How To Care For a Friend Pursuing In Vitro Fertilization
On Wednesday, Christy posted about secondary infertility. It was a deeply personal topic for her and one that greatly encouraged others. I was encouraged by Christy’s gentle reminders of what to say (and what not to say) if I ever find myself conversing with a friend in that position. Thank you, Christy (and dear readers)!
Ironically, Wednesday was also the day that one of my friends began the in vitro fertilization process for the first time. I will call this friend Allison. Naturally, my heart thought of Allison and her husband as I read Christy’s words. Infertility has long been their battle, and IVF is a huge step for them.
One thing I love about my friendship with Allison is that we are completely different from one another. She’s an introvert; I am not. She is an engineer; I most definitely am not. She is hard to get to know; I am not. She doesn’t like “The Office” (and oh, how I do). You get the idea. I think it is from sheer perseverance on both our parts that we have become close at all.
It was nearly a year into our friendship when she revealed to me the depth of her sadness about wanting to become a mother. I had always wondered why this fantastic couple didn’t have children, but I didn’t want to pry. The day Allison started to open up to me, I felt that she was handing me a fragile part of her heart, and I needed to care for it responsibly. I can recall few times when I have been so cautious with my words.
Allison and her husband talk with others about their infertility issues as little as possible. They don’t like being asked, on a regular basis, about “how things are going” or “pregnant yet?” They know their friends and family have the best of intentions, but the constant questioning irritates and saddens them. They have even refrained from telling certain family members about the IVF process, as a measure of emotional protection for themselves. Not only do they dislike having to give detailed updates on a regular basis, they feel they are disappointing others when nothing changes. They are so consumed with their own worry, the idea of letting too many others in on it would put even more on their shoulders.
Over the past several months, I have learned from Allison that she desires prayer and concern from others, but she doesn’t want conversations to revolve solely around her infertility. She desires her friends to check in occasionally. To ask first if it’s something she is up to talking about. To give hugs generously and to use words sparingly.
These are lessons I think a lot of us well-meaning mothers could use. I hope Allison’s story will give you strength to support someone you love in a similar situation.
Have you ever been on either side of this process, either as the friend or the woman pursuing IVF? What were the challenges you faced in relating to the other? Is there a right thing to say?
photo courtesy greekadman