In the past, I had never really struggled to get pregnant. I had my own struggles of staying pregnant, but the process of seeing the two pregnancy lines was not a struggle for me. Until my husband and I tried to conceive our fourth child.
I was diagnosed with infertility about five months into trying when I realized I was not regularly ovulating and thus began our 14 month struggle to get pregnant. It was harder than I thought infertility would be -- something I don't think you can ever really understand unless you've been told those words yourself. The battle of wanting something so bad, no longer having control over the planning, and a shame in your body for not being able to function the way natures had intended. They were all feelings I struggled with the entire time we were trying to conceive.
Infertility is still a topic that has more people managing in silence than in public -- for obvious reasons. I mean, you're talking about intimate happenings between yourself and your partner, functions of your organs that are typically never talked about, and while I know most people mean well, if we never talk about how to help us and what doesn't, how can we expect anyone who's not struggled to know better?
There are some phrases I heard a few times over during my struggle with infertility and found less than helpful:
1) "Well, it hasn't been that long."
Really, anytime conception doesn't happen for you, it feels too long. Often we hear of accidental pregnancies or those who got pregnant the month they decided they were ready for it. It's not helpful to compare someone's eight-month struggle to someone who struggled for years.
2) "The practice must be fun."
Well, it can be fun in the beginning, but once it becomes more of a scheduled chore so you hit all your potential fertile days, that fun quickly goes away. The longer it all takes, the less fun it the "practice" becomes and it can have a negative effect in your marriage.
3) "Don't rush it, it will happen."
The age-old advice of not rushing and that it will happen when it's supposed to is rarely ever helpful. While it's true that stress can have a negative impact on your chances of conception, that "advice" certainly doesn't help the stress level.
4) "Have you tried (xyz)?"
I appreciated when someone wanted to help and offered ideas on what I could do to improve my chances or figure out what was going on, but never when it was not asked for.
5) "You pregnant yet?"
This is one of the big reasons why some couples choose not to tell anyone that they're trying to conceive -- to avoid this question. It adds so much stress when other people acknowledge or point out that getting pregnant is taking longer than they thought it would for you.
6) "Oh, I've never had that problem."
You guys, not the time to "brag" or share that you've not had to struggle to get pregnant. Avoid telling the story of that one night you had too much to drink and found out weeks later that you got pregnant. Don't share the anecdote that all your partner needs to do is look at you and you're pregnant or that you were the one of the 6 per cent who got pregnant on birth control.
If you have a friend or family member struggling with infertility, the best thing you can do is listen and don't pry for information. Don't try to fix things (unless they ask for your opinion) and realize it's not something to joke about because the feelings are quite real -- even if you don't quite understand.
Follow Devan McGuinness on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AccustomedChaos