There comes a time when everyone in your group of friends starts falling pregnant. One by one, you cross the line into parenthood. Except for that one friend. The one who has been trying for so long, and still hasn’t conceived.
What can you do? And what should you say? You’re probably already being the rock they need, but here are some sensitive ways to help a friend struggling with infertility.
1. Ease off on the questions
There’s always that guy. The one at the BBQ who blurts out the awful question: “So, when are you going to have kids?” For anyone trying to fall pregnant, this question is torture. And here’s the thing – infertility is really common. It’s thought to affect 1 in 6 Australian couples of reproductive age, so if you’ve got six friends, there could very well be one cringing at the nosey questions.
Don’t ask. Don’t push. Simply give that friend the space they need to process this difficult time. Keep detailed questions to a minimum, and let them come to you when they’re ready to talk.
2. Remember that Mum is not the word
Right now, your friend is probably seeing a world chock-full of happy parents and bouncing babies. It’s quite possible that the last thing she wants to do is go to a baby shower or read another celebrity’s baby announcement.
As a friend, you can help steer conversations away from the mum-word. Give her a break from the baby thoughts and try to focus on other positive things in your lives.
3. Back her up
There are going to be really hard days, where your friend might feel like a failure. She might question her womanhood, and struggle with reimagining their future without children.
Back her up. Remind her of who she is, with or without children. That your friendship will always continue, and that she is so much more than a baby-maker. When she’s battling with her own thoughts, and society’s expectations of her, fight with her.
4. Resist offering solutions
We’re all guilty of this. When we see a loved one in pain, the first instinct is to offer a solution. But even if you do know a really good IVF clinic/sexual position/fertility-boosting diet, just keep it to yourself for now. She has, no doubt, done her research and has tried it all. If she has questions, she will ask, and then you can tell her all about the best day of the lunar calendar to eat kale and attempt a tantric position.
5. Be sensitive about sharing your own pregnancy news
This is a tricky one. When you fall pregnant, you’ll want to share that news with your friend, but it’s going to hit her hard, and there’s no way you can control that.
The only thing you can do is to be sensitive about the way you deliver the news. Maybe a quiet chat face-to-face instead of an all-out social media celebration. Accept that she could react in various ways: there could be smiles or tears; either are OK. You’re in this together.
6. (PS. Don’t forget their partner)
So often we focus on the woman trying to conceive, but forget the inevitable pain her partner is feeling. Infertility works both ways, and whether your friend’s partner is a woman or a man, they’re also struggling. Be there for both of them.