Expecting & Parenting after IF and how to support others 

My intention for this post is to hope it helps the community as a whole to support each other and avoid unintentional hurt feelings. Recently I’ve noticed a few members of the community who recently became pregnant or who gave birth ignoring me not responding to me or interacting with me. Though we all start in the same place and some end in the same place how we get there is different and not everyone ends in the same place. Also there are times we’ll be in the same place and others we aren’t. You get the point, it’s complicated.
The hardest thing for us to navigate at times is when a member of the infertility community becomes pregnant or gives birth while others are either still TTC, taking a break, pursuing adopting, a parent via adoption or living childless/free. It’s awkward and no one knows exactly how to interact and support the other. For the expecting parent/parent they may want to protect themselves by avoiding the trauma of being in the trenches and fearing going back to that place. On the other side those in the trenches may avoid those who are expecting or are parents because it hurts them. None of us intend to hurt one another we just don’t know how to navigate this crap.  It takes a village to get through it.

Below I’ve put together some tips/things a to keep in mind for expecting parents and parents on how to support and maintain relationships with those still in the trenches, taking a break, pursuing adopting, parent via adoption or living childless/free. Please don’t hesitate to provide your feedback no matter where you’re at. Dialogue is so important to achieve progress.  Above all communicating and being honest with each other is the best we can do.

1) Please don’t tell us to give up or that miracles can happen. Nothing makes us feel worse when we are told to keep trying when we maybe at our wits end or feel like we may have stopped too soon. We already blame ourselves as it is and think we’re doing something wrong.

2) Your pregnancy/birth has nothing to do with our situation. What worked for you won’t work for everyone or even another person. Our bodies are all different and add in our partners or donors and it’s even more complex to achieve conception.

3) Don’t forget about us. We understand you may need to take a break and enjoy the next chapter of your lives and not live in the community all the time. We understand you have new responsibilities and your life has changed. But we are still here and value our friendship. We aren’t lepors either. Talking to us won’t bring bad luck upon you. When you forget about us it can feel like being left to go hang out with the cool kids.

4) We aren’t upset with you for getting pregnant or becoming a parent. Going back to #2 you getting pregnant or becoming a parent has nothing to do with our situation. It maybe a reminder of what we aren’t able to achieve but it’s not preventing us from achieving what you were able to. There isn’t a baby quota the infertility gods have where only so many babies are born and you having your baby prevents us from having one.

5) Be with us instead of trying to fix things for us. We know you mean well. We know you’re rooting for us. But we aren’t looking for you to tell us that it will all work out or that we’ll become parents. Unfortunately no one knows that. If you want to help and we’re hurting tell us you are there to listen.  

6) Celebrate our non TTC accomplishments. If we have something great in our lives that’s non TTC related celebrate with us but realize it doesn’t fill the void.

7) We can talk about non TTC topics. We all have and had lives outside of having kids before all this. We may have even shared common interests. If you’re uncomfortable talking about babies or treatments go that route to stay in touch.

8) If we move on to adopting, donor conception or childless/free life respect our decision to move on. Please don’t judge us. Not all of our journeys are going to end the same way. Also, it’s not going to feel the same way it felt for you becoming a parent. There is a whole level of complexity added even if we become parents. Though there are some common themes of parenting. If we don’t there’s a child void in our life that will never be filled. Also don’t assume that a person can be happy without children if you have children. Yes, those without children can be happy but please don’t assume something you don’t have personal experience with. It’s like us assuming you are happy as a parent and never hurt.

9) We are happy for you and your family. Even if we mute you on Social Media, keep our distance or disappear for a bit it’s just us protecting ourselves. It’s not you or us just the situation.

10) We care for you and are here for you too. We recognize being pregnant or a parent isn’t easy especially if it comes after previous losses. We know you are grateful. We know you wouldn’t trade places with us. Heck we wouldn’t trade if roles were reversed. So don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you have morning sickness, a baby who won’t sleep or a spouse who isn’t supporting you. If we were in your shoes we’d feel the same way and need support.

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29 thoughts on “Expecting & Parenting after IF and how to support others 

  1. expecting to be expecting

    Although I’m now one of those long timers who’s (finally) expecting, I still remember my time in the trenches all to well. The thing I hated most was when someone who’d previously been a support by just being there, gets pregnant, and then starts offering advice based on their unique circumstances. Or, cheerleading to keep trying after the other blogger had clearly hit her personal wall.

    I promised myself that if I ever did get pregnant – and towards the end I was a month or two from stopping – I would never be that person. I’d continue to blog because you guys are my tribe now and I’d talk about all aspects of the pregnancy, the good, the bad, the parts impacted by if/IVF/rpl and I’d accept I’d lose some readers but send them my well wishes regardless because it’s part of the give and take of our little universe.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      Thank you for the feedback. From your perspective now on the other side, what can others do to support you? You’ve given so much and deserve to get back in return.

      BTW best wishes to you down the home stretch! 🙂

      Reply
      1. expecting to be expecting

        I’d say journeyformybaby hit the nail on the head: since you guys are still our tribe, we hope hard pregnancies and tough adjustments after baby is born, are supported. Right now, we’re on high alert for more contractions leading to preterm labour and that is scary for people from the if/IVF/rpl community. But I also had incapacitating morning sickness in my first trimester and I remember being blown away by that experience – I’ve never experienced anything like it! I’m glad our community was able to be there for me during that time, too, cuz I certainly complained 🙄😀.

        On a side note, I’d also want my IF friends still in the trenches to know that when we fumble on saying the right thing, or just seem super awkward, it’s because we really are struggling with finding the right words. I had lunch with a friend who’s had just as many losses as me and she’s on a round of clomid oh vey, was I ever awkward. The truth us, I was awkward because I wanted to grab her and scream: wtf, why is this still happening to you, you will be an incredible mother, I wish I could take this all away for you!!!!!!

        It was so hard to be sitting across from her, feeling her hope, and wanting so much to give her what she wants that I ended up babbling like an idiot 😕. So when we act weird, I’d bet that’s why: we understand how the other person is feeling all to well and want to help but know we can’t and at those times, listening feels like it’s not enough….

      2. gsmwc02 Post author

        Thank you so much for sharing. I think the best thing we can do is communicate with each other and say how awkward it is.

        I’m still here for you and others who are expecting and parenting rooting you on hoping for the best.

  2. journeyformybaby

    This is why I always hate to see a blogger leave just because they got pregnant/ had a baby/adopted. We are all still part of a very vital community of support no matter what stage we are at. I appreciate you being open and honest about this. Sometimes it’s just so hard to know what to do even having been through IF, I know everyone is different and I don’t always say the right things. But I do care about every one of you. The ones who now have children and those who don’t whether by choice or circumstance.

    Reply
      1. journeyformybaby

        I think you did touch on that. Just the fact that you recognize that pregnancy and parenthood isn’t all a bed of roses no matter how much you fought for it. I appreciate that you understand that and know that even though I wouldn’t trade my babies for the world, some days are still tough. It’s a new set of challenges. And I believe that nearly every previously IF parent feels a tremendous amount of guilt for ever complaining about pregnancy symptoms/complications etc. Thanks for the support.

  3. Mali

    I’m sorry that you have found friends who haven’t responded, perhaps because they don’t know what to say, or don’t want to say the wrong thing. Though (despite this very good list), sometimes saying anything is better than silence.

    I particularly nodded at “What worked for you won’t work for everyone or even another person.” I’ve had a post drafted in response to a blog post I read a year or so ago, but I’m too scared to publish it. The person decided to itemise all the reasons they had got pregnant, and was patting themselves on the back. The thing is, infertility and assisted conception is so full of unknowns, that few doctors would say “X was the reason you conceived.” But so often I see bloggers convinced that they conceived because that cycle they did X, or Y. I understand why they want to believe that. But you’re right, it doesn’t help to tell others it will work for them.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I agree that acknowledging your existence is better than silence. Being ignored makes you think they don’t care.

      I would have made a bet with that person that you will do everything they outline and if it doesn’t work for you they have to give you back the money you spent on it.

      Sometimes I think RE’s have the same success rate as Weathermen.

      Reply
  4. Sondra

    Great post… I totally agree with these points. I’ve found that I’m now often avoided by some people, and I understand why.. It does create a strain on these relationships, but I very much liked your tips.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      I’m so sorry that you’ve been avoided especially with how much you’ve given. From your POV what can others do to support you and let you know they still care?

      Reply
      1. Sondra

        You know, I’m not sure anything can actually be done. Avoidance, although sometimes hurtful, in infertility is a way to preserve yourself and self care during life in general is so important. I understand why avoidance is needed sometimes. I needed to do that too on my toughest days. What I do have a problem with is when my religious views are attacked. I should be able to believe in the power of prayer and I’ve heard mean comments about that when I was waiting for my betas back in August. I guess it’s just a matter of respecting people’s view points, no matter what they are. But again, I truly believe everyone has to do what’s best for them dealing with IF and I understand how my pregnancy is triggering for some. I guess I just wish people could understand that after RPL, being pregnant is terrifying. Everyday I’m scared I’m going to lose her. That is a fear I can’t even describe.

      2. gsmwc02 Post author

        I’m so sorry your beliefs were attacked. I’m not someone who is religious but I respect that people have their faith. If you felt that I was ever disrespectful, I apologize.

        My thoughts are with you my friend. You are truly an amazing person. I’m confident no matter what life throws your way you will overcome it. Best wishes in 2016.

  5. thecommonostrich

    This totally hit home for me. I had a friend over the other night who just had her fourth round of IVF fail. I felt like such a jerk being around her and just holding my baby. I didn’t know what to say or do, so I just tried to treat her … you know… like a human being. But it was hard. There was this static in the room just always below the surface.

    Reply
  6. clwalchevill

    Agreeing with you the whole way and echoing what Mali said.

    My main concern after our final round of IVF worked was alienating those who were either in the trenches or those who had resolved in other ways. Wouldn’t you know, the big piece in not offending was both being willing to communicate and being sensitive. It’s still hard sometimes, as my focus today has shifted and there are moments where I can’t seem to say anything right to help that one person. But in those moments, I’m learning to ask for help from them to learn how I can best offer support while also remembering that relationships are more than single events.

    Hoping you and K had a peaceful Christmas.

    Reply
  7. Lauren

    Good post, one that needs to be written, so good for you! Tbh, one of the main reasons (apart from lack of time) that I’m not on Twitter as much these days is bc when you do have a baby, a lot of people in the trenches also stop interacting with you. Which I TOTALLY understand… But it also makes it harder for me to sustain a conversation. It feels very one-sided, so things fizzle out. I always appreciate how supportive you’ve been of me, and when you ask me how I’m doing I want to give you a hug to say thank you. Thinking of you, friend, and hoping 2016 brings you closure, in whatever form that may be.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      My hope was this post would open up a dialogue to help get through the silence. I’m glad it was able to do that.

      I have always appreciated you checking up on me to make sure I’m ok. 🙂

      I’m not sure if I’ll ever have closure but hope that life will turn around in some way. I wish you and your family the best in 2016 and beyond.

      Reply
    1. kiftsgate

      Ops.. sorry I pressed send too quick.
      I was saying that I do spend less time on twitter and then when I come I feel a bit lost.
      I do think of you and check how it’s going when I’m online..
      Things have been a bit difficult in the last few months (though i haven’t talked much about it as I’m a bit ashamed) but I’m hopeful they’ll be better this year so I can also be more present and of support. x

      Reply
      1. gsmwc02 Post author

        I’m so sorry things have been difficult for you the last few months. I feel bad that I haven’t checked in. Support has to be a two way street and not just you supporting others.

        I hope things improve for you in 2016 and beyond.

  8. Geochick (@geochick_1)

    I’ve found there is an inherent divide in the community and it’s hard to overcome once you have children (my blogging reflects that). When we are all in the trenches together it’s easier to commiserate and support and once decisions are made, it gets more difficult. From my own personal experience, it was really hard for me to follow TTC blogs when I was in the process of adopting (which I already was pursuing when I started blogging). Sometimes, it just feels like you need to find your own clique to get through the process. I hope that people take your points to heart because they are really great, but I don’t count on it.

    And on the social media thing – you know I’m right there with you. It is really hard when you realize that people have muted or stopped following you. Or, in the case of some of my Twitter “friends”, completely dropped off of Twitter and out of blogging.

    Reply
  9. Tree Hugging Humanist

    #6 is a good one. I’ve noticed that nothing in American society seems to be deemed more important than having a baby. When a woman is pregnant, it’s practically all anyone else can talk about. Do something like get a great promotion, publish, go to graduate school? You get a nice “congrats” from a few people and then they turn around to talk about the new babies.

    #4 is a bit tricky, I think. I was pregnant with two friends of mine. They both gave birth, I did not. Watching them go through pregnancy, give birth, have birthday parties – that’s all been a little difficult. It’s not that I’m upset with them, it’s just that I felt hurt because they had their baby and I did not. They also both already had children, and I don’t. I have never told them any of this though, and I don’t think its occurred to them.

    Reply
    1. gsmwc02 Post author

      That’s really tough about whether to tell them. Sometimes you’d be surprised. When I’ve opened up to my friends they’ve been surprisingly supportive but I know that isn’t always the case.

      Reply

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