Making the decision to start a family and then learning you have fertility issues can be one of the most emotionally challenging times in a person’s life. Discovering that you or your partner has fertility issues can test relationships, dampen dreams and may affect you on an emotional
Platitudes (or moral statements) are your worst enemy. Saying things like “if you relax, it will happen” or “you’re young, give it time” is more than likely to upset even enrage a woman or couple who are experiencing fertility issues, than make them feel better! Actually try not to make them feel better as the only thing that can achieve that is their own baby. The best you can hope to make them feel is loved and supported and that is all anyone could ask for.
2. “We only have to look at each other and I fall pregnant”
You only mean well, it is said in light-hearted jest and you hope they find it funny. But unfortunately, the emotional trauma of infertility could make this well-meant joke, appear insensitive and come across as insensitive bragging. Avoid this angle at all times.
3. “I truly understand…”
Ask yourself, do you really? It is very much a ‘go to’ response, it's human nature to try to relate and comfort, but it can be a little infuriating when someone says it without having any real idea of how that situation actually feels. Fertility is directly linked to dreams of the future, hopes of family and no two people will ever feel the same way, so claiming that you ‘understand’ can ring hollow. Instead just offer a supportive ear for them to vent and share, be prepared just to listen and every so often simply ask how they are doing.
4. “My kids are so annoying, have one of mine if you like” or “Morning sickness is awful”
Regardless of whether your little ones are decorating the lounge room wall with Petit Filous, or you have been unfortunate enough to have to deal with extreme morning sickness, try to remember you have what your friends want – children. To them, the thought of their home being full of mischievous little children or indeed having to suffer through 9 months of morning sickness pales into comparison at the reality of never being able to conceive. Even the most well-meant whinge can seem ungrateful, remember they want children of their own, and morning sickness would be a discomfort they would greatly embrace.
It can be uncomfortable when your friend is telling you about their fertility issues, hard to know exactly what to say, as it is seemingly easier to offend than comfort. However saying nothing, can come across as you think it’s too personal or somehow taboo – and not exceptionally brave that they’ve confided in you. Try not to smile or nod in acknowledgement, then quickly change the subject, this is your opportunity to be kind, ask them if they would like to talk about it and let them know you are there to listen and offer support if need be.
6. “Oh wow, IVF, how exciting!”
No! ‘Exciting’ and IVF are not to be used in the same sentence, except when someone is successful and conceive as a result of IVF. When couples are going through the process of IVF, they have arrived at this process because of the devastating reality that they cannot conceive on their own. For many couples, the circumstances surrounding their fertility and their evaluation of the options in fertility treatments have led them down this path, and it is a path fraught with uncertainty, discomfort and the unknown. It is human response to
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