How many times when you’ve expressed sadness or frustration over your infertility struggles, have you heard “don’t worry, it will happen for you someday” or “I just know this is the month you’ll get pregnant”. Our friends and family are trying to be supportive, but does this infertility cheerleading help or hurt?
Positive Thinking Can Be So Darn Annoying
There is a fine line between being supportive and being dismissive. I know that most people who say they feel certain that you will eventually get pregnant mean to be supportive, but too much cheerleading can leave you feeling as if there is no room for grief or fear. All this positivity can leave you feeling very alone.
I suppose this is true for many diseases, but cheerleading seems to happen a lot in infertility. Maybe it’s because infertility, and especially the grief associated with infertility, is so little understood by those who have not experienced it. Or maybe I’m just exposed to this forced positive thinking in infertility more than in other diseases, like diabetes or cancer, since this is the world in which I live and work.
Uniqueness of Coping
Every human copes with grief and uncertainty differently. Some surround themselves with the positive, while others guard their heart from too much hope. Still others approach their diagnosis analytically gauging their level of hope or grief based on their statistical odds of success. All of these coping techniques are real, all are valid.
I loved what one of our Creating a Family Facebook Support Group had to say.
I have been through IVF [in vitro fertilization], DE IVF [donor egg IVF], and am now in the early stages of the adoption process. Once on a fertility board, in response to a post, a moderator asked others not to respond to me and others in similar situations by saying “it will happen for you someday” because the reality was that for some of us it would never happen. I found that comment to be surprisingly freeing. It acknowledged that all of the cheerleading in the world could not guarantee that my dreams would come though and, thereby, helped validate my grief.
We need to stress that infertility is a disease. I think the general public does not truly understand that. And, like other diseases, some people will beat it and some will need to learn to live with it. Staying positive may help people to keep striving towards a positive outcome, but it in no way guarantees success.
Those of us who have been dealing with treatments for awhile learn to be more realistic about the chances of it working and when we express our realistic expectations, we are often met with comments of, “You need to be more positive!’, and “I just KNOW it will work next time.” No one knows if it will work next time, and while we understand that our family members and friends have the best intentions, it’s hard to hear that when we are struggling with so many conflicting emotions ourselves.
We are hopeful it will work but also need to guard our hearts and be realistic about the statistical probability we are faced with given our specific circumstances. It’s all a balancing act and the bottom line is that each person dealing with this has a right to feel the emotions they are feeling at the time they are feeling them.
Do you find infertility cheerleading and expressions of hope for your eventual success with infertility treatment helpful or do they drive you crazy. What’s your coping technique for fertility treatments: stay positive, guard your heart, analytical, or other?Image credit: raleighdurham.about.com (You have no idea how hard it is to find a picture of a cheerleader that doesn’t look like it came out of Playboy Magazine! Boy, did I feel like a prude!)