Being the 'infertile friend' amongst a sea of babies and new Mums is hard... being the fertile friend to someone who is desperate to have a baby or grow their family is really tough too
Here are 5 (ok, actually 11!) things your friend having fertility treatment might be thinking (but will probably never say...) - based on responses to an instagram story on Two Lines Fertility
Stop boasting about how easily you fell pregnant to me
This is really tough right now, I need some support (not advice)
Please stop complaining about being pregnant
Please don't complain about your bump being too big, I could only hope to feel a bump at all
I know you're trying to be supportive, but we have no idea if it will ever happen for me
You have no idea how lucky you are! don't take your fertility for granted
Don't tell me to take yours for a day and I'll change my mind about having kids
I'm happy for you always, please don't hold back from telling me things
I need your support, not your advice
Please don't say 'it'll happen when it happens'
I know you mean well, but please stop
These are all really challenging - from both sides!
As the ttc friend - it's really hard to hear over and over again that 'it will happen' or 'just relax' or 'my friend's friend's friend went on holiday/saw this amazing dr/did this crazy thing *insert random unsolicited advice here* and she got pregnant straight away'
and quite frankly these comments just don't help - no matter how well-intentioned they are.
Chances are your friend is seeking guidance and support from very knowledgable people and they are already possibly feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there - adding your two cents worth really isn't likely to be helpful.
As the fertile friend - it's really hard to know what is the RIGHT thing to say.. often there actually ISN'T a right thing to say - because your friend who is trying to conceive is in a really rough place right now, and pretty much anything you say could be mis-construed and mis-interpreted.
As the ttc friend - just as you feel it's important for your fertile friend to be sensitive to your needs and that they 'don't understand'... they may actually need you to be sensitive to THEIR needs too and recognise that YOU don't understand them either. Being pregnant and being a parent can have its very challenging moments...
It's the kind of hard that you can't understand until you are experiencing it yourself
just like struggling to conceive is hard...
the kind of hard you just can't understand until you are experiencing it yourself.
It's completely understandably that you both feel unheard - and it's possible that most of the comments and feelings people have on either side are because you have no point of reference for what the other person is going through.
By saying something that may seem like boasting about how easy it was for them to get pregnant - what they're actually saying is "I have no way to understand what's going on for you"
By saying 'take mine for the day' what they might be saying is "I'm struggling sometimes too - this is harder than it looks"
By talking about their bump, or how cumbersome pregnancy can be, they may just be experiencing the normal highs and lows and miracle of pregnancy - not necessarily in reference to you
and this is why as the ttc friend, we don't say these things - we don't ask our friends to stop sharing... but it still hurts.
Every pregnancy is different and some women find some aspects of pregnancy very challenging (spoiler alert: even women who have struggled to BECOME pregnant find aspects of pregnancy difficult). Just like you may feel miserable about NOT being pregnant, there are times when pregnant women feel miserable about BEING pregnant. It doesn't necessarily mean that they don't WANT to be pregnant, or that they don't want the baby. Complaining about some aspects of pregnancy is normal, and it's entirely possible that they are caught up in the their own space and unable to see beyond their own situation right now - just like you will be one day when you too are pregnant.
What can you do? well that depends on your relationship with them and how much they know about your own journey. It may be necessary for your own mental health to distance yourself from some friends for a little while, to know when to say enough is enough... but also to be prepared that they may need to do the same thing. It's very hard being the fertile friend and wanting to vent about pregnancy and parenthood when you know that the person you are venting to would give their left arm to be in your situation.
You can't really expect them to temper their unique experience of being pregnant or being a parent just because you are not... but if they are a particularly close friend or family member - perhaps mentioning how difficult you find it when they complain may help them to remember next time.
A simple comment like 'I'm really happy for you, but I'm feeling a bit fragile right now' might help.
As the Fertile Friend, you could try saying:
- I'm here for a cuppa whenever you need
- My kitchen table is a place of refuge for you (if you need time away from your ttc)
- I am here and I want to understand, but at the very least, be a shoulder to cry on
- I understand if you need some space right now and I'll be here when you're ready
- Let's have a girls day out - just you and me!
As the TTC Friend, first ask yourself if your friend even knows you are trying to conceive - if they don't, consider letting them know - it may open up entirely new aspects of your friendship.
If they DO know, you could say:
- I really want to hear about your pregnancy/kids, but sometimes I need a break
- My kitchen table is a place of refuge for you (if you need time away from your kids)
- I am here and I want to understand (oh boy do I WANT to understand!!)
- I understand if you need some space right now (it's hard to complain about pregnancy and kids to a friend who would give anything to be where you are) and I'll be here when you're ready
- Let's have a girls day out - just you and me!
- Is it ok if we don't talk about your kids or my fertility today?
The best thing either of you can do? Check in with each other! acknowledge that there is no right thing to say, but that you love and support each other and recognise that this is tough right now. A hug can fill a thousand empty silences!
If you're looking for more support on your fertility journey - sign up for my fertility foundations 5 part series - it's completely free and you'll find it here: