Last month, we talked about 7 things you shouldn’t say to someone who is struggling with infertility. Jess Frost, blogger of ‘A Heart Full of Frost’, likes to keep an open and honest conversation about infertility in order to help and support other women. After reading many posts about ‘What NOT to say to infertile women’, it sparked the question for her about the things that you CAN say to someone battling infertility. Here are 10 of her suggestions:
10 things you CAN say to someone who is battling infertility
1. “I can’t imagine what that must be like”.
Because it’s true. If you haven’t been through infertility you don’t know the pain that’s associated with it. Just like losing a child, or a loved one, or anything hard, or horrible we go through. If you are battling years of infertility, someone who took 3 months to get pregnant saying ‘I know how you feel’ just is irritating because they don’t.
2. “Can I do anything for you?”
90% of the time, you won’t be able to. But when you are feeling like doing your everyday activities are a struggle, and you’re having a hard time finding something to be happy about, a friend genuinely saying “I don’t know how this feels but I know you are in pain – can I do anything?”… that means a lot.
3. “I love you”
As an infertile woman, sometimes you really don’t love yourself. Your body won’t do what you’ve spent your whole life up until this point thinking it was made to do… so being reminded that you are loved is pretty powerful.
4. Remind them you care
Let them cry on your shoulder. Send them cards or notes. If you are both religious let them know you are praying for them. It’s one of those hard times when there isn’t much you can do but offer support – think about what support you’d offer a friend who lost a loved one.
Someone going through infertility is mourning. Grieving for the child they want so desperately but no matter what they do, can’t have. Any women going through infertility has so much love for this much hoped for child that it’s hard to describe. Just knowing that they have a friend they can count on to be there lifts a heavy burden to know they aren’t alone.
5. Don’t forget them on Mother’s Day
With all of the joy and celebration of mothers day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Christmas and Mothers day are incredibly painful times for infertile women. It’s everywhere! Mothers Day is a beautiful celebration, however it’s so painful for those desperately wanting to be a mother but cannot. Having to silently carry your grief to not ‘ruin’ the mothers day of those you love is a hard thing for a infertile woman to bear.
Let them know you haven’t forgotten them. Not saying “I know you’ll be a mother some day” or “You can mother in other ways” (please don’t say that!) but more like, “this weekend must be really hard, just want you to know I love you and that you are an amazing woman“.
Infertility can be really lonely. Let them vent, cry, talk – as much as they need. Also respect when they don’t want to talk about it. Caring questions about how things are going are a genuine show of concern but if the question is answered short and quickly, move on and don’t continue with probing questions. She might be doing all she can to hold it together because she really doesn’t want to talk about it today.
7. Support Their Decisions
Whether that means the type of treatment, stopping treatments, no treatment. No-one can endure all that comes with fertility treatments forever and at some point, a very hard decision about stopping will come. This will come with a grieving process and if they make that hard choice, support them and don’t try to change their mind.
8. Hope with them.
Don’t pull out your crystal ball and say “I know it’ll happen soon“. Tell them “I hope it happens for you soon“.
9. Keep inviting them to family / friend events
Don’t not invite them to your baby shower or birthday party (etc etc) because you think it might be too painful. That only further isolates them. Infertility is full of ups ad downs and only they can know if they can cope that day. Even if they are having a hard time they still love you and your baby and want to celebrate with you. They might say no 9 times out of 10 but continuing to invite them shows that you still want to share your life with them.
10. “That sucks”
Because it does! When it feels like every other person you know in the world with a uterus is able to have a baby when they want… it sucks! It’s nice to have other people acknowledge that fact once in awhile.
And if in doubt: “I have no idea what to say, but I love you and am here for you.”
Jess Frost originally wrote this article in May 2013 on her blog: aheartfulloffrost.com