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things to avoid/things that are helpful to say to friend starting infertility treatment soon

(29 Posts)
cantbelieveimonhere Fri 28-Aug-15 21:29:01

Friend starting infertility treatment soon. I want to be supportive, but also realistic.
Any advice re: language that is helpful or unhelpful?
-any things that you've found patronizing or demoralising to be avoided?
-any things that you've found helpful?

Thanks in advance MN

CanISayOfHerFace Fri 28-Aug-15 21:45:53

Just be there to talk if your friend wants to. Follow her lead.

My friends had lots of questions about the process, which I was happy to answer. But I had a few friends that asked really specific questions around dates and timings with one even asking at the end of the questioning "So what date will you find out if it worked?"! Don't do this!

I still wanted to wait until 12 weeks if I got pregnant to tell people so in the end I avoided some of my more inquisitive friends as it was just too awkward.

Test day is a big deal when you are having fertility treatment and you don't need the added pressure of your friends knowing when that day is.

Of course your friend might feel differently to me!

FlatWhiteToGo Fri 28-Aug-15 22:07:08

I think just ask lots of general, vague questions like "so how are you feeling?" so she can take the lead and say as little/much as she wants.

Just don't say things like "Well if it doesn't work you can try again" or other well meaning comments. It's so hard because you desperately want to say the right thing, and say something that will be positive and boost morale, but without a BFP (and healthy pregnancy) there just aren't those words and it just feels like the more positive everyone else is, the more alone the person (well people!) going through it is!!

It's such a difficult situation. Good luck! The very fact you're asking about this shows you have a greater awareness and sense of tact than many smile x

cantbelieveimonhere Fri 28-Aug-15 23:25:28

Thanks. I just try to remember however difficult/awkard it feels for me to talk about it, it will be an immeasurable times more difficult for her. Heart breaks for friend and dp, they they would make such great parents. It just seems so hard to understand when others (e.g. young girls, no support etc) get pregnant without even wanting it. I don't want to not talk about their trying for a baby, but equally so don't want to say the "wrong thing". The general questions is a really good suggestion, thank you.

YouCant Sat 29-Aug-15 21:18:15

Second everything others have said. The one thing that really used to get to me is friends telling me how exciting it was and I should be excited. It's not exciting, quite honestly it's a bit devastating to have to go through IVF, it's not a nice process, it may not work. If it works, your friend will provably spend her pregnancy completely terrified that it will go wrong. If it doesn't work just let her talk, as above don't say things like 'you can try again' or 'what about alternatives like adoption'......

YouCant Sat 29-Aug-15 21:19:12

The fact that you are asking here though shows you are a very caring friend though smile

Elektra83 Sat 29-Aug-15 21:41:28

What everyone else said! I would also add don't tell your friend to be positive. At this stage she knows the odds and will more likely be realistic rather than positive.

I definitely second what YouCant said! Don't tell her to be excited, it's far from that. Also, try to avoid the "I know x, y and z person who had IVF and they had twins/babies" just because it worked for people you know doesn't mean it will work for you.

I had most of the above from my best friend (who is due any minute now) and I struggled to get through to her that this is a means to an end and not one that is guaranteed to work! It's one of the reasons why I actively avoided talking about any of it (and we haven't really started the journey yet!). I only ever updated her when she asked.

lugo40 Tue 01-Sep-15 09:52:05

i also find it incredibly annoying when people try and make everything positive. Unless your friend is gushing with positivity then don't try to help her find the positives. Just agree with her how rubbish the situation is. I like it when certain friends are interested, it makes me feel like they aren't avoiding the subject or bored of it as it does go on a long time! But i havnt had friends who have been too intrusive so it may be why i like it, they just ask things like "hows everything been going have you had any more appointments?" etc. it helps to get permission to talk about it sometimes as i think a lot of people get bored and move on quickly as no one wants to dwell on the negativity of someone elses life if they can help it!

lugo40 Tue 01-Sep-15 09:54:03

oh and one other thing that really annoys me... one of my friends has just had a baby and when i say to her, i'm not sure about ivf she comes back with "i would just do everything it takes because now i have my baby i realise how important it is" arghh! Actually, you no nothing about ivf so you don't no that you would do whatever it takes and i already realise how important having a child is which is why i'm going through so many bloody tests!!!! why is it that if some people have a child they think they know everything?!

Jackie0 Tue 01-Sep-15 10:00:07

I had a well meaning friend insist it would work , because it just had to.
I felt like I had to comfort her when it didn't .
People who don't have direct experience tend to think the chances of success are much higher than they actually are.

Highlove Wed 02-Sep-15 19:35:48

One of my closest friends always used to say "I know it'll work". I know she meant really well but it used to make me seethe inside and reiterate to me that she had no understanding of the situation, making he feel even more isolated. I'd really have preferred to just say something along the lines "I've got absolutely everything crossed, I so want this to work for you"...heartfelt and kind, but not nonsense!

Viewofhedges Fri 04-Sep-15 12:50:38

"...aren't you going to get a dog?"
Yes - this - while I dandled her twins on my knee.

Also turning up to a lunch date 8 months pregnant and not letting me know in advance. I had to go and sit on my own for an hour after that one. Not sure we're still friends.

Or "Oh but I know someone who had a kid at 43." Oh did they. I'm sure their AMH levels are different to mine though. And her partner's sperm probably isn't the same, either.

Looking at someone else's screaming child and saying "Kids, eh, who'd have 'em?" Well me, actually.

And stories of someone whose child was taken away for adoption at birth because they weren't fit to be a mother. (That was from confused MIL when we broke the IVF news).

Don't send proud photos of your kids on first day at school.


I'm sure you'll be more sensitive but I think I just needed to rant those ones out....

The thing is half the time even the person going through IVF doesn't know how they feel so just listen, don't judge them if they have a rant / wobble / seem to think inconsistently / whatever - it's a deeply emotional, difficult time. I certainly feel very different some days. Sometimes I think I'm fine with the thought it'll never happen and then just seeing a baby makes me wail. Just hold their hand, offer a shoulder, and also talk about other things because an IVFer doesn't want to think that this is all she is. Because when you know that kids might never happen, you also want to feel like a human being even if you don't have children.

Also - allow them to say it's not fair. Because it isn't.

Oh, and just tell them they have permission to tell you off if you say anything that upsets them. You won't be able to get it right all the time but if you know they'll pull you up on it if you do, then at least you can have proper conversations without you constantly pussy footing around, which can also make things feel strained. "That doesn't help" is a brilliant line to use if it's used in time.

Good luck.

Whippet1 Sat 05-Sep-15 14:41:38

I agree with the above - I think "how are you feeling?" and go from there is great advise. People are so different and what is upsetting for one isn't for another. I found "I'm sure it ll work" unhelpful, as when it didn't I felt like a let down. Also, the stories of a friend of a friend who "just relaxed and it happened naturally"- can anyone going through this ever really relax?? I also found being TOLD I must be positive very irritating as there is a fine line between being positive and battling the realism of the statistics.
It's such an emotional roller coaster - I think keep in regular touch and let them know you're thinking of them both
Wishing them luck !

cantbelieveimonhere Mon 07-Sep-15 11:13:38

Thank you ladies, all much appreciated.

YouCant Mon 07-Sep-15 11:51:30

Ugh the 'you have to stay positive and it will happen' really got me down. I feel so unhappy during IVF that every having made that comment throughout made me feel like it was my fault it didn't work as I'd been so unpositive. Realistic was probably where I was but people can't understand it when your aren't bouncing off the walls with excitement.

YouCant Mon 07-Sep-15 11:53:16

*felt, not feel. My IVF days are over.

lokijet Mon 07-Sep-15 12:05:39

TBH is such a tough one to say the right thing as depending on how things are going what is right one day could be really hard to hear on another. Be led by your friend and try to allow her space to grieve for any unsuccessful attempts or react to there peoples good news in private

I didn't tell several of my closest friends because i knew they would be be really supportive but always want updates and would be the "its definitely going to work..." brigade and knew I couldn't handle it ( i also didn't tell most of my family) I also know one friend was hurt that i didn't tell her but we have got over it.

Dont do what one friend did and when I had told her of my successful pregnancy told others and then said "'course i knew she was doing IVF" so friends i hadn't told already knew when I called and were hurt that they hadn't been told.

once in treatment the 2 week wait following treatment is horrible as there is nothing to do but wait so offering distraction (dvd and a pizza) without discussion would be helpful.

Hope it goes well

blaeberry Mon 07-Sep-15 14:26:53

"I'm sure it will work", why? How can you be sure? Actually the doctors say it is much more likely NOT to work.

Or even worse from MIL "God is telling me you will be pregnant by Christmas". Now I am a Christian and I do believe God does tell people things so what do I do with that information? Celebrate now? Doubt it but what does that mean for my faith? Really, is it wishful thinking by you instead? (As it happened I did get pregnant but not for another year then had stillborn premie twins which my MIL made even more thoughtless comments about).

pinguina16 Mon 07-Sep-15 20:13:15

I would simply listen and bite my lip from time to time.
I've been through IVF and was successful eventually. Close friends of ours are on their fourth round at the moment. My curiosity really really wants me to ask what is going on but my experience tells me it would be ill-judged and so I keep my mouth shut.
They know they can talk to us about our experience and that is all.

I agree with other posts. IVF may never work. It may work but depending on the cause of infertility your friend may face a negative outcome at any point during the pregnancy. For these reasons I think it is best to simply wait quietly and be at the other end of the phone if your friend needs it.

UnGoogleable Tue 15-Sep-15 08:51:45

What a lovely friend you are for asking. I agree with all the advice on here, and just wanted to add my own for anyone else who might be reading.

Don't say:

"Just relax / stop stressing / forget about it / get drunk and you'll get pregnant" My own gynae consultant actually said that to me

"I know someone who was trying for years and then just got drunk and got pregnant. Perhaps you should do that". Oh thanks, I didn't think of that.

"Oh god, count yourself luck you have your freedom - sometimes I wish I didn't have kids, think of all the holidays you can go on!" Yes, I love my life, but please don't patronise me

"Oh don't be negative. It will happen, I just know it". Really unhelpful. You don't know it will happen, and saying this forces me to quote the statistics showing how bloody difficult it is, which I don't really need to dwell on thanks, and then makes it seem like I'm wallowing in the negatives all the time

"Any News!!!???" No, I'm still infertile. I'll let you know if that changes

"Well maybe you're just not meant to have kids" Maybe I'm meant to throttle you with my bear hands right now

I'd say just be open to talking about it. My friends have all been brilliant, and interested and willing to listen, but I feel like I'm such a doom monger and don't want to always be talking about me and my faulty ovaries. It's great to know I can talk to them, so opening the door with "How are things going?" is great. And acknowledge that it's shit and unfair and you're there for your friend.

I also feel people tip toeing around me with other people's pregnancy news. I know they really don't know what to do, and people react differently, but I really don't want to be the person that everyone's scared to mention the PG word in front of. I'm genuinely happy for anyone that manages to get pregnant and have a healthy happy baby - I'm happy for them that they're not going through what I'm going through. I appreciate everyone's different with this one, so gauge your friend and see how she feels.

UnGoogleable Tue 15-Sep-15 08:56:00

Oh and another one - when I talk about my awful periods caused by severe endometriosis and I say that I can deal with it as a means to an end and then if I'm ever lucky enough to get pregnant, I won't ever have to suffer an awful period again because I'd go straight on birth control for ever more:

"Oh, don't you want more than one then? You can't just have an only child"

Yes, I'd love a whole brood actually. But at the moment, I don't know if I'll ever even have one. So let me deal with that first yeah? before you get disappointed that my as yet unconceived child won't have a fictional sibling.

cantbelieveimonhere Tue 15-Sep-15 14:34:16

Thanks UnGoogleable, and for raising the scenario of tiptoeing round/being cautious of talking about other people's pregnancies. Plan to ttc myself soon, want to be both honest with and sensitive to my friend if we get a BFP

UnGoogleable Tue 15-Sep-15 16:21:30

If you're ttc soon yourself, I'd recommend you're completely honest with your friend from the start. You're allowed to follow your own path to having a family, and must never feel guilty about that. I hope your friend can be happy for you.

I'd ask her to agree some ground rules on how she wants you to act if you do get a BFP. Take her lead on it - if it was me, Id want you to tell me straight away and we could share your happiness. And I'd hate the thought of you being afraid to tell me. But she might not feel the same way.

But also, accept that the way you'll be feeling - excited to be ttc, hopeful each month, dreaming about how it will be - is how she felt, probably many years ago right at the beginning. It's a lovely time, but perhaps she might not want to dwell on it too much or shove it in her face at all.

And if you do find it takes a few months, try not to complain (even though it might be stressful for you). I have a friend who has had terrible problems conceiving, and finds that people who moan or get stressed about ttc when it's only been a few months incredibly frustrating.

I guess it's the equivalent to complaining you have the flu when you only have a cold, or a migraine when you only have a headache.

Please don't think I'm being critical here, I'm sure you wouldn't do any of those things. And you mustn't feel guilty at all for your own happiness or excitement. It's what we all want and I'm sure your friend wouldn't begrudge you it.

Good luck!

blaeberry Tue 15-Sep-15 16:59:26

Yes, if/when you get pregnant let your friend with infertility trouble be one of the first to know, it is hurtful to have it kept from you. It is also a good idea to let them know by phone so they can make excuses and hang up quickly. It is not that they won't be delighted for you (they will) but they will have to deal with their own emotions and envy which may also make them feel guilty... Then be prepared for them to back off for a bit, they will come round again but it may take a while (possibly until you have a toddler) as they struggle with conflicted emotions.

cantbelieveimonhere Tue 15-Sep-15 23:35:57

Thank you ladies

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