I can’t tell you how many blog posts and articles I’ve seen claiming to enlighten everyone with “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Struggling with Infertility.” With more and more people talking about their struggles, I probably see one pop up on my news feed every month. Some of them are pretty on point, and all seem to agree “Just relax,” is not an okay thing to say.
What a lot of them don’t mention: words with the kindest intentions can still feel like a knife in the gut to someone who is trying, but can’t seem to, conceive.
It’s not logical, and it’s not fair.
Neither is infertility.
It’s a catch-22; If we let people know you’re having trouble getting pregnant and/or undergoing infertility treatments, they may say all the things we were dreading hearing. “Have you tried this? You’re probably too stressed. It took me 6 months to get pregnant and they were the hardest 6 months of my life!” If we keep if between ourselves, we aren’t able to talk to others who are going through it, too. And we’ll still hear all the things we’re dreading to hear. “So when are you going to have babies? Your eggs start dying after 26, you know!”
So what are the perfect words to say to someone who is going through all of this?
There aren’t any.
Nothing you say can fix it, or even put a dent in the pain. I know, this is not a very positive way of thinking. But depending on the day, the circumstances, or the hormones, even words like “I’ll be so excited when you finally get pregnant!” can sting. So you’re left walking on eggshells, which can quickly put a strain on your friendship.
The best thing you can do for a friend who’s struggling is to just let them know you care. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Continue to be their friend, while remaining sensitive and understanding. Acknowledge this is a time when they may not quite be themselves. Give them space when they need it, but don’t walk away completely. Ask questions, and be understanding if they don’t want to talk about it right now. Be willing to listen, even if some of the things they’re telling you is a little TMI (and it will be). Don’t treat them like they’re a pariah.
Just be their friend. It’s only a season.