In my naïve 17 year-old mind, I had my future all figured out: college, career, marriage, family. While each stage had its own set of life-maturing experiences and challenges, the journey to parenthood 14 years later was the most heart wrenching.
It was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that my body wouldn’t or couldn’t do what seems so easy for many couples and the teenagers showcased on reality shows.
It was frustrating that my health insurance would pay for “the diagnosis of infertility” but not the treatment. Seriously?!
And although my husband, Greg, and I lived in Omaha, one of the most family-friendly cities in the U.S., it wasn’t easy to see families everywhere we went. Sure, I was hypersensitive to it, but I felt like an outsider.
In Nebraska, more than 38,000 people — and one in eight couples nationwide — suffer from infertility in silence.
Well-meaning people try to offer advice but often their words are more hurtful than helpful.
So, here’s what NOT to say:
1. “Relax, go on a vacation” (insert common anecdote about a trip to Mexico, a margarita and conception). Really? If it were that easy, I’m sure the country would bottle it and sell it worldwide.
2. “Just adopt” (insert common anecdote about the friend who signed up for adoption and poof – conception). Adoption does not cure infertility. People often need to grieve the loss of not having a biological child so don’t rush them through the process.
3. “Everything happens for a reason.” Right now, it’s hard to see the “reason” for this infertility challenge.
Instead, try this:
1. Compassion – One of my best friends would say, “I don’t understand everything you’re going through but I can tell this sucks. It’s not fair and I’m so sorry.” Just the acknowledgement of the difficulty and emotional pain brought comfort.
2. Listen – It is uncomfortable to talk about infertility. National studies show depression rates of people with infertility are similar to people facing a cancer diagnosis. Be willing to listen – really listen – to your friends.
3. Remember them on Mother’s Day. From TV ads and store displays to brunches and church, our society focuses on mothers. It was always a painful day for me. So, remember the women in your life who want to be mothers and the special birth mothers who choose adoption
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UPCOMING EVENT: 5K for Fertility
2B Fertile is a local nonprofit born out of a need to raise awareness about the pain of infertility and provide education, emotional and financial support to individuals and couples.
This Saturday the group will hold its annual 5K for Fertility at Lake Zorinsky Park. The group partnered with Omaha Integrative Care to honor and validate the fertility struggle and celebrate the miracles of life. It is all part of the RESOLVE National Infertility Awareness Week, which kicked off on Sunday.
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After five years of an infertility journey my husband and I finally conceived. A difficult pregnancy including three months of bed rest gave us our healthy, adorable son, Gavin. While we are blessed to be his parents, there are several ways for individuals and couples to grow a family.
As more people have the courage to share their stories, my hope is that it will make the journey towards parenthood…a little easier.
Jo Giles, a former television reporter/anchor turned vice president of communication strategy at Emspace Group, wrote this guest blog for momaha. She is married to Greg Galbreath and has an active toddler. Photos are courtesy of Bosley Creative.
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