5 things not to say to someone struggling with fertility – Body and Soul

It's a tricky subject, so this expert's advice should help.

If youve never struggled to conceive a baby, it might be hard to empathise with people who have.

When someone is trying to conceive, everything is on the line - self-worth, self-esteem, happiness, purpose, reasons for existence.

Through my experience as a Fertility and Life Coach, I have seen firsthand the pain women and their partners (if they have one) experience.

If someone you know is going through a similar journey, here are 5 things to avoid bringing up in conversation - and what to say instead.

1. Maybe youre just not meant to have kids and the Universe/God/World has different plans for you

Even though some people who are struggling to conceive may agree there is a larger plan for them, it doesnt mean this aligns with everyones point of view or belief. In those moments of pain and despair, considering the Universes alternate plan does not offer us any consolation. Unless we have reached a place where we are at peace with other outcomes, we want to hold space for becoming a parent and the implication that we shouldnt will often do nothing to comfort us.

Instead: I know how much you would love to be a parent and this all must be so incredibly hard for you. Let me know if there's something I can do to help you through this process". Maybe do some of your own private research into various fertility options so that if we feel like talking to you about it then you have some further understanding of the processes involved.

2. Theres always adoption. Just do that!

Chances are we may have already investigated adoption somewhere along the line as a back-up plan. The reality is, adoption is not just a simple matter of clicking your fingers and being handed a child who desperately needs a family. In Australia, the adoption journey is full of uncertainty, painful waits, stress, grief, relationship pressure and invasive processes. We are aware the option exists and it could well be on our radar, but unless weve breached the subject with you, its probably too personal or painful for us to discuss with you at this stage.

Instead: I cant imagine what you have been going through. I know its really personal so I wont pry, but I want you to know that Im here if you ever need to talk.

3. Oh god, Ill give you one of my kids for the weekend and then youll realise YOURE the lucky one

We realise you mean this in jest and are trying to lighten the situation by joking about the challenges of family life. But when we are in the tough crux of a struggle to create a family, comments like this, no matter how well-intended can cause us pain and dig the knife in deep. In this moment we would happily take ALL of the bad along with the good and want nothing more than to experience those things for ourselves.

Instead: Maybe send a quick text on Mothers Day/Fathers Day just letting us know youre thinking of us and understand the day may be difficult for us this year and that youre there to chat if we ever need it.

4. At least you have < insert here any number of things the speaker wants to point out that we should be grateful for > one child already, your health, a great job, the opportunity to sleep in every weekend, a beautiful house, lots of disposable income, annual overseas holidays, your amazing toned body still

While I am a great believer in the power of perspective and gratitude, this has to be on our terms, when were ready. Someone else who has not walked in our shoes telling us what we should be grateful for can intensify our pain and self loathing if were feeling it, even if we are in fact already feeling grateful on some level for the aforementioned things. Its important to allow us the space to grieve the things that we feel sad about and to not feel guilty or selfish for it. The time will come when we will be in the right headspace to gain/maintain perspective on the other stuff again.

Instead: That sounds like its been an incredibly stressful time for you. Let me take you out for a massage this weekend and we can go and get some pampering together, or go out to our favourite coffee spot if you feel up to it. Its nice to be reminded of the other simple things that used to put a smile on our faces.

5. So and so had been trying IVF for years, then they decided to stop and BOOM, next minute theyre knocked up naturally

Yay for them! The truth is we ARE in fact really happy for the person/people in question and we dont begrudge their success. We would never wish this arduous journey on anyone else. However, their story doesnt actually help our current personal situation and can make us feel all the more isolated, inadequate, envious, and bitter and then subsequently guilty for those last couple of feelings. Plus, if you dont know our exact situation, there could be reasons why conceiving naturally is never going to be an option for us, so please be mindful and considerate of the emotions this could bring up for us, especially if you dont know our full history.

Instead: I know this is a highly personal time for you and I feel helpless sometimes that I can't do more to help you. One of my good friends has been through a similar journey and I would be happy to connect you both at any stage if you feel like you'd like to chat more with someone who truly knows what you're going through. Sometimes a good vent with someone who really "get's it" is like a weight being lifted off us. Regardless of whether we take you up on the connection, we'll appreciate the offer.

If this post has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Lifeline 24 hour support line on 13 11 14. Alternatively, Miranda provides bespoke fertility coaching to women across Australia. Get in touch today for a complimentary 20 minute phone call.

Miranda has personally undergone 10 unsuccessful IVF treatments, resulting in a life-changing divorce and complete re-evaluation of her purpose in the world. Learn more here: https://www.mirandamurray.com

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5 things not to say to someone struggling with fertility - Body and Soul

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