Being a good friend to someone infertile is tough, says guest blogger Tertia Albertyn.
Although now a Mom of twins, Tertia knows all too well what infertility is like, since she's lived with it for eight years. If you have a friend struggling with infertility and it seems like no matter what you do, you never get it right, read on.
1. Educate yourself about what your friend is going through. Show
your commitment to your friendship by reading up about infertility.
Know little things like eggs are retrieved, then fertilized, becoming
embryos before they're put back. That way, when your friend does share
some of her world with you, you'll have a high-level understanding of
what she's talking about.
2. Do not willy-nilly offer advice or hot-off-the-press research about a fantastic new procedure that is sure to work. The
stuff they write about in your women's magazine is stuff that your
friend did in Infertility 101. Been there, failed that. ICSI is not a
new procedure, I promise. Oh, and for my aunt, yes, I have heard of
lying with my legs in the air after having sex. (Unfortunately, I have
PCOS and don't ovulate so I could be lying with my legs in the air till
the cows come home.)
3. Never offer platitudes. Saying "maybe you aren't meant to have children" is an incredibly stupid thing to say. You wouldn't say to a diabetic "maybe you weren't meant to have insulin." Infertility is a medical condition, not some factor in the universe's bigger plan for your friend. And please, whatever you do, never, ever be so stupid as to say "just relax." Would you say to a cancer patient "just relax?" Would you say to someone who can't see "just relax?" Of course not.
5. Trust your friend to know what she can handle. Don't hide things like baby showers from her, but respect her if she says "I don't think I am going to be able to handle that." Invite her, but give her the choice to say no.
6. Offer friendship and support--even from a distance at times. Tell
her "I am here for you if you want to talk, or not talk, or drink, or
swear, or shop. But if you don't want to that's perfectly okay. I'll be
here waiting for you when you are ready to come out of the cave." Hang
in there--your friendship should return to some semblance of its
previous form once your friend has worked her way through her dark
despair. It has nothing to do with you or your ability to be a good
friend. It has everything to do with her coping with the horrible
reality of her situation.
7. If you don't know how to act, ask. The best way to know what your friend needs is to ask her. Respect her answer and she'll love you even more than she already does.