If you have a loved one who is experiencing fertility issues, you should be aware that there are new sensitivities that weren’t there before. It can be hard to know what to say or not to say, so with that in mind, here is my guide for how to talk to your loved ones dealing with infertility.
What we don’t want to hear
- Nothing. Please don’t tiptoe around us. Please don’t leave us off invites for baby showers or pregnancy announcements; we can decide for ourselves how to manage occasions like that.
- Just relax, it’ll happen. Here’s the thing: it might not. That is the harsh reality we’re dealing with. We must live with an uncomfortable truth; it would be more helpful if you joined us in it.
- Have you really been trying? Do I really have to explain why this would be exceedingly hurtful to hear?
- How’s the baby-making coming? I think glib, little phrases like this are meant to be casual icebreakers, but fertility treatments are anything but casual, so it comes off as insensitive.
- Have you tried X? Thought about Y? When someone is experiencing infertility and undergoing treatment for it, chances are they’re up to speed on what their best options are.
- I can’t imagine how hard this is. Could you try? Put yourself in our shoes and do your best to understand how we’re feeling and what we’re going through.
What we do want to hear
- Can I come over for a cup of coffee? Experiencing infertility and associated treatments can feel very isolating. Many of us would welcome a warm distraction from it all.
- Send me some information, I want to understand what you’re going through. If I could give just one piece of advice for how best to relate to your loved ones going through this, it would be to get informed.
- I’m bringing over dinner. Would you like lasagna or stir fry? It is such a relief when someone you love steps in to take care of it, even for just a night.
- I’m thinking of you. There is next to nothing you can do to help improve the chances of your loved one having a baby, but it’s nice to know you’re thinking good thoughts about us.
If you’re reading this, know that your loved one is shouldering an incredible weight, and they are relying on you to meet them halfway. Inform yourself, speak with sensitivity, and try your best to show up emotionally and physically for us. We will always appreciate you for trying.