Last year, I endured IVF. I say "endured" because "went through" isn't quite a strong enough way to describe the isolating, painful, and emotionally gruelling experience that is IVF. Women endure IVF for different reasons; maybe they struggle with infertility, maybe they've been crushed by loss, or maybe they require genetic testing before getting pregnant.
No matter why a woman finds herself walking down that path, it's a physically and spiritually trying time when friends and family need to be extra sensitive about what they say. I heard my fair share of comments that made me cry, doubt myself, and feel even more alone and scared during my IVF cycle. Here are 15 things I'd caution people to avoid saying to a woman who is doing her best to hold it together during IVF.
- "It'll work out." You don't know that! And chances are, if I'm trying IVF, things haven't worked out up until now. So kindly excuse my skepticism.
- Telling a story about IVF working/not working for you or someone else. Because everyone's situation is different.
- "I got pregnant accidentally." This hurts when you so desperately want to get pregnant and are doing everything possible to make that happen, but you know there are no guarantees.
- "If it's meant to be, it'll be." No disrespect, Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line (that song is great), but if you're injecting yourself with hormones every night, you want it to be!
- "I heard IVF gives you cancer." True story — someone actually said this to me.
- "I was going to do IVF, but then I got pregnant." Sweet. I'll try to ignore the pang of jealousy that just overcame my every hormonally altered cell.
- "What if it doesn't work?" Yeah, I lie awake at night obsessing over that very concern. And I have no idea what I'll do if it isn't successful, but I know it will break my heart.
- "At least you have another/other kid/kids." Secondary infertility is hard for many people to understand. If you have one child, or more, it doesn't mean your heart doesn't ache if you can't have the family you dreamed of.
- Sharing your stats, like the number of eggs you produced, during your own IVF cycle. Because, again, everyone is different, and you're just psyching me out.
- Announcing you just gave birth on social media. I can't tell you how hard it was to see those posts. I cried every time. Not that I begrudge anyone else for having a baby. It was more about where I was in my quest to get pregnant.
- "I can't imagine what you're going through." I know. And I feel so alone.
- Really saying anything at all that's upsetting. IVF injections mess with your mood. I cried at the drop of a hat. It was very easy to get me going.
- I'm so worried about you. Some people in my life didn't want me to do IVF. I understand they were concerned, but what I really needed was support.
- Asking me if it worked. While I waited for my pregnancy test results, a few friends checked in to see if I knew anything yet. I was so scared to find out, and when I finally did, I wanted to keep it to myself for a while just to absorb. I'd been through so much, so sharing that I was pregnant was something I needed to do on my terms.
- "Congratulations." Honestly, once I did share my results, when people said this, I was afraid they would jinx it.
The best thing you can say to a woman going through IVF? Honestly, you don't need to say anything at all. Listening to her fears and her experience is what she needs most. And if she doesn't want to talk about it, please respect that.