Broaching the subject of infertility with someone who is TTC and failing is hard. But you shouldn't give up! Get the right conversation going with these useful tips.
When you're spending every waking moment trying to conceive, it seems like life is all downs and hardly any ups: Everyone around you is pregnant. Mother's Day sucks. A 50-something celeb is on the cover of your fave gossip rag, holding her new daughter. Baby shower invitations go in the trash unopened. And you know what doesn't help with infertility? When someone tells you to just relax, or that stress is probably the culprit. Or when you hear something along the lines of, "Maybe if you stopped working out so much/gained some weight/lost some weight/[insert blaming mechanism here], it would happen."
If you're lucky enough not to be one of the 11 percent of women who struggle to conceive after a year of trying, it doesn't mean you need to ignore your colleague who's been shooting up Lupron in the office bathroom for months, or dance around the subject with your BFF because you feel guilty for conceiving on your first try. There are plenty of ways to show your support. Read on for seven helpful things to say to someone who's trying with all her might to get pregnant.
"My best friend just did IVF—do you want me to introduce you to her?"
When I had a tough time getting pregnant, anytime a friend offered to put me in touch with a fellow infertile, I leapt at the chance. More than a few times, I found myself in an hour-long phone call with a virtual stranger, sharing my most intimate fears, bonding over the grosser parts of fertility treatments, laughing about how un-fun sex had become. These women just got it in a way that someone who conceives without the help of a laboratory and something like $20,000 in medical supplies cannot. Offer to play matchmaker and bring two kindred spirits together.
"Do you want to physically carry a child, or is it more important to be a mother?"
Words of wisdom similar to these helped Jordan, 40, open her mind to domestic adoption. She and her husband had been embroiled in the adoption process for years, their hearts set on a daughter from South Korea. Then Jordan visited a psychic who gave her this advice: "You want to be a mother. So strip away the expectations that are all about you, or about what you want and feel you deserve, and after you boil all that down, what do you come up with?'" For Jordan, the answer was, plain and simple: A mother. From that point on, the Danbury, Conn. couple expanded their search to include children of both genders, both abroad and within the United States. Six weeks later, they met their baby boy.
"I had a miscarriage (took Clomid/had multiple IUIs/used a surrogate); I'm always here if you need to talk."
Sharing your own infertility battles is a powerful gift. If you learn that someone—a friend, a colleague, or even the stranger sitting next to you on an airplane—is having trouble getting pregnant, and you have been in her shoes, consider sharing your own experiences with her so she doesn't feel so alone. Actress Jaime King recently did just that, revealing that she endured more than two dozen rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), five rounds of IVF and five miscarriages before finally carrying a child to term. "I was hiding what I was going through for so long," she told People magazine, "and I hear about so many women going through what I went through. If I'm open about it, hopefully it won't be so taboo to talk about it."
When Leigh Kolb, 32, of New Haven, Mo., was trying to get pregnant, she noticed that friends were reluctant to share their own good news; as a result, some would even avoid making plans with her, which only pushed her deeper into her own inner grief. "I could almost always separate my happiness for friends from my sadness for myself," she remembers. That said, she knew herself well enough to realize that tears were a strong possibility, so she suggests sharing the news via phone. "That way, I could be excited, and then we'd hang up and I could be alone with my thoughts."
"The only reason you can't get pregnant is because you're not 16 and doing it in the back of a car!"
It's not the most P.C. thing we've heard, but Jill, 39, from New York, said the joke made her laugh—always a welcome reprieve when you're in the midst of butt injections and vaginal suppositories.
"It's OK to be selfish right now."
Hearing those words granted Katie, 37, of Chicago, a feeling of relief, like she didn't always have to put on a brave face and could just, for lack of a better word, baby herself. "I used it as an excuse to get a massage, to sleep in if I didn't have to be up for anything, and also as an excuse for an extra fun dessert here and there as a pick me up," she explains. "I love exercise but as treatments intensified, I had to drop a lot of that, so instead I would walk to get a coffee and biscotti."
Say it with flowers.
Sometimes even the most carefully planned words can't express what a simple arrangement of white peonies can do. Or rainbow gerbera daisies. It doesn't matter what they are or how much they cost—flowers brighten even the glummest of days, including days when a woman is feeling down in the dumps worrying about never being able to have kids. Shannon, 35, says the unexpected gesture made her feel about as good as anything possibly could during those months of trying and waiting. If your friend is having trouble, send her something lovely—after a miscarriage, on Mother's Day, or just because.