“It’s not right but, it’s ok”… I was listening to the famous Whitney Houston song and it suddenly brought back a lot of memories… Memories from Secondary School and memories of my journey. You see, the thing is, I’m still on the fertility journey. It’s something I’ve been pondering for so long – “Where do I fit in?” “Am I really still part of the ttc (trying to conceive) community” The answer is Yes! Yes, I am. I want more children and, even if I didn’t, I don’t think that having a child automatically ends my “membership”. I thought about the struggle and the possibility of the struggle ahead and thought “It’s not right but, it is ok…” or at least it will be ok even though I’m creating many folders in my mind to file away information and thoughts.
Ok, so, after having a conversation (messaging) with someone via Instagram, I decided that this would need to be the next post I complete. It’s been in the draft folder since October 2017…
While there is no right or wrong do’s and do not’s, I’m basing my list on my experience and those of people I know.
Here are my do’s and do not’s
- Ignore the challenge. If your friend or family has told you about their journey, please don’t then never mention it as if to say it has miraculously disappeared.
- Minimise the challenge. Saying things like “At least you get to go on holiday without having to worry whether they have a kids club” or “You can sleep as long as you want” is not ok!
- Do not tell them to relax! When you want something so badly and it’s something you have absolutely no control over, the last thing you can do is relax.
- Everyone’s journey is different so please don’t ask whether someone has tried IVF – it’s not the answer to everyone’s problem. And… do you know the cost of one IVF cycle? The NHS are slowly eliminating fertility funding so IVF will now be a financial challenge for many people in the UK.
- Do not tell them that “this time next year” it will be their turn… Your intentions may be pure but, the fertility journey is so unpredictable and it may be in two years, three years or, even ten…
- Please don’t exclude them on Mother’s Day. You’ll be surprised that a card can do so much on a day that brings so much hurt for someone in waiting.
- Do not ask “who has the problem” or “what is the problem”. Some people are diagnosed with some heartbreaking news about why they are having trouble conceiving. The last thing they may want to do is repeat it to everyone. Also, have you heard of unexplained infertility…?
- Avoid phases/sentences which begin with “at least”. I remember a number of people saying “at least you know you can get pregnant” after my 2013 miscarriage. Its. just. not. ok!
- Please do ask if there is anything you can do to support them. When I say support, I’m not necessarily talking about financial support (but, if you can, please do!). I’m talking about emotional support and maybe even research.
- It may not be intentional but, please do keep them up to date with your plans for your family. The last thing they would want to do is keep you from talking about your own plans. With this one, common sense definitely plays a huge part in how to execute so, if in doubt, ask someone or just don’t say anything.
- Listen. Remember the saying ‘less is more’? Sometimes, we just need someone who is going to listen and not necessarily say anything back.
- Ask what she/he needs from you. Your friend may not need anything at that point but knowing that your offer is there, is priceless.
- Learn more about infertility. I’m not recommending you get a degree or doctorate in the topic but a little knowledge about what your friend is going through can help you better understand and have an insight into what they are living with daily.
- Offer to attend events and or appointments with them.
- Offer to go on a lifestyle journey with them. When it comes to trying to conceive and treatment, many people change their lifestyle to prepare their body for what it about to happen. I remember having a jogging partner and it felt so good not to be doing it alone.
- Pray with and for them. I understand that not everyone has faith and I’m not telling you push yours on them. Letting your friend know that you’re saying a prayer for them is comforting. If they do have faith, every once in a while, it’s nice to set some time aside to prayer together. I had a prayer partner that I would pray with daily at 6am and I still have a list of women that I pray for daily.
Ok, I didn’t want the list to be too long so I hope the above helps!
Be Encouraged, Be Expectant
3 thoughts on “How to be a friend to someone on the fertility journey”
Great post! I struggled with Secondary Infertility trying for my 2nd child. We now, have a happy, healthy, thriving and beautiful one year old girl. However, I know I want one more baby to add to our family before our family building is done. I am at that point though where I don’t know where I fit in or where I can find postive support. Secondary Infertility the second time around is so different. Although I am at the very beginning stages of this (really just thinking about adding to our family and not preventing anything from happening naturally, which would be a miracle). However, I feel some of those hidden feelings starting to swelter and I’d love to find someone that understands, is supportive and non-judgemental, and can simply just listen to me vent or talk it out. No matter if you are dealing with primary or secondary infertility I think it’s tough because people who never have dealt with infertility in some way shape or form really don’t know how to respond or be the support we need. These tips are wonderful! Thank you again for sharing!
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Congratulations on your daughter! And, thank you for being so honest. It is really tough because you sometimes get that feeling of “is it ok to say I want another child when others are still trying?” The answer is yes! Infertility is infertility regardless of the stage because the pain is real.
It would be great to connect with you as I too am at the beginning stages. Where are you based? X
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Thank you. It was a long road to meet her, but I am so glad we never gave up in our journey to get there! It wasn’t easy but it was more then worth it! I am an open book when it comes to my infertility struggle and love to connect with other women/couples going through similar struggles. You are completely right, the pain is real and we should be allowed to grieve each month that it doesn’t happen. That grief is a real thing too. The heart wants what it wants, and there is no shutting it off. I am from Eastern Wisconsin and I’d be happy to connect with you. I’m not sure where you are from, so if distance is a factor I’d be happy to be in touch via other social media outlets. Just let me know 🙂