Bill Watterson — cartoonist and the creator of “Calvin and Hobbes” — famously said, “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.”
Fertility treatment can be an exciting and, yes, sometimes intimidating prospect. While partners are often a wonderful source of support and comfort, those having fertility treatment need support from friends and family members, too. Here are five ways you can be a best friend during this (perhaps) stressful yet exciting time:
1. Be educated
You don’t want to be the one to lecture your friend having fertility treatment, and make sure you don’t ever say “I told you so.” However, it’s a great idea to be in the know when it comes to what your friend is going through. This way, when he or she needs someone to listen, you won’t find yourself wanting to interrupt in order to clarify the IVF process, how egg donation works, etc.
2. Be available
Some forms of fertility treatment require in-person, physical support. This means your friend might need a designated driver or someone to help with heavy lifting around the house when she’s having fertility treatment. A wonderful friend is someone who agrees to be there with hands-on help when it’s needed, not just when it’s asked for.
3. Be encouraging
One of the potential downsides of fertility treatment is that it can take time to achieve a successful pregnancy. If your friend experiences a fertility treatment setback, make sure you provide him or her with a kind, listening ear and some choice words of encouragement. Try to work with your friend’s attitude when providing encouragement. He or she may not be in the mood to “get back on the horse” for a period of time.
4. Be understanding
Fertility treatment can sometimes stretch people physically, emotionally and financially. While your friend is working on starting his or her family, it’s important you understand when he or she can’t spend time, money or energy on some of the fun activities you two are used to doing together. Just because your friend can’t go skiing/hiking/yoga or the like now doesn’t mean he or she won’t be back at it in the future. Try finding new ways to spend time together; for instance, you could stay in for a movie instead of going out for a night on the town.
5. Be sensitive
Finally, if family planning and fertility came easily to you, make sure you keep your friend’s fertility treatment top of mind. Unless he or she asks about your kids, it’s probably a good idea to refrain from boasting about your child’s recent soccer tournament win right now. If you find you’re talking about your family and your friend is looking a bit forlorn, refocus the conversation on something positive you both have in common, like your mutual love of yoga/art class/horror movies/etc. Your friendship likely existed long before your friend’s fertility treatment, and — if you’re sensitive during this tender time — will exist long after.