Starting a family can be a trying time for anyone, and when the process takes place under the scrutiny of well-meaning but tactless friends and well-wishers, it can be mercilessly excruciating. It’s bad enough that constantly monitoring your and your partner’s fertility cycles, dosing your body with hormone supplements and fearfully tracking your results takes a toll on your sanity; you don’t need sympathetically clucking co-workers or brain-to-mouth-filter-lacking neighbors poking their noses into your business on top of all that.
But perhaps the worst is when your besties start behaving oddly around you. They either blurt out insensitive remarks without realizing the impact on your currently battered psyche, or tiptoe around you in fear of being unintentionally rude.
Wish you could just hand your closest friends a list of things to consider and help them comprehend even a fraction of what you’re going through? Well, we hear ya. This is a compilation of simple tips that will educate and make them aware of your predicament so that your friendships are not strained or worse, damaged irreparably.
Feel free to share this with them or print it out and hand it to them when they pop by for a cuppa.
- The worst thing when I’m upset is to be told to calm down or just relax.
Most folks clearly have no idea how frustrating it can be to face the reality of struggling with something that so many take for granted. Being a woman to many means having the power and the privilege to bring forth life, and the inability to do that can make even the strongest and most positive person fret and question their self-worth. And then being patronized and told to relax is adding insult to injury.
The emotional trauma, physically grueling process and financial toll is so overwhelming sometimes, punching the next person who tells you to calm down can seem very tempting as a de-stress strategy. Don’t beg to become the punching bag.
- I don’t think you’re qualified to suggest what I’m doing wrong.
Unless you have a degree to back up your statements (and even then, you may be totally off the mark), try not to spout theories about how my being over or underweight, my too strict or too lenient diet, or even that my genes/stress levels/profession/lifestyle choices are contributing to my pregnancy challenges. Instead of doing the talking, listening is a great way to make me feel better. Because that’s what you came over to do, right?
- This is the WRONG time to shove religion down my throat.
While under normal circumstances, I might politely listen to how you saw the light or the manner in which discovering a higher power has helped make your life better, I definitely don’t need to be told that I am struggling to start a family because maybe that’s what God/the universe/Mother Nature wants. Seriously? And you know this because? Instead of trying to sell me your brand of dogma or win me over with your philosophy by making me want to pull my and your hair out, say you will think of me in your prayers and that you are sending me positive vibes. That’s about all I can handle right now. I don’t need to have my faith tested as well.
- Don’t act like the perfect solution is something I’m not willing to consider.
If you know of all the things I’ve tried, don’t suggest things I may not be prepared to opt for with a tone that implies I’m being stubborn or ill-informed or plain stupid. I have my reasons for the route I’ve chosen and your blurting out advice (especially if you have NEVER gone through something similar) on sensitive topics like IVF, adoption or surrogacy will only force me to make those same judgments about you, and then some.
- Stop trying to fix me, I’m not broken.
It’s okay if you have no idea about the terms and techniques I will be blabbering about. There’s always the internet if you do want to learn and make sense of what I’m saying so you can be genuinely and intelligently supportive. It can all be so confusing and the medical jargon may be overwhelming for some, fascinating and educative for others. Best bet? Less talking, more listening will be of great help right now. Sometimes I may just need to voice concerns and vocalize my fears, and it’s good enough that I can trust you with these concerns and fears; I don’t necessarily need you to fix them for me.
- I am still capable of being happy for you, if you’re pregnant.
Like those ridiculous people who presume a newly-single person, divorcee or widow will somehow poison a wedding atmosphere with their cloud of envy and contempt, is akin to thinking that I cannot be happy for my friend who is lucky to be blessed with good news. Yes, I’m allowed to be a little, no, a lot sad and probably weep my eyes out in private at the unfairness of it all, but don’t deprive me of the opportunity to share in your joy and wish you all the happiness in the world. Friends are supposed to be there for each other through thick and thin, so come on over and let me celebrate with you.
Just remember to be kind, be patient and just be there. I’m gonna love you even more for it.
Images: Shutterstock, Giphy