How to help a friend through IVF
Liz, in her third round of IVF, is waiting on the results of her embryo transfer. With a couple of weeks left before she can take a pregnancy test, she turns her attention to the social aspect of IVF - the right and wrong things to say to someone having treatment, and the little ways to show you care...
The internet is rammed with advice for what not to do, or say, to your friend who is having IVF.
My particular nemesis is the ‘helpful’ anecdote 'My friend had IVF and...' Only last week I was told of a woman who was pregnant with IVF twins at 47. How is that of interest to me? I know IVF can work, I don’t need examples - the fact remains it hasn’t (yet) worked for me. And, frankly, if I am still trying for my first baby at 47 I’ll have 17 years of infertility behind me and it’ll be a miracle if I have not been institutionalised.
Others complain of the mothers who joke: 'You can have mine if you want!' As their adorable brats cause havoc around them. This doesn’t happen so often to me, maybe because my friends are worried I’ll take them seriously and nip home with a child under each arm.
But as I say, if you want to know what not to do there are plenty of diatribes out there.
The harder question is what you should do. There is the normal advice: just be there, listen, don’t second-guess their next step, don’t suggest adoption. (See how hard it is? I’m already straying back into the don’ts.)
My twin sister and I have developed a habit of care packages. Sad that it has become a habit but with two failed IVFs behind each of us we have it down pat.
The pack can be as costly or inexpensive as you want. This is the kind of thing that you could include:
- A pair of socks - as outrageous as you can buy. This is for them to wear when they have the egg collection and/ or embryo transfer. If it works, their status can be officially upgraded to ‘lucky’.
- Brazil nuts I haven’t found a scientific study that backs this up but, anecdotally, brazil nuts are supposed to help implantation. My sister and I favour chocolate covered ones (you can get them from M&S).
- Pineapple - as above there is an unsubstantiated rumour that pineapple core contains an enzyme that aids implantation. And who could fail to smile if you turn up bearing a pineapple?
- Massage voucher - There has been a study that shows that there is no correlation between how stressed you are and success in IVF. However, that doesn’t mean that IVF isn’t stressful and anything you can do to ease that is a bonus.
- Funny DVD or CD - Israeli researchers demonstrated that when a clown came into a ward full of women straight from their embryo transfer the success rates rocketed. Leaving the scientists to conclude that women who laugh during this crucial period are more likely to achieve success. I don’t like clowns. But I do ensure I have a comedy podcast teed up on my iphone, and in the aftermath I cuddle up on the sofa with a comedy DVD.
These are just a few ideas. Be creative. But don’t, whatever you do, buy something for the baby.
- Liz questions the accuracy of an online IVF success predictor
- Liz looks at the various 'break points' at which IVF treatment could go wrong
- Liz heads to the hospital for embryo transfer number three
- Share your fertility issues on the fertility and pregnancy boards