I’m a mom to two beautiful and healthy twin toddler boys conceived through modern medicine. While my infertility struggle had a happy ending, I remember vividly how it felt to be in that painful situation of wanting to become pregnant, but not having my body cooperate. Dealing with infertility can lead to a dark and lonely place, and well meaning friends can do more harm than good when they tell you to just “relax and let it happen” or joke that you won’t have to worry about stretch marks. Don’t be the friend who has their heart in the right place but their foot in their mouth. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, here’s what to say to someone dealing with infertility.
Ask what you can do to help. Sure, the actual baby making might not require your assistance, but there may be other things besides talking with us that you can do to show your support. Maybe it’s helping us find a good acupuncturist or picking out the perfect menstrual cup. Or perhaps we could really use a long hike where the chances of running into a pregnant woman or baby are minimal. If you want to be there for someone going through infertility but don’t know how, just ask.
Listen when we want to talk, respect us when we don’t. Sometimes venting about doctor appointments and the exorbitant cost of fertility medications, doctor visits and private adoption will ease some of the stress and tension we’ve been holding onto. However, don’t take it personally if we don’t feel like talking about our infertility at a particular time. We will always appreciate you asking about it, and we also appreciate your understanding if some days we’d rather not discuss it. Menfolk take note- husbands and partners struggle with infertility too, even if the biological troubles at play aren’t theirs. Next time you’re hanging out with your buddy, check in with them to see how he’s handling things, because chances are people forget to ask him.
If you can’t say it, show it. Bring us a cookie/flower/bottle of wine/ insert small indulgence of your choice here. If you are they type of person who has a hard time expressing themselves through words, any small gesture that will let us know you care is appreciated.
Although being a good listener is wonderful, what would be even better is letting us hear from you. Infertility feels so uncertain, with no guaranteed outcome. You can help by saying that our friendship won’t change if we never become a parent. Tell us that even if our lives don’t follow the same path to preschool applications, we will always have a place in each other’s lives.
The theme for this year’s National Infertility Awarness Week is “You Are Not Alone”. Struggling with infertility can feel very isolating. Conveying this message to someone dealing with infertility through your words and actions can be a great comfort during a difficult time.