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How To Care For a Friend Pursuing In Vitro Fertilization

by Dawn on August 14, 2009
category: Inspiration,Pregnancy,Special needs

friends 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

4 Responses to How To Care For a Friend Pursuing In Vitro Fertilization

  • Comment by Christy
    August 14, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

    “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.” This is great advice!!! Especially the hugs!!!!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Jenn
    August 15, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    I think what so many of these posts are narrowing in on is the idea that we take the lead from our friends (with touchy issues). I remember reading a great book about how to talk to people during difficult times, and the one that stood out was at a time of a death. The author just kept highlighting to the reader that it can be an emotional mine-field. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out, but put on extra-sensitive listening ears and take your cues from the other person.

    Of course, I have since learned that when I went through my first experience of a friend having a miscarriage, I said ABSOLUTELY everything wrong. I can’t take that back, but I can be a better friend going forward.

  • Comment by Dawn
    August 15, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    Jenn, I agree, a lot of this kind of stuff is a learn-by-doing experience. An emotional mine-field is a good way of putting it.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Danielle
    August 16, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

    I went through infertility issues for 2 years prior to finally having success with a last ditch IUI prior to moving on to the next step…I think you offer great advice. I wasn’t one to openly talk about my IF issues with everyone, though select friends knew what was going on. They knew not to ask too often, but instead be there for me when I needed to reach out to them…and really (for me at least) there was no advice or words they could use that would “help” me…none of them had “been there” and couldn’t say “I understand” or “I know” or “I’d feel the same way”…they also knew not to say “it will happen” or “be patience” or “things happen for a reason”…they knew the best thing for me was a “boy that really stinks” and give me a hug, or hold my hand, or wipe a tear.

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