If you think you don't have friends struggling with fertility, you just don't know the truth... because, trust me, you do. I've had a number of friends face fertility challenges, including a couple of my most favorite people. It sucks, no matter what the issue may be. Some just took longer than they thought to get pregnant, a couple were lucky after taking some drugs to kick start their efforts, and then there are a few who have gone down the road of IVF and more. Some have been successful, others have not. And as my friends struggled I had three healthy pregnancies, one even that was a huge surprise.
I feel the void that they feel as our family has rapidly grown with very little effort. It's incredibly unfair. It makes me sick that it's just luck. Dumb luck. And I'd by lying if I didn't think "why couldn't it be them?" when I found out I was pregnant with A. Seriously.
I've cried when reading text messages about miscarriage and unsuccessful attempts from a friend I know couldn't bear to have to speak the news to me. It's heart breaking. All of it.
People, you never know who might be dealing with fertility issues. So, do me a favor and keep your mouth shut. Don't ask people when they're going to have children (I'm looking at you, nosy old ladies) or go overboard in telling them how amazing it is to have children (trust me, they know).
So, while those are some pretty obvious things that you should not do. Here is a list of ways you can be supportive of friends dealing with infertility:
1. Don't Make Assumptions: It's really easy to make assumptions about what friends who are struggling with fertility issues will and will not want to do with your family. Don't jump to conclusions. An invitation to your child's first birthday party may feel like the worst thing you can subject them to, but extend the invitation with the understanding that you get it if they choose to pass.
2. It's Not About You. Your friends pass on your child's birthday party invitation? Don't want to come to your house for trick-or-treating? Seem a little distant? Get over it. It's not about you.
3. Don't Ask. Don't text every month to check in around ovulation time. Don't ask for an update every time you see her. If they want to discuss it, trust me, it will come up. Ask "how is everything," which is a good way to allow them to talk about the awesome soup they made for dinner last night or pull out a box of tissues and sit down for a heart to heart. You open the door, it's their choice to walk in or close it.
4. Do Tell. You're pregnant? Give them a call and let them know. Find a way to discuss with them before you invite them to the dinner with your 20 closest friends to make a grand announcement. Or just don't do that. I bet your friendship is more important in the long run. And do tell them about things going on with your kids. They're interested in your life and your kids, because they're your friend. Not talking about your own kids is like an elephant walking into the room. Just be thoughtful in how you approach it.
5. Be Positive. Don't ask what they're going to do if they don't end up delivering a child. As long as they are on this road, you're on it too. Let them determine the alternative routes. They already are a family, the same as you... Just minus the minis... for now. They don't need your opinion on their next steps. Unless they ask for it.
I'm no expert. I have no certification. But, I think I'm a pretty good friend and one of my strengths lies in my ability to read people and what they need. So, take my advice or leave it. And, better yet, comment with your own advice.
And, to my friends who have struggled and continue to struggle with fertility, I've never wanted anything as much as I've wanted you to be successful, because I know it's important to you. I hope I'm not a huge idiot in giving advice to others. I hope I've been a good friend to you. And I'm so honored you've held me in confidence and friendship on your journeys.
This post was inspired by The Blossom Method’s You Never Know campaign. My participation is voluntary and I have not received any financial compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The Blossom Method is a therapy practice offering support, community, comfort and hope to women and couples experiencing issues related to infertility, pregnancy loss, genetic complications, pelvic disorders, NICU preemies and postpartum depression.
Phone: 312.854.0061, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.blossommethod.com