I talked about writing this post awhile ago, so here it is- a list of things NOT to say to an infertile. I don’t speak for all infertile people, obviously, but these are things I have had said to me along the way and I know I would appreciate to never hear them again.
1. “Just relax! It will happen!” Ok, so you may think this is a nice thing to say. Maybe you think the person needs a reality check and needs to just “let it happen”. But sometimes it doesn’t “just happen” for everyone! When an infertile starts out trying to get pregnant, they are a lot more relaxed than they can possibly be once it has been 12 months of trying. So if the “relax” thing worked, why didn’t it work at the beginning? Or in the next 4 months? Or the 4 months after that? Most people who experience infertility don’t think they will have a problem getting pregnant, so the anxiety doesn’t kick in until after several months.
2. “Everything happens for a reason.” Many people already know this. They don’t want to be told this after they suffer a miscarriage, or after they get ANOTHER negative on a pregnancy test. Trust me, it is not comforting to hear this when you are dealing with infertility. If you are infertile, and someone says this to you, it will most likely make you angry. At least it makes me angry when people tell me this. And a few months later, or years later, I might look back on it and say “you know what, they were right”, but in the moment, it’s not something I want to hear.
3. “Oh man, my husband just looks at me and I get pregnant.” Yeah, just don’t say it, it’s not cool. If you know the person is having struggles, just don’t say this 🙂
4. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to get pregnant, it just happened.” As an infertile, it is sometimes hard to be happy for people who are pregnant. I’m not going to lie. It is hard. But I am truly happy for each person that is blessed with the miracle of a child. Yes, I may feel jealousy, and wonder why it’s so easy for someone else and not me, but I am overjoyed at the journey they are about to venture on. But hearing an apology and saying they didn’t mean to, well…
5. “You’re lucky you aren’t dealing with a kid that doesn’t sleep!” So, yeah, you may feel like the person should feel lucky to be sleeping through the night and not “burdened” with a child, but they don’t feel that way.
6. “And you wanted this HOW bad?” So if the person then does have a child, and they say something about how hard it is to be a parent, don’t throw it in their face. Are you a perfect parent? Have you never said “I wish they would just stop crying!” Are you only allowed to complain about the difficulty of parenting if you didn’t go through infertility?
7. “Think of how much money you are saving by not having a child.” Do I need to explain this one?
8. “Why don’t you just adopt?” Have you looked into the adoption process? Do you know what it entails? I would adopt, and maybe that is in my future, but in many cases, it’s not any easier to adopt than it is to conceive for an infertile. There are applications and home visits and a lot of money and energy and resources that go into adoption. It’s not an “easy” fix to a pregnancy issue.
9. “Did you make sure you kept your legs up in the air for at least 30 minutes?” Ok, so you have probably read a lot of things online about positions and things to do before and after and on certain days…so if you have read those things, how many times do you think they have read those things?
I had a really hard time when my sister-in-law told me she was pregnant. (Don’t worry, she won’t read this!) Not because she was pregnant, but because she was pregnant with number 3 and was going to come into MY house, at a holiday, and announce that she was pregnant again, by accident, when she knew we had just gone through a miscarriage. And she’s a therapist. And her husband is a minister. And she didn’t know I was pregnant at the time- we hadn’t announced it yet. I was chatting with her online (something I do less than once a month) and I asked if she could bring her maternity clothes for me to borrow when she came for Thanksgiving (we all thought they were done having kids as they had 2 and both were having a lot of difficulty and caused a lot of health concerns while she was pregnant). She let me know she couldn’t because she would be using them herself and not to tell anyone because she was going to announce it as a surprise at my house when we were having Thanksgiving dinner. So, yeah….I swear I saw red when she said this, and I closed the computer and walked upstairs to call a fellow infertile. I didn’t even know how to respond. But I knew I needed to walk away from it before I said something I would regret later. Did I mention that the year before she gave me a gift card for Toys R Us for Christmas and when I looked at her with a puzzled expression, she said it was for when I had a child. Anyways…the situation kind of got blown out of proportion when she reported that I was mad that she was pregnant and couldn’t lend me her maternity clothes because I couldn’t afford my own….big leap there, but it got smoothed out. And we both had healthy babies, 10 days apart. And then on Christmas the following year, while on Skype, they announced they were pregnant again. And they went on and on about how they didn’t mean for it to happen and it was such an accident…..I had to leave. I left the house and went for a run, found a spot far from the house and just cried in the middle of the street. I do have a precious child, but it still hurts to hear them say how it was an accident, over and over again. How exciting would it be for me to get pregnant on accident. To not be counting the days until I can test, picking out any possibilities of symptoms of pregnancy constantly and obsessively. To just one day wake up, vomit and say “oh boy, maybe I got pregnant on accident.”
Not everyone knows what I went through to have my daughter (ok, if they read my blog, I guess they now do), so a lot of times I get asked when I am going to have another child. My most recent answer, to end the conversation right there, is “when God decides to bless me with another one”. I used to say “when this one finally sleeps through the night”, but I am convinced that will never happen, so I am putting my faith in God, over sleep.
I completely understand that if you have not been through infertility, you may not automatically think about how insensitive your question or statement might be. So now that I’ve told you, please think before you speak. You never know what that person is going through, so even just asking when they are going to decide to have children might be something that will hurt. If you are asking about children, you should be a good friend, right? And if you are a good friend, they will confide in you and let you know what is going on without you constantly asking when they are finally going to have children.
If you have a friend that is struggling, try just listening to what they have to say. Or let them know you can’t understand how they are feeling personally, but that you are thinking about them and praying about them. Or talk about something else that has nothing to do with fertility.
What have I missed on my list? What have you said and regretted? Or what has someone said to you?