Discover How to Talk About Infertility (and Miscarriage) So People Will Listen

“Well at least you can get pregnant,” someone said to me after I told her about my miscarriage. 

Written by Guest Blogger: Amy Klein is the author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing YourMind {Penguin/Random  House).

I stared at her in disbelief. Didn’t she understand that I had just lost a …well, not exactly a baby, but a potential baby? That my husband and I had planned its future, starting talking about names and what we might do for childcare. And then, all of a sudden, POOF, it was gone, all of it.  

 “No one ever knows the right thing to say,” my friend doing fertility treatment explained. And for some reason that made me feel better. Though it took me four years, ten doctors, nine rounds of IVF (and countless other alternative treatments), suffering four miscarriages to have our daughter, through it all I carried that with me: no one ever knows the right thing to say: not with miscarriage, IVF, and, well, life itself: even in this political climate I believe people they generally  have good intentions. They just do not know the right thing to say.  

They’ll say things like, If you just relax you’ll get pregnant, as if you hadn’t tried regular sex or going on vacation. Or: Why Don’t You Just Adopt? As if adoption were easy or cheap or even an option you wanted to try instead of a biological child.  

They don’t realize that these statements can be hurtful, as are their stories about people who tried miracle cures or doctors or other stories of other people getting pregnant who are not you.  

Why Share Your Journey 

I started sharing my fertility journey in 2012 with a column in The New York Times.  

Even though I was so public about my journey, I was just like everyone else IRL. I didn’t want everyone asking me when my retrieval or transfer was or the worst, if I was pregnant. So I learned to keep certain things private. 

“I’ll tell you when I have something to tell you,” became my mantra. In other words, please don’t ask me if I’m pregnant! (Because I suffered miscarriages, I wouldn’t even tell anyone anyway.)  

Listen, you don’t have to share anything with anybody. But the longer you are trying to conceive, the lonelier it can get – RSVPing no to every baby shower or party, cancelling plans because of medical appointments, not being able to travel – if you can’t tell people the reason why.  

There is nothing to be ashamed of! So many people have fertility trouble. So if you’re feeling lonely or isolated or hurt, let the people you love know.  

My advice is to let in a few close friends and family in on the fact that you’re trying, and it’s not happening. You can come up with something that suits you, like no, we’re not pregnant, I’m glad you asked because we are starting fertility treatment. 

Tell People What You Need 

Whatever you say, I have found that the most important part is to tell people what you need. If you are a person who talks about this nonstop, you might just say that you’re going to chew their ear off for a while. If you’re in need space, tell your friends why you might be MIA. Tell people what kind of emotional support you need. (And if it’s your family and you want financial support, you can let them know that, too.) 

These days more and more people are aware of infertility, of IVF, of miscarriage and pregnancy loss. I believe they really want to help us – it’s on us to tell them how. 

Most people can relate, in some way: they can bring your dinner, help take you to appointments or just sit and listen. That’s what friends are for! 

What If They Can’t Help? 

And then there is the  person who can’t stop giving advice, or telling you “miracle” stories of others’ success, or the friend who thinks she’s helping by complaining about her own kids (“you take them!”) and you talk to them and you tell them and they don’t understand or can’t change.  

You can’t change other people.  

But you can take your space from them. You can take your space from anyone who isn’t helpful to you right now. 

Because in the end, in this particular time in your life, you need to take care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself and your body and your emotions and your partnership, getting it all ready for your future child. 

Guest Blogger,

Amy Klein

Amy Klein is the author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing YourMind {Penguin/Random  House).  Follow her on instagram or on the Web.


Don’t forget to tune in to this week’s episode of The Hormone P.U.Z.Z.L.E Podcast – Pregnancy Loss: How to Talk to Your Friends About Fertility and Loss With Amy Klein – NY Best Selling Author.

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