As somebody who struggles with infertility, I thought it important to share with you guys how to be a good friend to somebody in my position. If you've ever known anybody who struggles with infertility or having miscarriages, you've probably experienced the emotional minefield you have to sometimes navigate to have a relationship with them.
Please know that all of these words come from kindness, from a place that wants us to have a good, long lasting, fulfilling relationship. Because I want us to be friends and I know that sometimes it's hard, here's some things you should know to make it a little easier for both of us- a guide to being friends with someone who struggles with infertility.
-I need you to be patient with me. Infertility is an ongoing trial that I work everyday to overcome. Some days I need space. I need privacy. I need quiet. And other days I need a really big hug and a reminder that my worth is not solely dictated by my ability or inability to have children. Some days I might get teary eyed walking through the baby isle of the store, and other days I’ll get excited and want to swoon over all the cute things as I dream about being able to shop for my own baby one day. I know it’s hard to be my friend sometimes. I love you for being here for me despite that.
-Stop trying to lessen the gravity of my infertility. It might not be a big deal to you, but it changed my whole life. It’s something I think about and live with every day. Trust that you couldn’t possibly know what I’m going through if you can have kids, do have kids, or haven’t tried to have kids yet. I need you to be sensitive, don’t minimize my feelings or my trials. Phrases like “It’s just not God’s plan for you to have children yet,” or “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to” only hurt my feelings. In fact it hurts my feelings a lot.
-I agonize over my decisions. I worry about everything. I can’t make decisions about my future, where I should live, what job field I should be in, or what dreams and goals I should have for myself because I don’t know if I will ever be able to have children. What if I buy the house with the big back yard and 5 bedrooms for all those children just to be reminded every day for the rest of my life of how I was never blessed with children to fill that home. What if I buy the smaller more realistic home, spend the extra money on fertility treatments then conceive and not have the space I wanted for that child because I compromised on my home. I have to choose if I want to gain $60,000 in student loan debt getting my Master’s degree or continue working and saving money instead so I might have enough to try fertility treatments one day. I don’t make these decisions lightly and I worry about them all the time.
-Unless I ask for your advice, don’t give it. Don’t tell me things will get better if I just relax or if I adopt. Don’t give me a list of what you think my options are. Trust me, I have thought of all my options already. Children are a dream I strive to accomplish so badly that I have researched and looked into every possible way of achieving that dream one day. Furthermore, you don’t know what financial constraints I’m working within to accomplish that goal. When you nonchalantly told me I should adopt instead, you were assuming that coming up with $30,000-$50,000 to accomplish that was realistic or easy. I’m sorry but do you have $50,000 laying around? Me neither.
-I need you to be encouraging. Words not based in fact; like “you’ll have a baby one day, I just know it,” crush my heart, because you can’t possibly know that. But words like “you are a great woman with so much strength and compassion,” help remind me that even though I’m broken, I’m still a good person. They help keep me hopeful, and they make me appreciate you even more than I already do.
-I want to be a good friend to you. Even though I might not be able to have them, I love children. Please don’t leave me out of your life when you feel awkward about milestones that might make me sad. I may be sad for a few days if you get pregnant. Let me work through that. Because once I have, I’ll be so excited for you. I will want to celebrate with you and meet your little one, spoil them rotten with sweet kisses and presents. Your child’s fourth birthday may be a reminder that we won’t be raising children together like we planned, and yes it may result in me crying at home for a couple of hours. But please don’t shut me out of your life. I might not be emotionally able to participate in every event, but please let that be my decision. I want to be there for you, I want to celebrate with you. I would be far more hurt by not being invited at all.
-Lastly, I need you to know that my happiness isn’t dictated by my infertility. I will have bad days/weeks or even months sometimes. Where I am sad or discouraged or disappointed. But I know who I am, I love who I am, and I’m never miserable. I am very fortunate to have worked through that part of my journey already. I was sad and angry for a very long time. I’m finally happy though. I am content. I know that my infertility exists and I have come to terms with how that limits me. And I’m sorry for the times I’m not fun to be around. I am thankful that you wait it out for the times I am my happy, fun self. I never want you to feel helpless when I’m sad. I will work through it. My sunshine will come back soon, I promise.
I hope you found this post helpful. I want you to know that I love you and appreciate your presence in my life. It means a lot to me that you make such a strong effort at making sure our friendship isn't negatively affected by my infertility.
If you found my guide to being friends with someone who struggles with infertility helpful, please share it with your loved ones. As many people I can reach out to and help to understand us, the better our relationships are with them