Anyone struggling with Secondary Infertility just wants to be pregnant, to have another baby. There is very little that can fix this and so instantly it is extremely difficult to find a way to support someone, when you are powerless to fix the problem.
Know that this then causes them to be extremely frustrated. They feel powerless because it is out of their hands. Frustration can often manifest itself with occasional outbursts of anger or sadness. You need to be able to listen, let them talk, let them explain their feelings.
They are already feeling useless and sometimes ashamed that their body is working either as it once did, or as everyone elses is. Understand that it is already a big deal for them to be sharing their feelings with you, knowing how perhaps embarrassed of their predicament they are.
They also will be the first to know how lucky they already are to have a child. They don’t need telling or reminding. They know. They may have indeed struggled with their first pregnancy. Either way, whether they did or not, they know they are blessed, some say lucky, so saying that to them is of not help at all – in fact it infuriates most sufferers.
Because they know they are blessed with a child some are still trying hard for, this brings huge feelings of guilt. They feel guilty at wanting more when they already have what some couples still pray for. Don’t reinforce that guilt by stressing the point of how lucky they are all the more.
Sometimes, fertility treatment is a comfort, a feeling of being in control and working towards an end goal. Talking about putting it off to look after themselves, or offering advice to go on holiday, or change job to distract them, will send them into a spiral where they might feel you are discouraging away from their way forward.
Having a child or children already, may be putting increased pressure on the relationship and if you can help with them in any way that could be hugely beneficial in a practical sense. Are you close enough to discuss dates? Could you have the kids for a few nights around ovulation? Could you babysit while they go to the clinic for routine tests or treatment? Could you offer to have them for a weekend to give the couple time to talk, just be together and let’s face it, have sex?!
Try to be aware of conversation topics such as updates on pregnancies or new babies that you both know of. Or perhaps ask if they want to talk about them at that moment – there will be times when they do and times when they simply can’t bear it.
Can you support them in their wellbeing? Share a fertility friendly diet plan, join a gym together or go to yoga together each week?
There is a time and a place for optimism. Positivity is great, but only if you are feeling it together at the same time. Trying to force it onto them when they are not sharing that feeling at that particular time could be detrimental and drive a wedge between you.
Overall, just being there, allowing them to talk when they want to and offering comfort in your silent arms when they need it, is enough.
If you’re in doubt how to support a loved one going through Secondary Infertility, ask them. Ask them what helps, what makes them sad, angry, resentful. What’s helpful, what’s really not helpful.
Just be there however they need you. Because they really do need you.