7 ways to support someone on a difficult fertility journey

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com
  1. Be there. 

Check in on your friend often to see how they are doing. A fertility journey which isn’t going to plan is the loneliest of places. Let them know that you are thinking of them and are rooting for them.

  1. Don’t make promises. 

Avoid saying things like “it’ll happen when you least expect it/when you stop thinking about it/you’ll be pregnant by next Christmas”. You don’t know any of that, and it is undermining and belittling the very real fears that your friend is experiencing.

  1. Look into what your friend is going through. 

There are so many routes to parenthood, each one with its own set of trials, tribulations, heartaches, joys, stresses and acronyms. If your friend has shared with you some of what they are going through, do a bit of googling to give yourself a better understanding of what their journey looks like right now. 

  1. Don’t, for the love of God, give advice, unless your friend has specifically asked for it. 

Your friend will have spent a LOT more time than you, researching what is happening to them and what their options and next steps are. They do NOT need someone to say “have you tried…?” because believe me, for a woman who is desperate to conceive, they have tried pretty much everything out there. 

  1. In reference to the above, try to be supportive of anything they are trying, regardless of how ludicrous it may seem to you. 

When science fails, hope is what you cling to, so whether your friend has a new diet, has given up caffeine or sugar or alcohol, obsessively takes a different range of supplements each month or has a new belief in the healing power of crystals….just go with it. What harm will it do you? In the long run, your unwavering support will be what she remembers.

  1. Check in on your friend on days which are likely to be especially difficult. 

Here are some examples of days which are likely to be difficult for someone who is going through a difficult fertility journey:

-birthdays

-Christmas

-Mothers day/Fathers day

-other peoples pregnancy announcements

-the arrival of other peoples babies

-weddings

-christenings

  1. Pregnancy announcements. 

One of the most painful triggers for anyone who has difficulties conceiving. Alas, the world keeps on turning, and pregnancy announcements will keep on coming. The best you can do is be as sensitive as possible, and acknowledge that this will be incredibly difficult for your friend. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid surprise announcements, particularly in a big group
  • If possible and appropriate, try to tell your friend before other people, particularly before the news leaks via other friends or colleagues
  • While instinct tells you that face to face is better, consider whether it would be kinder to deliver the news to your friend via text, so that she has time to deal with it on her own, in the safety of her own home. 
  • Remember that your friend is allowed to experience conflicting emotions all in one go. Just because she is desperately sad for herself does not mean she is not happy for you. 
  • With this in mind, try to understand if she is not able to join in with various celebrations. Even better, tell her from the offset that this is OK.
  • If you are planning on announcing your pregnancy on social media, try to give your friend warning of this, and don’t be offended if, to protect her own heart, she needs to mute you for a while.

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