It National Infertility Awareness week and my heart feels so many emotions during this very important time of year. This is the first time that I get to look at my sweet baby boy during this week and reflect on the journey getting to him. The journey was more of a battle than anything. A battle of of heartbreak and hope. But to sit here on the other side, it’s something I will never forget because it’s all forever changed me. And changed me in the best possible ways.
I get tons of emails, dms and messages from friends asking what they can do for their friends and loved ones going through IVF. What kind of gift could they send to let them know they are thinking about them? What to send for recovery from egg retrieval? I wanted to share some ideas for you to make it easier to support them. The fact that you want to go above and beyond to help a friend going through this insanely tough emotional and physical journey is already the most important form of support. Just being there. The simplest gesture of even just sending a text to say “Thinking of you. Always here if you need me.” is so simple but so meaningful. Going through infertility can feel like fighting alone and just to know your friends are there with a hand reaching out means the world. So I think my biggest piece of advice to someone outside of the struggle who might be afraid to say the wrong thing, and maybe be afraid to reach out because of that… dont be afraid. Just stick your hand out. Reach out. Because you don’t have to send a perfect gift of say the perfect thing. I guarantee you that you will be able to lift someone’s spirits and help to keep them fighting just by standing beside them. So, below I have a list of just a few ideas of things you can do for a friend going through IVF specifically and how you might support them through their recovery process.
GIFTS FOR SURGERY RECOVERY
hot/cold therapy pack: My FAVORITE recovery item hands down is this heat pack that fits perfectly right on your stomach for the pain after surgery. I actually have 2 of them and rotate them during recovery. Seems like a weird gift… but trust me… this is magic and you just pop it into the microwave. And then after you can use it for other muscle aches etc.
Target or Amazon Gift card: For her to buy COLACE, Gatorade, Coconut Water, saltine crackers, chicken noodle soup (the salty kind!) and magazines (Electrolytes are SO important after surgery so drinking gatorade and coconut water are key. You also want to be careful with what you eat after surgery so the saltines were great for my first day home along with chicken noodle soup) You could either get her a gift card, send an amazon order, order a postmates with all of these things to her doorstep a few days before her surgery, of bring over a basket with these items as a little recovery kits.
iTunes gift card: I spend so much time in bed after surgery and went through a TON of tv shows and movies. This might be a nice little thing to stock up on her favorite shows while she is stuck in bed.
Fresh Potted Flowers: A friend once sent me a white orchid and I placed it on my bedside table during recovery. The white orchid is a symbol of fertility. This made this flower delivery just a little bit sweeter. And it was nice because it lasted longer than fresh cut flowers.
Postmates gift card: I had two friends get me a postmates gift card so my husband didn’t have to cook every night. This was a super sweet gesture. I didn’t use it till the end of my recovery since I ate super simple baked chicken and fresh vegetables to combat the constipation. But this is an easy and quick on that you can send virtually. So if you don’t have the time to orchestrate anything, you can have it sent straight to their email.
Cozy pajamas or robe: After surgery, the recover can be rough and loose fitting comfortable pajamas and robes are a must. One of my dear friends send me a robe and I thought it was the sweetest gesture to give me a piece of comfort in my day when I was on bed rest. Just a small luxury that might make someone’s day a little bit more special.
WAYS TO BE SUPPORTIVE
Send a card: This might sound really basic, but a handwritten message of support can be the most beautiful affirmation to hold onto. It’s an inexpensive gesture that will truly mean the world.
Send a text: After talking to lots of friends through our multiple rounds of treatments, it’s interesting to hear people hesitation to say the wrong thing since it’s hard for others to grasp what is really going on behind the closed doors of fertility treatments. But I am here to tell you that you that even just checking in simply with a “Thinking of you” message is all you need to send out your hand of support without being intrusive. Everyone deals with things in their own way but that is a simple way to let it be known that you are behind your friend ready to step up and of course be respectful of their space.
Be a sound board: One of the things I remember vividly was just being able to say out loud and acknowledge the shear devastation, heartbreak, and darkness of what I was going through. Some days I just really needed to say it all out loud, and just have someone commiserate with me and acknowledge that its tough and to just hear me. So really, it’s not about what to say, but about being an open listener that could be of such value to a friend.
Bring a meal: Never underestimate the power of bringing someone a warm meal to let the stress melt off their day and take the opportunity to sit and enjoy it with them, or just drop some goodies off for them to enjoy a moment.
Come to a doctors appointment: This might not be right for everyone, but I had friends come to my fertility clinic with me. Once for blood work, and once for appointment scans. I never wanted to go alone and most cases I was lucky enough to have my husband as the rock by my side. But for those few times he could not come, the support of physically having my friend with me was so special. Never be afraid to ask your friends how you could help more.
Being able to connect with you about infertility has been one of the most important conversations I could have. It’s so important to me to be able to support other woman going through the same thing and it warms my heart that so many of you also want to help your friends and loved ones through their struggles. My reminder to all my warriors today: No matter how or why you are struggling with your fertility, you are not alone. There are an army of woman (and men) behind you. Never give up. I know sometimes seeing photos of families or babies can be hard for some struggling, but every time I look at Otis face, I see a miracle. He is my biggest symbol of hope and I hope he can be that for you.