When someone asks me about our infertility situation I am so thankful because it is therapeutic for me to talk about it. I am never offended by someone asking, “So, where are you guys at?” “What are you learning?” or “How have you been feeling about x situation”.
Naturally, many people who haven’t gone through infertility struggle with what to say after I have shared. How do you respond when someone tells you something that’s a bit uncomfortable?
I’ll be the first to admit that I am the WORST at responding to uncomfortable information. My first reaction is to try to make it better for the person. I’ll say, “Well, at least “(insert ‘bright side’ thing here)” or tell a similar story to try to offer some encouraging real-life examples of how other people I know have overcome similar situations. I think it’s human nature to either try to fix it, give advice or offer a positive spin. As a result, I offer grace to those who respond to me this way because I naturally do the exact same thing.
Here’s the approach that I appreciate the most:
Listen. Don’t fix. Acknowledge and offer your support.
Trying to tell the person going through infertility that they’re still young, need to stop thinking about it, should be thankful that they don’t have to deal with screaming children, are not having sex at the right time, not trying hard enough or that a sister’s friend’s cousin is now pregnant may seem like a good idea at the time but it just isn’t super helpful.
Consider the above responses and the fact that a person has gone through: 1,095 infertile days, 36 negative tests, gaining 10pds on a fertility diet, 15(+) pregnancy announcements, over 10 blood tests, 30 appointments, 12 bottles of prenatal vitamins (and counting), endless amounts of herbs and supplements, 7 different doctors, 2 packs of 50 LH strips, invasive testing, 2 BBT thermometers, abnormal test results, awkward husband fertility testing, hundreds of online forums, 36 months of charting and is seriously looking into spending 20k on trying to get pregnant, with the chance that it may never work. The person is seeing their friends & families kids grow up and is realizing that their kids (if they can have any) won’t grow up together as time slips away. They cry about it, plead with God about it and suppress their feelings about it.
People going through infertility go to the doctor for advice and you for a listening ear.
There’s no need to feel pressure to fix, offer the bright side or share stories. In my personal experience, this is the single, most comforting thing someone has said in response:
“I’ll be thinking/praying for you guys! Keep me posted/if you ever want to talk about it I’m here for you.”
Give a hug if you feel like it’s appropriate. My Grandma randomly gave me a hug the other day and it was one of the best things I’ve had someone do in a long time.
If you know someone struggling with infertility, try this approach when you chat with them next time and let me know how it goes!