Love, Joleen: 8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Friend Going Through Infertility

Thursday, July 20, 2017

8 Things You Should Never Say to Your Friend Going Through Infertility

Today marks one year since I had to have a D&C for a missed miscarriage. I knew the date looked familiar but it wasn't until my mom called to check on me (bless her) that I realized why. The crazy thing is that I was just sitting down to start writing this post when she called. I don't believe any of this is a coincidence. This blog post has been on my heart for months. I've discussed it with friends and received input from ladies in my support group. I only hope I can do the subject justice. 
The thing is, before I had my miscarriages and when I wasn't dealing with infertility, I really never even gave any of it a second thought. Infertility? Miscarriage? It happened to other people, certainly not me. 

I was 25 the first time a doctor told me it would likely take fertility treatment to ever conceive. By then, I had been trying for over a year and knew in my heart that something was wrong. For many reasons, that was a difficult time for me and I spent much of the next several years suffering from depression. My marital status changed (I got divorced and remarried) and I was surprised/blessed with my son just months before my 30th birthday. Since he was unplanned (but oh, so loved!) I took my time of infertility for granted. My husband and I held off on starting to try for a second child until Benjamin turned 3. I got a BFP (big fat positive) on February 20, 2016 and 8 days later, at around 6 weeks, I had a miscarriage. We decided to start trying again right away and I got my next BFP on June 18. I was able to surprise Ben with the news for Father's Day. Unfortunately, I had a missed miscarriage which we discovered at my 7 week OB appointment. It ended up being a blighted ovum and I had to have a D&C on July 20 of last year. 

After the second miscarriage I was pretty much a wreck. I tried so hard to be positive but I sunk into such a deep depression, I'm still not fully recovered. I gained 60 lbs. and am currently the heaviest and most out-of-shape I've ever been. (We've got a gym membership and I'm also trying to embrace #selflove, but that's a story for another time.) I needed to take time off mentally because I was sure I wouldn't be able to handle another miscarriage. 

We started seeing a specialist at the start of the year. Ben and I both underwent testing and then sat down with our provider to make a plan. I've mentally and emotionally been healing over time. It's sad to think about but I finally feel like I've reached a time where another miscarriage, though unlikely according to my doctor, wouldn't absolutely destroy me. That being said, another year has passed and that's just hard. [Secondary] infertility is hard.  

Which brings me to the title of this post. In discussions with friends going through similar situations, a common theme emerged. Friends, family, and acquaintances of ours, though possibly all well-meaning, would say very hurtful and intensive things. This list is a culmination of suggestions I've received as well as my own experiences. Disclaimer: My tone is snarky and meant to be funny but I also hope you see my sincerity in it.


8 things you should never say to your friend going through infertility:
  1. [This applies to those who've had a miscarriage and/or are suffering from secondary infertility.] "At least you know you can get pregnant." - Please don't say this, especially after a miscarriage. I had to smile and nod through this too many times. Believe me, we know this. We know how blessed we are when so many women are unable to ever conceive. We know how blessed we are by our sunshine babies. They're what helped us keep it together and keep going every day. That doesn't make it any easier. It doesn't make the desire or the heartache any less.
  2. Don't followup asking about a failed cycle of IVF in jest, by saying, "You can just have one of my kids." Really? Can I pick which one? *side eye*
  3. Do NOT make jokes about how crazy/emotional your friend is due to fertility drugs. It's really messed up. We can say we're crazy; you can't.
  4. Don't suggest your friend should/could adopt instead of seeing a specialist. Everyone has the right to see something through to whatever length or option they want to.
  5. Don't say, "You're so lucky not to be dealing with a newborn right now. Enjoy your sleep." I guarantee you that's the scenario we'd rather be losing sleep over.
  6. "You should just relax and it will happen." Who knew I could get pregnant reading a book by the ocean?
  7. "I can't imagine how you feel, I got pregnant by accident every time." Ouch. That's one you should probably gab about with your other friend with 6 kids. GTHOHWT
  8. "Maybe it wasn't God's plan for you to be a mom." Lawd, Jesus, never EVER say this. It's not your place to speculate what God's wishes are for another person. #sorrynotsorry
So, what's left? There are so many ways you can encourage your friend. The number one way is just to be there for your friend. How can you do this? What can you say? You can check in with them randomly - "Just thinking about you! How are you doing?" It really meant a lot to me to have people check in with me months after loss. Sending flowers (so sweet!) and providing meals (the best!) right after a miscarriage is amazing, but don't forget your friend months down the road. The emotions of loss and fertility treatment are an absolute roller coaster, and they don't go away right away. It helps knowing we have people emotionally with us through it. It's touching when you remember and recognize dates of loss. You can offer a cup of coffee and an ear. As a loved one, I would encourage you to be a safe place for your friend to vent, cry, and share with. Say less and listen more. 

Thank you for allowing me this space to share my own story. I appreciate you. 
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