How to Navigate Conversations about Your Fertility Journey
When all you want is to start a family but infertility issues have hampered your efforts, you’re flooded with a range of emotions. One is the feeling of hopelessness and frustration that you have no control over your situation. But there are some things that you can do to reclaim some control. Aside from choosing the route you want to pursue towards fertility, you can control how conversations about your fertility journey are navigated. This journey is personal to you and it’s entirely up to you how much of it you share with others and who those people are.
Create a support network
It helps to have people you can count on for complete support when you need it. People who sympathise with what you’re going through but, more importantly, understand it. Think about who you can share your innermost feelings with without feeling uncomfortable. Think about who can genuinely offer you support without putting any pressure on you or making you feel as though you’re being judged. You may prefer to turn to family and close friends for support. Or you may feel more comfortable talking to other couples who are going through the same as you. A fertility counsellor will understand exactly how you feel and can offer support that you may not find elsewhere.
Having someone there for you doesn’t just mean to talk with you about your fertility journey. You may not want to talk about it all and just want to escape for a while. It’s nice to have someone around who understands that you need to let your hair down without dwelling on your current situation.
Decide which details you want to share and how
You’re going to be asked questions…there’s no getting away from it. People mean well and some will just be curious while others will be genuinely interested. Occasionally, you’ll find yourself with someone who wasn’t aware of what you’ve been going through and will suddenly ask a barrage of questions. But what you share with others is entirely up to you. It’s your business and no one else’s.
Pre-empt the inevitable and decide which details you’re happy to share with people and those that you’d rather keep to yourself. Obviously, you may not mind sharing a bit more with family and close friends but you still need to be clear in your mind. Then decide how you want to share the details. For example, you may prefer to be vague, giving away just enough information to keep someone from asking another question but without divulging anything personal. Using humour when answering questions is a good way to deflect while lightening the mood. Or you may be happy to be completely honest and answer questions about your fertility journey as fully as you can.
Even when you’ve set your own limits about what you’re prepared to share, you’ll still face times when people seem inconsiderate. This may not be intentional but it’ll upset you all the same. Family get-togethers, with kids running around and babies being cooed over, may not be the best place for you when you’re struggling emotionally. You’ll likely be drawn into conversations at some point that make you feel uncomfortable. For example, when a colleague is pregnant at work and others start sharing their pregnancy stories. You may be asked if you’ve considered alternatives, such as adoption. These are the times you need to set boundaries and either politely decline to be involved in a conversation or remove yourself from a situation altogether.
Dealing with events
We’ve mentioned family get-togethers above but there are bound to be other events that can make you feel awkward. Kids’ birthday parties and baby showers, for example. Being in these types of environments when you’re going through so much trying to have a family can be too much to bear. This is totally understandable and you just need to explain this honestly to family and friends. If you do decide to go to an event that then makes you feel overwhelmingly vulnerable, just leave. Staying for someone else’s benefit will do you more harm than good so politely say your goodbyes and go.
Provide others with helpful resources
One way to take the pressure off yourself when responding to questions or well-meant advice is to have resources to hand that you can share with others. Infertility, unfortunately, still has a stigma attached to it and sharing information with other people can help to combat this. You don’t need to provide an in-depth account of your own fertility journey, though.
Instead, offer resources created by professionals. Created by those who are an authority on the subject, these resources allow people to conduct their own research. This can be on the tests and treatments available, for example. Or the fertility challenges you’re likely to face and the lifestyle changes you have to make to boost your chances of conceiving. They can find answers to any of their questions, giving them a better understanding of the fertility journey you are going through.
This ensures that they are more sensitive towards your situation and fully understand the stress you are under. With these resources at their fingertips, you can relax knowing that you won’t need to answer so many questions.
ConclusionYour fertility journey is an extremely emotional one. Having to navigate conversations on the subject is a headache you can do without. But planning how to do this in advance can ultimately take the pressure off further down the line when faced with questions, advice or events that may otherwise may you feel uneasy. Ultimately, your well-being is the most important factor so it’s up to you to decide when you’re ready to open up about your experience and who to share this with.