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5 Things You Wish You Could Tell Your Fertile Friends

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A blog by Chelsea Ritchie, February 11, 2015

Ever been there? That place, that moment, when you look around the room and realize you are the only person without kids? The conversation drifts in and out as you refresh your thinking, “was up all night with johnny .. so tired .. love when they snuggle all morning … watched too much tv yesterday with them … need a night out … love them more than I knew was possible … love the boppy, although I would recommend … ” You catch snippets of conversation, knowing that you have nothing to offer and for just a moment, you want to weigh in and let your friends know these 5 things …

1) We are happy for you, we really are. I would not wish the pain of infertility or secondary infertility on anyone. However, just because I am happy for you doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments where my sadness eclipses my happiness. There is nothing you can do about it and I don’t ask that you sit and wallow with me all the time. I just simply ask that as you share, try your best to remember that your audience is not all the same. Acknowledge the hard but also express the good things. There is nothing in the world that I would like to do more than participate in the conversation based on personal experience. If I chime in and tell you about something a friend told me, be kind. Please don’t shoot down my thoughts, even if you are laughing at me in your head, knowing that the reality of my world doesn’t offer me the same hands-on experience you have. I am just trying to not feel excluded so please offer me grace if I say something ridiculously stupid like “I heard ginger tea might help your morning sickness.” I can only imagine how hard motherhood is and can’t wait for the day I can really join in on your conversation. We do care about your tough times, but sometimes, we just feel a little jealous that we can't go through those tough times too.

2) Small gestures mean the world to us. A card, a text, a call or an email, simply acknowledging our struggles and recognizing that we are stuck, means so much. Just because time is passing by and we aren’t talking about it all the time doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking about it every minute of the day. I can go from feeling down and blue to feeling insanely encouraged simply due to someone reaching out. Even better, make a note of things like passed due dates and check in on us. Or remember us on Mother’s Day. These days are calendar landmines and an aching heart is instantly comforted when someone comes along side us. Your prayers mean the world too and simply letting us know we are being thought of touches us deeply.

3) We want to be friends with you, even if you have kids. We realize we cannot eliminate all child-bearing friends, nor do we want to! Thank you for inviting us to your child’s birthday party or your baby shower. There are good days and bad days and we appreciate your respect if we simply are having an emotional day and can’t make it. It’s not personal. We would rather be sad at home than bring pity upon ourselves or dimming your day. That being said, please keep inviting us. We don’t want to be isolated and alienated from our friends. It can be hard, but we love you just as you love us.

4) Please don’t give us advice on how to get pregnant or stay pregnant. We know your intentions are good. You are trying to help and we are grateful that you are making an effort. However, hearing every story about your neighbors cousin who struggled or sharing about this magic remedy called “take a vacation!” or “drink a bottle of wine!” doesn't help us. Every situation is so different, circumstances are never the same. Your stories are meant to give hope but can sometimes make us feel like everyone but us can magically fall and stay pregnant. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything, just listen. Also, adoption is not the magic cure-all for infertility and while you may have your own opinions on our situation, we politely ask that you respect our thoughts on where we are at and why. You can always assume that an infertile couple has thoroughly discussed all options they feel called to investigate and consider.

5) Infertility causes constant aching. I know that may sound dramatic, but infertility hurts every moment of every day. I know that and have experienced the fact that there is incredible comfort found in faith and a relationship with God, however there is no cure-all to the ache that our hearts feel. There are triggers all around us, from shopping at Target and seeing a new mom push her baby around to watching a Superbowl commercial that is centered around what it’s like to be a dad. The reminders of what we are missing haunts us, it invades our dreams and strikes in waves when we least expect it. Yes, there are moments where the pain is less intense, but it never truly goes away. Just keep in mind our tender hearts as you navigate the difficult waters with us.

But the truth is, we never really say any of this out loud. Most of the times in these situations we distract ourselves by making a grocery list in our head or counting ceiling tiles, waiting for the moment to pass. Now I realize not every woman struggling with infertility would express all of these, they are general thoughts based on personal experience and conversations with fellow strugglers, so what about you? What would you want to share if you could with your friends that have kids? Comment below!

Comments (34)

Well said. What a horrendously painful journey we are on. I think I'll forward this one when I'm next annoyed by some flippant comment, such as 'have you tried Chlomid'?! Aaargh.

Every minute of every single never goes away! It is a comfort to have others to walk this journey with. Thank you!

(hugs) I wish we could all live in a single row next to each other so we could spend time visiting all the time! I am wishing you all the baby dust in the world so you can move of this path!

Thanks for putting it in such eloquent's all so true! And during those awkward times when you're the only one in the room not fitting into the conversation..don't make a big deal about it to me, just gently steer the conversation to something we can all relate to if it gets uncomfortable. Or if it's one on one, please don't make me feel like we have to talk about 'my journey' or 'your life' all the time, sometimes all we really want is to be normal and talk about something we both have in common. silence is ok too, and I strongly agree with the 'card later ' idea :)

THIS. All of it. I love it. You are SO right that we don't always want to talk about "our journey" or think about infertility all the time. I really agree that we just want to be normal and talk about normal things! Silence is okay! Acknowledge the heartache at the proper time and take our lead sometimes too. I am thankful for your comment!

This is so spot on Chelsea!!! I think the 'don't tell us how to get/stay pregnant' is something I wish everyone knew NOT to say, but then again I know I often say stupid things to people who are going through other trials, so I just have to find the balance to giving grace when I receive those comments! My favorite is always the 'take a trip' haha - I'm like do you know how many trips we take??? ;)

I agree- I am certain we say many hurtful things to others too without realizing it! I wish we could also find sponsors for all the "hopeful" trips we take. :) Thanks for reading and supporting me! We will get through this! Love you friend.

This could not be more true. Thank you for validating that having these thoughts are ok. I couldn't have said it better myself.

I am so glad that this post could validate your feelings and remind you that you are not alone. Thanks for reading and commenting, big hugs!

Another post, that could not be more spot on... fwding this to my family and some close friends..

Thank you for sharing! I am so thankful (and feel grateful!) that I can help others struggling start conversations with others. I hope that you feel supported in your sharing and know that I am thankful for your willingness to share as well. xo

Thanks Chelsea! This is a great reminder.

Yes, can I laminate this and wear it around my neck? But seriously, another great article by Chelsea!

A laminated sign around your neck would certainly be one way to start conversation! :) Thanks for commenting and making me giggle at the thought! xo!

This. This is good. So many words I've written in my journal that match these words - with the hope to share someday.

Your post couldn't come at a more perfect time. My mom and I had a very difficult conversation yesterday. She said she understood why I was hurting when my younger sister announced pregnancy number 2 and they weren't even trying. However when I started telling her how I really felt, she told me I cant feel this way and just be happy for my sister. So thank you. I will be forwarding this to her. Maybe she will understand a little more.

Anna, I am so sorry for the struggles you are facing. I am so glad though that you were brave enough to express your emotions, although wish that they had been better received and validated. Feelings are feelings are real, there is no right or wrong way to feel! I hope that this post initiates some conversation and helps heal your heart a bit. Big hugs. oxox

I stopped drinking long before you got pregnant as a part of this infertility journey. Saying "have a drink for me" is insulting. What you're saying boils down to, "I'm pregnant, you're not." The infertility bitterness even adds neener-neener-neener to your mocking statement. Is alcohol such an important part of your life that giving it up for 9 months is the most horrible thing you've had to do?

"Have a drink for me!" - UGH! This one made me cringe, so true! Thanks for adding this one in there. I agree that it can feel so hurtful. Great addition!!

Chelsea, these are spot on!

This is exactly what I want people/friends to know, hear, and understand!

I am not thankful that you are on this journey where you can relate, but I am thankful that we can walk it together -- xoxox!

GREAT question!! I think that you can send an email expressing that this is a tough subject to talk about - it's always a little easier when someone else writes it because it can feel a little less vulnerable. I would say something like "I ran across this post today and felt that it would be a helpful thing to send to you so that you can understand a little bit more what it's like to be me. That being said, I understand if you choose not to read it but I wanted to share my heart with you because I care about you as I know you care about me." -- it gives them the chance to read it and some space to reply. Let me know how it goes and how it is received! I hope you are pleasantly surprised! xox

Thank you for the kind validation, for reading and for leaving a comment! xox

Oh my goodness...I love this post, Chelsea! It's exactly what I'd like people to know, but said way more eloquently than I could ever say it. Thank you!!!

Dawn, thank you for reading and commenting! I am appreciative of your kind words and am so sorry that you can relate too well to these words. Sending hugs today!