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How to support a loved one going through infertility

If you know someone who is struggling to conceive, consider how you could walk alongside this person. What would this friend or member need? Maybe it's time and space to process, maybe it's a listening ear, or maybe it's a funny cat video on a depressing day.

how to help someone going through infertility

My husband and I tried for two years without success to get pregnant.

After almost a year of testing and depleting much of our bank account to determine the cause of our difficulty—insurance usually doesn't cover expenses related to infertility testing—we finally got a medical diagnosis: infertility.

The entire three year process spent discovering we were infertile was a crushing blow to endure. We didn't know what to do or how to proceed. At the time, we didn't know anybody who had experienced a similar situation and, to top it off, many of our friends were popping out babies like pros. It seemed like every day we were bombarded with pregnancy announcements, ultrasound pictures, pregnant bellies and tiny babies.

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The experience left us feeling isolated. We withdrew to process our own grief. Even birthday parties and baptisms for our family members became painful. My husband and I are godparents to our sweet nephew, and thirty minutes before his baptism, I found myself sobbing and puking into a toilet in the church's bathroom. I was so gripped by grief that I'd never have my own baby to baptize.

Baby showers became simply off limits. I took a year-long social media hiatus to distance myself from the reminders that I'd never get to experience the excitement of the first ultrasound and make a clever announcement of our expectant bundle of joy. Some would call my behavior selfish. I was coping, and these were my survival skills. It's silly to think that a person would not be impacted in some way by the news of infertility, of never being able to conceive.

Chances are, someone in your social circle is struggling with this. Studies show that, “Close to one in six U.S. couples don't get pregnant despite a year of trying—after which doctors typically recommend evaluation for infertility."

My husband and I struggled quietly and carried the load by ourselves for nearly two years. We endured negative pregnancy tests each month and a barrage of medical testing on our own as we struggled to accept our assumed infertility. You may not know for certain if one of your friends or family members is struggling with infertility, but you probably have a hunch. Once we mustered up the courage to share the news about our infertility with those close to us, many commented they suspected we'd been struggling with this.

Whether you know for a fact, or you simply believe that someone close to you may be struggling with infertility, there are things you can do to help folks walking this precarious road:

1. If you have kids, or are expecting, try to curb the kid and pregnancy talk around your infertile friend or family member.

I once sat at a table with a few female friends who swapped breastfeeding stories for an hour. I literally had nothing to contribute to the conversation. I quietly picked at my muffin and tried to think of funny things to say while they yammered about latching and lactation. I didn't want to be a drain on the conversation, so I just withdrew in order to avoid making the awkward announcement that my boobs weren't made for pumping.

The process of accepting infertility is similar to processing the loss of a loved one. In the book On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross breaks down the grief process into stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If you can, try and stick to conversation topics to which everyone can contribute.

2. Give permission to skip gender reveals, baby showers, birthday parties, etc.

While we were still processing our infertility, and before we went public with the news, I skipped almost all baby-centered events. I missed baby showers for two of my long-time best friends. There were a few family get-togethers with a strong presence of children that I just couldn't avoid, so I popped in, got a little tipsy, or binged on cake to help numb the pain, and then headed to my car to ugly-cry before driving away. Dragging out the whole ordeal for no more than an hour.

I didn't have the courage to tell my friends and family why I didn't attend their baby shower, or stay long at their kid's birthday party. I was still in the early stages of processing my grief. As a result, many of my relationships with expectant and new mothers were strained.

You can certainly extend an invitation to help this friend or family member to feel included. But understand that absence from these events may be a way your friend or family member guards a vulnerable heart. While these events are joyful, they're also a reminder of milestones that will never be. Your friend or family member will eventually be able to attend these events, but it'll likely always be difficult. Their attendance may be sporadic and brief. Try to be understanding of this.

3. Allow them to talk about infertility in his or her own time, and then just listen.

Withhold advice, especially if you've never experienced infertility yourself. Advice that comes from a place of inexperience can be conveyed as insensitivity. During a meeting with our life insurance agent at the early stages of our infertility, he asked if we were ever planning on having kids. We said we hoped to and were trying. He responded casually with, “It's not that hard!" I wanted to ask him to give me a picture tutorial of how to conceive, but I refrained.

After learning that we were struggling to get pregnant, a colleague once said, “You're trying too hard. Just relax, and it'll happen!" Again, I thought of replying with snark—by inviting that person over to help me relax before sex, maybe give me a pre-sex massage or something, but I didn't because while these comments angered me, they mostly made me feel ashamed. I was ashamed that my husband and I couldn't do what our bodies were basically designed to do. Because these people never experienced infertility on a personal level, the comments came off as insensitive.

If you know someone who is struggling to conceive, consider how you could walk alongside this person. What would this friend or member need? Maybe it's time and space to process, maybe it's a listening ear, or maybe it's a funny cat video on a depressing day.

Reaching out to someone who is walking the lonely road of infertility might take some effort and education on your part, but I'm learning that the most meaningful relationships are the ones that require us to work hard.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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