Everyone has an opinion, like it or not. There are countless conversations where people share opinions of what “you should” do when you struggle with infertility or have had a loss, and it can be hard to hear it over and over again.
There’s a spoken and unspoken expectation of what things “should” look like and be like when it comes to a couple’s reproductive journey. This is problematic because everyone’s journey is different and there are factors involved that you just can’t control. It sucks when there’s such a huge disparity between what things are really like and how you actually want them to be.
There are dreaded question couples who face reproductive challenges get asked all the time. Questions like, “how many children do you have” or “when are you going to have more kids”. Some feel they have the answers and want to give advice by saying “you should do this and do that” or “don’t do this and don’t do that”. All the advice that’s out there can be a bit overwhelming.
Common “Shoulds” of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss
• You should have more children so your child isn’t an only child.
• You should start trying to conceive before it’s too late.
• You should stop trying so hard and it will happen.
• You should relax because it’s hard to conceive when you’re stressed.
• You should probably consider adoption instead.
• You shouldn’t worry.… you’re young and have plenty of time.
• You should be glad at least you already have a child.
I could really go on but this list would be far too long but I think you get my point.
So how do you deal with all the noise?
You’re the Expert
It’s important to remember that no one knows your journey more intimately than you do. You’re the expert. I know it may not feel like that but the reality is you know the circumstance surrounding your reproductive struggles more personally anyone else. It doesn’t matter if those struggles are related to infertility, pregnancy loss or infant loss – this is your story and you’re living it.
Ask for What You Need
People unintentionally say hurtful things. They want to offer comfort and say things that will make it better except most times they’re not helping. You can tell them what to do that would be helpful instead. This is a win-win because they receive guidance from you on what they can do that’s more helpful and you get the support you need. If all you need is a listening ear, then ask for that. Ask for the specific type of support you need from those attempting (but failing) to give the right kind of support.
Find Your Tribe
Find support in the loss community and remember that you are not alone. Connecting with others who’ve shared similar struggles can prove to be incredibly powerful. Many communities have support groups both in person and online depending on your preference.
Use the Opportunity to Educate
Share your story only with those who’ve earned the privilege to hear it. Don’t feel obligated to explain anything or share if you would rather not. If people seem misinformed, you can use the opportunity to educate and inform of factual information. People don’t know what they don’t know and you can help spread awareness of something that many people grapple with.
If you’re feeling bombarded or overwhelmed with what others have to say about your struggle and need more support, please reach out and let’s talk about what you need and how I can help.