“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