The science and medicine that goes into extending fertility and helping couples or singles have babies when nature isn’t supporting their baby-making is truly amazing. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy for anyone who goes through it. Fertility struggles are tough on emotional, physical and hormonal levels. If you have a friend dealing with a fertility struggle, it can be difficult to know how to be a good friend, especially if you haven’t gone through this scenario yourself. Here are my tips on how to do it.
Ask about it
Talk to your friend about what’s going on in their fertility journey and ask how you can help. Some people may want you to check in regularly and others may want to know they can come to you when they need you, but would prefer to not have check ins. Some may need moral support while doing their shots and others won’t. There’s no one way to be during a fertility journey, so there’s no one way to be a good friend. And you’re not going to know how to be supportive until you ask.
When you talk to your friend, let her know that you can be available if needed. Maybe set aside ten minutes every night to be on the phone with her while she does her shots. Or offer to drive her to appointments or pick her up from surgeries if she’s not doing this with a partner or her partner’s not available. Let your friend know that you have time to share with her if she wants it.
Understand and forgive
A fertility struggle can be an emotional rollercoaster that involves grief, hope, loss, happiness and fear. And those emotions are even more intense because your friend’s hormones are being manipulated. So, know that your friend will be more mercurial during her fertility treatment and may react to things in ways that feel unlike her normal self. That’s because she’s not feeling like her normal self. Be extra understanding during this time and extra forgiving because your friend is less in control of her emotions than usual.
Be happy when she’s happy and sad when she’s sad. Share her journey with her and don’t try to force emotions she’s not having. It’s easy to want your friend to focus on the silver lining, but pressuring her into being happy when all she wants to do is vent her sadness, frustration or anger isn’t productive. Let her feel her feelings and be understanding and empathetic.
Even if you’re being empathetic to her sadness, you don’t have to be negative. You can be positive without making her feel bad or guilty for her current emotions. If she’s crying to you, you could say something like, “I just know that you’re going to be a great mom to the cutest kid one day and it’s so crappy that the journey to get there is this hard.” It validates her feelings while still focuses on the positive. When the positivity comes from keeping your eyes on the prize and not diminishing any real and valid feelings, you’re doing it right.
Friendships are especially important during times of struggle and it’s really amazing that you’re concerned with how to be a good friend during a fertility struggle. I know your friend is going to be so grateful to have your support throughout this journey.