So you think you can empathize with someone going through IVF? Maybe you held your best friend's hand as she went through the madness. Spoke to her in her deepest lows about adoption or what if's? You cried with her before and during treatments, and after her baby was conceived, you worried with her until he/she came. This is all great and I am not here to discredit anyone's experiences with or friendships with someone going through a hard time conceiving a baby.
I am an IVF patient myself. I have gone through 2 rounds of which one was an 11-week miscarriage. I have heard on a regular basis each comment below. I know that people love me and none of this is meant to hurt me, but I am here to help others out there. It does hurt.
The best thing to say to someone embarking or in the middle of IVF is nothing.
A listening ear and and open mind is best thing a person can offer. And to be there. This is what you should say: "Do you need me?" or "I am here if you want to talk."
Here is my person list of what not to say to a woman going through IVF.
1. "Relax and it will happen." This is what I think immediately think after I hear this: "relax? I guess I can't talk to you... because no, it may not happen." I immediately start preparing myself for the worst in my head as I smile and say thank you. I start resenting the fact that you told me to relax. As if I am unable to in your eyes. I don't know why, but I guess I am trying to protect myself. Understand that I am in a moment of the "unknown," hormonal on fertility drugs and you saying this to me could actually be hurtful.
2. "I know someone who conceived on their own after X rounds of IUI and IVF." This is a huge no no. First of all, you are saying it also took this poor soul rounds to not conceive. And secondly, you are comparing me to someone I am not. Every situation with infertility is extremely different. Every round of fertility treatments is different. This may sound helpful in your head, but really, for all you know your friend is unable to conceive without IVF (like myself). So understandably I have nothing positive to feel when someone starts telling me about what happened to someone else.
3. "Don't worry, it will happen. I just know it!" What are we to say to this? Thanks, right? I have limited the people around me with whom I talk to about my IVF journey. All of them I have told have said this to me. It is kind, I know, but my thoughts are always the same: I am doing IVF with a lot of hope, but it's not a sure thing.
Telling someone success will happen when it is clearly uncertain makes me feel uncomfortable to talk to you or open up. Almost like you are ending the conversation or do not want to entertain my thoughts of it never happening, being scared, or feeling alone.
4. Complain about your own kids, or worse, offer one up as a joke. This has surprisingly happened to me more than I wish to admit. "Are you sure you are up for this?" is asked as their toddler climbs all over them. As if it is just so hard on them to be a mom. A MOM! WHAT I WANT TO BE. Now I get it; I was a nanny for over 10 years. Kids are hard. But remind yourself and refrain from complaining about being a mom around someone who is trying so hard to become one.
Offering to give the person one of your children as a joke is just awful and not funny to an IVF patient.
5. Recommend or ask about adoption. If I wanted to adopt, we would not be putting ourselves through all of this in the first place. Asking about adoption feels as if you are trying to come up with a solution to a problem you know nothing about. It also makes me feel as though you don't think what I am doing is right or worth it. This in turn makes me not want to talk to you.
Again in the end if you want to be there for your friend say these things:
"I am here for you."
"If you ever want to vent, I am a listening ear."
"If you ever need someone to be there at an appointment, I would be happy to be there with you."
"I can't imagine what you are going through, but I'd love to hear all about it if you are ever up for it."
And actually be there. Sometimes it is hard to pick up the phone and ask to hangout when I am in the middle of in vitro shots. I can't drink and have to be home or available at a certain time to give myself an injection. Yuck! I can still do things; just reach out and be willing to accommodate and adjust a little.
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