Sometimes it’s hard to find words to support your friend who’s struggling with infertility. But it’s also important to keep in mind the things not to say to your infertile friend.
what infertility feels like
I sat on the edge of the bathtub, staring at the pregnancy test in my hand, willing for the little blue test line to appear. I watched the tiny little wave creep towards the test line. Five seconds later, the control line was visible and was turning darker.
There was only one line, which meant the pregnancy test was negative. Again. “I’ll put it down and check back in a few minutes. Maybe it’ll show up then”. A few minutes later, the second line was still not there. Not even a trace.
“Well, maybe it’s still early, and the hormones aren’t strong enough to show up on the test,” I thought, just as I did the month before. “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
The next day, I didn’t get to take another test. My cycle started, and I was devastated, all over again. It felt like month after month, my heart was breaking. Every month for years I sat on the bathroom floor, grieving the baby that would have been.
For a while, I was quiet about my struggles. I didn’t talk about the pain I was going through. My friends didn’t know that when I came to their baby showers, I spent 10 minutes in the bathroom trying to fan my face so that the redness in my eyes would subside, and they wouldn’t notice that I had been crying.
Eventually, friends and relatives found out that we were having a hard time conceiving. Well-meaning words, advice, and light-hearted comments started to pour in.
They truly meant well. What they didn’t know was they were stirring up the feelings of pain I was trying to hide inside.
things not to say to your infertile friend
Every woman who is struggling with infertility wants the pain to go away. Some comments she hears only make the pain worse. It’s not just about infertility etiquette, it’s about the raw feelings she is experiencing.
If you want to offer advice to someone who is struggling with infertility, keep in mind these things not to say to your infertile friend.
- “Enjoy your freedom while you have it, I haven’t slept longer than 2 hours at a time for three years” – Your infertile friend wants to experience what it’s like to hear the cries of her own child, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
- “You’re so lucky you don’t have to deal with night feedings, teething, potty training, etc.” – You’re the lucky one because you get to experience all those things.
- “My aunt tried for 21 years, and she finally has her golden child.” This, along with “People can have kids in their sixties nowadays.” – She doesn’t want to have kids in her sixties. She wants them now, when she’s full of energy. She wants to see her grandkids grow up, too.
- “Have you tried tracking your fertile days?” – Yes, she has. She’s tracking her fertile days, her body temp, the softness of her cervix, and much more than she ever thought she’d need to track.
- “I thought you didn’t have plans last Saturday. Why didn’t you come to my baby shower?” – She loves you and supports you. She didn’t come because she spent half the day talking herself into getting in the car, but she just couldn’t stop crying. She isn’t jealous, she is very happy for you. It’s just that after years of negative pregnancy tests, it hurts too much to see all the baby things.
- “There’s always adoption.” – Yes, she knows. But the hope she has for plan A to work out is still alive.
- “I have the opposite problem! I get pregnant every time I smile at my husband!” – She is very happy that you don’t have to go through the pain she is going through. But her heart just broke a little more.
- “Maybe it’s just not meant to be.” – Maybe. But she’s not ready to accept that yet. She will keep trying as long as she still has hope.
- “Have you tested for problems?” – Yes, she has. There may be something different with the way her body works. Or her husband’s body. But she doesn’t want to talk about it. It may be too raw.
- “I know how you feel. It took us three months to get pregnant with our second.” – She wishes it took her three months to get pregnant.
- “You should be thankful for what you do have.” – She is very grateful for what she has. But she still has hope to get what she doesn’t yet have.
- “At least it’s infertility and not a serious disease.” – You’re right, she’s not seriously sick. But she still feels like she’s broken.
- “Trying to conceive is the fun part.” – Planning around your most fertile days and making appointments with the husband is not fun. Spontaneity is fun.
- “Maybe it’s a sign you should stop trying.” – If you are fighting for something that is super important to you, she hopes you never hear those words in your direction.
- “So what’s next?” – She doesn’t know what’s next. She’s taking it one day at a time. And even if she does have a plan B, she’s still holding on to plan A, and praying for it to work out.
So after all those examples of what not to say to your infertile friend, what can you actually say without hurting her even more? How can you support her?
things you can say to your infertile friend
It’s really simple. Don’t try too hard to make her feel better. You may make it worse. Just open up the door to your hurting friend.
“I’m here if you need to talk.”
“I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”
“I’m thinking of you and praying for you.”
This is all she needs from you. She needs your support, your prayers, your willingness to listen without offering advice she didn’t ask for, and your shoulder to cry on.
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