How to find fertility support when friends “just don’t get it”
How to teach friends to support you through your fertility journey
One of the biggest challenges when you’re TTC is fielding the insensitive questions and comments of friends and family.
Whether it’s “when are you guys going to start a family?” when in fact you’ve been trying for 2 years; or “just take a vacation–that’s how I got pregnant!” these comments can hurt.
We all know these things are usually meant well, but we don’t often take them very well, and as a result, this lack of fertility support can cause us to draw back from friends and family.
I see this so often with my clients–they slowly start to isolate because it’s just so hard to maintain these relationships when you’re hurting and no one ever seems to say the right thing.
But I’m here to tell you it is possible to maintain your relationships while you’re TTC. And some relationships may not be worth maintaining, but for those close friends and family whose relationships are valuable to you, here are 6 ways to nurture those relationships and find more fertility support in your life:
1. Be Open.
First and foremost, it’s important to see all the unhelpful advice and comments for what they truly are: a desire to help. And just because people have no idea how to help you, doesn’t mean they have malicious intent to hurt you.
A lot of times other people’s struggle or pain makes us really uncomfortable, and we say dumb stuff in an attempt to soothe.
Your friends don’t know what to say, so they say something that sounds nice, or maybe comforts them. “Everything happens for a reason” sounds comforting to the person saying it, even if you’re like “f– you this is not the way things are supposed to be!”
Often people just don’t understand the depth of struggle or emotions involved and they make light of it, assume it’s not that big of a deal, or are just genuinely clueless. But usually they are coming from a good place.
So the first step is to be open to their intention, even if it’s poorly delivered.
I use the mantra “I am determined to see this with love” when dealing with family who push my buttons. I take a deep breath, repeat this in my head, and it helps me just let the comment pass me by. Way easier said than done, I know, but try it out. It does help.
2. Be clear about your needs
This is something I see women struggle with the most–we have trouble articulating our needs, or we don’t want to offend, so we don’t say what we really feel. But honestly, this is feeding the disconnect between you and loved ones.
An exercise I have all my clients do is to journal and get really clear about what friends or family would say in an ideal world. How would the perfect friend react when you talk about your fertility? What do they say or not say?
Once you get clarity, you’ve got to have the conversation. Now, I’m not suggesting you do this with every single person you know, but it’s important to be on the same page with close family and friends.
Sit down with your bestie and say “Girl, you know I’ve been struggling with this and what I really need from you during this time is to listen, but not give advice. I just need an ear and a shoulder to cry on right now.” or “Hey mom, I so appreciate your support through this time, but I really want to be the one to bring up my fertility. I know when you ask, you’re just looking out for me, but sometimes I don’t want to talk about it and I’d appreciate it if you’d let me be the one to bring it up.”
Come up with your version of this–it’s going to be different for every woman and it might vary from relationship to relationship, too.
But your friends and family can’t support you in the way you need if they don’t know what you need (or if you don’t know what you need!)
So get clarity and TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU NEED.
3. Have a (non-human) outlet
We all need to vent sometimes or complain about how much so-and-so’s comments hurt, or just let all the negativity out. But this can be draining for anyone when it’s all the time–even for our closest friends. A great way to release some of that negativity is to journal.
Now sometimes we do just need to vent with a friend and that’s okay. But if you find yourself venting more and more, grab that journal and let it all out. Just write out all the things you’re angry about, sad about, or hurt about and release them.
The journal doesn’t talk back, so you can release without dwelling in these bad things.
Often in conversation, we go around and around and instead of releasing the negative we actually make it stronger because we’re focusing so much energy on it.
Have you ever left a bitch session with a friend feeling more pissed off than when you started? Yeah, it happens. We want to release this negativity, and the journal is so powerful for this.
If you want an extra layer of release, you can even tear up the pages or destroy them somehow.
Having a healthy outlet is so important and it allows us to be better friends, too. After all, your bestie’s probably got her stuff going on too, right?
4. Acknowledge that you’re human
Another thing I see so often with my clients is that not only do they feel sad or down about their fertility, or jealous of their friends when they get shower invites, but they feel bad about feeling sad or jealous!
Talk about being hard on ourselves! Here’s the thing ladies: part of the human experience is feeling negative emotions. We all feel jealous sometimes, we all feel sad or angry or disappointed. And that’s okay. Because that’s life and it’s part of being human. I know social media makes it look like everyone is only happy all the time, but we also know that social media lies.
The best thing you can do when you feel these things is to acknowledge them, let yourself feel those emotions and then let them pass through when they’re done.
When we criticise and judge ourselves for feeling these things, it only makes it worse.
So just practice–when you see that next cutesy pregnancy announcement on facebook, feel the jealousy. Sit with it, acknowledge it. You don’t have to get stuck in it, but don’t judge yourself for it either. You’re human, we’re all human and it’s totally normal to feel these things!
5. Develop a gratitude practice.
Okay, before you roll your eyes, bear with me for a minute. Here’s the thing: psychology studies and spiritual traditions from all over the world will attest to the power of gratitude.
When we practice feeling grateful, it floods us with feel-good hormones and can boost our mood. And when we do it regularly, we’re able to shift our negativity more quickly, and we start to see the good more often than the bad. It helps us shift from a glass half-empty to a glass half-full.
And we all know that on this journey, we can use all the positivity we can get.
Just keep a journal and write down 5 things big or small that you feel grateful for in that moment. The stranger who let you go in front of them at the grocery store, the flowers blooming in your yard, your favorite pjs–whatever you feel at that moment. It’s always possible to find 5 things and it gets easier and easier.
When we create these ways of supporting ourselves, we can also see our relationships in a more appreciative light (#1 gets easier for example), and we’re more likely to nurture them instead of shutting our friends out.
6. Find your pick-me-up friend.
This is the most essential piece: whether this is a friend, partner, parent or fertility coach, find someone who lifts you up and can hold space for you–to listen to your pain, but also help you find hope and pull you out of that negative space when you need it.
I know sometimes we turn to friends who are going through the same thing, but often this isn’t the best person to be our main support. While it’s possible to positively support one another, it can be very challenging to truly hold up someone else when you’re falling down.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t talk to and seek support from your friends who are also struggling–it’s important to feel like we’re not the only ones on this path; but make sure you ALSO have someone who can hold you up and hold a positive space for you.
I can’t emphasize how important this is. You need a rock to lean against and help you weather the ups and downs. Someone who’s in a stable place right now and has room for your struggle. You need someone you can rely on to make you feel better and give you hope when you’re in a negative place.
If you don’t have someone like this in your life, this is where a good fertility coach can be a valuable asset. Having someone to listen and help you pick yourself back up and move forward is so important. (Please note: if you’re struggling with serious depression, please seek out a professional therapist!)
So those are my tips for maintaining your relationships through this tough time: see the positive intent, tell people what you need, use a journal to release the negativity, find a gratitude practice, acknowledge that your feelings make you human, and find your one person to positively support you when you need a boost.
Having the right support can make this journey so much more bearable. So keep your friends close and draw the circle of love and support a little tighter around you as you navigate this path in life.
Looking for more support? Learn how a fertility coach can help you! Book a free consult here>>
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