These posts below were some useful tools our counsellor gave us which I wished we had had earlier in our IVF journey. I simply emailed the entire email with all the attachments out to my mum & dad and DH Mum & Dad and let them read at their own pace! Just wanted to share in case it helps others :-)
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16-03-2012 09:03 #1
Helpful Tools for telling family about IVF....
16-03-2012 09:08 #2Letter for Friends & FamilyABOUT ____________________ FERTILITY ISSUES
__________ knows that you love her and want her to be happy, to be her "old self" again. But lately, she seems isolated, depressed and completely consumed with the idea of having a baby. You probably have difficulty understanding why getting pregnant has coloured virtually every aspect of her daily life. __________ hopes that by reading this letter, written by psychologists with both personal and professional experience with infertility, you will better understand the pain she is feeling. This letter also will tell you how you can help her.
SOME FACTS ABOUT INFERTILITY
It may surprise you to know that one out of six couples who wants to have a baby cannot conceive. There are many possible reasons for this dismal statistic: blocked fallopian tubes, ovarian failure, subtle hormonal imbalances that may not show up during testing, toxic exposure, immune deficiencies, husband's low sperm count, genetic abnormalities of embryo's, insufficient endometrium lining, subtle or obvious deformities of the cervix or uterus, just to name just a few. 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.
When someone we care about has a problem, it is natural to try to help. If there's nothing specific that we can do, we try to give helpful advice. Often, we draw on our personal experiences or on anecdotes involving other people we know. Perhaps you recall a friend who had trouble getting pregnant until she and her husband went to a tropical island. So you suggest that __________ and her husband take a vacation, too: "Just go on a holiday and relax and don't think about it and you'll get pregnant!"
__________ appreciates your well-meaning intentions on giving the advice, but she cannot use the advice because of the physical nature of her problems. Not only can't she use your advice, the sound of it upsets her greatly. Indeed, she feels constantly bombarded with this sort of advice from well meaning friends and family at every turn. Imagine how frustrating it must be for her to hear about other couples who "magically" become pregnant during a vacation simply by making love. Imagine how upsetting it is for __________ to hear that other couples "magically" become pregnant once they decide to stop trying. Imagine how hard it is for her to hear that other couples "magically" become pregnant once they discontinue fertility treatments, or decide to adopt. To __________, who is undergoing infertility treatment, making love and conceiving a child have very little to do with one another, now. You can't imagine how hard she's been trying to have this baby and how completely devastated she feels every month she learns that the attempt has failed again. It is a tumultuous rollercoaster of emotions to go through every month while trying infertility treatments. Your well-meaning advice is an attempt to transform an extremely complicated predicament into a simplistic little problem. By simplifying and minimizing her problem in this manner, you've diminished the validity of her emotions, making her feel psychologically undervalued. Naturally, she will feel angry and upset with you under these circumstances. It is quite hurtful and feels demeaning to her when her struggles and experiences are minimized.
The truth is: There's practically nothing concrete you can do to help __________. The best help you can provide is to be understanding and supportive. It's easier to be supportive if you can appreciate how being unable to have a baby can be such a devastating blow.
WHY NOT HAVING A BABY IS SO UPSETTING
Women are reared with the expectation that they will have a baby someday. They've thought about themselves in a motherhood role ever since they played with dolls. A woman may not even consider herself part of the adult world unless she is a parent. When __________ thinks she cannot have a baby, she may even feel "defective." She experiences isolation, and feels excluded as she is not part of the majority of the female adult world - as she is not a mother. This is very painful to experience. She has not shared the same experiences and has little in common with others.
Worse, __________ is not even certain that she will ever have a baby. This is incredibly distressing. One of the cruellest things you can do to a person is give them hope and then not come through. Modern medicine has created this double-edged sword. It offers hope where there previously was none -- but at the price of slim odds.
WHAT MODERN MEDICINE HAS TO OFFER THE INFERTILE COUPLE.
In the past decade, reproductive medicine has made major breakthroughs that enable women, who in the past were unable to have children, to now conceive. The use of drugs can increase the number and size of eggs that a woman produces thereby increasing her chances of fertilization. In vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques extract a woman's eggs and mix them with sperm in a "test tube" and allow them to fertilize in a laboratory. The embryo can then be transferred back to the woman's uterus. There are many other options, as well.
Despite the hope these technologies offer, it is a tough journey to take. Some high-tech procedures are offered only at a few places, which may force her to travel great distances. The patient must endure repeated doctor's visits, take daily injections, shuffle work and social schedules to accommodate various procedures, and lay out considerable sums of money -- money that is not all reimbursed by insurance companies or health care plans. All of this is preceded by a battery of diagnostic tests that can be both embarrassing and extremely painful.
Infertility is a highly personal medical condition; one that __________ may feel uncomfortable discussing with anyone. And, she is faced with many family and friends and acquaintances asking intrusive, personal questions. Meanwhile, she is devoting considerable time and energy to managing her health, her treatments, and a mountain of forms and other paperwork required.
After every medical attempt at making her pregnant, __________ 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 IUI procedure, she may feel betrayed, not understanding how it could not have worked since everything went as planned, and nothing is medically wrong with her or her husband. 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 as a chemical pregnancy that did not implant in her uterus?
While trying to cope with this emotional turmoil, she gets invited to a baby shower or christening, learns that a friend or family member or colleague is pregnant, or she reads about a one-day-old infant found abandoned in a dumpster. Can you just 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 consumed with her quest for a baby?
Every month, ____________ wonders whether this will finally be her month. If it isn't, she wonders if she can muster the energy and the hope to try again. Will she be able to afford another procedure? Is she willing to go through the hormonal rollercoaster? Is she able to withstand another month of daily painful injections and bruises? How much longer will her husband be able to continue to try to be supportive? Will they be forced to give up their dream?
So when you speak with ______________, try to empathize with the burdens on her mind and on her heart. Be aware of her struggles. Be compassionate and considerate of her feelings. She knows you care about her, and she may want to talk about her ordeal. But she knows that there is nothing you can say or do to make her pregnant. And she greatly fears that you will offer a suggestion that will trigger even more despair.
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ____________?
You can give her support, and don't criticize her for any steps she may or may not be taking -- such as not attending a baby shower -- to protect herself from emotional trauma. You can say something like this: I care about you. After reading this letter, I have a better idea about how hard this must be for you. I wish I could help. I'm sorry for what you are going through. I'm here to listen to you and cry with you, if you feel like crying. I'm here to cheer you on when you feel as though there is no hope. You can talk to me. You can trust me. I will not judge you. I will not give you advice, since I have not experienced the struggle you have. I will only listen; I will hold you and hug you. I care.
The most important thing to remember is that ______________ is distraught and very worried. Listen to what she has to say, but do not judge. Do not belittle her feelings. Do not minimize her experience. Do not remind her of all the stories of others you know who "just became pregnant" after giving up. That is not reassuring to her, that is painful for her to hear, and just makes her feel like more of a failure. Don't try to pretend that everything will be OK. Don't try and sell her on fatalism with statements like, "What will be will be." If that were truly the case, what's the point of using medical technology to try to accomplish what nature cannot?
Your willingness to listen and not judge and not try to 'fix it' can be of tremendously great help. Infertile women feel cut off from other people. They feel completely isolated, judged, and alone. Your ability to listen and support her in the ways that she needs it will help her handle the stress she's experiencing. Her infertility is one of the most difficult situations she will ever have to deal with.
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 which do not exist for women with children. These hazards are painful and constant reminders to her about what she may never have.
She goes to her in-law's house for Christmas. Children are running around everywhere. Her cousin is breast-feeding. Her sister in law is pregnant with baby #3. The men are watching the football game while the women talk about the problems with their kids. She feels left out, to say the least.
Christmas 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 Christmas -- that the next year, she would hopefully have a new son or daughter to show off to her family.
At a party or family get together, someone always asks when she is going to have kids. She feels like running out of the room screaming, 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 sooner or later," or "You're lucky. I've had it with my kids. I wish I had your freedom," or "Good for you - you don't have to go through labour," or "just adopt," or "maybe it's just meant to be," or "well, it's God's plan, maybe your aren't meant to have children." These are the kinds of comments that make her want to scream in anger and pull out her hair in frustration and curl up in a ball and cry. Don't you think she tries to relax and not get stressed out? Don't you think she wishes, prays, begs it to happen sooner or later? Don't you think she'd give up her freedom and any and everything else in the world just to have a baby? Don't you think she would quite willingly and eagerly go through all the pain and suffering twice over if she could just experience pregnancy and labour and everything that goes with it? Don't you think she's considered adoption, but maybe, just maybe she and her husband would like to experience pregnancy and the birth of their own child? Don't you think she feels condemned that it may be "meant to be"? These are all the things she wants to scream at you when she is offered your well-intentioned advice.
What is especially quite hurtful to her is when people keep things from her (like news of a pregnancy) - this excluding behaviour demonstrates to __________ that she is being treated differently now that people know she is infertile. If friends and family used to happily share the exciting news (before they knew of the infertility she experiences) and now they don't share the news, or keep it secret until it's obvious, __________ will feel that her family and friends intentionally excluded her, which is much more devastating and hurtful. She knows that she can be happy and excited for her family and friends with their great news, and sad because she has no announcement to share. This is normal for her to experience. But when the news of a family or friend's pregnancy is kept secret from her, she feels betrayed and hurt that her loved ones would so obviously exclude her. She already knows she is 'different', not part of that group. And this obvious exclusion reinforces that for her.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Because she is experiencing fertility difficulty, life is extremely stressful for __________________. She's doing her best to cope. Please be understanding. Please be gentle and mindful with your words. Sometimes she will be depressed. Sometimes she will be angry. Sometimes she will be tearful. Sometimes she will be envious. Sometimes she will be physically exhausted. Sometimes she will be emotionally drained. Sometimes she will be scared. Sometimes she will feel hopeless. She's not going to be "the same old _______________" she used to be.
She has no idea when, or if, her problem will ever be solved. She's engaged in an emotionally (and financially) taxing venture
Maybe someday she will be successful. It may be soon or it may be sometime down the road. At present, though, she has no idea what will happen. At present, she still wants to try. It's all she can do to keep going from one day to the next. It's all she can do to keep trying, to keep hoping, to keep going. She does not know why this is her struggle. Nobody does. All she knows is the horrible anguish that she lives with every moment of every day.
Please care about her. Please be sensitive to her situation. Please offer her your support. She desperately needs it and truly wants it.
16-03-2012 09:10 #3
How Can I Help? The Dos and the Don'ts of Support
By Diane Clapp, BSN, RN and Merle Bombardieri, LICSW
Coping with Infertility can be extremely difficult for the family and friends of the couple going through infertility. As with any crisis it is difficult to know what to say. Because infertility is such a sensitive topic it is important to understand what you can and cannot say.
Let's start with what doesn't help, because the more you continue to say the wrong thing inadvertently, the deeper the rift will be between you and the couple. There is a universal list of No-No's that most infertile couples agree on. The following do's and don'ts should help you support the individual or couple who is struggling with infertility.
Don't Try to minimize the problem by saying, "Don't worry. At least you have each other and don't have cancer."
Do Listen to what the couple has to say about their experience and express empathy for their difficulties.
Don't Tell a couple who has had a miscarriage that it wasn't meant to be or that you know that they will be pregnant again soon and it will work the next time.
Do Realize that the couple has just lost a specific potential child who will never come again, no matter how wonderful the next pregnancy may be. Acknowledge how sad they must feel. Use the words "loss and sorrow"; don't be afraid to use the words that probably describe how the couple must feel.
Don't Give medical advice or doctor referrals without being asked or hearing the couple say they are looking for new information or referrals.
Do Tell the couple know that you'll be happy to listen to any details they want to share with you and that you would like to offer support during any procedures by a phone call or by offering to go with them to a medical appointment.
Don't Assume that new medical breakthroughs you read about in the paper will solve the couple's problems. The breakthrough announced by the news media may be irrelevant and if it is relevant, chances are the couple has seen the article and their medical team is knowledgeable about it.
Do Ask the couple if there are any books or articles that you could read to understand what they are going through medically.
Don't Expect the couple to act happy about attending baby showers, christenings and other family events that feature pregnant women and new babies.
Do Give them plenty of opportunity to decide whether to attend an event or whether to come late or leave early. They will not feel the need to avoid babies forever, but less contact right now may be a necessary part of their healing process.
Don't Start a discussion about infertility without paying attention to timing and to the couple's openness.
Do Choose a time when the couple's privacy is assured and ask the couple if they would like to talk. Couples experiencing infertility often feel out of control. Your letting them choose whether and when to talk about it gives them back some control.
Don't Assume that it is fine if you talk to your son's wife or your daughter's husband about their situation.
Do Respect the privacy needs of each individual and do not assume that they both want to talk about it with you.
Don't Offer unsolicited stories about others who have been successful at treatment or adoption. DO tell them if they are ever interested you could put them in touch with a couple willing to talk about their infertility experience or adoption process. Let them decide whether they want to pursue that information. As a parent, family member, or friend, you want to make it better for the couple, to take away the pain. But probably the greatest gift you can give your loved one or friend is to be a listener, a sounding board. Instead of erasing the pain, you can diminish it by your caring. One of the hardest questions to ask someone is, "How can I help you?" It is such a difficult question because you should be prepared for their answer and not the answer that you think they will say or should say. To ask that question and to trust the response that you hear is a powerful step in your efforts to help the couple struggling with this kind of crisis.
16-03-2012 09:13 #4
Talking to Family and Friends
When you are experiencing infertility, communicating with family and friends can be difficult and challenging. Even the most caring relative or friend may offer a "helpful" suggestion that will appear wildly insensitive to you.
Here are some tips for talking about infertility with family and friends, if you decide to do so.
- Decide how much detail you and your partner want to share. Respect each other's need for privacy about certain details.
- It may help to rehearse exactly what you are going to say. Decide on specific words or phrases to use, such as of ”infertility” or "we are trying to get pregnant and seem to be having a problem"
- Pick a time to talk when people are not rushed or distracted. Make sure it is a private place where you won’t feel embarrassed to show emotion.
- Explain that infertility is a life crisis, and that 1 in 6 couples, or almost 7 million people experience it
- Let them know how they can support you—whether you want phone calls, questions, etc.
- Explain that you may need a break from family gatherings, and that it isn't about them—it’s about using your energy wisely.
- Tell them that you will share results about a treatment or procedure when you feel up to it, and not to ask about pregnancy tests or treatment results.
Comments that family and friends may make can seem insensitive even though they do not intend to be hurtful. I changed this b/c some of the comments make it clear that the person knows about the IF struggle.
What they said…
When are you going to stop concentrating on your career and start a family?
What you wished they had said…
"I know how much you love children and how you both talked about starting a family right after your marriage. If there is any problem, I want you to know that I am available to listen and help."
"I don't believe my job and a family are mutually exclusive. My career is advancing, and I'm very proud of my work. When we feel the time is right, we will consider starting our family."
"Right now I have two careers: one is my job which you know about and the other is trying to become pregnant. You probably wouldn't believe how exhausting and time-consuming infertility treatment can be; it really feels like a second job."
What they said…
"You used to talk about combining a career and a family. How are those plans coming along? Will we ever get to be grandparents?"
What you wished they had said…
"We loved our family life and raising you; we hope you will experience that same joy with your children. If you decide to raise a family, we look forward to sharing that happiness with you."
"I truly hope that someday you will have grandchildren. Whether I have children biologically or through adoption, I look forward to sharing that happiness with you."
What they said…“I wish you'd take one of my kids—they drive my absolutely crazy!”
What you wished they had said…
"While there are days when I wish my kids were on Mars, I love them more than anything."
"Oh thanks, then they'd drive me crazy!"
"I know that parenting is a really difficult job, but I'm really looking forward to that challenge and experience."
What they said…
“You can always adopt.”
What you wished they had said…
“Are there other options you are exploring?”
"Adoption is an option I am considering. I have to resolve some medical issues and must grieve the loss of the possibility of not having a biological child before considering adoption."
"I have considered adoption very carefully and have decided it is not for me, and am considering a childfree life, if I am unable to conceive a child."
How to deal with it when someone close is pregnant. “Guess what? I’m pregnant!”
These are the hardest words to hear from a friend or relative. The best you can do with this one is explain why you are unable to celebrate wholeheartedly.
Response A (keep it short and sweet):
"That is great news. Congratulations."
"I'm happy for you, but it is difficult to hear when I cannot get pregnant. That is a really tough time for me, so please understand if I am unable to attend your shower or listen to your happy moments. I am working through my infertility, and the pain is still great."
16-03-2012 09:17 #5
Cartoon for people that use the word "relax":
The Following User Says Thank You to Hope2487 For This Useful Post:
25-05-2012 20:40 #6
26-05-2012 12:55 #7
Sure can! Just pm me ur email addy and I will send thru tomorrow Arvo from my home computer x
The Following User Says Thank You to Hope2487 For This Useful Post:
17-06-2012 08:45 #8Junior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
Thanks so much for putting into writing exactly how I feel. I had 12 frozen embryos, felt so lucky & was so sure my whole family would be produced from them, that now there are none left I am dreading the next round of drugs and doctors visits, let alone well meaning family members giving me advice.
I wish you the best of luck with your FET:fingers crossed
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