So one of your friends has just revealed to you that they’ve decided to start IVF. You pause…
What’s the right thing to say right now? Or perhaps, what not to say?
Well, before you step in it, take the time to read this. It’s some suggestions, straight from the minds of women who have had their own encounters with the IVF journey. Believe us, it’s worth five minutes of your time.
1. DON’T Pity Them
One of the worst things that we think you can say to someone who has just told you they’re doing IVF is this: “OMG I’m so sorry that’s terrible”. Look, this person already feels bad about the fact that it’s come to this, but at the end of the day, nobody died and nobody is deathly ill. It’s just one more step on the journey towards completing their family.
DO Wish Them Luck
Positive, upbeat and hopeful is the mood you want to come across as. Leave pity behind, it does nothing for anybody. Instead say: “Oh really. I wish you the best of luck”. After all, fertility problems are more common than you’d think, and it’s not a guaranteed end of the road.
2. DON’T Tell Them To Relax
Yes, we know that stress can have an impact on a number of aspects of a woman’s health, but when it comes to someone’s IVF journey, we can guarantee that telling them to chill out is not the best response. The same goes for telling them to “take a holiday” or talking about how when your friend “relaxed”, she got pregnant straight away. Just don’t. Instead:
DO Say That You Hope They Figure It Out
Fertility is a complicated issue, and often one of the most complex things is figuring out just where the problem lies. So instead of telling them to take a chill pill, let your friend know that you hope that they, and the doctors, get to the bottom of it.
3. DON’T Minimise The Problem
Embarking on an IVF journey is a pretty big deal, and the last thing your friend wants to hear is you minimising the problem. You do this inadvertently sometimes by joking that her and her partner should just have more sex, or that they should be enjoying having some ‘child-free’ time. It’s not helping, so instead:
DO Let Them Know You’re There
Being there for someone is easier than you think. Just let your friend know that if they want to talk or discuss anything in their life, IVF or otherwise, that you’re there for them. That’s what good friends do, people.
4. DON’T Push Alternative Remedies
Sure, kale is great and acupuncture may really have worked for someone that you know, but the fact is that it’s not where your friend is going. They’ve chosen IVF to complete their family, and that’s the right decision for them. You telling them that eating goji berries and chia seeds will boost fertility, well that doesn’t help at all. So instead:
DO Understand It’s Their Path
Fertility is a personal journey, and everyone does it their own way. So when your friend tells you they’ve decided to do IVF, the right thing to do is to understand. They’ve clearly done the research, and they don’t need to hear that it’s actually some Amazonian berry that holds the answer.
5. DON’T Tell Them To Get A Dog
Dogs are great, but it doesn’t matter how many cute little outfits you wrestle them into, they aren’t children. The need to have a baby, or to complete your family with more babies, is a strong urge and an evolutionary one. So though it might be a great distraction, telling your friend to get a dog is probably not the best response to an IVF announcement. Instead:
DO Help Them Take Their Mind Off of It
Going through IVF is a challenge. It’s invasive and exhausting, which is why one of the best things you can do for a friend in the middle of an IVF journey takes their minds off of it. Invite them for a walk somewhere beautiful or take them for a lunch date or even a spa day. These are positive, happy experiences that will help them get through the process.
6. DON’T Brag Or Complain About Pregnancy
This is probably one of the hardest ones for people to understand, but if you’re pregnant, it’s best to tread a bit light when you have a friend going through IVF. You don’t need to walk on eggshells, but don’t complain about your pregnancy woes to them, because they’re craving them.
As for pregnancy announcements, it’s best not to brag about those either. Instead:
DO Be Understanding That It’s Hard
We know, you want to share your news with the world, and every pregnant Mumma should get a chance to vent about morning sickness or swollen feet. But if one of your friends is going through IVF, they might find your pregnancy really a depression, which is why it’s ok to say to them “I understand if you want to take a break from me”. They might need that, and your understanding is so important.
For most couples, IVF is just one step on their infertility journey, and as their friend, you hope it’s the one that comes right before success. But until you know that for sure, all you can do is be there and be supportive. Believe us, they’ll thank you for it later.