Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helpful tips for talking to friends with infertility issues

-- The following is a guest post from our secret lady friend who chooses to remain anonymous until a baby kangaroo is officially put into her mama pouch -- 

First, an update:

Infertile Myrtle here, still trying against the odds to get knocked up. I’m currently on my third hormone cycle post-miscarriage. The first failed even though we did everything right. The second failed because we missed the fertile window. A few days after the last hormone pill, I take ovulation predictor tests (which are similar to pregnancy tests in that they detect the hormone levels in your urine) until they show I’m at peak fertility. We then do the deed that day and the next. I took the tests for 10 days in a row and got the blinking smiley face that indicates high fertility, but never the steady smiley that indicates peak. My doctor had me come in for a progesterone reading the following week. My level was so low they were pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen for me that month, but they wanted me in for an ultrasound a few days afterward to be sure. Because they had been pretty sure it was a no-go, I didn’t bother trying to get in the mood in the intervening days. But then my ultrasound showed that I had probably ovulated the day after my progesterone test, meaning it was too late to try the baby dance. Incredibly frustrating.

In addition to the hormones I’m taking in my current cycle (still 50 mgs of Clomid), my doctor wants me to try Ovidrel, which is a pre-filled syringe that I have to inject into my lower abdomen once I’ve confirmed peak fertility with the ovulation tests. As far as I understand it, it doesn’t cause ovulation, but it helps the body to release a mature egg. I’m not a huge fan of needles and the thought of injecting myself kind of makes me want to hurl, but I am so ready to be done with all this that I’m willing to try it. Bonus: at my baseline ultrasound last week the nurse told me my ovaries looked “awesome” and were “rock stars.” She also said she knows I must feel like my body is failing me, but she was very confident it would happen for me soon. Here’s hoping.

And now, the advice:

My miscarriage in June was hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I’m not “over it” yet, and probably never will be. An aspect of all of this I’d never considered was having to deal with other people’s ignorant, unhelpful, and sometimes downright cruel reactions to my news. I completely understand how awkward it is to try to be supportive while navigating someone else’s tragedy, and I’m choosing to believe that no one meant to be a big ol’ jerk, so I thought it might be helpful to put together a little guide for being good friends to your good friends when they’re going through Hard Times.

What TO do:

-If you’re at a loss for words, say that. When I hear, “I’m so sorry you’re going through that. I don’t know what to say,” it shows me that you are there for me. You might not be able to express how you feel, but I at least know you’re listening and that is HUGELY important. Not many people are in on this; validate my choice to include you.

-Be an active listener. If you don’t understand a medical term, ask for a definition. Ask follow-up questions.

-Be there, period. Invite your friend to hang out in private spaces where they can have a good cry if they need to. Be OK if they decline. Keep inviting them. Keep asking how they’re doing, too. If they’re up for it, talking through their feelings can help them process what happened.

-Be understanding. Certain activities, like attending baby showers or even “liking” other people’s baby pictures on Facebook, is going to be very difficult for them for a while. I’ve blocked many new parents from my newsfeed for the time being because it just hurts too much to see. I am legitimately happy for them and I’m not saying they should self-censor; it’s more of a self-preservation thing. 

What NOT to do: 

-Start a statement with, “At least...” I cannot tell you how many people reacted to my miscarriage with, “At least you know you can get pregnant!” Not the point. When you say, “At least...” in response to someone telling you they’re hurting, it diminishes their problem.

-Give unsolicited medical advice. Unless you’re my doctor or my husband, you’re not part of that conversation. I’m coming to you for support, not a new treatment plan. I had a conservative friend beg me not to get a D & C (a process by which the leftover tissue from a pregnancy is removed to prevent further loss of blood) because it is the same procedure used in abortions. I obviously did not want to have to have the procedure – I didn’t want any of this – and thankfully I didn’t end up needing it. But I trust my doctor and if she tells me something is medically necessary I’m going to listen.

-Be careful with the non-medical advice, too. People very close to my situation are still telling me that it would all happen if I just relaxed. Girlfriend, all the yoga in the world is not going to make my body suddenly start popping out eggs on its own. I try my hardest to stay zen at all times because that’s just a healthier way to live, but telling me to relax is a surefire way to get my BP skyrocketing. I also had someone tell me in response to news of my miscarriage, “Keep having that sex! It’ll happen!”

This is hard stuff, made even harder because it’s not something most people want to talk about publicly. Help your buddies by being sensitive and supportive. Have advice of your own? Share it in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment