Friendships and Infertility




I have a wonderful group of mom friends here in Columbus, they are so special to me!  For some of my dearest friends conceiving their children was a long road.  I am grateful that my friends have opened up about their journey. They have opened my eyes to a different side of pregnancy.

I never knew the depth of infertility until after I became a mom. It wasn’t until I had other mom friends that I learn about the real struggles so many go through to conceive a child. I was naive to the struggles that some endure. Navigating friendships and infertility can be delicate at times. For myself, I have never been through the infertility journey, but I found myself searching for ways to support friends and family. When my friends and I would have conversations about pregnancy, I often times found myself yearning to help. I wanted to make sure I said the right things and be present for them. I so wanted to be in their court but didn’t know the best way to go about it. 

I turned to some of these women who have lived the infertility journey. I interviewed them to gain an honest and truthful insight to their heart during their fertility struggles.  They were so wonderful to be so open and honest with their responses.

Questions #1

What are some supportive things to say or do?

“One of my best friends found herself completely clueless on how to best support me. One thing that she did was to research and become familiar with what I was experiencing, as she did not go through infertility. If I brought up a procedure I was going to have or a test result I had received, she found out as much as she could. I think her research helped her fill in the gaps of things that I did not say or did not think to say. She did not research to give me advice, as most of the time she just listened to me pour the hurt out of my heart. She simply learned more about infertility, specifically the details of my own personal struggle,  just simply to understand.” ~M. 

“Listen. A lot of times I just wanted to vent. Having someone willing to listen to me was an amazing outlet.” ~K.

“Just Listen. You don’t have to fix it or even share your story as a friend helping another friend through fertility. Just be there and listen and let her own every feeling that she has.” ~H. 39

The only thing that gave me some comfort was hearing about other people having the same issues…but even that wasn’t always great. “~K

I didn’t mind talking about our experience but would really only talk about it if people asked. It’s all about the waiting game, so it was nice of friends to check in on me and see how I was doing. I did 9 rounds of IUI and one round of IVF. I ended up having twins a boy and a girl after about 2 years of trying. My wife processed things differently she was really sad and would get anxious throughout it all. I looked at it as a journey, that in some way shape or form I would have a baby in my life. Whether that was through adoption or biologically having one. There are so many options. I stayed positive and looked at each negative as a day to embrace being just us because that would change one day. Oh my how it’s changed.”~J

Question #2

What should you not say?

“Definitely avoid saying anything that tries to minimize their pain. Many times during our struggle, people would try to comfort me by suggesting I enjoy the perks of being childfree (sleeping in, having more freedom to travel, spending more time with my husband, etc.). Those comments are simply not helpful. I promise your friend/family friend is already aware of what she will be giving up if she becomes a mom and is more than willing to trade the childfree benefits for motherhood.  Also, do not say things could be worse. For your loved one experiencing infertility, this could be the worst thing she has ever experienced. Even so, there is no one who can really judge a difficult situation for being worse than another. When someone would say this to me, it would make me feel guilty for feeling sad and that is definitely not what I needed. People struggling with infertility are probably well aware of their blessings, but they still need to grieve and feel the hurt and loss that comes with infertility.” ~ M. 

“Everyone knows someone who struggled getting pregnant, got pregnant via IVF and then had a miracle baby with no fertility drugs. While that’s awesome, that was the absolute last thing I wanted to hear.” ~K. 

It’ll happen … or you can always adopt … “~ H. 

“Stories about what other people went through, stories about miscarriages at 30 weeks or trying IVF 7 times and it being unsuccessful, made me crazy. I felt like I just needed positive vibes.” ~J.

Everything happens for a reason, It will happen when it’s meant to happen, Relax and it will happen, and the thing I hated hearing the most: ‘Well, it’s fun trying!’ (no, it’s not fun at all when doctors are involved).  I also hated hearing ‘So, have you thought about adoption?’ – Adoption is a great choice for many couples, but when you are in the thick of trying to get pregnant, it’s not something you want to hear.”~K.

Question #3

When a friend or a family member does get pregnant, what is the best way to approach talking about it when you are struggling?

“Before sharing your joyful news, understand that your friend/family member will be happy for you, but she will also feel grief. Be mindful to share with your friend in a private manner. The worst thing you can do is to announce on social media before having a one on one conversation with your loved one who is struggling with infertility. Don’t exclude your friend from celebrating your pregnancy, but be sure to express understanding if she chooses to decline. My best friend and I became pregnant around the same time, but my pregnancy ended in miscarriage. When it came time for her baby shower, we had a conversation about how I was feeling and she suggested we have dinner together with a couple of mutual friends. It was easier for me to just be around a few friends, as we showered our pregnant friend with gifts. She made sure that I knew I was welcome at her official baby shower but expressed that she would understand if I was uncomfortable. For me, I sincerely just did not want to dampen the joy of the day and the idea of faking a smile the entire time around a large group of people, some I had never met before or did not know well, sounded emotionally draining.” M. 
“I preferred to be told about pregnancies via text. That way I could process alone and then respond when I was ready.” ~K.
It depends on the relationship. I was angry with those who got pregnant while I was trying so hard. I didn’t want to attend showers etc. But I didn’t want people to hide things or dance around the issue either. It is all part of the process …” ~H. 
 Question #4


How can you be an overall good friend during this difficult time in a couples life?

 “I think it is important to understand that infertility can be a long battle and your loved one may need you for a really long time. It can take years for a couple to either conceive, choose to adopt or decide to live childfree. Even if a loved one finally does conceive and has the child they want, some of the pain of infertility may remain. It can come in the form of debt, as battles to fight infertility can be quite expensive or it can just be a lingering grief that never quite goes away. Even though I now have two beautiful children, I am reminded of my infertility anytime I hear of someone getting pregnant on accident or simply by just trying. I will never know what that is like and it sometimes is hard to accept. A person’s grief may fade awhile, but return when they want to grow their family. For my husband and me, having another child will once again be another infertility battle. Even though I have fought this fight before, I will still need the same support and love from my friends.” M. 
“If you haven’t personally experienced infertility I think the best approach is to be honest. Tell them you don’t know what they are experiencing but would love to listen and support in any way possible. Sending them random text/cards/emails saying you are thinking and praying for them.” ~K. 
Be encouraging. Take them a meal.” ~H. 
I think the best thing is just to be present and ask your friend how she is. Talk about other things, go out, go for walks, bring tea, or wine and check in!!! If a friend is going through it, most likely that all she is thinking about. Just tell that person anything she is feeling is completely normal and valid. Be a good listener and try to avoid making it about you and your feelings. Be positive. Be supportive. Be present! ~J.

The journey impacts everyone in different ways. The most important aspect of any relationship is communication and continue to be present!  

I would like to thank all those who participated in this post! I loved the open an honest responses and believe that these comments will help others to understand the journey many go through. Thank you all so much!