Hi friends! I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I can’t believe we are already over a week into 2023! This month is simultaneously flying by and going so slowly for me as I anticipate the arrival of our baby girl in just a few weeks. But before she arrives, I’m excited to share a few more posts with you about infertility to wrap up my series!
Today’s post is all about friendship and infertility. I was blessed to have some amazing friends that helped me get through my infertility journey, and my main goal with this post is to help those who have friends struggling with infertility know how to support and encourage them in this difficult season. If you’re struggling with infertility, I have a few tips for you, too!
While I’m thankful that I am able to tell the world about my infertility experience now, I struggled with being open about it for a long time. I’m thankful talking about infertility has become more mainstream, but there are still many misunderstandings and a lack of education that can make it hard to talk about. I felt a lot of anxiety telling others such a vulnerable part of my life, because as we all know, children and pregnancy are topics about which people love giving advice, some of which is not always helpful or wanted.
When we were first diagnosed with infertility, I told very few people. I needed to process what it meant and protect my heart from potentially hurtful comments or questions from well-meaning people. After a while, it started to feel like a secret that was weighing me down and it was a relief when I decided to share with my women’s bible study. That opened the door for others to pray for and encourage me when I started doing treatments. I had one friend who texted me a bible verse every day for several weeks, which meant so much to me!
I also had a few friends that went through various forms of infertility around the same time and it was great to have the support and empathy, but they all got pregnant in the span of a few months. That was a really tough part of my journey. I was so happy for my friends but desperately wanted the understanding and empathy of others who were also struggling. However, that required me to accept that I was part of the infertility community and needed a support group. Eventually I joined Moms in the Making, where I made several friends and learned how to work through infertility with a Christian perspective.
Everyone’s story is different, and I share mine just to show one example of how friends can have an impact on someone’s fertility journey. But I can tell you that having the right people supporting you can make it so much more bearable!
For Those with Friends Struggling with Infertility
For those of you that have friends struggling with infertility, it can be really hard to know how to support them! Before sharing a few tips, I want to call out that every person and friendship is different. While I think most of these tips can be generally applied, the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to LEAP : Listen to your friends rather than give opinions/advice, Educate yourself, Ask for how you can help support them, and Pray for them.
What to Say/Not Say
There are several common phrases said to people struggling to get pregnant that are both unhelpful and hurtful and I’ll give some examples of what to say and not say below! Overall, I would recommend leaning on the side of caution when talking to your infertile friends (or just people of child-bearing age in general), as you never know what they are going through!
- You have plenty of time for kids.
- Relax and it will happen.
- You can have one of mine!
- My friend/sister/cousin did X and it worked for them.
- Just have lots of sex.
- Just listen, sometimes nothing needs to be said.
- Ask questions if they are open to sharing: How are you doing emotionally/mentally/physically/spiritually? When is your next appointment/treatment?
- Empathize: That must be so difficult! Waiting for a dream to actualize is hard. I’m sorry you’re going through that.
- Ask how you can support and pray for them.
- Send them an encouraging text, ask them for coffee, write them a card, or drop off a gift (see my upcoming Friday Favorites post for ideas!)
Most importantly, if a friend tells you they are struggling with infertility, make sure to acknowledge it and follow up with them when appropriate. It can feel really risky to share something that vulnerable, so make sure to treat the person and information accordingly.
How to Tell an Infertile Friend You’re Pregnant
Again, every person and friendship is different, so use your best judgement when telling an infertile friend you are pregnant. Pregnancy announcements can be very triggering to someone with infertility, and although they will (or want to) feel happy for you, they will also likely feel upset, jealous, and/or sad.
- Tell them before you post on social media or before they find out from someone else. That way they have time to process rather than being caught off guard.
- Tell them individually rather than in front of others. It can be difficult to react positively on the spot to this news and this can make them feel uncomfortable when others are around.
- Send them a text or give them a heads up you have some news to share that may be difficult. This way they have time to gather their thoughts and emotions before responding or have an idea of what’s coming.
- Give them space. Again, they will likely need time to process and while they want to be happy for you, will also be sad. They may pull away for a bit.
- Remind them you’re still there for them and want to listen. One of the greatest gifts my pregnant friends gave me while going through infertility was reminding me that I didn’t have to hide my struggles just because they were pregnant. We can celebrate and grieve at the same time.
- Understand if they aren’t up for coming to your baby shower. You can send them an invite, but they may choose to celebrate you from afar rather than attend.
For Those Struggling with Infertility
If you’re struggling with infertility, you’ll likely see pregnancy announcements that are triggering, receive insensitive comments or questions from others, and feel lonely, left behind, and frustrated in this season. My heart hurts for you as I know what that’s like. If you need some extra support, please reach out to me as I would love to pray for you. I also have a few tips that I hope will make the interactions with your friends and community a little easier.
- Share your struggles with safe people and as you feel comfortable.
- Give yourself grace when you have a hard day or need space from situations or people.
- Give others grace and the benefit of the doubt. Most of the time they mean well, even if what they say can be insensitive.
- Educate others with kindness. Many people just don’t know how many people deal with infertility, the various factors that cause it, or treatments, not to mention the emotional and physical toll it can take.
- Be honest – don’t downplay or hide your struggles just because they aren’t the same as someone else’s.
- Ask for help. Whether you need some extra prayer, just want to talk, or have an important appointment coming up, share it with your friends so they know how they can help you.
- Join a support group like Moms in the Making or infertility groups on Facebook.
- Pray about it! When you feel like no one understands what you are going through, God is always someone you can turn to who completely understands and will give peace.
I know it can seem scary to open up and share with people what you’re going through, whether it’s infertility or another hardship. My encouragement is to be brave and share with at least one trustworthy person so they can lighten some of the burden.
I hope this post helped give you some insight into the value of friendship in infertility! Whether you’re on the support side or the friend who is struggling, it’s so important to remember the value of doing life in community so we can lift each other up.
2 thoughts on “Friendship and Infertility”
Great post, Jess!! Love love love!!! Going to share everywhere ❤️
Another thing to support a friend struggling with infertility is to realize that they may not want to be around your kids all the time as it’s a reminder that they don’t have one (or more they desire). Also that holidays/birthdays are hard because they are missing out on making memories with children.
Instagram has a wonderful community of women supporting each other during infertility.
Thank you friend! That’s a great point, thanks for the reminder!