Amber L, 33, who conceived after three cycles of IVF, explains: “IVF is exhausting in every way and the way you see the world changes in so many ways. “The people around you can really make things better or worse for you, too.”
Amber and her husband tried for 8 years and experienced one miscarriage before conceiving. She says she learned a lot about personal sharing in the process.
“At first, I tried to be open with family, friends and some colleagues because when you have too much hormones people can say you are not quite who you are, so I thought it was better should absolutely. open,” explained Amber. “After a while, I felt like I couldn’t share anymore because some of the comments people made were very hurtful.”
To help you best support your loved one, we asked experts what helps, what hurts, and how to be mindful of their feelings during this very sensitive time.
How to Respectfully and Support a Friend Going Through IVF
Sarah Holley, PhD, a staff psychologist at the Center for Reproductive Health and an assistant clinical professor of health sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, says: “I think it’s important. The most important thing is to ask the person what is useful to them. “Different people want different things from their support systems and friends.”
Dr. Holley also suggests that it can be helpful to ask a friend to do something to take their mind off the IVF process. “Some people keep the process private and don’t want to share details about it,” she explains. “Help can take the form of just being there and distracting you by going for a walk, talking about other things, or going to the movies.”
If you’re looking for the perfect thing to say, just know that it may not be available. Amber admits: “There are very few people who can say that infertility and IVF are less painful. “I felt most supported by friends or family who said things like ‘I’m sorry, I wish this was easier for you, let me know if you need anything or What can I do to cheer you up,” she said. speak.
“It’s great when people admit it’s a difficult process that they don’t fully understand, but they support and love you,” explains Amber.
Things you definitely want to avoid saying to someone going through this process
“To be told everything happens for a reason or you don’t intend to be a mother or feel ashamed for wanting your own baby was one of the most painful things I have ever been told and it still hurts. to this day, even though I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my miracle baby,” explains Amber. “It’s just something you never forget. Comments like this or things like malicious positivity are not helpful.”
While some of the comments Amber said she endured were well-meaning, but still hurt in the end, others were insensitive. Here are 10 things to absolutely avoid saying to someone going through any form of family building therapy:
- “Perhaps God doesn’t want you to be a parent or you’ll get pregnant naturally.”
- “You’re playing God, don’t you think that’s disgusting?”
- “Everything happens for a reason, maybe you should move on.”
- “Why don’t you adopt?”
- “It’s selfish to do IVF when there are so many kids in need of a home.”
- “It happens naturally when you stop trying.”
- “I have two kids at home, do you want them instead?”
- “Is it your fault or his fault that you can’t have children?”
- “Then adopt and get pregnant naturally, just try it.”
- “Why don’t you just have a replacement?”
Dr Holley says: Another saying to avoid is telling a person to ‘relax’. Dr Holley explains: “The existing ‘conventional’ wisdom about stress and fertility is that if you’re stressed, IVF won’t work. “The data does not support this. It’s not the person’s stress level that determines the outcome.”
You may also be concerned about announcing pregnancy to someone undergoing IVF or another method of treatment, says Linda Hammer Burns, PhD, a licensed psychologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. building another family. She recommends talking to that friend face-to-face before making an important announcement or inviting them to a baby shower. This will give them a chance to process their emotions without an audience. Then it’s important to have compassion (and try not to take it personally) if they choose not to attend your baby shower or another event.
What to do if you’re worried about a friend on their IVF journey
Going through ART or IVF is stressful. In fact, an estimated 23% of people experience anxiety and 17% depression while undergoing family building treatments. If you notice a loved one seems very withdrawn or their daily activities are affected, you may feel you should say something to your friend. Doing so can be understandably difficult, says Dr. Burns, and many people are afraid to say anything because they are unsure how to deal with changes in their friends.
Burns advises: “There is no harm in bringing this up if you ask people questions in an inviting and genuine way. “Say, ‘Now I’m about to say something that might upset you, and I don’t want to do it, but I’m concerned.’”
Burns says consider the environment—pick somewhere quiet where you really have time to talk to your loved one. Note that family dinners or business lunches are often not the right times.
“Be persistent. Say ‘I know you might not want to talk about it now, but I’m worried and I’ll continue to worry until we talk,'” Dr. Burns recommends. If you get a text from someone like that, they’re usually more willing to talk to you.”
If you feel your friend needs professional help, you can ask them if they can talk to their doctor, including their primary care doctor or a doctor at a fertility clinic. Dr. Burns also encouraged interested friends to visit helpful resources, including RESOLVE.org, the websites of the National Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. No matter how you ultimately decide to support a friend going through IVF, having you consider their feelings during this sensitive time is a good first step.