10 requests to family and friends during IVF

1 07 2010

With IVF and in fact any of the associated trials of assisted parenthood, when everyone knows you’re having problems, families and friends can’t help themselves. They love you, they care, some interfere, some say nothing, some are just silly and some simply couldn’t care less.

Whatever and whoever, we all need to set boundaries to make sure that our pain, anxiety, stress as individuals and as a couple is minimised.

I’ve prepared a list of  10 ‘requests’ to communicate to families and friends so that “you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs.”*

10 requests to family and friends during IVF

  1. We thank you for your love and concern, but this is difficult for us, so please respect our wishes.
  2. Seriously, please don’t call us to discuss IVF, parenthood or anything remotely connected – we’ll call you! Rest assured, if we need you, we know where you are, but we need space for ‘us’ as we go through this together. When we have results, we’ll let you know. If you want to talk about anything else, that’s fine, just not parenthood right now. However, if we do speak about things, please don’t cry, we just can’t handle your emotions on top of our own.
  3. Please don’t ask us any questions about processes, procedures, signs, how many, quality, when etc, we’ll tell you what we can, when we can. If you want some background info, to find about what we’re going through or to try to understand how we are feeling then go online [list helpful sites and blogs, many are listed on this page, right hand column].
  4. Don’t be offended if we’re a bit odd… drugs, emotions and fear do this, but we’ll be back to normal soon. Promise.
  5. This is about us trying to be parents, it’s not selfish, or indulgent, it’s something which everyone else takes for granted, so for us it’s huge. You will never understand this, we don’t expect you to, but we do ask for your patience and your prayers.
  6. Please, don’t be offended, but advice is something we don’t need – we have specialists for that. Old wives’ tales, or stories of amazing things that happened to people who ‘stopped trying’ or ‘decided to move on’ or ‘relaxed’ or ‘went on holiday’ and became pregnant are really quite unhelpful and sometimes hurtful.
  7. We know you don’t mean to cause offence and sometimes appear lost for words, but really, a hug, a smile, a warm embrace, without words – or even a box of chocolates please, speaks volumes.
  8. Sometimes we’ll just be shitty, sorry, it’s nothing personal, but it’s how we’re feeling in the moment…allow us to be.
  9. Nobody can fix this for us, just let us know you’re there.
  10. We reserve the right to change all the rules above, depending on how we’re feeling from one day to the next, so if we invite your opinion one day, it doesn’t mean that licence has been granted…sorry, we will be unpredictable and fickle.

You will want to rewrite this list in your own words, but I hope that it captures the full essence of the trauma which is assisted parenthood.

Interestingly, I have just this moment received some feedback from my mother who makes a couple of really valid points, from the other side of the infertility divide [which is, those who have kids or simply don’t want them, and those of us who do want them and can’t]. They, the family or friends, are only human and make mistakes like all humans do – foot in mouth kind of mistakes. Much of the time though, sensitivities are touched on not by any malice but by lack of knowledge. She’s right but then I have never said that people do crash into our sensitivities in this area out of malice in the first place – some people are naturally quite clumsy anyway. The point is, we and I mean both partners going through IVF are highly sensitive and vulnerable at this time, all of our senses are heightened, which make us become intolerant, direct and unforgiving.  So, all this reinforces my point entirely about setting the boundaries, giving people as much information as possible and then withdrawing to protect yourselves, but reaching out when you need that specific support, help or guidance, but under the strict guidelines as set out. Everyone needs to be clear of YOUR boundaries. Many will see this as a totally obsessive and selfish approach to management of relationships, but until they’ve walked in your shoes, ignore the criticism.

* Kipling wrote ‘IF…’ in 1899. I think the poem is really appropriate for all us who are going through or have been through assisted parenthood.

Here’s it is in full for your delectation and delight:

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
’ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!



3 responses

1 07 2010
Mental Disorders 101

10 requests to family and friends during IVF…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

2 07 2010

Thank you, very kind.

29 07 2015
Insights from the “Fertile Half Of An Infertile Couple” | Crazy Active Swan

[…] Requests to family and friends during IVF (opens in a new window) […]

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