I have several friends right now who can’t get pregnant. Two in particular come to mind. Both have been trying for a few years.
As someone who has kids, it can often be awkward to know what to say or how to act around friends who can’t get pregnant.
The intention of this post is to share with you what I’ve learned from my friendships with ladies who are having fertility issues. I also have the added benefit of knowing how I felt during the year and a half it took me to get pregnant.
So back to my 2 friends….
One is miserable and can’t be around anyone with children. Conversation is awkward when I’m out with her because I have a baby. She has alienated many of her friends because they have children and she can’t cope. Life is tough for her.
The other one is currently going through fertility treatments and still gets excited seeing her friend’s kids. I can literally see her face light up as she’s telling me about hanging out with her friend’s kids. She is totally open to talking about her fertility challenges and literally said to me the other day “If fertility issues are the only thing we struggle with in our lives we are doing well”.
Obviously I treat these 2 friends very differently.
Friend #2 is much easier for me to be around. Conversation is easy and normal. We have candid conversations without fear of hurting each other’s feelings. I’m relaxed when I hang out with her and I leave feeling energized and happy.
Friend #1 is difficult to be around. Our conversations feel forced. We are dancing on egg shells not wanting to hurt each other’s feelings. She feels obligated to ask about Hailey and I feel like I can’t share much with her because I don’t want to upset her. I often leave feeling somber and drained of energy. As a result, I don’t spend much time with this person anymore.
Here are 6 things you need to know that can help you deal with friends who can’t get pregnant.
1) Don’t assume that just because they can’t get pregnant they’re devastated and you have to treat them differently.
Find out how they feel about their situation and how they generally feel being around people with kids.
Is the person generally positive? Or generally negative?
Note that feelings may change depending on the time of month or what they’re going through (fertility treatments, etc.) at the moment.
Treat them how they need to be treated. If your approach doesn’t work then try something different next time.
Don’t just automatically feel sorry for them.
2) How they feel is their choice.
Both of my friends are going through a similar experience. However, the focus of their thoughts is vastly different. Friend #1 is focusing on not being able to get pregnant while Friend #2 is focusing on getting pregnant eventually.
Thoughts control feelings. And they can choose their thoughts and what they’re focusing on.
That’s not to say that Friend #1 can jump easily from a miserable state to one of optimism and happiness.
Think of it as a staircase. You can’t jump from the bottom step to the top step of a flight of stairs but you can gradually work your way up. The same is true for your thoughts and feelings. All you have to do is choose a thought that feels slightly better and you will work your way up.
3) How they feel has nothing to do with you.
It’s hard not to take it personally when a close friend doesn’t want to hang out with you because you have a baby. One of my close friends hasn’t seen my baby in almost a year. It stings sometimes.
We have thoughts like “Why can’t they be happy for me?”, “They’re supposed to be my friend, why can’t they act like it?”
But it has nothing to do with us. They’re choosing not to hang out with us because it reminds them of what they don’t have. They are focusing on what they’re lacking.
Friend #2 sees my baby and sees what she will have one day. Friend #1 sees my baby and sees what she doesn’t have and may never get.
It’s their perspective that matters here. Not the fact that I have a baby.
4) Be honest.
If you’re struggling being around them tell them in a polite and open way. They are likely feeling the same way.
If you want to ask them how they’re doing with trying to conceive or about their latest fertility treatment then ask them. But ask them gently and always make it easy for them to say no if they’re not comfortable sharing.
With Friend #1, I’ve said things like “I want to ask you how you’re doing but I don’t know if I should. I also don’t want to ignore it because I know it’s something major that’s going on in your life. It’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it but I want you to know that I care about you and I’m here for you whenever you need me.”
5) Prepare yourself before hanging out with your friend.
Did you notice how I leave feeling drained of energy after spending time with Friend #1?
Here’s a secret: I don’t have to.
How I feel is 100% my choice and based entirely on my thoughts. I can control this. This is something I’m still working on and have not yet perfected.
Here are couple of strategies that have helped me:
- Mentally prepare for visits with them. Picture the conversation flowing smoothly and both of you having fun and feeling relaxed.
- Make a list of topics to talk about in advance. Since my life largely revolves around my daughter it can be difficult for me to come up with other things to talk about on the fly. Having a list in my head makes it so much easier.
- Know that an awkward silence may occur. Be ok with silence. Defer to your list of topics if need be or make a silly face. She’s your friend and a silly face may lighten the mood.
6) Accept them as they are and love them for it.
I often flip-flop back and forth on this one with Friend #1.
Most of the time I feel excited for where she is, the journey she’s on, what she’s learning from it, and I’m so excited for her to figure out that she can be happy regardless of what happens.
But sometimes I just want to smack her upside the head and yell “Wake up! Life is basically good and happy and fun and you’re missing it!”
I’m only human.
So try with all your might to accept them and love them as they are.
Know that they are on their own life path. It may not be the path you would choose for yourself or for them. You may not agree with how their approaching their life. But you don’t have to.
Love that they are figuring things out for themselves. Accept their faults. Love that you know they’ll get there eventually.
Be excited for them to figure it out.