Read This If Someone You Love is Going Through IVF
You’ve only heard about IVF from other people.
Maybe you’ve read about it online or heard about it in the news, or seen a movie or television show that involves it its part of its story. Perhaps you’ve read about IVF in a novel or two. You’ve heard about IVF from other people — but you’ve never known someone who did it — until now.
Now your sister, your sister-in-law, your best friend on the entire planet is on the IVF journey. And let me tell you — it is a journey. It’s a hike through the mountains. It’s a walk through the desert. It’s a marathon on top of a marathon on top of yet another marathon.
But what do you say to the ones whom you love who are going through IVF? What are the right words? The wrong words? The things they need to hear and the things that they do not?
While it will be different for everyone, some commonalities remain the same. So here’s a small list of what to say, and what not to say, and finding your footing when you’re trying nothing more than to be a supportive friend throughout this process:
Don’t say, “relax.”
Undergoing IVF is not a relaxing process for most people; uttering that little command does not induce relaxation. It’s just minimizing the very stressful, strenuous process that is IVF. I know you probably mean it with good intentions, but it doesn’t help your friend walking this road. It’s a stressful time and a stressful process, and telling someone to “relax” when they’re in the thick of it does nothing for them.
Do say, “I love you.”
When you send them a text message reminder of how they are loved, it warms the heart. It makes them feel seen. It’s even better when you let them know that you’re not expecting a response back, but you want them to know that you are carrying them within your heart.
Don’t say, “I’m sorry.”
I know it comes from a good place — you’re sorry that they’re hurting. You’re sorry that they’re going through this pain. You’re sorry that this road to parenthood isn’t the easiest thing in the world for them. You’re saying sorry because you want them to know that you care about their pain — but sometimes, it makes people feel as if they’re being pitied, and nobody needs to add pity to the mix. IVF is their road to walk — and they cannot go down it with feeling as if they or anyone else should apologize for their story. There’s no need for apologies.
Do say, “I’m here if you want to talk.”
It’s nice to know that there are ears that will listen, should one want to divulge everything that’s stirring within their heart and their head. It’s nice to know that the ones whom you call family and friends want to be there for you and that they are comfortable with you leaving your worries and your hurt and your fears at their feet. Sometimes people don’t want to share, but the gesture, no matter if they take you up on it or not, is beautiful and appreciated.
Don’t say, “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Adoption is a beautiful, wonderful, admirable thing to do. Some might say that families who adopt are angels who walk upon this earth. But adoption is a very different thing than having biological children and should be treated as such. Children aren’t prizes to be exchanged to suit your needs — and so, adoption should be something to enter with a whole heart, not trying to fix a child-sized hole in one’s heart.
Do remember that you don’t have to say anything at all.
Sometimes, silence is best. Silence is comfortable — and gives whoever is walking this road the option to be without talking about doctor’s appointments and blood tests, and the next steps. Silence doesn’t mean that you don’t care; it just means that you’re giving your friend the space to share when and if she wants.