“tired of being sensitive to my infertile friend”

This was an actual search that brought someone to my blog. Sadly, it wasn’t the only one along that theme. It makes my blood boil! Oh, boo hoo, you’re tired of exercising sensitivity toward your friend? Your friend? Well, let me tell you some things your friend is probably tired of:

  • She’s tired of hoping and praying, month after month, that this month will be, by some miracle, THE MONTH.
  • She’s tired of her body letting her down, month after month.
  • She’s tired of feeling broken.
  • She’s tired of crying herself to sleep.
  • She’s tired of invasive and painful tests.
  • She’s tired of medications that make her ovaries work overtime and take her on an emotional roller coaster ride, month after month (not to mention all the fun side effects, like nausea, fatigue, sleeplessness, hot flashes, night sweats, and headaches)
  • She’s tired of watching her savings account being drained to pay for treatments that may or may not work.
  • She’s tired of putting on a happy face and holding back tears every time she hears a pregnancy announcement, attends a baby shower, or gets trapped in a conversation about kids.
  • She’s tired of hearing her fertile friends complain about their kids.
  • She’s tired of fighting with her husband and worrying that the stress of infertility might be too much for their marriage.
  • She’s tired of all the mommy worship that goes on constantly in our society.
  • She’s tired of feeling like less of a woman because she can’t have a baby.
  • She’s tired of scheduling her life around fertility treatments.
  • She’s tired of all the questions and comments about her empty arms and empty uterus.
  • She’s tired of seeing abusive or drug-addicted women have baby after baby.
  • She’s tired of being unhappy.
  • She’s tired of wondering how she’s going to live her life without children.
  • (Feel free to comment below if I left anything out.)

Oh, I know it’s exhausting to make an effort to hold your tongue about your growing baby bump, or your adorable-but-what-a-handful little bundle of joy. How awful it must be that you can’t complain to your infertile friend about how tired your kids make you, how messy they are, or how you wish you had just 5 minutes to yourself. It must suck to have a friend to whom you cannot rave about how awesome it is to be a mom, or how you can’t imagine your life without your kids.

Think about this: You have one friend who requires a little sensitivity when it comes to pregnancy and kids. Your friend has to deal with dozens of friends, family members, and coworkers who can’t seem to talk about anything other than kids. So, while I’m sure you’re sick and tired of walking on eggshells around her, believe me, your friend is even more sick and tired of the pain–physical and emotional–that infertility inflicts upon her every day. Remember, this is in addition to all the other stress life throws at all of us: work, relationships, paying the bills. Your friend deserves sensitivity, especially from her friend, when it comes to her infertility. That’s what friends do.

Your infertile friend probably feels like a terrible friend, because her life is so wrapped up in all things infertility that she doesn’t always have the time or energy to give her friends the support they need, or even enjoy a night out with them. Trust me; I know. I often have to make an effort to be completely present when listening to a friend. Some days, I just can’t do it, and it makes me feel extremely guilty, even though my friends understand.

I’m not saying that you should give your infertile friend a permanent pass. At some point, any friend who only takes and does not give is not much of a friend at all. But, if you love your friend and value your friendship, you will cut her some slack and help her heal so that she can feel like a whole person again.

Infertility Etiquette from Resolve


96 thoughts on ““tired of being sensitive to my infertile friend”

  1. Thank you for speaking up… This is exactly how I feel- month after month tired of waiting for my miracle. Battling endometriosis since I was 16 also stage IV and I still schedule my life/work around my chronically painful menses.
    I am glad that you are sharing experiences… It is encouraging.
    Thank you!

  2. I only wish I WAS alone in this. It’s a terrible thought that so many of us are going through this horrific roller coaster ride. Other things I would add to your list related to work are:

    She’s tired of worrying she will lose her job or be the first one cut any day because of all the time off for appointments and corrective surgeries.

    She’s tired of never having a break from the internal turmoil.

    She’s tired of people telling her that she should stop.

  3. I’d add “she is tired that all she gets are emoji text messages from you because you can’t make a few hours time to come visit her after her transfer”. Ironically, my friend with the 8 week old newborn who got pregnant by accident has been the most sensitive, attentive, generous person during this process. The one who dealt with miscarriages? Totally abandoned me. The one with three grown children? See my first sentence.

    We really learn about friendship during this process.

  4. I want to add ” She is tired of people asking “When are you having kids” It isn’t easy at all . Month after month nothing…

  5. Don’t forget being tired of hearing how a thirty (or forty) something friend “accidentally” got knocked up again and was shocked. I’m sorry, it’s not an accident when you’ve already easily had two kids and have proven fertility. Saying this to an infertile woman (either primary or secondary) is a slap in the face!

  6. i wish you guys were around ten, fifteen years ago. unbelievable cruelty regarding our secondary infertility and resulting one-child family. yes, i am grateful for the one, and am sincerely sorry if this sounds unappreciative. still, it had never occurred to me that, as a culture, so many of us believed the old only-child cliches. nastiness rears it’s ugly head in the most unlikely of places, among the most surprising people.

  7. This is such an important thread!

    We struggled for nearly 4 years. 4 failed IVF, $120k that we don’t have out of pocket. At least three close friends lost because of various interactions. So here is my take on it.

    When friends around me got pregnant, whether I was genuinely happy for them or not depended largely on how supportive they had been of our struggle.

    Two friends (who I had not been that close with before) invited me to dinner when they heard what I was going through. They asked me questions about my treatment, learnt all the terminology and acronyms, and then I could easily update them about our progress, and support them in return. I felt heard, understood, cared for. When one of them got pregnant, it was so easy to talk to her, because I knew she knew exactly what I was going through (even though she got pregnant easily).

    On the other hand, people who knew what I was going through that I was much closer to, ended up never really listening, and brushed off all our pain by saying things like ‘just relax, you are thinking about it too much!’, ‘you can adopt and be like Angelina Jolie’!’ or ‘oh maybe it’s not meant to be?’. Now these people are no longer my friends, but early on I was still trying to figure out why their comments hurt so much, while maintaining the friendship. When one of them got pregnant, it was impossible for me to be happy for them because they had never heard me, never supported me, and so I felt even more distance and frankly a bit of bitterness towards their selfishness.

    So for me how genuinely and authentically I could be happy for someone and maintain our friendship was directly related to how much support (and friendship) they had showed me.

    • How wonderful that you had friends who were willing to learn! I currently have people around me that don’t want to hear how I’m feeling. They don’t even ask how I am. Today, they started talking about how everyone is getting pregnant…seriously? Then they proceeded to talk about how cute one of our fellow coworker’s baby was. I got up and walked out…and not even an “Are you ok?” text!

  8. I’m really happy to read this post. We’ve been ttc for about 2 years (technically 3 years because I stopped using BC soon after we became exclusive and started talking marriage) and it’s really hard. One of my friends who was starting an early menopause and I remember actually thinking that when/if she decided to have kids, I would volunteer to be her surrogate. Now, we’re 32 and she has a 2 year old son and I’ve had 2 iui’s and 1 mc. Sometimes I feel abandoned by God. Anyway, I’m being a downer. Thank you for this post. It sums up my exact feelings

  9. This breaks my heart, my ex-husband left me for another woman after 5 years of infertility treatments. I’m 37 now & just remarried. Please don’t lose hope, I haven’t.

  10. Thank you for this post. It really hits home for me. Some of my best friends and closest family members have completely ditched me during this difficult time. I understand they may not understand, but they also haven’t tried to. It breaks my heart, and I am sickened that I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around every happy pregnant person or mother so I don’t make them feel uncomfortable!

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