To ask those who have been through IVF...(31 Posts)
How best to support someone close to you who is going through this journey?
Have lots of patience, as the hormones play havoc with their emotions.
I agree, lots of patience. Be there to talk, but don't push them. Don't tell them it will definitely work & if it's 'meant to be'. If they've got to IVF chances are they are already petrified it won't work and the sad reality is for some, it doesn't.
I appreciated friends who listened, genuinely listened. There are loads of great articles about things not to say to someone suffering from infertility, but listening was always best for me.
I gave care packages to friends who went through IVF, which always seemed appreciated.
Keep a rough idea of where they are in the cycle so you're not asking "Did it work?" at unnecessary times. Also, some people want to talk about it, others don't. Ask whether they want to.
Another thing, sometimes the partner (if there is one) can't be present at the routine scans etc. they might want company. I think it all depends on the person and how much they want to share.
I've had ivf, one cycle failed and the other worked. To be honest it's very difficult to understand unless you've been through it yourself. Be supportive but wait and see how much the person is willing to share. For example saying 'I hope it's going ok, let me know if you want to chat about it', is better than direct questions about what stage they are at. And for goodness sake never suggest that ivf is 'exciting' or 'bound to work'. I had well meaning comments like that but they are not helpful.
Honestly? Be matter of fact, don’t treat them as though they are fragile. At the time, nothing irritated me more than someone asking “How it was going” with really wide eyes.
Just listen to them. Message them every other day just saying 'hope you're feeling ok today'. Don't try and offer advice. Don't tell them of other people's miracle success stories. I've been 'your friend ' twice. My friends were a godsend with their support.
It's really thoughtful of you to be so considerate to even ask this question, so they're lucky to have you as a friend.
crucru My MIL reduced someone at her work to tears by asking all breathlessly and concerned (put on) every time she saw them. MIL was then delighted.
I have a feeling it was because she was an unmarried mum at school, and so was her eldest, and then when she and OSIL were older and married and all "legit" it MIL's mind, she oneupped people who were struggling.
Posted too soon. Meant to say MIL was then delighted when they said they didn't have news or had to abandon the cycle that month or something.
Don't ask if it is working. Don't push for information if she says she doesn't want to share. I got really angry with my best friend when he demanded that I explained the whole process and didn't let go of the conversation. You can bloody google it if I'm not in the mood to discuss it! Don't talk about your children the whole time. Just an update is fine. One of my colleagues has to tell me all about her grandkids for an hour a week because I can't have them. I don't know them, don't care and don'tneed to live through a strangers stories. It's not the same. Oh and don't inform them that having kids isn't that great. Not having them is pretty depressing if that's what you want.
Echoing all the above
Don't feel the need to try and say anything helpful, about an article you read that said trying X woo therapy or eating Y increased the success rate of IVF. Definitely don't say anything about someone's sister's cousin's neighbour's miracle IVF story.
Unfortunately an individual IVF cycle is more likely to fail than it is to succeed - so be there to listen. Ask how she would like to be supported
I've been through 4 IVF cycles (and 5 cancelled cycles) and nursed my dying mother, and I can say hand on heart that the IVF was more emotionally gruelling (sadly our story hasn't ended in a baby)
A nice gift can be a pair of socks - your feet get cold when you're in theatre for egg collection and embryo transfer, and it's always nice to have some funny cosy socks on your feet when you're legs akimbo with your ankles propped up in stirrups!
From my own experience, please don’t tell them to start trying harder or that if they they stop trying, it’ll happen naturally .
There 1,000 ifs & buts at every stage, nothing is a given, it’s very expensive if privately funded & plays havoc with hormones, emotions, private life, work life, friendships, it brings out either the absolute best or absolute worst in people.
I tolerated 16 years of IVF. It makes or breaks people sometimes.
(Looking at my stupid MIL)
You sound great, OP. You deserve a gold star for being so conscientious.
Tell them they are doing great.... it is one of the toughest things - drugs play havoc with your system, making you emotionally volatile - when you're going through one of the most emotional things possible...
Cosset them... yup, help them find ways of looking after themselves through a physically and emotionally draining process
Recognise odds are it won't work .... horrid odds... and celebrate when it does
Accept that they may find it very tough being around babies/children while going through it....
Just keep caring - and how lovely of you to want to know more!
Thanks everyone, am desperately hopeful for them and also very aware that the odds are a challenge. Good advice on socks and care package. Also keen to know what helped the men as am sure it was v difficult for them too.
Thank you all for sharing your experience. I cannot imagine the challenge of going through IVF, I think it is an incredibly brave decision.
Just to add. I confided in two friends who had no contact with each other - one childless by choice, the other a mother with a grown up son. Both told me 'I should relax and stop dwelling on it'. 'Stop thinking about it and it will happen' They meant well but it was useless and unhelpful and made me regret telling them.
In terms of what helped the men that was the hardest part for me. I was physically and emotionally drained through IVF and my husband was spending all of his time looking after me. I felt so guilty that he was getting drained because of me! He needed to feel useful though.
He just needed his space sometimes to either go to the gym, or go on long dog walks. He wanted to be there for all injections and appointments, but there were a couple of times he couldn't be - so knowing I was well looked after meant a lot to him.
If it's practical, maybe cooking a tea for them one evening so they can just both rest? My mum made a big pot of stew and dropped off some packets of fruit etc, which just gave us a bit of extra time.
We have male factor infertility, so that may have very much influenced my husband's need to be needed throughout IVF.
I should add, one of the hardest parts for me during IVF was how quickly everyone expected me to recover back to being me. We needed to time to grieve and acknowledge the loss - we have since planted a memorial plant to our lost embryos. It took about a year for me to feel back to being at full energy and not in 'IVF' mode.
Sadly, we still don't have a child and we're not sure what will happen next for us yet.
Depends on you're friend, if it were me it was annoying when people tried to mollycoddle or dramatise things. Nobody could help me, I was well informed already, proactive and only really felt obliged to talk about it for my friends sake.
I did one rounds and my husband and I separated before we got to round 2 (secondary infertility) and I wouldn't have told people if I did a second as I felt I had the weight of their expectations and disappointment if it didn't work.
And I love the socks. It is a lovely personal but funny gift. She will love it
And yes all of the above. Just being an ear, no judgement, no daft comments but also lots of tissues
Best of luck to her
Don’t ask how it’s going and don’t give advice. The 2nd time around, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want the questions. Weirdly, it was the most lonely period for me. Ended well though.
Don’t tell them they are brave. To them it’s a necessity. By the end I hated people telling me I was brave. As if i was some poster girl for something that I wanted nothing to do with.
I had two goes at IVF, first one failed, second one resulted in a son. We could only really easily afford two goes, so we were very lucky.
Unlike some people, I didn't find the process of IVF particularly difficult either physically or emotionally. Of course having your undercarriage rummaged around in all the time isn't fun, but I wasn't a seething mass of hormones, I wasn't in any physical discomfort, and I felt very optimistic that we were getting closer to having a child. Which is weird, because I'm usually a very glass half empty kind of person.
It depends on the people involved though as to what they need in terms of support. DH found it useful to chat to his older brothers about everything happening. I'd rather have sawed my own head off with a butter knife than discuss any of it with anyone though and the absolute last thing I would have wanted was cloying sympathy, probing questions or anyone persistently asking if it had worked or not.
And yes, 'ooh it just wasn't meant to be' is probably one of the most annoying phrases to hear relating to non-pregnancy.
Message them every other day just saying 'hope you're feeling ok today'
With all due respect to Blue (who I’m sure is a wonderful friend) if anyone had done the above I’d have been driven round the bend.
Like most things, this stuff is personal - there’s no one size fits all.
I didn’t want lots of support. I’d have been completely non plussed if someone turned up with food or gifts.
My DH didn’t need to “look after me”. I was fine.
What I did need very occasionally was a friend to listen to my worries or nerves.
My advice would be follow your friend’s lead. Don’t push your way in and make this about proving what an awesome friend you are (happens more than you’d think).
Be there if they need you. Back off if they don’t.
Talk about other things not just the treatment.
Don’t ask for updates.
Don’t go overboard if the treatment is successful, there’s still a long way to go.
I hope things go well for your friend.
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