Talking to your fertility challenged friends/loved ones 101

Sorry about the plethora of whiney TTC posts. I can’t stand them myself, so this will be the last one for a while. I think I’ll just do updates of the situation where possible from now on.

I’ve been hanging with other ‘infertiles’ on some forums lately and find it strangely comforting in a ‘club’ sort of way. One thread really expressed so much that has been in my heart and head over recent weeks. It was just so timely that I decided to post excerpts below. I’m not directing this to any particular people. It’s purely out there as a beautifully articulate expression of emotion that there’s no way I could ever say anything to match it.


Things that are nice to hear

1. If I’ve told you that I’m having trouble getting pregnant, please ask how it’s going, in a low-key way, from time to time. Just a “What’s new on the baby front” kind of sentence is great. If I don’t feel like responding, don’t push it. But it helps me to know that people are thinking about me and want to know how things are going.

2. Ask me how I’m holding up. This is an even more important question. There’s never any news on the baby front, and even if by some miracle I did manage to get pregnant, I probably wouldn’t tell you about it for three months. But how I’m doing emotionally… it does me so much good to talk about that, and hardly anyone thinks to ask. You’d be a true friend to ask.

Do tell me you think about me, and that you’re pulling for me, or even that you’re praying for me.

3. If such an email or comment sparks me to talk, just listen and be supportive of whatever I’m in the mood to talk about. Don’t be surprised if what I say changes drastically from day to day; that’s what my moods are doing, so my conversation topics probably follow suit.

Things not to say

1. Just relax and it will happen. (Uh, listen, if it didn’t happen when I had a very lean work schedule for 2 years, and it didn’t happen when we took a beach vacation in Jamaica at exactly the right time after my surgery, stress is not a factor. Believe me.)

2. Try to enjoy the process. (Believe me, taking my temperature and peeing on sticks every morning to figure out exactly where I am in my cycle, then having day after day of timed sex in the middle of the week when we’re tired from work and aren’t in the mood, isn’t exactly the same thing as having spontaneous romantic sex. And after, hmm, xx months or so of this not working, it starts to get difficult to even find the motivation to do it all.)

3. My co-worker’s brother’s friend did x and it worked for them. (Chances are, I already tried that, and it didn’t work for me, so thanks for making me feel even worse. This is a tricky one, though, because earlier in this process, I was glad to hear these kinds of things, because it gave me hope that it might work for me, too.)

4. Did you hear that (our mutual friend; your ex-boyfriend’s wife; the koala bear at the zoo; whoever) is pregnant or had their baby? (If I did, and I wanted to talk about it, don’t you think I would have brought it up? If I didn’t, thanks for ruining my week.)

5. Everything happens for a reason. (What reason could there possibly be for going through something this atrocious?)

6. Don’t hold me to any declarations that I’ve made previously. I’ve been anti-IVF up until this point, but now I’m desperate, and I’ve changed my mind. Just accept that. Please don’t try to debate with me about it.

7. Don’t make any judgements on how I’m choosing to handle this. Maybe it’s not what you would do, but you don’t really know that until you’ve been through it. Everyone has to get through it in the best possible way for them.

8. Maybe you’re missing the boat. I’ve got 2 years or so of charting experience. I think I’ve figured it out by now, thanks.

9. “Yeah, I know exactly how you feel. It took 4/5/6/7/8 months to concieve [baby].”

10. Don’t tell me you know everything is going to work out unless you are a psychic or have an inside line to God, because you DON’T know, and your groundless confidence feels dismissive and hollow of the reality I’m living.

If you need to break the news to me that you are pregnant

Try to preface your announcement with “I know this might be kinda hard for you” or “I hope this happens to you too really soon”. Don’t just pretend I’ve never discussed my issues with you.
Understand that, regardless of what my reaction might be, I am very happy for you, especially if you’re a person I care about. Just sad for myself.

1 Comment

  1. Don’t be sorry – I wouldn’t even call your posts whiny. I would have commented before but the only thing I could think to say was that your Mum’s response made me cry (in a nice a way). Sounds like you have a lovely family.

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