A reflection on the emotions related to infertility and friendship: During the past few months I have been asked by some of my friends to describe what it is they could do to be a supportive friend. Although I cannot speak for everyone navigating infertility, I decided to share some of my thoughts.
Everything has been put on hold. The dream of having a family feels as though it has been crushed. You spend most of your time trying to figure out what’s next. Which doctor will you see, what medications and treatments will you try, will you be able to afford them and after all this, will it even be successful?
As this is happening everyone around you appears to be pregnant. You watch from a slight distance as your friends and family members have their firsts and then their seconds and some their thirds, while you are still struggling to have your first child.
You pull away a bit to protect yourself as it becomes harder to witness everyone’s families growing. At first you may stop accepting invitations to spend time together when you know children will be present. And you may even pull back some more and stop spending time together, just as adults, when you know that all the friends present have children and will likely spend the majority of the evening speaking about their kids. But at the end of the day, now more than ever, you need friends.
You need friends who will call from time to time just to say “hi.” You appreciate receiving a text that says: “Hi, thinking of you have a good day.” And an invitation to coffee is always appreciated even if you are unable to go.
When you do spend time with your friends you don’t want or expect your friends to hide their children. We know they exist, it just hurts to have them flaunted in our face every time we see or speak to our friends. A short update is nice, but be conscious not to let it take over the entire conversation. Don’t complain to us about your children; share a nice story. We appreciate that you work hard and have many extra demands and sleepless nights because of your children. Know that we dream to one day join you in those sleepless nights; we are doing everything humanly possible to make that dream come true.
Please don’t forget us even when we distance ourselves. Please forgive us if we are not at our best about keeping in touch. Have patience and understand that we are riding an emotional rollercoaster and at times need to take a break to protect our hearts from any added pain. From time to time, even if it seems like we have gone quiet, text us a simple “hello,” so we know that you care and are there for us in our time of need.