I have just spent the last couple of hours reading a recommended post on RESOLVE about things that family and friends can to do and say to help with pre-fertility. There were over 70 responses and as always I am overwhelmed by the honesty, strength, humour and humility of the women I encounter on these discussions. I have collected some of their wisdom and added some of my own.
10 Ways Family and Friends Can Help with Pre-Fertility
1. Get informed about pre-fertility
The repeated request on the boards was for family and friends to be involved by getting properly informed on the difficulties and challenges that pre-fertility presents. Research on the internet, invest in some books, even talk to their own doctor to find out more information. Knowledge often brings true understanding and compassion with it.
2. Organise activities and events that will help me relax
Whenever someone suggests I relax in response to my pre-fertility it makes me extremely tense as a general rule. I just feel like saying – don’t you think if I could relax about it all I would. Rather than telling me to relax I would much rather if they organised events and activities that I would enjoy doing to help me relax.
3. Ask permission before telling me what you believe, think or have heard
Before you launch into stories about miracle pregnancies, post adoption pregnancies, immaculate conceptions, herbal treatments, your friends-mothers-brothers-wife’s remedy, or your own experience – seek permission. Pre-fertility is a roller-coaster ride some days I want to hear everything you have to say and other days I just can’t take it. If you ask first then you just save us both the grief.
4. Ask me how I am and how you can help
Just simply checking in with a ‘How are you doing today?’ can take the weight off me for a couple of minutes and make me feel like someone really cares. Some days I need a walk and to talk about it, other days I need to catch a movie and just forget all about it. If you ask then I can tell you how I am – be satisfied with whatever answer you get – please don’t push for more.
5. Include me but respect my boundaries
Invite me to baby showers, picnic’s and children’s birthday parties – give me the choice as to whether I want to attend or not – please don’t exclude me. But understand completely if I just can not go – I know that this is such a double-edged sword so please be understanding – this is a hard for me.
6. Break your big news via email or in private
If you are pregnant – please email me or tell me in private so that I have time to digest – do not keep the news from me or let me hear about it from someone else. I have nothing but love and good wishes for you and the child you are about to bring into the world. I just need to have a cry and grieve for myself before I can truly express how happy I am for you.
This post by MerrieW really summed it up perfectly
Last night a good friend of ours told us at dinner (it was a large group of us) that she is pregnant. And I felt that knife stabbing feeling the rest of the night. I couldn’t react the way I really wanted to, which was just to go home and cry. Though I am happy for them, I’m sad for us. And it brought out all my grief for our situation again.
I wish she had told me privately or in an email. Then I would have had time to work out my feelings and be genuinely happy when I saw them again. I felt put on the spot and like a giant light was pointed at me – “Here’s the infertile girl!” It’s not like it’s a secret among our friends about our infertility.
Though I respect that they wanted to share their wonderful news, I do wish I hadn’t had to hear it in such a social setting.
7. Acknowledge my struggle, courage and determination
Acknowledge that pre-fertility is really hard – and that you can not understand the depth of the grief as you haven’t been through it (because truly you can’t). Please do not try to compare the difficulty of pre-fertility with the difficulty of raising children, that is just rubbing salt into the wound.
8. Please tell me you will say a prayer for me and do it
No matter what religion or belief system you have I believe a prayer is a heartfelt wish from the soul of one person to another. I love to hear that people are going to pray for me – it makes me feel so loved and cared about.
9. Respect my decisions
I have to take the drugs, blood tests, scans, financial burden and general heartbreak that pre-fertility brings – so I need to make the best decisions for myself and not be weighed down by other people’s expectations. Cao response put it beautifully
“Please be supportive of my decisions, even if I change my mind later on. Be aware that I have heavily weighed each choice along the way, and that the things I’m doing aren’t on a whim, but only after careful consideration.”
10. Research adoption
You will quickly find out that is expensive, difficult and heartbreaking to let go of the biological child you dreamed of. In Australia it is extremely demanding and invasive and you may need to wait for about 5 years after spending $20,000 to be told you might make a good parent. After this research you will probably understand that adoptions is not really an easy answer to pre-fertility.
Having said all of this I know that most people have the best intentions when they approach me about pre-fertility the are genuinely concerned, curious and want to help. My family and friends have been so supportive during what has been a hell time and I realise from this list that I also need to be more grateful for the love and support that they provide everyday.