Don’t worry, it’ll happen.
I hear that when you’re anxious you can’t get pregnant, and as soon as you manage the anxiety you’ll be pregnant.
You should just relax.
I have this friend who had this friend who _____________ (fill in the blank with a diet, a doctor, a magic herb or supplement) and then she got pregnant!
Have you tried…?
The phrases above are quite simply exactly what your friend DOES NOT need to hear. Unsolicited advice is annoying at the best of times. When we’re feeling at all fragile and vulnerable, it’s downright offensive.
Here’s when it’s OK to offer advice: when your friend comes to you and says, “Dan and I are having trouble getting pregnant. Do you have any advice?” If you don’t hear those words, or a variation thereof, keep your advice to yourself.
Here are some things that you should be aware of for people who are facing infertility. First off, they are not a homogeneous group. Not every woman facing infertility will think about it, react to it, or deal with it in one particular way. These women have varied careers, values, morals, and interests. To treat them as a homogeneous group lumps them all together with infertility being the defining characteristic of their identity.
What does your friend NEED to hear?
DO offer something along the lines of, “I’m so sorry. This sucks.” And then pause. Wait.
DO get comfortable with the silence and don’t try to distract by jumping to a new topic.
DO ask if there’s anything they need and support them like you would at any other time. Go to a movie or for dinner. Go for a walk. Chat on the phone. Don’t let it alter your friendship. Now, more than ever, your friend needs to know you’re around and available.
DON’T stop inviting them to kids’ birthday parties and baby showers and other gatherings. They don’t want to feel like a leper or a pariah. If it’s going to be too difficult for them, they need to have the opportunity to make that decision, not you.
DO remember that your friend who is on the bumpy path of infertility has appointments, procedures, injections, and a whole range of obligations that you may not be aware of. Don’t ignore it and pretend it’s not happening.
DO ask if they want to talk about it.
DO listen and remember when different tests and procedures are coming up. It can be a very isolating time.
DO take some time to read some blogs or articles about infertility so you have some knowledge about what’s happening for your friend.
Most of all, DO be a good friend. Be ready for tears, laughter, long talks, and periods of silence. Be inclusive, be thoughtful, and consistently demonstrate that you’re there through thick and thin. Your unwavering support will be the balm they need to navigate the emotional roller coaster of facing fertility challenges.