Infertility is defined as “the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.” Millions of women face infertility – some seek fertility treatment and some do not. If you have friends or family struggling with infertility, it can be difficult to know how to help. I hope these five kinds things to do for a friend facing infertility spark some ideas.
Anyone that has struggled through infertility will tell you how isolating it can be. Often our friends are celebrating their pregnancies and babies, and we feel unable to express our sadness because of fear that would take away from their joy. Things that should be full of joy fill you with a sense of envy and grief.
On top of that, infertility is still something that is pretty socially taboo. It’s not openly talked about – whether that is a good or bad thing is beside the point – it’s just a fact that can make it feel very lonely in experience. As I continued to face difficulty becoming pregnant, I began to feel great disappointment and really needed my friends and family for support. True, they couldn’t fix my problem like magic, but they could be there. They could listen. They could brighten my day.
So, if you have a friend or loved one facing infertility, here are five ideas that might provide just the support she needs at that moment.
Have more ideas? Have a story of support? Please share in the comments!
1. Send a note of support
More than anything, infertility can be very lonely. And if you have not experienced it, you may feel like you can’t or don’t know how to show support, but this is so not true! You can show your support with kind words and a surprise in the mail box. Maybe you simply express that you are there. You are available to listen, and hug, and laugh with your friend. Share fond memories. Share reasons why you love and support this person.
Often infertility can become very much wrapped up in our feelings of self-confidence and success. I felt like I was somehow failing in something I felt should come “naturally.” Words of encouragement, traits you love about your friend, funny things she’s said … these can help heal wounds of confidence. Authentic words can really mean a lot, even if it’s just an “I love you. I’m here to listen.”
2. Take her out for quality friend time
Sometimes it is hard enough to manage girls’ nights out amidst the responsibilities of daily life – work, family, home. But if you can, try to spend some quality time with your friend. A nice dinner out with a bottle of wine might be the perfect relief to finding out your monthly visitor returned uninvited. Or maybe it’s pizza in pajamas while watching Netflix comedy specials. The point is, sometimes when we are going through difficult times, we need a distraction. Sometimes it can be hard to see joy amidst frustration or disappointment. Good friends provide distractions that not only heal, but build a stronger friendship.
3. Understand why she may need to be MIA on occasion
Are you hosting a brunch with five of your favorite gals? Three of whom have big baby bumps? Has she taken an absence from social media and failed to comment on any of your cute kid pics? There may be certain times and places that your friend will need to refrain from for her own sanity. You can show your care for her situation by being understanding.
4. Send her a book
If you’re dealing with infertility, there’s a good chance that you are reading a lot. You are reading everything you can find on fertility. You are reading about your treatments. You are reading other infertility stories. You are reading about babies in the hopes that this month will be the month. So, don’t send her a book about any of these topics!!
Send your friend a book that will take her mind off of her reproductive system for a bit. Maybe it’s something funny. Or a cheesy mystery that includes sailboats and hot sex. A fantasy about sexy vampires and elfin princesses. A travel book highlighting a place she’s always wanted to visit. Whatever … the point is to show her that you are thinking of her and understand she may need a break from the big stuff in her life right now.
5. Make her laugh
Laughter really is amazing medicine. You know your friend and what will make her laugh. Try to make an effort to bring joy into her life during the moments you know she may be struggling. I received gag gifts and funny unicorn figurines from people that knew they would make me smile. Funny memes will totally get me. Maybe you bombard your friend’s phone with hilarious memes and emojis. Send her a unicorn that shits rainbows. Not only will you bring her joy, I bet you’ll feel pretty good about it too. 🙂