The theme of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week is Start Asking. When I first heard this, I was a bit confused.
Start asking what? Start asking whom?
The RESOLVE #StartAsking web page suggests a wide variety of questions. We could ask our employers for health insurance coverage, our friends and family to support us, or the media to cover infertility, just to name a few.
These are all important questions that could be blog posts in themselves. However, I came up with something different.
What about asking each other?
Asking each other how we’re doing. How we’re coping with whatever it is that we’re challenged with.
And then just listening to what is said – stopping short of offering advice. We hear time and time again that advice is not always what’s needed. What about “I’m sorry you’re going through this. What can I do to help?”
Think about the last time you asked how someone was doing and they mentioned a challenge, an illness, or said they were just feeling a little down.
Did you hear what they were really saying? How they were feeling?
More importantly, did you follow up to see how things were going?
We are so “busy” these days. We might discuss the tough times in life, but leave it at that. Why don’t we follow up and ask how someone is doing since we last spoke? I think we get too crazed in our daily lives that we forget. Or we think our loved ones are okay simply because we already talked about it.
I’m guilty of this.
An extended family member who endured a miscarriage, the birth of her daughter, a stillbirth, and another miscarriage disclosed that she was pregnant again. This family member did not live near me, so we communicated via email. She expressed the anguish of having lost multiple babies, the effect it had on her daughter, the emotional trauma of recurrent pregnancy loss, and a physically challenging pregnancy.
I empathized with her, we talked it out, and I reiterated that I was available to talk whenever needed.
The days and months began ticking by, and I didn’t follow up. I got caught up in my life. I eventually did check back in, and all was going well in the home stretch of her pregnancy, but I regret not having followed up sooner.
Despite experiencing infertility myself, and being a counselor, I sometimes miss the mark.
Infertility has allowed me to be more empathetic in general, but I’ve sometimes fallen into the trap of not following up and asking. It can make such a difference to those who are in pain, and those who share their stories with us to know that we care.
We know we care, but do others?
Who might be struggling that you can check in with right now?