can. Be there. Talk about small things in life. And big. If your friend needs or wants to talk about his or her infertility struggle, he or she will eventually do that. And when this happens, just listen. Without any cheering-on. Without painting the future in only potentially positive bright colors. But also without desperately trying to change the subject. It is ok to ask questions. If you do it in a sensitive way. But most of all, just be you. Listen. And be there.
This year NIAW is about #ListenUp. So do just that. Listen. To your body. To your partner. To your friend, your sister, your brother, your colleague, your aunt, your cousin, your team-mate. And maybe you have once fought this battle yourself. Then, please share. But again, in a sensitive and sensible way. We are all different with different experiences so first it is better to listen more than talk. However, sharing in general, with your own friends and people you meet is something I hope more of us would do. Awareness can only increase if we talk more openly about this. Letting people know and understand that infertility is extremely hard and stressful, both emotionally and for the body. Often with the result that people rather close the door. To protect themselves. Or maybe they think they are protecting us? However, the more we share, the more people will be aware and eventually they won’t feel the urge to close the door. But maybe instead open it up. At least a little. To #ListenUp. So please, if you have have your own experience – SHARE. And if you want to support someone – BE THERE.
Share – Be There – Be Aware