How to Not Ruin Friendships on Your Fertility Journey

I have seen relationships end or change due to one’s fertility journey.  Comments, questions, and advice from friends can feel like a punch in the stomach instead of the intended compassionate hug.

For the woman going through it, there are daily triggers surrounding her that set her mind into a downward spiral of anger, sadness, and fears.  Trying to dodge these triggers is exhausting and usually impossible. So she ends up sharing less and absorbing all the punches.

That’s what I want to help you conquer today.

Recently, I was working with a client who had been through four failed rounds of IVF before meeting me.  Throughout her years trying to conceive, she retreated from her friends because they were negative triggers. They reminded her what she didn’t have and that her life was not where she wanted it to be by now.  They were progressing, and she was stuck.

After working with me for some time, she was more confident in her fertility journey for the first time.  She knew she had a strategy to get to her goal: to have three children throughout her life even though she was 40 years-old.  But she needed help undoing what she had done to many friends.  She asked me if could show her how to reconnect with the friends that she retreated from.

She asked me if could show her how to reconnect with the friends that she retreated from.

Here is the advice that I gave her.

First, I made sure that these friends were important to her and she was not staying in contact with them because she didn’t want to hurt their feelings.  As a people pleaser myself, I am aware of how often women stay in relationships that don’t make them feel good.  But we remain because they need us or because it is too uncomfortable to “break up” with the friend. So, we accommodate, we give, and we, in turn, suffer.

One friend was very special to her, and that is the one we focused on.

I told her to write her an email and explain the following:

1. Give thanks and love to her and her friendship.  Share how much she means to you and how important her friendship is to you.

2. Show your vulnerability. Explain that you know how you have been distant and how it had nothing to do with her. You needed to focus on your fertility journey, and retreating was the only way you knew how to handle this emotional situation.

3. Put yourself in her shoes.  Admit that you can see how your actions might have been hurtful.

4. Show your strength. Explain the clear plan you’ve laid out, your positive visualization, and renewed confidence in your journey.

5. Give thanks and love to her and her friendship again. End with how you can’t wait to share the good news that you are finally pregnant and how much you appreciate her understanding your past actions.

NOTE: You can do variations on this letter depending on where you are in the journey or how much you want to share with your friend.  For example, if she doesn’t know, you could say that you are “healthy and fine, but are going through a benign medical procedure.”

After our call, my client felt clear and focused. This email would provide her space to still take care of herself without ruining a friendship.

I often say that fertility treatments don’t have to be as hard as they make it.  Having a strategy for common triggers, such as pregnancy announcements, insensitive comments, and OPB (other people’s babies) set up before you start is a significant step to a kinder journey.

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