In my mom’s group today a woman asked for advice on what to say to someone who’s experiencing infertility which gave me the idea to write this blog. While I can only speak from my point of view, I’m hoping some of the stuff in here may help you when talking to someone going through fertility treatments.
Since I’ve opened up about my struggles with infertility and our journey to adoption I’ve heard from quite a few people who admitted they’re seeking fertility help. In fact, I think I know more people who are either trying to/or have conceived via fertility treatments than those who had natural conception. So why does no one talk about it? I’m sure there are many reasons people don’t talk about it but here’s what I could come up with (some of which applied to me in the beginning):
- It’s very personal – not everyone is open to talking about what comes with fertility, including having sex, male and female reproductive parts and issues.
- It’s embarrassing – people are supposed to procreate so when you can’t, you feel like something’s wrong with you.
- You probably want to surprise people with your pregnancy – I recently found football bibs I’d bought over 4 years ago when Chris and I started trying as that’s what I was going to give to him when I found out we were pregnant. Well, all my ideas for surprising Chris and our families went out the window after year 1 and people close to us knew every time we went for a treatment.
- You don’t want people constantly asking how your treatments are going – especially since most people wait until they’re past the 12 week mark to make their announcement.
- What if work treats you differently knowing you’re trying to have a kid? What if they don’t put you on big projects because of it?
- You don’t want to get other people’s hopes up – during our adoption journey, I finally asked our parents if they wanted to join us for our rollercoaster ride or wait to tell them anything until it was over, i.e., we had been matched. In our case, they both wanted to join us for the ride but we were very clear there would be a lot of ups and downs along the way.
I’m sure there are a lot more reasons but that’s all I could come up with this afternoon. In my instance, I’m probably too open and my husband is very private. This resulted in me telling quite a few people and talking about it a lot and my husband telling less than a handful and rarely talking about it.
So what if you know someone going through fertility issues? What can you say to them? Again, this will vary depending on the person but below are what I found helpful (and what I didn’t find so helpful).
- Just under a year ago I had a girls weekend with my mom and she admitted that she never knew what to say to Chris and I. I think this was one of the best lines I could have heard. The thought is there without trying to come up with the right piece of advice.
- Be honest. In my case, my worst fear was a friend/family member not telling me they were pregnant in case they hurt my feelings. This never happened to me but I always feared it would or that I’d hear through the news through somebody else.
- Acknowledge something like a baby shower might be hard on them but you’re really glad they came. (Or if your friend finds it too painful to attend, let them know that’s ok too).
- Ask how they’re doing and leave it up to them if they want to give you details. Trust me, if someone wants to talk about what they’re going through, they will.
So, maybe not the best to say:
- As soon as you stop thinking about it/trying, it will happen. Guess what? Easier said than done! You NEVER stop thinking about it/trying – it will always be in the back of your mind. Sometimes you think you’re not trying but it’s not until you’re at the stage where you finally have your bundle of joy that you realize how free you are from not trying anymore.
- Those fertility drugs are making you crazy. Definitely NEVER say this. Ok, so this one’s more for those hubbies out there.
- Oh you’re not drinking, are you pregnant? Lots of people don’t drink when they’re trying to conceive, esp. when on fertility drugs.
- Don’t assume things like a baby shower are hard for people going through infertility. You both have the same goals in mind, some people’s just take longer to come true but seeing others around them become parents can provide hope and joy.
- Have you tried……..? The answer will usually be YES. While you can share stories of friends conceiving through acupuncture, naturopaths, etc. the person going through it has probably already explored all the options they’re comfortable with and spent tons of money in the process.
Overall, everyone goes through something difficult in their life whether it be infertility, an illness, or some type of loss and in the end they’ll talk to those they’re close with and who will be positive supports. All you can really do is listen, be supportive and stay positive and hopefully you’ll be one of the people getting the ‘good news’ call very soon!