Sometimes saying “I’m here” is all you need to do
Infertility is an issue that affects millions of individuals and couples every year. It can leave those of us who have experienced it feeling frustrated, angry, and not in control of our own bodies. For many of us, we try for many years not to get pregnant and think, when we are ready, it will just happen. But it’s not always so easy.
American Greetings has tackled tough issues before — reminding us that there are difficult situations that may benefit from a thoughtful card, too. In their Mother’s Day ad, Tattoo, the company reminded us that Mother’s Day isn’t easy for everyone — particularly those who have lost theirs. Now they are addressing the very real and all too common issue many couples face — infertility.
American Greetings released the video as a part of their #GiveMeaning campaign, this time highlighting the painful issue of infertility. In their video, Not Alone, we follow a couple struggling to conceive. We watch as they throw negative pregnancy tests away, sit through a friend’s baby shower, and attend what are likely endless doctors appointments as they try to cope with the heartbreak of failing to get pregnant.
Towards the end of the video, a friend shows up with a card for her friend that simply says, “I can’t know what you’re feeling. But I’m here for you.” Because sometimes showing up and recognizing what someone else is going through is all that you can do.
According to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, more than seven million people of childbearing age (that’s one in eight couples) in the United States experience infertility. By addressing an experience that touches so many but is often not talked about, American Greetings hopes to inspire more meaningful connections during times when a response is not always instinctive.
According to Psychologist Elizabeth Grill of The Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weil Cornell Medical College, for many couples struggling with infertility, they “no longer feel in control of their bodies or their life plan. Women, men, and couples face loss of perceived control especially over the plans they made and fantasized about throughout their lives related to how and when they would conceive.”
In addition to a loss of self-esteem, many couples face a perceived loss of sexuality, femininity/masculinity, and can feel isolated and alone. To avoid the pain that often comes from questions by loved ones and social celebrations of other people’s children, many infertile individuals and couples tend to withdraw. “The resulting feeling of isolation can significantly affect self-esteem. The infertile individual or couple thus feels different, impaired, and prohibited from being part of a larger, childbearing society,” Dr. Grill warns.
The video reminds us of the importance of reaching out when we know someone is struggling. They may not respond or be ready to open up about what is happening, but knowing they have loved ones who are willing to acknowledge what is happening can mean everything. Show up for your friends — send a card, pick up the phone, go to their house. Do something. Because they are going through something profound and the last thing anyone wants to feel is alone.