Hey friends, I’m Sadie Banks. And today, I’m going to talk with you about something that has been so prevalent in my life and probably affects you or someone you know: Infertility.
You don’t have to struggle with it to be aware of it.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. If you didn’t struggle with infertility, you may be wondering why you should pay attention. So I’m going to throw a few fast facts at you and then I’m going to share some of my best tips for making conversation with your childless friends, how you can help someone in their infertility journey and how to tell your infertile friend you’re pregnant.
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Couples who struggle with secondary infertility (they already have one child but are struggling to conceive more) account for about 50% of cases of infertility. 7.4 million (11.9%) women have received infertility services in their lifetime. Only 15 of the United States mandate insurance coverage of infertility treatments.
One in eight. If you know at least eight women, you’re bound to know someone who is currently struggling with infertility. Whether or not you actually know that your friend is struggling, I want to give you three tips for making conversation with your childless friends.
Assume some you know is struggling
1- If you talk about your kids, talk about them in a positive light.
A lot of parents use warning phrases when talking to their childless friends and that can often be insensitive. A few examples of warning phrases:
“Are you sure you want kids?”
“Once you have kids you’ll never sleep again.”
“Kids cost a lot of money”
2- Ask about their current life and not just their parental status.
There are so many different things happening in a person’s life that doesn’t have to do with parenting. Ask about their job, their most recent vacation, their pets (if applicable)
3- Don’t pry for information they aren’t ready to give.
When we had been trying for just under a year someone asked me when we were going to have babies and then they followed up jokingly with “are you guys struggling because if you are I’ll stop asking when you’re going to have kids.” I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Of course I wasn’t going to tell this random person that we were struggling– especially when they were joking about it.
But that example may seem obvious– don’t joke about things. That’s insensitive. So here’s another example of prying for information that someone may not want to give:
Around the same time, I was telling some extended family members about our situation. I was telling them vaguely about how we were using Ovulation Predictor Kits to try and see when I was ovulating, but they weren’t working. I was then asked 3-5 questions about my menstrual cycle that I didn’t want to share with them because that information felt awfully personal and private. I again answered vaguely and they kept prodding for more information. It made me feel very uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure how to get out of the situation. So I finally just said I needed a drink of water, left the conversation and didn’t come back. If you ask about something and get a vague answer, be okay with that answer and follow up another time. I know it can be frustrating to not be given the answers you want to hear, but a lot of the time your friend may not know the answers to those questions either, so be patient with your friend.
“I promise your efforts won’t go unnoticed.”
As an infertile woman, I can tell you that those three tips will help your friend more than you know. But as you seek to be a better friend and to be more compassionate– again whether or not your friend opens up to you about their journey– I promise your efforts won’t go unnoticed. I started sharing my own personal journey on my blog and Instagram two years ago and the love and support we have received from friends and family has been so helpful. There have been a few things that our people in our corner have done for us that has helped us in our journey that I want to share with you.
- Send the random texts you often dismiss because it might be weird
- Good Grief Journal
- Care packages (fun socks are always good to send because the doctor’s office is always cold and so are the stirrups)
- Pray for them
Some of those things cost money but some of those things cost zero dollars and take less than two minutes to complete. And all of those things are so needed.
There is one more thing that our family and friends have done– since finding out that we have been trying– to be sensitive that has been so appreciated. When anyone in our close circle has gotten pregnant and is getting ready to announce, we have received a phone call a day or two in advance so that we have adequate time to mentally prepare and are not caught off guard in a public setting. We are then able to react and respond however we feel initially (for me, there are usually tears) and then we are able to be excited and happy for them in the moment that they announce to the entire family. We have even had friends text us just before they announce on social media so we aren’t caught off guard. This simple gesture has been so incredibly beneficial for us and for our friends and family it only takes a few minutes. The conversation is usually a little hesitant because our friends are trying to be sensitive to our feelings. But like I said, it’s only a few minutes long and the conversation usually goes like this:
Be sensitive when telling your friend/family you are pregnant.
Them: “Hey, we just wanted to call to let you know that we have some big news. We wanted to tell you first because we didn’t want to bombard or surprise you when we announce to the whole family. We are pregnant and plan on telling the family tomorrow at family dinner.”
Us: “That’s awesome! Congratulations! Thank you for letting us know, we really appreciate it.”
Them: “You’re welcome, we just wanted to be sensitive to your situation.”
Us: “We really appreciate it. We look forward to seeing how you guys announce. Congratulations again! We love you guys and we’ll see you tomorrow!”
And then we hang up. We (my husband and I) usually try to keep those conversations short and will end them pretty quickly, but a few tips for that conversation (that our family has done really well):
- Let them know you are trying to be sensitive to their situation
- Then get straight to the point.
- Tell them when you are announcing to the rest of the family (or the world)
- Allow them to lead the conversation at that point. If they want to keep talking, they will continue the conversation, if they want to end the conversation, let the conversation end.
Awareness and sensitivity is appreciated
Like I mentioned before, there is a good chance that someone you know is experiencing infertility. Your awareness and sensitivity to the subject will be appreciated more than you know. Having a baby is such an incredible miracle and your sensitivity to the people around you who may be infertile will have such an incredible impact on them and make the whole experience for everyone more positive.
Fast Facts by Resolve: https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/
Secondary Infertility Statistics: https://www.whattoexpect.com/getting-pregnant/fertility/secondary-infertility/
Want to get to know more about Sadie? You can find her links below
Good Grief: https://www.sadie-banks.com/good-grief-journals
Check out some other posts we have on infertility