How to support during IVF

I know many of you reading this blog are close to others going through IVF, and you’ve very kindly contacted me to say it’s been helpful to know what they might be experiencing and how best to support them. So in that vein, here follows what might be helpful during this very difficult two week wait (though obviously everybody is different, and the best thing to do would be to ask them outright how you can best support them):

1) Be available. As I have said many times, it is an all-consuming emotional roller-coaster. One hour to the next I feel a striking range emotions from rage to joy to exhaustion and back again. Having people around who are willing to make time in their schedules to just be with me means more than anything.

2) Offer childcare. If the person already has a child/children, this is one thing you can do that will really help them to rest up and have the emotional and mental space to process their feelings. Whilst also knowing their child is being enriched and invested into in a way they maybe just don’t have the capacity for right now.

3) Similar to (2), offering to babysit one evening might really help afford much-needed one-on-one time between partners who’s relationship is enduring a very stressful process.

4) Presents – because who doesn’t like those? (But avoid baby-related stuff).

5) Words of affirmation. The woman is going through a total invasion of her privacy and body equalled only by childbirth. Many people will have looked at her vagina, inserted probes into her, and discussed her inner workings. She has relinquished control of her hormones and emotions by submitting to the drug regimen, and coloured her own body green and purple with injections – so many injections. Some kind words to affirm her and encourage her would go a long way at this time. Though I would warn against definite statements of things in the future you cannot possibly be assured of. Stay away from phrases such as “I just know it’ll work out for you”, or “it’ll happen, just keep hoping/believing/praying”, or “I know this time it will work.” You do not know these things. So focus on who she is and what you actually do know about her.

6) Stay calm. There’s a very strong chance she is terrified, not excited. Your excitement could make her feel that she’s wrong to not be feeling it too. Be sensitive and if in doubt, ask.

7) Invite her to things. She may be trying to fill time a bit more than usual, but not have the emotional capacity to plan. Do it for her. She can always opt out.

8) If you can, offer to take over responsibilities she’s committed to. She may not want to give them up in order to stay busy, but she might be grateful for the break. This process is exhausting.

9) Ask if she wants to talk about it.

10) Laugh. It’s a stressful time, but having every social interaction be intense and sombre is perhaps not helpful. Allow space for tears *and* space for laughter.


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