A woman who had fertility issues offers information and advice on how to help others facing this situation.
Before giving birth to her first child in 2011, El Kouri went through years of treatments and miscarriages. She admits it’s easy to put the wrong foot forward with those struggling with infertility: “To be specific, almost everything I suggest you not say to your infertile loved one, I myself have said and regretted.” Following this relatable, rueful opening, El Kouri offers 22 short chapters outlining ways to support what she terms “ILOs,” or infertile loved ones. Recommendations range from serving as the “secret agent” for the ILO by scoping out and then providing her support at potentially upsetting events (baby showers, etc.); educating yourself on the emotional, logistical, and financial challenges regarding treatments (descriptions of the various procedures, shots, etc. are provided); and being understanding regarding surrogacy, an ILO’s decision to stop trying to get pregnant. She ends each chapter with a “takeaway tip,” usually coaching on what not to say. Her chapter on adoption, for example, concludes by recommending rephrasing “Why don’t you just adopt?” to “Is adoption something you’re interested in?” with the author also noting that “If you feel like you may have strong feelings about adoption, one way or another, that would inhibit your ability to be sensitive and supportive about the issue, consider not bringing it up at all.” El Kouri commendably shares her experiences in developing this pointed, practical support primer on a very sensitive topic. She provides enough detail to demystify medical terms (IVF, IUI, etc.) and wisely refers readers to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association for more information. El Kouri largely focuses on women as ILOs, with male infertility issues only briefly mentioned. Still, her general overview and especially her tips on how to be mindful in deeds and conversation will serve anyone seeking to be more appropriate in these circumstances.
A slim yet insightful sensitivity-training guide.