As the age old rhyme goes…’first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.” From a young age, that is the pattern I thought my life would follow.
Sadly, that was not the pattern of my life, nor is it for many other women struggling with infertility. Instead, came years of sadness, disappointment, and stacks of medical bills trying to have that ‘baby in a baby carriage.’ Luckily, that all changed for my husband and I when we got the surprise of a lifetime that we were pregnant (you can read more on my personal journey here). We welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world in July 2015.
The statistics on infertility are staggering. According to The National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples are diagnosed with some form of infertility. It can also come in different forms for couples, leaving no struggle exactly the same. Chances are, there is someone in your life who has struggled or is currently struggling to have a child.
Struggling to get pregnant is an emotional, physical and financial roller coaster that no one is prepared for. The process itself can be long, stressful and alienating. Yet for me, as crazy as it sounds, I wouldn’t take my journey to motherhood back. I learned so much about myself, infertility in general, and how others can help (and hinder) the process. During that time, I had some amazingly supportive moments, and some that left me in tears.
Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to supporting a friend who is struggling to get pregnant:
-DON’T offer unsolicited advice. Hearing ‘what if you just relax?’ or ‘do you think it is just mind over matter?’ is extremely hurtful (and let’s be honest, somewhat ignorant…if it were that simple we would be all set already!).
– DON’T tell a story about your sister’s friend’s neighbor’s dog groomer who tried for nine years and finally got pregnant. As great as it is for that person, it doesn’t make your friend feel better.
-DON’T say you understand what your friend is going through. It’s very realistic that she has been on many medications, had multiple forms of injections, attended weekly doctors appointments and has had endless negative pregnancy tests. And even if you have dealt with your own fertility issues, proceed with caution to see if she is open to hearing your story.
-DON’T be offended if your friends declines a baby shower invite, or isn’t the first to congratulate you on your pregnancy. It’s not that she isn’t excited for you, it’s just another reminder to her of what she doesn’t have. Give her time, she will come around when she is comfortable.
-DO take the time to listen. Wipe away tears and give hugs, and just listen to what your friends has to say.
-DO keep her feelings in mind when you are talking about your kids and/or pregnancy. Hearing you complain about something she would do anything to have can sometimes be too much to handle.
-DO continue to be there just the same as you were before you knew she was struggling to get pregnant. The process can leave a woman feeling alone, so keeping up with book club/girls night/whatever can give her a sense of normalcy.
-DO be there for her, but understand when she isn’t ready to talk. Just knowing you are there if she needs you is an amazing feeling.
Dealing with infertility is tough, but having amazing and supportive friends can make even the hardest days tolerable.