Amy Gerard: ‘How I Supported My Best Friend Who Struggled With Infertility for Six Years’

Amy Gerard

When you’re young, you’re conditioned to think motherhood will easily come to you. In sex ed at school, you’re basically made to believe that if you hold the gaze of a penis for long enough, you’ll fall pregnant. I remember being 18, on the pill and still making my boyfriend wear a condom every time we had sex because that’s how easily I thought I would fall pregnant.

And for some women, it really is that easy. Some women are extremely fertile. Other women are not. There are conditions that can make falling pregnant hard, like polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis, and sometimes, you can be told that your body is prime for fertility and yet it just doesn’t happen. The stars don’t line up. Genetic incompatibility or external life stresses can play a role in making things harder.

As someone who didn’t struggle to fall pregnant, I wrote this piece with my best friend in mind. She struggled with infertility for six years and I’m not here to tell her story, but to offer up some insight — from my own perspective and lived experience — on how to support your friends when they are struggling.

Going through fertility treatments and pregnancy loss is such a personal experience. Every parent-to-be experiences the emotions of the journey differently. One thing that’s similar across the board for everyone going through this experience, though, is that it can be incredibly isolating.


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When you have a friend who you know is hurting, you tend to not bring up the subject for fear of upsetting them further. I’ve been guilty of trying to ignore the elephant in the room. Not out of awkwardness or to be mean but because I truly didn’t know the right words to say or what I could do to help.

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I remember falling pregnant with my second and feeling very nervous about telling her knowing she had been actively trying for almost three years. Her response was always the same – pure happiness and joy — but behind her eyes, I could see the pain. It broke me.

She deserved to be a mum more than anyone I know. She is kind, gentle, nurturing and always thinking of other people. She loved my daughter like her own. I wanted it so badly for her and I struggled to enjoy my own pregnancies as much because I never wanted to hurt her feelings or rub salt in her wounds by talking about it often. Instead, I used to downplay things and always change the subject when she asked how I was going.

If I learned anything over the six years of riding the emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows, excitement and heartbreaks with her, it’s that you must continue to live your life and share all parts of it with your friends regardless of the life stages you are at but also, NEVER STOP CHECKING IN. I was not the perfect friend, but just as she was navigating her fertility journey, I was also learning how to be the best support person for her.


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Here are a few things that I learned and applied along the way:

Never stop asking how they are. Even if you are worried the answer they give will hurt them even more. It means a lot to them knowing that you are trying to understand.

Sometimes the medications can change their moods and their desire to want to do the things you normally do together may change. Don’t be offended if they don’t reply to texts or withdraw for a while. Keep reaching out, keep inviting them to things — including baby showers, kids’ birthdays, etc — and let them decide whether or not they want to come. Be consistent with your friendship, even when, temporarily, it might feel like a one-way street.

Don’t apologise for falling pregnant — though I do suggest telling your friend over a text message so it gives them some time to process it privately. They will initially feel hurt, maybe even resentful (not towards you but just at the cards life has dealt them), but give them some time and they will rejoice in your happiness with you.

Follow through and check-in throughout their whole fertility journey, not just around big procedure days. Sometimes, the waiting between big milestones in the process is the hardest part. Days feel like they go on for weeks. It’s nice to offer some distractions, so suggest a walk or pop over with Mars Bar Slice!


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Send sporadic, thoughtful texts so they know you are thinking of them and care.

Even though you think it might be helpful, under no circumstance should you try and offer unsolicited advice — especially if you’ve never walked a day in their shoes.

Suggest girly date nights, just the two of you. Book a restaurant, get a blow dry, get dressed up and just enjoy a night out together. Instead of offering advice my friend had heard a million times or encouraging words that don’t seem so encouraging, I always gave her my silence and a comfy shoulder to cry and lean on.

I promised to lock my kids in a cupboard whenever she needed to just vent, not try to figure out a solution and to find a babysitter at the drop of a hat if she ever needed me by her side. I couldn’t make her pregnant, but I excelled at being able to take her mind off things and help the situation not suck for a little while.

Avoid saying things like; “Have you tried ___”, “at least you know you can get pregnant,” and “don’t stress, it will happen once you stop trying.” While often well intended, it can make a struggling friend feel alienated or as if infertility is somehow their fault. No toxic positivity either! Just acknowledge how crappy it is and don’t try to make everything OK. It’s OK to say, “This really sucks, I’m so sorry” and “I’m always here for you”.


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I always tried to remember important dates and appointments, and check-in before or after them. A simple “Good luck today” or “How did it go?” means so much and shows that you have been paying attention. If you have a busy life or forget things easily, schedule in reminders. I used to put certain dates in my calendar and then set an alarm, so I wouldn’t miss things.

Try to limit sharing other people’s success stories as a sign of hope.

When she loses a baby, don’t say anything. Just sit with her in her pain and let her cry. Cry with her. Offer her your arms and a safe space to just grieve and stay by her side for as long as she needs you. Let her talk about it. Don’t try to change the subject.

…and finally, pray for her every night. Manifest her being pregnant – send up thoughts to whoever you believe in and ask for it to happen. Envision Mother’s Day with her and a baby in her arms being celebrated for being so strong and so brave and for always putting herself last in the hope to start a family. Pray that one day all the tears, heartache and loss will be worth it and that Mother’s Day will be a reminder of how hard she fought and what an incredible mum she’s become.

True friendship consists of riding through the storms and basking in the sunshine together. Remind your friend that you are right beside her every step of the way.

Want more pieces from Amy Gerard? Read her previous columns below:

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