Posted by: Nix | 2004/10/19

TTC & infertility - brilliant advice I found

Think this is great for friends/family who don't understand what we're going through....


TO: __________
Because you care about ______ and her happiness.

______ knows that you love her and want her to be happy, to be her "old self" again. But lately she seems isolated, depressed, and obsessed
with the idea of having a baby.

You probably have difficulty understanding why getting pregnant has colored virtually every aspect of her daily life. ______ hopes that by
reading this booklet, written by counselors with both personal and professional experience with infertility, you will better understand the pain
she is feeling. The booklet also will tell you how you can help her.


It may surprise you to know that one out of six women who wants to have a baby cannot conceive. There are many possible reasons for this
dismal statistic: blocked fallopian tubes, ovarian failure, hormonal imbalances, husband's low sperm count, to name just a few. Moreover, after
a woman turns thirty-five, it becomes difficult to have a baby primarily because many of the eggs she has left are defective and old.

All these barriers to pregnancy are physical or physiological, not psychological. Tubes don't become blocked because a woman is "trying too hard"
to get pregnant. Antibodies that kill sperm will not disappear if a woman simply relaxes. And a man cannot make his sperm swim faster by
developing a more optimistic outlook.


When someone we care about has a problem, it is natural to try to help. If there's nothing specific that we can do, we try to give helpful
advice. Often we draw on our personal experiences or on anecdotes involving other people we know. Perhaps you recall a friend who had trouble
getting pregnant until she and her husband went to a tropical island. So you suggest that _______ and her husband take a vacation, too.
_______ appreciates your advice, but she cannot use it because of the physical nature of her problem. Not only can't she use your advice, the
sound of it upsets her greatly. Indeed, she's probably inundated with this sort of advice at every turn. Imagine how frustrating it must be for
her to hear about other couples who "magically" become pregnant during a vacation simply by making love. To ____, who is undergoing infertility
treatment, making love and conceiving a child are unrelated now. You can't imagine how hard she's been trying to have this baby and how
crushed she feels every month she learns that she's failed again. Your well-meaning advice is an attempt to transform an extremely complicated
predicament into a simplistic little problem. By simplifying her problem in this manner, you've diminished the validity of her emotions, making her
feel psychologically undervalued. Naturally, she will feel angry and upset with you under these circumstances.
The truth is: There's practically nothing concrete you can do to help ______. The best help you can provide is to be understanding and
supportive. It's easier to be supportive if you can appreciate how being unable to have a baby can be such a devastating blow.


Women are reared with the expectation that they will have a baby someday. They've thought about themselves in a motherhood role ever
since they played with dolls. A woman may not even consider herself part of the adult world unless she is a parent. When ______ thinks
she cannot have a baby, she feels like "defective merchandise." Not having a baby is literally a matter of life and death. In the bible,
Rachel was barren. She said to Jacob "Give me children or I die...". Commenting on this some sages said, "One who is childless is
considered dead." So powerful are the feelings connected with barrenness that the person feels dead or want to dies.
Worse, ______ is not even certain that she will never have a baby. One of the cruelest things one can do to a person is give them hope
and then not come through. Modern medicine has created this double-edged sword. It offers hope where there previously was none---but
at the price of slim odds.


In the past decade, reproductive medicine has made major break-throughs that enable women who in the past were unable to have children
to now conceive. The use of drugs such as Pergonal can increase the number and size that a woman produces, thereby increasing her
chances of fertilization. IVF techniques extract a woman's eggs and mix them with sperm in a test tube and allow them to fertilize in a
laboratory. The embryo can then be transferred
back to the woman's uterus. There are many other options as well.
Despite the hope these technologies offer, they are a hard row to hoe. Some high-tech procedures are offered only at a few places,
which may force ______ to travel great distances. Even if the treatment is available locally, the patient must endure repeated doctor's
visits, take various procedures, and lay out considerable sums of money--money that may or may not be reimbursed by insurance. All of
this is preceded by a battery of diagnostic tests that can be both embarrassing and painful.

After every medical attempt at making her pregnant, ______ must play a waiting game that is peppered with spurts of optimism and
pessimism. It is an emotional roller coaster. She doesn't know if her swollen breasts are a sign of pregnancy or a side effect of the
fertility drugs. If she sees a spot of blood on her underwear, she doesn't know if an embryo is trying to implant or her period is about to
begin. If she is not pregnant after an IVF procedure, she may feel as though her baby died. How can a person grieve for a life that
existed only in her mind?

While trying to cope with this emotional turmoil, she gets invited to a baby shower or christening, learns that a friend or colleague is
pregnant, or she reads about a one-day-old infant found abandoned in a dumpster. Can you try to imagine her envy, her rage over the
inequities in life? Given that infertility permeates practically every facet of her existence, is it any wonder why she is obsessed with her

Every month, ______ wonders whether this will finally be her month. If it isn't, she wonders if she can muster the energy to try again.
Will she be able to afford another procedure? How much longer will her husband continue to be supportive? Will she be forced to give up
her dream?

So when you speak with ______, try to empathize with the burdens on her mind and on her heart. She knows you care about her, and she
may need to talk with you about her ordeal. But she knows that there is nothing you can say or do to make her pregnant. And she fears
that you will offer a suggestion that will trigger even more despair.


You can give her support and not criticize her for any steps she may be taking - such as not attending a nephew's party--to protect
herself from emotional trauma. You can say something like this:
"I care about you. After reading this booklet, I have a better idea about how hard this must be for you. I wish I could help. I'm here
to listen to you and cry with you, if you feel like crying. I'm here to cheer you on when you feel as though there is no hope. You can talk
to me. I care."

The most important thing to remember is that _______ is distraught and very worried. Listen to what she has to say, but do not judge.
Do not belittle her feelings. Don't try to pretend that everything will be okay. Don't sell her on fatalism with statements like "What will
be will be." If that were truly the case, what's the point of using medical technology to try to
accomplish what nature cannot?

Your willingness to listen can be of great help. Infertile women feel cut off from other people. Your ability to listen and support her will
help her handle the stress she's experiencing. Her infertility is one of the most difficult situations she will ever have to deal with.


Just as an ordinary room can be an obstacle course to a blind person, so can the everyday world be full of hazards for an infertile
woman---hazards that do not exist for women with children.

She goes to her sister-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. Her cousin is breast-feeding. The men are watching the football game while the
women talk about problems with their kids. She feels left out, to say the least.

Thanksgiving is an example of the many holidays that are particularly difficult for her. They mark the passage of time. She remembers
what came to mind last Thanksgiving---that the next year, she would have a new son or daughter to show off to her family.

Each holiday presents its own unique burden to the infertile woman. Valentine's Day reminds her of her romance, love, marriage - and the
family she may never be able to create. Mother's Day and Father's Day? Their difficulties are obvious.

Mundane activities like a walk down the street or going to the shopping mall are packed with land mines. Seeing women pushing baby
carriages and strollers strikes a raw nerve. While watching TV, ______ is bombarded by commercials for diapers, baby food, and early
pregnancy tests.

At a party, someone asks how long she's been married and whether she has any kids. She feels like running out ot the room, but she
can't. If she talks about being infertile, she's likely to get well-intentioned advice -- just the thing she doesn't need: "Just relax. Don't
worry. It will happen soon." Or, "You're lucky. I've had it with my kids. I wish I had your freedom." These are the kinds of comments
that make her want to crawl under the nearest sofa and die.


Because she is infertile, life is extremely stressful for ______. She's doing her best to cope. Please be understanding. Sometimes she
will be depressed. Sometimes she will be angry. Sometimes she will be physically and emotionally exhausted. She's not going to be the
"same old ______" she used to be. She won't want to do many of the things she used to do.

She has no idea when, or if, her problem will be solved. She's engaged in an emotionally and financially taxing venture with a low
probability of success. The longer she perseveres, however, the greater her chances of pregnancy become.

Maybe someday she will be successful. Maybe someday she will give up and turn to adoption, or come to terms with living a child-free life.
At present, though, she has no idea what will happen. It's all she can do to keep going from one day to the next. She does not know why
this is her lot. Nobody does. All she knows is the horrible anguish that she lives with
every day.

Please care about her. Please be sensitive to her situation. Give her your support -- she needs and wants it.

Not what you were looking for? Try searching again, or ask your own question
Our expert says:
Expert ImageGynaeDoc


The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Pokkel | 2004/10/20

This was awesome, and I really appreciate you sharing this with us. It makes one get new hope and strenght to go on again.
Blessings to you - like Angie said - one start to understand some of our own behaviour better now.....

Reply to Pokkel
Posted by: Angie | 2004/10/20

Thanks Nix - this even helped me put what I feel sometimes into perspective - understand myself a bit better and feel that at least I am normal with what I am feeling. It made me quite emotional reading it. Thanks again and lots of baby blessings to you.
Love A

Reply to Angie

Have your say

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.
Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.