Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sensitivity

I didn't write the summary below. It appeared on a Yahoo Group that I'm on. If you've followed my blog from the get-go you'll remember that I discussed some of my feelings as we were going through the adoption process and the things that were difficult for me. I've heard from several people that followed my blog that they appreciated my honesty online because it helped them know better how to handle situations with family and friends going through similar things. Today's post is along a similar line, but describes what a person dealing with infertility issues might be going through. Yes, some of these things also describe what I went through as we were trying to adopt. I had no real overwelming desire to become pregnant and we did not have a desire to go through infertility treatments. Please read with an open heart and tuck some of these thoughts away for the next time you offer helpful advice to someone dealing with infertility/adoption issues. ;-)

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"SOME FACTS ABOUT INFERTILITY
It may surprise you to know that one out of six women who wants to have a baby cannot conceive. There are many possible reasons for this dismal statistic: blocked fallopian tubes, ovarian failure, hormonal imbalances, husband's low sperm count, to name just a few. Moreover, after a woman turns thirty-five, it becomes difficult to have a baby primarily because many of the eggs she has left are defective and old. All these barriers to pregnancy are physical or physiological, not psychological. Tubes don't become blocked because a woman is "trying too hard" to get pregnant. Antibodies that kill sperm will not disappear if a woman simply relaxes. And a man cannot make his sperm swim faster by developing a more optimistic outlook.

Medical Intervention:
After every medical attempt at making her pregnant, she must play a waiting game that is peppered with spurts of optimism and pessimism. It is an emotional roller coaster. She doesn't know if her swollen breasts are a sign of pregnancy or a side effect of the fertility drugs. If she sees a spot of blood on her underwear, she doesn't know if an embryo is trying to implant or her period is about to begin. If she is not pregnant after an IVF procedure, she may feel as though her baby died.
How can a person grieve for a life that existed only in her mind? While trying to cope with this emotional turmoil, she gets invited to a baby shower or christening, learns that a friend or colleague is pregnant, or she reads about a one-day-old infant found abandoned in a dumpster. Can you try to imagine her envy, her rage over the inequities in life? Given that infertility permeates practically every facet of her existence, is it any wonder why she is obsessed with her quest? Every month, she wonders whether this will finally be her month. If it isn't, she wonders if she can muster the energy to try again. Will she be able to afford another procedure? How much longer will her husband continue to be supportive? Will she be forced to give up her dream? So when you speak with her, try to empathize with the burdens on her mind and on her heart. She knows you care about her, and she may need to talk with you about her ordeal. But she knows that there is
nothing you can say or do to make her pregnant. And she fears that you will offer a suggestion that will trigger even more despair.

PROBLEM SITUATIONS
Just as an ordinary room can be an obstacle course to a blind person, so can the everyday world be full of hazards for an infertile woman --- hazards that do not exist for women with children. She goes to her sister-in-law' s house for Thanksgiving. Her cousin is breast-feeding. The men are watching the football game while the women talk about problems with their kids. She feels left out, to say the least. Thanksgiving is an example of the many holidays that are particularly
difficult for her. They mark the passage of time. She remembers what came to mind last Thanksgiving --- that the next year, she would have a new son or daughter to show off to her family. Each holiday presents its own unique burden to the infertile woman. Valentine's Day reminds her of her romance, love, marriage - and the family she may never be able to create. Mother's Day and Father's Day? Their difficulties are obvious. Mundane activities like a walk down the street or going to the
shopping mall are packed with land mines. Seeing women pushing baby carriages and strollers strikes a raw nerve. While watching TV, she is bombarded by commercials for diapers, baby food, and early pregnancy tests. At a party, someone asks how long she's been married and whether she has any kids. She feels like running out of the room, but she can't. If she talks about being infertile, she's likely to get well-intentioned advice -- just the thing she doesn't need: "Just relax. Don't worry. It will happen soon." Or, "You're lucky. I've had it with my kids. I wish I had your freedom." These are the kinds of comments
that make her want to crawl under the nearest sofa and die.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Because she is infertile, life is extremely stressful for her. She's doing her best to cope. Please be understanding. Sometimes she will be depressed. Sometimes she will be angry. Sometimes she will be physically and emotionally exhausted. She's not going to be the "same old" girl she used to be. She won't want to do many of the things she used to do. She has no idea when, or if, her problem will be solved. She's engaged in an emotionally and financially taxing venture with a low probability of success. The longer she perseveres, however, the greater her chances of pregnancy become. Maybe someday she will be
successful. Maybe someday she will give up and turn to adoption, or come to terms with living a childfree life. At present, though, she has no idea what will happen. It's all she can do to keep going from one day to the next. She does not know why this is her lot. Nobody does. All she knows is the horrible anguish that she lives with every day. Please care about her. Please be sensitive to her situation. Give her your support -- she needs and wants it. "

1 comment:

Amy S. said...

Amen.

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