Giving advice, or bossing people around?

A funny thing has happened since I went from two years in the infertility trenches to suddenly being pregnant with an IVF baby that appears to be sticking around (what what, viability!). Some women I know in real life have either started walking down the path of Femara and IUIs and all that jazz or are considering doing so after months of trying naturally has failed, and have asked my advice on what to do. My instinct is to strap on my Superinfertilitysurvivorwoman cape and leap into action, blabbering on about everything we endured, what was scary, what was awesome, what was bizarre, and then telling them what they should and shouldn’t do in their journey toward babymaking with lab coats.

In a way, it’s not that different from the “commenter mode” I slip into when visiting all of your lovely blogs; inevitably, we all end up needing support or guidance or X-ray vision to interpret potential second lines on pee sticks or just reassuring anecdotes, and we look to fellow bloggers to help a girl out. And this is a good thing… I think.

But part of me has started to feel like I sometimes veer from offering helpful advice into just bossing people around. My own experience with infertility is just ONE experience, and yet it’s led to me having fairly strong opinions on, for instance, how many IUIs a couple should do before moving on to IVF, what drugs are worth taking, which ones have side effects, whether acupuncture or Chinese medicine really work, and so forth. And every now and then, I’m reminded that, actually, I have no idea what the eff I’m talking about. OK fine, maybe I have 2% credibility, but still. So I’m trying to figure out how to best help both IRL friends and fellow bloggers without coming across as a smug “success story” or a bossypants. I suppose I could just preface everything with, “Well, in my own experience…” but then it just looks like I’m bringing everything back to ME, which is not so hot either. Hence… maybe it’s best to just keep my mouth shut completely, or be more generically supportive, à la Hallmark cards with messages like, “Keep up the great work! (insert picture of kitten wearing glasses and holding a pencil)”

On the other hand, I look back to the state of mind I was in when I first sought medical help for all this, and how fortunate I felt to get some advice from a friend who’d been through fertility treatments (and had given birth to a healthy baby boy). I think what made her advice so helpful was the fact that she always asked how WE were doing first, and then gave me plenty of opportunity to vent my frustrations, and then made me feel better by sharing the more frustrating moments of her journey — which made for a nice reminder that I wasn’t alone and that, hopefully, I too would have a happy ending. What she didn’t do was say “You should take this” or “You shouldn’t do this” or whatever.

So maybe that’s the key. Any of you guys have advice on how to give advice?