I am regularly touched by the Hellobee community, and I was most recently struck by this group’s kindness and thoughtfulness when I saw a board poster asking how she could best support a friend going through infertility.
Only a few hours before coming across that conversation, I had stumbled upon a really amazing commercial that addresses infertility. I promise that I am in no way affiliated with the company that created this commercial, but I think that it was very well done and provides a nice perspective on how infertility feels. When I shared the video with the ladies in the board conversation, I think we all agreed that it is a good one.
I’m sharing it here in the hopes that it may help anyone going through infertility to remember that they are not alone, and also to help anyone who is so kind as to wonder how best to support those who are struggling with infertility. The commercial ends with a friend sharing a simple card that communicates support and consideration for what the other person is facing, and I can certainly say that this is what I wanted when I was in my darkest infertility moments. A card wasn’t even necessary, but rather just a reminder that my pain was valid and recognized, and that the person was there for me.
This commercial led me to reminisce on two friends whom I nearly always think of fondly when I recall my time in infertility, two friends who really supported me perfectly. I want to first point out that both of these friends had children and despite them having exactly what I wanted so desperately, I grew so much closer to them over my time in infertility.
The most important thing that these friends did was listen to and follow my journey. When I was ready to talk, they always seemed to drop everything and let me vent and cry and explain. A lot of this support came through texting conversations, some of it through email, some of it walks around Chicago. They asked questions about the process, they validated how difficult the failed cycles must feel, and agreed with how unfair and frustrating the process was. They told me that they knew that one day I would become a mother, and they assured me that I would be a great one.
Importantly, they also avoided some things. They never gave me advice on what I should do (i.e. “Just relax and it will happen!”; “Try IVF!”; “Don’t try IVF!”; “Just adopt!”). They never told me that I should feel a different way than I was feeling at that moment. And they never complained about their own pregnancies or little ones, but they also never held back from sharing their funny stories or highlights with their babies when I asked.
One of these friends brought me to tears with her kindness when two days after a failed IVF cycle, she sent me a very simple bouquet of flowers with a note that said, “You are lovely. I wanted to remind you in case you forgot.” Three years after receiving those flowers, I still get tears in my eyes when I think about how much that meant to me.
We all know that friendship is not only about standing beside your pals when they are celebrating life’s highs. It is also about holding that friend up when they cannot stand on their own, and sitting beside them even when their pain makes you uncomfortable. I was shown so many beautiful examples of this kind of friendship while I was suffering in infertility, and I commend all of you who demonstrate the remarkable grace and compassion that comes with supporting your friends and family members struggling with infertility.