As someone who has personally experienced fertility problems, this topic is so close to my heart. My biggest dream since I was a child was to be a mom. When I heard the words, "You may never have children," my world shattered.
At the time, the only people who knew we were having trouble conceiving were my parents. Meanwhile, everyone else was constantly asking why we, as a married couple, didn't have children yet. It was hard, and there are lots of things that people don't realize. This article will walk you through some of the different things to know and ways to approach your friend who is struggling to get pregnant.
1. Fertility Treatments Are Expensive
On top of having a hard time conceiving, fertility treatments are ridiculously expensive. I remember when I was trying for my oldest son, on top of the expense for the actual procedures, ONE bottle of the medication I needed was priced at $900. This means, on top of the grief from thinking this may never happen, your friend who is struggling to conceive is piling up the medical bills.
The other fertility costs that could be weighing your friend down include the prices of blood testing, sonograms, hormone injections, and IVF, among other treatments the fertility doctor recommends.
2. Fertility Challenges Involve Awkward Moments
Navigating fertility challenges is a deeply personal and often overwhelming journey. As someone who's been through the process, I can tell you it's much more than what meets the eye. Imagine, each month, undergoing a series of tests — some of which can be embarrassing and intrusive.
For instance, the use of an internal wand might seem straightforward, but it's a procedure that's both uncomfortable and a tad awkward, allowing doctors to get an inside look at what's happening. Every test, every scan, is a reminder of the hurdles your friend is facing, and the weight of uncertainty can be overwhelming to hold.
3. There's a Mix of Excitement and Sadness
Hearing about a friend's pregnancy always filled me with so much joy. It's like watching a miracle unfold, knowing that soon there will be a mini-version of them who could have their unique traits and quirks. Witnessing their faces glow with a mix of surprise and excitement is genuinely heartwarming.
However, with every announcement, there was a small corner of my heart that whispered, "When will it be our turn?" Every month became a tightrope walk of immense hope, nail-biting anticipation, and frequently, feelings of disappointment.
4. Never Say "Just Relax"
Telling someone to "just relax" or suggesting they're "trying too hard" can be hurtful. It oversimplifies a complex issue and can make them feel like they're to blame for their struggles.
You might just be trying to help, but some better responses would be "I'm sorry for what you're going through, it must be hard." Or, alternatively, "All of this will be worth it when you hold that baby in your arms." It doesn't hurt to offer some hope. Other times, they may just need a listening ear so they can vent and relieve some tension.
"Trying too hard" isn't really a thing. Some couples truly do need to try hard to have a family of their own.
5. Use Caution With Questions
While your heart may be in the right place and you may be concerned, probing them with questions about their infertility or giving advice may be too intrusive. Personally, I have always shared my journey when asked, but many of my friends who have faced these issues often tread with more caution. Many people limit the number of people they tell because then there's another person asking month after month if it's happened yet, making the disappointment that much harder.
6. Know That They May Need Space
There may be times when your friend needs a break from baby showers, kid's birthday parties, or other child-centered events. It's not personal; sometimes, it's just a little too much to handle. The thought of never having children, to a family who really wants them, is heart-wrenching.
It's not that they aren't happy for you, because believe me, they're probably thrilled. Do your best not to take this personally.
7. There Are Misconceptions About Age and Fertility Issues
You know how there's this idea floating around that only women close to their 40s face fertility issues? You often hear folks say, "Oh, the biological clock is ticking!" especially when a woman is heading toward that age.
But here's the real deal: it's not just about age. Many younger women (I'm talking about those in their 20s and 30s) are wrestling with the same challenges. Fertility has lots of factors, and it's not just about a number on your ID.
8. Fertility Struggles Can Put a Strain on Relationships
Your friend and her partner might be going through a real emotional whirlwind right now. Infertility can throw a massive weight on a relationship, kind of like this invisible wedge driving them apart.
And the worst part? Even though you see they have one another, they might feel like they're navigating this stormy sea all on their own sometimes. It's not just about the physical challenges, but this emotional tug-of-war adds an extra layer of stress to the whole infertility journey. It's a lot to handle.
9. It's Hard to Hear Pregnant Women Talk About Their Struggles
Pregnancy isn't always a walk in the park, but hearing pregnant women talk about how terrible it was was incredibly hard to hear. I was going through an emotional and physical roller coaster trying to have a baby, and it sometimes felt like they weren't appreciating the miracle they had. I was crossing fingers and toes hoping for that miracle, and on the other side, some were seemingly taking it for granted. Their experiences and challenges were totally valid, but it was difficult to hear in the midst of my own struggle.
Being pregnant is a wild experience, and if you've ever felt those incredible baby kicks or their adorable hiccups, you know exactly what I'm talking about. That's what your friend wants to experience, too.
10. It's a Challenging Road
After the hassles of fertility treatments, I ended up giving birth to a beautiful baby boy who is now 11 years old. The fertility treatments were successful!
I also have another little boy who is eight years old and was conceived without the use of any fertility treatments whatsoever. And, I'm in the final stages of adopting my soon-to-be official daughter. For someone who was told I may never have children, the universe said differently.
While my story had a happy ending, some women have a totally different experience. It's okay to be hopeful for your friend, but know that everyone's journey is unique and some people may not get pregnant. Your love and support can help them no matter where their road to parenthood leads.
The Path to Conception
Although I am a mother now and my dreams have come true, the path to conception was an emotional rollercoaster. There are some of the things I wish my friends knew as I was struggling to conceive. As a friend, understanding and supporting your loved ones through this journey is an invaluable gift.