Every person is different. People have varied levels of sensitivity, so you have to kind of gauge what's okay to say to someone. Here are four general rules:
1) Don't ask the childless married couple when they're going to have kids. For one, that's their business. If they want to share, they will, but don't ask. You never know if they're struggling with infertility, and if they're not open about it, the question will hurt them and put them in an awkward position. Instead, you can ask them what they're enjoying about marriage.
2) If you find out someone's struggling with infertility, don't give advice or tell them about your aunt who ate pickles every day to get pregnant. If they ask for advice, go for it. Otherwise, just no. Trust me, if someone wants a baby and isn't getting pregnant, they've done the research.
3) Don't compare. Don't bring up that everyone in her family pushes out babies at the speed of light. Everyone is unique with different issues.
4) Don't try to explain why she's going through her struggle. In her private moments of pain, she's already asked God or the universe, "Why me?" If she got an answer in all her searching, then fine. Unless she asks you for help in this area, please don't even go there. Life seems incredibly unfair when a loving person can't have a baby, but a negligent, abusive person can. You can't explain why that happens.
Ultimately, go with your heart and act out of compassion and sensitivity. I started bawling in front of a friend one day and she gave me unsolicited spiritual advice that rocked my world. I'm open to questions and talk about TTC freely. But not everyone is comfortable with these.
With the general rules out there, I asked some ladies from a TTC (trying to conceive) support group I belong to if they would anonymously give me examples of things people said that were hurtful and things people said that made them feel supported. A few ladies were kind enough to help me. (Some responses have been separated into the two groups and/or edited for clarity, but content remains original.)
Things that hurt us:
"The worst one was from someone who said I couldn't get pregnant because I wasn't having sex right. (I have been pregnant three times, just haven't gotten past the first trimester yet.)"
"'If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Maybe God has better plans for you. Stop stressing. Have you tried xyz? (Insert anything from old wives tales to internet crap.) Why don't you adopt? Why don't you do IVF?'"
"When I was pregnant (which ended in a miscarriage) I had chosen everything I wanted for my unborn child, then when I lost the child, my friend (who got pregnant right after my miscarriage) bought everything she knew I wanted. When I confronted her, all she said was, 'I'm having the baby first!' That's pure evil."
"When family tells you it'll happen, just to relax."
"When a friend steals your baby's name. One of my friends stole my baby's name after my miscarriage. Five years down the line, it still hurts to look at her girl, knowing she has the name that was meant for my Angel. And the relax thing. How relaxed do you want me to be? Or, 'Forget about it, it'll just happen.' Fiance last week said, 'Maybe this is God's way of telling you that I'm not supposed to be the father.' That one opened Pandora's box."
"When my friend threw TTC in my face during a fight. She knew how important a baby is to me, and she threw it at me out of spite. Another is when people try to make me feel crazy for going to extremes (or what they think is extreme) to have a baby."
Things that make us feel supported:
"When people open up to me about their own battles, I know I'm not alone. I love it when people value who I am now, not just the mother I'll be in the future to my kids who will come. Also, there are only a few people who ackowledge my position as a mother with babies in Heaven, but those who do are my greatest supporters."
"The most positive thing you can do is LISTEN."
A few things people have said to make me feel supported: "I've never gone through what you're going through, so I can't say I understand how you feel, but it must be frustrating and I want you to know I'm here for you." Others have said, "I don't know what to say, but I'm here for you." Also, it's so valuable when people listen. That was already said, but my goodness, it helps to have someone to vent to. Another thing I appreciate is when people tell me they're praying for me--but this tends to only go over well with the praying-type. For people who like touch, simple hugs or pats on the back are welcome.Finally, when in doubt, ask your loved one what you can do to support them.
If you have any you want to add, you can comment or email me at jessie(dot)mullins5(at)gmail(dot) com.
Thank you for reading and supporting!