When my husband and I started trying to conceive our first baby, I remember feeling really weird about it. I had spent so many years trying not to get pregnant, and then, suddenly, it was a good idea? It was an odd shift to adjust to. I was giddily excited to see if this conception thing actually worked, after having barricaded myself against it with various forms of birth control since my teens. No doubt, trying to get pregnant is fun...for while. But if the collection of pee sticks without that plus sign is growing, feelings of frustration and disappointment can really take a toll. When you are having trouble getting pregnant, it can become hard to focus on anything else.
Talking to other women in similar situations can help, but not everyone knows how to be supportive. Both mom friends and child-free friends can be sources of comfort, if they are sensitive enough to realize that the struggle is real for the friend who is having a tough time trying to conceive.
The support we can offer someone is usually just listening. The most comforting words my friends have ever spoken to me when I was dealing with some heavy stuff were: “I hear you.” So don’t be so quick to come up with pearls of wisdom when you know she's is having a hard time. And maybe stay away from saying any of these things to someone who’s having trouble getting pregnant:
"You Can Always Try Again."
Saying this is not only stating the obvious, but it's also tone-deaf to the cycle of emotions you go through even thinking about trying again, and possibly being disappointed again.
People who say this mean well, but they totally don't realize how dismissive they are being of your feelings. To tell someone to "just" do anything, especially when it comes to trying to create a human, is truly the worst.
Anyone who is actively trying to get pregnant knows the deal: There is a narrow window of opportunity for conception and as we get older, fertility rates decline. So patience is not really a virtue when time isn't on your side.
"Have You Tried Acupuncture?"
Try reframing this to consider the fact that someone trying to get pregnant keeps an exhaustive list of mind-body techniques she's willing to attempt to facilitate conception. Rest assured, acupuncture was on there. How about just being a good listener when she wants to talk, instead of coming off like you have the answer?
"I Know Someone Who Had 8 Rounds Of IVF Before It Worked."
Thanks for the pep talk (?), but what works for one woman, doesn't necessarily work for everyone. IVF can be costly and mentally exhausting. Not everyone has the means or stamina to go through it multiple times.
"Maybe It’s Not Meant To Be."
Who are you to stamp "The End" to this particular chapter of someone's life? This phrase allows for some perspective on dealing with certain kinds of disappointment, like a coveted item at your favorite discount online retailer no longer being available. But for a woman who believes she was meant to be someone's mother, this kind of talk is totally off base.
"Enjoy Your Freedom While It Lasts!"
Even if this is the most real advice a parent can give to a friend trying to conceive, you don't go there. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but there is no joy in wanting a baby and struggling to have one. Part of recognizing you want to be a parent is that you're ready to give up some things. And how lucky will that eventual child be to have a mom who loved him or her so much, even before being born? Maybe just avoid anything that implies that someone who wants a baby is better off without one. It's not really helping anyone.