Help! I want to support someone I love on their infertility journey
First of all, allow us to thank you for caring enough about supporting those experiencing infertility to take the time to read this. This in itself is something they will appreciate. Perhaps your sister, daughter or friend has shared with you that she and her husband are going through infertility and you want to know how you could walk that journey with them. Perhaps you know someone who isn’t married but is anxious about how her known fertility troubles will affect her married life one day. Or perhaps you want to know how you could make your parish more welcoming to infertile couples. Whatever your reason for being here, we hope you’ll find something helpful here at The Fruitful Hollow.
We release a blog post each week about finding fruitfulness on the journey of infertility. Whilst many of these pieces are directed at those experiencing infertility themselves, educating yourself on the realities of this cross can help you to better support them. So here are some ways you can equip yourself with the tools to support them!
Know what to say and what not to say!
A good place to start is by reading our resource on Supporting Couples with Infertility. To dive deeper, you could read this blog post which has plenty of concrete examples of what to say. On the topic of what not to say, have you ever asked “Can’t you just adopt?” or felt tempted to do so? We understand that this is always asked with the kindest intentions, but we’ve talked on the blog about the intricacies of that.
Understand the importance of boundaries
Those experiencing infertility may feel they need to put some boundaries in place about what they share, topics they are happy to discuss, events they are comfortable attending and so on. We have a 3-part series on boundaries, written by a Catholic Licensed Professional Counsellor. Start reading here. We’ve also got a blog post about sharing the load, and why different couples are comfortable with different levels of openness in the area of infertility.
Put yourself in their shoes
If you haven’t experienced infertility or loss yourself, you might feel apprehensive about supporting others on this path because you can’t relate personally to their pain. Have a browse of our blog to see just how many areas of marriage, relationships, work and everyday life are affected by this cross. Start here, with this collection of insights.
If the couple you are supporting is going through fertility treatment or discerning taking that step, you might consider educating yourself on NaProTechnology and other treatments open to Catholic couples, not in order to make suggestions of your own but simply to understand what it might involve for them. For example, you could read our resources on managing medical appointments and navigating Napro, and on preparing for surgery.
With baby loss affecting such a large number of couples, it’s highly likely you already know someone who has experienced this tragedy. To understand what that feels like, read Miscarriage: your story. Maybe you’re thinking of doing something special to show someone what their child meant to you, in which case you could read this piece on how to memorialize your miscarried or stillborn baby, which includes links to gifts and keepsakes from many Catholic creators. We have also recently added Jude's Garden to The Frutiful Hollow website. Jude's Garden is a virtual memorial where people may go and add the names of little souls who were conceived but never born or who were called back home too soon. Your loved ones may wish to add the name(s) themselves, but might not know about Jude's Garden yet.
You could read Adoption: your story, insights on adoption from a collection of women who have gone through the process if you are wondering what that’s like and what kind of support they wish they had had on that path. Take time to think about the unique griefs, big and small, that go hand-in-hand with adoption.
This is a commonly misunderstood area. Women who have had a child or children and go on to experience infertility afterwards carry a unique cross. We asked a collection of women to share their hearts on this, in Secondary infertility: your story.
Start a support group or ministry
Has the Lord put it on your heart to begin a support group or ministry in your parish, diocese or area for couples walking this path? There are so many options for how you could go about this, and you don’t need to have experienced infertility yourself in order to do so. Check out this collaborative blog post by women in our community who have tried this themselves and shared about their successes and lessons learnt along the way.
Pray for them
Prayer is powerful. Dedicate some prayer time to praying for your loved ones. If they have been open with you about their infertility journey, it may be appropriate to ask if they have specific prayer intentions. Did you know that there are several saints with ties to infertility? We have a whole page dedicated to these amazing souls that you can find here.
All of the links and ideas shared above are just a drop in the ocean of fruitful content here at The Fruitful Hollow. Please stay a while, look around, bookmark our website to come back to later or share it with someone else who might benefit from our support.