Infertility Affects the Whole Family

Dawn Davenport


infertility affects grandparents too

How has your infertility affected your parents?

We forget sometimes that the infertile are not the only ones that are suffering because of their infertility. Read this email I received, and you’ll see that the would-be grandparents share the pain, even if their coping mechanism leaves something to be desired. Please share you wisdom and experience with this mom.

I have a lovely thirty-two year old, single daughter that was diagnosed with POF about six years ago. How important is it that she is open to discussing, researching and understanding the issue? She totally avoids the subject, and is not interested in the knowledge and plans that I suggest might help her heal and would help her look forward to the next phase of her life. She is just not ready, but she needs to act now.

Boy, parenting is hard and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as our kids age, does it?!?

Everyone deals with a diagnosis of infertility (including premature ovarian failure (POF) or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)) in a different way. Our dreams and thoughts for our future, as well as our basic temperament and coping styles affect how we react. And for some people, who are open to a child-free life or are totally open to adoption, this diagnosis in simply not that devastating. (I should mention that there are other health consequences to premature menopause or early menopause other than infertility that may need to be treated.)

Uniqueness of Coping

I have no idea where your daughter is on the coping continuum. Truthfully, you probably don’t either. It is entirely possible that she is slowly and surely gathering information in her own way and processing what it means for her, but isn’t ready to share it with you. It could be that her primary concern right now is finding a life partner or building her career, and she will deal with the implication of her infertility when those pieces are in place.

Infertility Affects the Whole Family

Something we don’t often talk about is the impact of infertility on the grandparents. As our children grow up and move out on their own, most of us look forward to becoming grandparents. I know I am!

I have spent time dreaming about being a grandmother. Oh, I’m certainly not in any hurry considering the age of my children, but I have every intention of being a kick-butt granny in the future. I would be very sad if that dream was taken away from me.

Perhaps your coping technique for grief and anxiety over this potential loss is to take action. (Again, that is my go-to coping mechanism, so perhaps I’m projecting here.) The problem is that it isn’t your problem to fix. And the fix you might want, may not be the best fix for your daughter.


How did your infertility affect your family? How did your parents react?

Image credit: Tomas Hellberg

16/09/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 11 Comments

11 Responses to Infertility Affects the Whole Family

  1. Avatar Greg says:

    Those who have not experienced infertility do not understand the complexity of how it’s impact. It’s not just a sadness that impacts the couple. It is so much more than that.

    For us it definitely has hit our parents. I know my parents especially my mom are dying to become grandparents. When I was going through my diagnosis my mom was afraid it was her fault being something that she did that caused my infertility because she had thyroid cancer around the time I was born. It turns out that my condition had nothing to do with that but at the time knowing my mom was hurting upset me even more. Even though my condition was something I was born with and there’s nothing I could do I feel like I’ve let our parents down by not being able to give them grandchildren.

    Thank you Dawn for writing about this topic and bringing awareness.

  2. Avatar Maura says:

    My parents have a number of grandchildren (biological) through my siblings. Yet it is still hard for me to see how much my infertility has affected them. I may be 40, but I am still their child and it hurts them to see me in pain. It is hard for them to know how important their children are in their lives and to know I may never experience that. It is much more difficult, however, for my mother in law. She is 79 with no grandchildren. I know she wants to be a grandmother more than anything. At one point I was nervous about her reaction to adoption (we are currently waiting). But she has adapted way better than we anticipated. It hurts me for me and my husband, but I also hurt for my mother in law and the loss she is experiencing.

  3. Avatar AnonAP says:

    This carries over for adoption matches that do not lead to a placement. We had one situation where we were in the hospital and had the privilege of meeting a little girl and seeing a family just at its beginning of adjusting to a new baby, but we went home with the car seat still in the box. The first phone calls we made after we got the call from the SW telling us that the parents had changed their mind on placement was to family. It was wretched to hear their tears and to think of how our parents were feeling. Tears around the country that day, even though everyone also felt that it was a positive thing that a family remained together. Infertility and adoption is a family process on all levels. It’s all about a loss of hope and a grieving for a dream. Hope was in Pandora’s Box for a reason – it’s can be such a positive or such a painful thing.

  4. Avatar Christa says:

    Dawn, I have DOR and will likely have POF. None of my doctors have talked to me about the medical consequences (outside of infertility and miscarriage) of my condition. Can you link me to some information from Creating a Family, or from outside sources. Thanks.

  5. Avatar Connie says:

    I always felt, not exactly guilty, but sad for not giving my parents a grandchild. When we got our match a few weeks ago, my parents were thrilled and I think I cried more telling them then when I got the actual call. They are so in love with our little boy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad act the way he has since the call.

  6. Avatar Dana says:

    Our parents dreams of being future grandparents is one of the things that makes infertility so difficult to deal with. As a parent I don’t think I have any right to expect grandchildren or to feel personal disappointment if they don’t come to be.

    Trust me when I say that many of us who have experienced infertility feel even worse because of the palpable expectation of our parents that we will make them grandparents.

    I’m not sure what the writer of the email means by ‘next phase of her life’ but, honestly, how her daughter chooses to cope with her diagnosis and how she decides to shape her life in the future is really nobody’s business but her own. As a parent, all she can do is to support her daughter and love her unconditionally… sometimes being supportive means not talking about something until the other person is ready and initiates the conversation themselves.

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