How to Love your Friend through Infertility

This is something that has been on my mind for a while, and though it can be a little uncomfortable, I think needs to be discussed.

What do you say to your friend who can’t have children? How should you act? What are the right and wrong things to do?

If this is something you’ve never had to deal with, please be thankful and be aware that there is a good chance someone you know is dealing with it. (Statistics say 1 out of every 8 couples is affected.)
Maybe this will help you see their side of it, and if nothing else, help you to better pray for them.

Infertility stinks.

It’s lonely and painful.
It’s really hard to see everyone you know get married and start their families. The years tick away while babies seem to come effortlessly to everyone but you.
Although you’re incredibly happy with and love your husband dearly, you feel something is missing.
You imagine little voices laughing and singing, little handprints all over everything.
Your heart sinks a little every time you get another text or phone call with someone’s happy news. Oh, you’re happy for them, but for a moment you’re overshadowed with sadness for yourself.

“Here we go again.”

Yes, I have thought this. I’ve even said it out loud a few times.

Before you judge me too harshly, please know that this statement running through my mind doesn’t mean that I don’t love the person sharing their exciting news with me. It doesn’t mean that I am not incredibly happy for them and looking forward to having another baby to get to pray for and love on…
It just means that I’m very aware this is yet again happening to someone else, and not to me.

My dear friends know this, and thankfully are understanding. They know I love their babies and their babies love me…but they’ve also given me permission to skip a baby shower if I feel it will be too painful or even let me cry while holding their little one if the tears begin to flow.
No, they don’t understand, but as women, it’s easy to imagine how they would feel if they did understand. So they let me cry. Sometimes they even cry with me.
They don’t tiptoe around me and treat me as though I can’t handle their good news or details about their lives, but they are sensitive to my feelings.

Although this is the case with close friends, there are always people out there with “advice.” Let’s address some of those, shall we? 🙂

“My sister’s best friend’s cousin’s boyfriend’s sister couldn’t have a baby for 7 years, then one day she found out she was going to have a baby! I’m sure that’ll happen to you too!!”
Let me just pause here for a second and say please don’t tell anyone that you’re sure or you just know the thing that they’re hoping and praying for is going to happen.
You don’t know that.
You can’t be sure of that.
It’s just frustrating to hear.

“I read this article online the other day that said if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, all you have to do is (fill in the blank).”
Listen, if you start looking up things online, you’ll find every kind of “miracle cure” you can imagine.
Eat honey. Drink apple cider vinegar. Add lemon zest to everything. Get this prescription. Take that supplement. Take up yoga. Get acupuncture. Spend some time standing on your head. Pat your head and rub your belly at the same time for 10 minutes 3 times a day. (Okay, I made that last one up, but it isn’t any more silly than some I actually have heard. I’ve read or been told all the rest of these…and you get the idea.)
Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for your friend, and chances are, they’ve already tried more “cures” than you could possibly imagine.

“Just take a vacation! My mother-in-law’s ex-husband’s stepdaughter and her husband tried and tried. They finally took a vacation and BAM!”
Let me just kill two birds with one stone here. This one falls into the same category with:
“You just need to relax!”
Please, please, PLEASE don’t ever say these things to anyone. They are ignorant and infuriating.
Since when has relaxing or taking a vacation ever cured a medical condition?! That’s what I thought.
Moving on…

“What’s the big deal anyway? Just adopt.”
Okay, this one is a biggie.
Adoption is a wonderful, beautiful thing that gives children a family and gives parents children. This may be an avenue that they eventually explore and may be the means by which they eventually grow their family…but this isn’t something to be taken lightly.
It’s not like going to the store and making an impulse buy.
It’s serious.
It’s serious for the parents and it’s serious for the children.
It’s something that should be seriously prayed about.
If that’s the path they feel is right for them to walk down, great! Rejoice with them!
If not, don’t pressure them…and definitely don’t tell them their chances for getting pregnant will improve if they adopt because you know someone that happened to. If they choose to adopt, it should be to get their child…not to get a child in hopes they’ll finally get their real child.

Also, if they choose to adopt, that doesn’t mean they’ll never again grieve over not having children of their own. It doesn’t mean they won’t love their child or children given to them by the Lord through adoption, but it’s just in the heart of a woman to bear children.

Now seems a good time to stick this in… The statement, “You can’t miss what you never had” is not true.
You absolutely can miss what you haven’t had. Any man or woman who has dreamed of something, whether it be a spouse or children or whatever, and the dream is left unfulfilled, they miss it.
It’s as though they can see it, hear it, touch it, smell it…and then it’s gone, and they miss it.

Let me just boil it down to this: Everyone knows someone who was in this situation and they did such-and-such and had a baby. Great! but please don’t feel the need to share your “encouraging stories” with someone you know facing infertility.
We’ve heard them all and more often than not, they don’t help.

It’s sweet that you want to help and that you’re trying to make us feel better. Really. We do appreciate it…but here’s what we need to hear:
“I love you.”
“I’m praying for you.”
“I’m here if you need me.”
That’s pretty much it. Those three simple sentences will help more than you can imagine.

The bottom line is that God is the One who opens and closes the womb.
Any “miracle cures,” if they are to come, will come from His hand, and His hand alone.

What peace and strength and relief comes from that knowledge!
There is nothing I can do or not do to change my situation. It’s not my fault.

I don’t have children because my loving Father has chosen not to give me children.
He is still wise and good and kind.
He can change my circumstances if He sees fit, but until He chooses to do that, nothing will change.
It’s in His hands…and that’s all the assurance I need.
That’s all the assurance your friends need.

Love them, pray for them, be there for them when they need you…and if the day ever comes when God changes their situation, rejoice and praise God with them! If their situation never changes, praise God with them anyway!
If they are His children, I promise you’ll be amazed at how His grace and peace and mercy will flood their hearts. The day will come when they’ll raise their hands and be able to say, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of The Lord!”

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