It’s National Infertility Awareness Week again, and this year’s theme is “Start asking.” It’s a theme dedicated to empowering women to ask for the support that they need from friends, family, lawmakers, the media, etc. I’ve been feeling unsure of what to write in regards to this theme. Couples dealing with infertility have so much going on. Yes, I want to encourage people to advocate for themselves, but I also want those struggling not to have every conversation be a war zone for their hearts.
If you know someone battling infertility (and you do), I want to encourage you to stop asking. Stop asking the wrong questions and start asking the right ones.
Stop asking, “Why don’t you just adopt?” Instead ask, “Where are you in your journey? What options are you considering?”
Stop asking, “When are you going to have kids?” Instead ask, “What are your hopes for your family?”
Stop asking, “You have a baby, so why do you still call yourself infertile?” Instead try, “I want to better understand your disease.”
Stop asking, “There’s always next month, right?” Instead, go with, “I’m sorry. I’m here. I’m listening.”
Stop saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead say, “I’m sorry you are suffering. What can I do to help?”
Stop saying, “My coworker’s cousin’s ex-wife’s sister got pregnant by drinking tea/eating soybeans/standing on her head.” Instead ask, “What’s your story?”
Some couples dealing with infertility are very open while others are much more private. Either way, ask your questions in a way that indicates you care for and support those dealing with this disease. If you wouldn’t say it to a cancer patient, don’t say it to an infertility patient.
There are many of us out there who want to raise awareness. We want to share. We want you to ask questions. We also want you to acknowledge the physical and emotional roller coaster that we are on. Start asking questions with compassion and sensitivity. You can never go wrong with, “How are you? How can I help?”