When you are trying to conceive, communicating with your family and friends can be difficult and challenging.
Even a well-meaning relative may offer suggestions or ask questions that will come across outrageously insensitive to you.
Below are some tips for how to talk about infertility with family and friends, if you so choose.
- Decide how much detail you and your significant other should share. Respect each other’s need for privacy about certain details.
- Practice what you plan to say.
- Choose a time to talk when you have that person’s full attention. Find a private place where you can speak freely and aren’t concerned about showing emotion.
- Explain that infertility is a life crisis that creates major stress, and that 1 in 8 couples experience infertility.
- Let them know how they can support you – whether you want phone calls, questions, etc.
- Explain that you may need a break from family gatherings, and that it isn’t about them – it’s about using your energy wisely.
- Tell them that you will share results about a treatment or procedure when you feel up to it. Ask them not to ask about pregnancy tests or treatment results.
- The following are insensitive questions you may experience, along with possible responses to consider:
Q: “So when are you going to start a family? You two aren’t getting any younger!”
A: We consider ourselves a family now. We love children and especially enjoy our nieces, nephews, and friends’ kids. If we decide to expand our family, we’ll be sure to let you know.
A: We’ve been trying to have a child for several years, but we have an infertility problem. I’d be happy to explain our problem and the treatment we are pursuing, since you asked.
Q: “Would you take one of my kids – they drive me absolutely crazy!”
A: Oh thanks, then they’d drive me crazy!
A: I know you’d do anything for your children. Parenting is a difficult job, but I’m really looking forward to that challenge and experience some day.
Q: “You can always adopt.”
A: Adoption is an option we are considering. We have to resolve the pain of our infertility first and grieve the loss of the possibility of having our biological child before we can consider adoption.
A: We have considered adoption very carefully and have decided it’s not for us. We are still resolving our infertility crisis, and we are considering a child-free life if we are unable to have a biological child.
Q: “So, any news?”
A: Thanks for your concern. We are continuing with the prescribed course of testing and treatment. Just as soon as we get some encouraging news, we’ll be sure to let you know. (Note: Try telling close family and friends before your procedure that you will share results when you feel up to it – that no news is NOT good news –and please not to ask about results.)
Finally, someone may surprise you with news that they’re pregnant.
These can be very hard words to hear from a friend or relative and feel like a huge blow. The best you can do with this one is explain why you are unable to celebrate wholeheartedly, or just keep your response short.
A: “That is great news. Congratulations.” (Keep it short and sweet.)
A: I’m happy for you, but it is obviously difficult to hear when I cannot get pregnant. This is a really tough time for me, so please understand if I am unable to participate in your shower or listen to all of your happy moments. I am working through my infertility, and the pain is still great.
Remember, typical questions and comments from others can be turned into opportunities for you to either explain your situation more fully or discourage further discussion until you are ready to talk. Use the responses above as a basis for planning and creating your own responses – statements that reflect your feelings and will make the communication easier between you and those who are close to you. It’s never easy to talk about infertility, but with planning and preparation you can help ease the stress.