Wow. I really could see myself in this article. Thanks to Aaron and Malky for the link.
Dear everyone... What to say to a childless couple
First, consider saying nothing at all, says Amy Hibbard, of James City County. Your words of wisdom and comfort may be received as hurtful and insensitive. But if you want to talk about infertility, be prepared to listen, too.
By AMY HIBBARD
May 6, 2007
Often, many of you feel the need to ask a childless couple, "When are you planning on having kids?" While that may seem like a harmless question and a natural progression for a married couple, it can also be an extremely painful topic for many people. You never know what someone may be going through.
Please don't make it your mission to ask or chastise childless couples about when and how to have kids. It's really not your business, and odds are they are dealing with emotional issues that you will never understand. It is shocking to discover that as many as 1-in-8 couples in the United States are dealing with infertility. That is a huge number, and chances are great that someone in your life is living with or has previously lived with the heartache that is infertility.
Many couples suffer in silence because it is somewhat of a taboo topic to discuss. If you ask when they plan on having kids, they will put on a smile and give an answer they think you want to hear. They are then likely to walk away and fight back tears. If you are bold enough to ask, you should be prepared for the answer. It may make you uncomfortable to hear about my struggles, but it helps me to get it out and hopefully it will make you -- if you are uncomfortable with the topic -- think before asking someone that very private question again.
This brings me to how to approach, help or treat someone who you know is experiencing infertility.
Please be supportive of your friend. Be there to listen if he or she wants to talk. Offer support if he or she is going through treatments, or help him or her get to and from appointments. If you disagree with the choices a couple has made, it is best to keep those opinions to yourself. There are many options for infertile couples, including medications, procedures, international and domestic adoption, foster care and living child-free. But it is the couple's personal decision.
The best thing to do is to let us determine how much we are comfortable talking about. Don't pry. If we want to open up, we will. But if we want to be left alone, sometimes we need that, too.
Probably the most-hated comment heard by people going through infertility is "Relax, you're too stressed." Many of us have diagnosed medical conditions that are the root cause of our infertility, and no amount of relaxing is going to change that.
Please try not to make comments like, "Maybe this is for the best," "Everything happens for a reason," or "God only gives us what we can handle." You may think comments like this are well meaning, but they are hurtful. Believe me, a person struggling with infertility is already doing enough internal questioning. Infertility and miscarriage can be a very lonely time for people. Everywhere you go, you see babies, children, pregnant women and happy families. There are always situations that remind us of what we don't have. Baby showers, holidays and birthday parties can be very hard for us to attend. Please be understanding if we decline invitations or excuse ourselves early. It is nothing personal against you, it is our way of dealing with our own pain.
What I would like to stress to people who don't have firsthand experience with these situations is: Be sensitive and use good judgment. The best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is to listen. You can't change their situation, but you can be there for them. Showing them you care during this difficult time means the world.
Amy Hibbard, James City County