So Your Friend is Doing IVF…

So, your friend just told you she’s pursuing IVF to try for a baby. You’ve probably got loads of helpful suggestions, anecdotes, and ideas to share. You just want to be supportive, right?

Wrong-o.

Most likely, your friend is going through a lot with this process. IVF is tremendously draining emotionally, physically, and financially. Though you may have assumed that your friendship was sturdy enough that you would know how to act or what to say, there’s a good chance you have no idea and that you’re actually being the worst. (Said with love, of course).

May this list help guide you on your way, while avoiding inadvertently insulting, annoying, or deeply hurting her feelings.

What Not to Say:

“Have you tried:  massage / acupuncture / eating more meat / eating less gluten / losing weight / exercising / taking supplements / rhythm method / ovulation testing / period tracking / apps on your phone / B12 shots / multi vitamins / [insert random suggestion here]?”

Yes. I can promise you that she has.

IVF and fertility treatments are the last stops on the train to conception. No one enters into fertility consultations lightly. If there was an easier, cheaper way to get knocked up, she definitely, 100% has tried it. It’s a guarantee.

What Not to Say:

“It will happen when you least expect it.”

Ummm at this point, it probably won’t. It’s an empty and unimaginative statement. You can do better.

What Not to Say:

“I’m pregnant!”

Now, this one is tricky because your friend probably loves you dearly and genuinely wants to be happy for you…But there’s also a really good chance that she wants to punch your dumb pregnant face (with love, of course).

If she is currently hopped up on hormone injections or fresh off an embryo transfer, give her a minute before you show her that new ultrasound picture. It’ll be easier for her to celebrate your victory if it’s not immediately trampling her defeat.

What Not to Say:

“It’s because of all the stress you’re under. Stop being stressed.”

Don’t think of an elephant. What are you thinking of? Is it an elephant? It’s the same when you tell people to stop being stressed. Trying to not be stressed about the thing that’s stressing you is just more stressful. Then you’re stressed about being stressed. It’s a cycle and being told to just “stop” is frustrating and unsupportive.

What Not to Say:

“So you want a test tube baby?”

Literally only old people say this and not only is it insensitive but it’s hella annoying. Go take a nap on the chesterfield, you old bag.

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What Not to Say:

“Why not just adopt?”

While a wonderful and beautiful option for some families, adoption isn’t just an easier alternative to IVF and there are a bazillion reasons why it might not be possible. It’s definitely accompanied by a hefty price tag in its own right and international adoptions can be potentially problematic (a western family adopting from a developing nation should consider factors of cultural appropriation and risk of human trafficking.) It might be on their radar, but don’t assume it’s a given.

What Not to Say:

“It’s so expensive! How are you paying for that?”

Actually, come to think of it, this isn’t a terrible question. How are we going to pay for it? *scratches head*

Even with a wee bit of insurance coverage (shockingly, more than the ZERO dollars of coverage provided in Nova Scotia), it’s still going to cost an arm and a leg. What do they want? My first born?

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Smart & Sassy Memoirs I Just Couldn’t Put Down

Being a woman is…just…you know? Sometimes? There’s something really wonderful and comforting about reading the words of other women and knowing you have that shared experience. Even if it’s the ONLY experience that we might share, I just love hearing the stories that women tell.

I’m an escapist when it comes to reading and generally default to fiction. In fact, I go through long periods where I refuse to read non-fiction outside of work. (Especially after long days of editing academic writing, I just needed to immerse myself into some YA fiction.) The one constant exception to this role was for comedic memoires. Then that expanded to women’s memoirs.

Funny, poignant, captivating, infuriating, and thought provoking. When a woman has something to say, listen up.

Here’s a list of some of the memoirs that I was just enthralled with – the ones that I devoured. The ones that I just could not put down. They’re not all recent publications, but they are all definitely worth a read.

B3D50C59-7FF0-4DC8-9B14-C9F3EC6F5125How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell

I’m the opposite of a stylish party girl but the need for external approval resonates with me deeply. I found myself captivated by a morbid curiousity about the glamour and chaos of her life. How she built success in between binges and pill popping is infuriating and fascinating. Highly recommend.

“I extracted a pink Addy, put the blessed thing on my tongue like I was taking Communion, and chewed it up like it was baby aspirin.” 

FCAD8922-EB70-41C3-B759-CCD16458F582How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

“I’m 16 I’m 16 I’m 16 and these are my best clothes, and this is my best day”

I don’t think any line in any book has resonated with me more than this. So easily can I put myself back in my 16 year old mind, picking out my “coolest” outfit, waiting to see my crush.

Caitlin Moran is siginificantly cooler than me, but I found words on feminism and womanhood ones that I could hang on to.

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a brilliant mind and I so enjoyed reading about her brand of feminism, as well as her life experiences that shaped who she is.

I relate to her love of Scrabble and adoration of Ina Garten but more importantly, I learned so much by reading from a perspective that culturally, and racially, is so different from my own experience.

“At some point, you have to surrender to the types of privilege you hold.”

450ADC18-423B-43E7-B902-338E34AF765CI Feel Bad About my Neck (And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman) by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron was an iconic culture maker and I related deeply to her aversion to purses and love of food. She somehow simultaneously speaks for everywoman while still having this unattainable quality charm and grace. More aspirational than instagram, if you ask me.

“your purse is just a big dark hole full of stuff you spend hours fishing around for. A flashlight would help, but if you put one into your purse, you’d never find it.”

583FD45D-C052-4621-A40A-EC8103B5B7EAGirl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I was crying laughing at the horse anecdote. Personally, I think the cliché of girls who love horses is lame (horse culture is dumb — cash me outside) and lost it at this recap of a terrible date.

Bonus: If you want a teaser, listen to Rachel tell the horsemeat story on The Moth. It’s a slightly different telling than in the book, but still so funny.

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The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

Life highlight: Sarah Silverman showed up unannounced to a Christmas Eve show at the Comedy Cellar when I was in NY a few years ago. The best.

I had no idea of her struggles with mental health as an adolescent and learned so much about how her young life shaped her creativity and comedy as an adult.

“Make it a treat.”

Words to live by.

What are you reading these days?

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Oh Baby, No Baby?

I’m not pregnant. 

Let’s just get that out of the way now, shall we?

For some reason, Stereotypical gender roles indicate that, because I’m 34 years old, I should be well on the way to motherhood by now…but that’s just not the case. Still, my fertility (or lack thereof), and the fertility of all women, is always up for discussion. But I don’t have to tell you we have no boundaries when it comes to women’s bodies, do I?

Even when it’s asked with love, “When are you going to have a baby?” is an inescapable and frustrating question for so many women. There are a bazillion layers to dissect here, so just for today’s blog post, I’m going to focus on the part that hit me the hardest last year: sharing big news.

Shockingly enough, a woman in her thirties can have news to share that isn’t related to having a baby.

When I was going to share the news about our move to Baltimore last summer, I chose my words very carefully. Like, I practiced how I was going to tell people because I knew – I just knew – that if I buried the lede even the slightest bit, folks were going to jump to the pregnancy conclusion.

Think about it. If a woman of “childbearing age” starts an announcement with “I have news…” where does the mind jump? I mean, even the word announcement evokes images of baby bumps and showers and maternity leave.

Still, I had high hopes for my enlightened, feminist friends and colleagues as I prepared to give notice of my international relocation.

I phrased my news as such:

“So, Paul got a new job and we’re moving to Baltimore!”

The response?

“What? Oh, I thought you were going to tell me you’re pregnant!”

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What do you even say to that? Ummmm, nope. Not pregnant, just preparing to leave my job, sell my home, and move to another country, so…NBD, eh?

I’m not talking about one or two individuals here either. With the exception of my nearest and dearest who already knew my in/fertility situation (more on that in a future post), there were a lot of responses of this nature.

It was frustrating because I really thought I had set myself up for news-sharing, baby-avoiding success by phrasing my move the way I had. I was also disappointed that even the most progressive, staunch feminist, liberal minded people still felt the need to share with me that they were expecting a baby announcement.

Now, I don’t blame these people for going there. And I know the question wasn’t intended in any way to be hurtful or even prying. Some even said it offhandedly: “oh, you seemed like you were going to tell me something else – like that you were pregnant.” But the fact remains that we as a society have got to stop being so obtuse when it comes to sensitive and personal questions about women’s bodies.

So, the next time a female friend says she’s got something to share, consider maybe that she’s up for a promotion, or that she just had something published, or that she found the absolute best new pizza place in town. Aren’t all those things worthy of celebration too?

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