“You’re young; you have time.”
Do not say this to someone battling infertility.
Do not say this to someone who has just experienced a pregnancy loss.
Actually, there are a lot of things not to say to someone struggling to grow their family, but
this one still makes me cringe when I read it, hear it, remember it being said to me.
- You’re underinformed about infertility.
- It’s awkward.
- You mean well.
- You don’t know what else to say.
National Infertility Awareness Week 2018 is about changing the conversation about infertility.
I’m going to help #FliptheScript by telling you why this comment hurts.
- I was young and had been trying 2.5 years to conceive that baby I lost.
- I was young and not yet receiving benefits at work, so the 2 weeks I took off for the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage were unpaid.
- I was young and misled about how difficult it would be to conceive.
- I was young and of prime childbearing age. As were all the young, childbearing women posting pregnancy announcements and baby pictures daily on my Facebook newsfeed.
- I was young when my mom died and didn’t have her support or experiences to consult.
- I was young and terrified that I would possibly suffer even more childless years than my older fellow infertility warriors.
- I was young and received comments like “You’re young; you have time,” completely nullifying my grief.
- I was young, heightening my hopes of conceiving each month and crashing down from those heights each month it didn’t happen.
- I was the young wife of a young veteran struggling to provide for his family or impregnate his wife and the implications those had on his identity as a man.
- I was young, but 3 years less so when I did finally conceive my take-home baby.
- I was a young mom with a young child when I miscarried a second time, flooding my heart, mind, and body with the fear of secondary infertility.
But that’s okay because I was young. I had time to conceive a sibling for my son. Either that, or extra years to live with the desperation and inability to do so.
Now I am a young mom with her young kids, blending in with all the other young moms with young kids, and no one would ever guess by looking at me that my time with infertility still affects me every day– or even that I had any time with infertility.
- FACT: Infertility affects people of all ages, genders, races, sexual orientations, and health statuses.
- FACT: 1 in 8 couples in the US struggle to conceive. Less than that are open about it for fear of what others might think or say.
- FACT: Of couples struggling to conceive, ⅓ are female factor, ⅓ are male factor, and ⅓ are a combination or unexplained.
- FACT: Infertility is a disease. When the human body does not function as it is supposed to, that is a disease. Also, infertility can be an effect of diseases and conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, diabetes, improper thyroid function, varicocele, blood clotting disorders, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
- FACT: Research has proven the anxiety levels of infertility sufferers comparable to those of cancer patients.
Yet there is a lack of understanding or support for infertility sufferers from friends, family, coworkers, and employers.
I was lucky to have coworkers who cared enough to listen and take the time to offer awkward, look-at-the-bright-side clichés like, “You’re young; you have time.”
Is this the best we can do?
#FliptheScript on conversations about infertility from SILENT AND AWKWARD to OPEN AND EMPATHETIC.
Depending on your relationship and the person’s needs, here are some ideas on how you can support someone you know who is struggling with the trials and stresses of infertility:
01. “What can I do for you?”
02. “What do you need me to know?”
03. “How can I be sensitive to your situation?”
04. “May I pray for you?”
05. “This must be so difficult for you.”
06. “I’m sorry you’re struggling with this.”
07. “I’m here to listen.”
08. Invite your friend, family member, or coworker out for coffee, lunch, or a fun activity.
09. Bring him or her a meal or offer to help with household chores, particularly on days you know he or she is undergoing a fertility treatment or experiencing a loss.
10. Learn more about issues surrounding infertility awareness.
11. Get involved.
12. Share your own infertility story in person or on social media. Use hashtags #NIAW and #FliptheScript
13. Take the pledge:
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