I have to admit I was rather naive when I started my role as and IVF and fertility nurse. Young, candid, and with little experience caring for people struggling with infertility, I jumped right into my new role. And, well, I learned a lot very quickly.
One of my first patients was a wonderful couple that had a two-year-old. After a long road dealing with secondary infertility, the couple decided to walk away from continuing fertility treatments. On the last day seeing them I said, “well you have your beautiful child.” They looked at me with blank faces.
I suddenly realized the gravity of what I had said. Bam! Who was I to say something like that? Every person, or couple, has the right to decide how many children they want, what makes their family complete and so on. Since that day, I started to pay more attention to my patients, and what they really needed to hear, or not hear for that matter.
And now you have it. The do’s and don’ts of talking to your friends and loved-ones with infertility.
First, try not to tell them to relax. They are trying – believe me! Trying to get pregnant, for many people is a journey. For some that journey or road is longer and harder than it is for others. When you see your loved one become sad, or overwhelmed, give them a hug, let them grieve, and listen. Telling someone to relax can actually cause them more stress.
Second, never tell someone with secondary infertility that the children they have should be enough. That is not your business, and not for you to decide. So keep such thoughts to yourself.
Third, stop asking people when they are going to get pregnant, or when they are going to have their second child. Same as before, this is none of your business. That person or couple could be dealing with infertility. If they want to open up and share with you, they will.
Fourth, sometimes just hearing “I’m sorry” or “it’s ok to be sad” are the words they need to hear. Let your friend cry, let them feel sad for a little. Let them know you are there for support.
And then give them a hug, or sit with them in their pain. Because knowing they have someone in their court is the most important thing you can do.