I figure if I'm going to discuss infertility on this blog I should include something about what isn't helpful. Sometimes well-meaning friends, family and even strangers can say unintentionally hurtful things, and sometimes people are outright awful. These are some common things people have said to me, to friends, and some things I've pulled from the book Infertility: Help, Hope and Healing (Kerstin Daynes), and my favorite blog 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility. For those I can clearly explain or that might need explanation I've included a little about why this is hurtful to someone trying to conceive.
You can also check out my follow-up post, What to Say.
"Relax! You're trying too hard!"
"This phrase can evoke feelings of frustration rather easily because it implies that a couple is doing something wrong. In actuality some couples dealing with infertility truly need to "try harder" to conceive since the process is, in some way, flawed for them." (Infertility: Help, Hope and Healing, Kerstin Daynes)
- Relaxing isn't going to make me ovulate on my own. Its not going to stop my endometriosis from growing.
"Have you thought about adopting? You can just adopt."
We are completely open to adoption and would love to adopt, but its not like picking up groceries. You cant just walk into a place and say, "yes, I would like to take that adorable little bundle home to be part of our loving family." Adoption is a lengthy, expensive and emotional journey and not something easily done. P.S. If someone does want to give us a baby that easily then YES PLEASE! :)
"Ugh, with my luck I'll probably have a baby on accident right after we get married. That would be awful."
People have said similar things to me before, but no joke, someone said this to me right after my miscarriage. Please don't act like getting pregnant is horrible or that the blessing of getting pregnant easily would be a curse. Really its fine if you feel this way about getting pregnant, but have enough tact to not say it to someone who has difficulty having children. If you don't want to have a baby, there are plenty of loving families who would give anything to provide a home for your baby (including us).
"You are still young, you have plenty of time for children"
Really I don't. At any time my endometriosis could do enough damage to stop us from being able to get pregnant, AND a woman's fertility peaks around 24. Yes, technically I've got a while until menopause but my chances are going down and the chance of miscarriage is going up.
"It'll happen when its supposed to happen"
This is hurtful because it says essentially "you aren't supposed to have a baby right now and anyone else who is pregnant IS supposed to have a baby right now (including that 13 year old down the street)." I do believe God has His timing for us and some things happen the way they do and when they do for a reason, but I also believe that sometimes things just happen. The laws of nature and the free agency of people allow for plenty of awful things to happen. Sure, there is always something good to be learned or gained from an awful experience but that doesn't always mean it was "supposed to happen." I don't believe people always get pregnant because "its their time" (need I again refer to pregnant 13 year olds?).
"I bet working in the nursery is great birth control!"
No. Its heartbreaking. When we were trying to get pregnant with Aurelia I would go home from church and cry, wondering if we would ever get to have a child.
"I'll be a surrogate for you!"
This is a very sweet offer if given to someone you are close to and you know they want it. Otherwise its a bit like saying, "my body works and yours doesn't! How convenient for you that I don't want to make my own babies right now!"
"You should (insert any unfounded old wives tale about how to get pregnant)"
Thank you for the suggestion but we're already obsessed over every solution Dr. Google suggested and the reproductive endocrinologist we worked with (you know, the one with all the degrees and expertise) had some pretty good ideas too. I think we're covered.
"You're so lucky, I just think about getting pregnant and it happens!"
Oh yes, lucky me. How lucky I am that all the thinking and praying over these last several years hasn't resulted in having children easily. Soooooo lucky.
"So when are you going to have a baby?" or "When are you going to have your next baby?"
I ask (plead, cry, beg) the same question every single day.
"I know someone who adopted and then got pregnant."
Adoption is not a cure for infertility. It's not. Adoption won't make me ovulate, clear my scarred tubes or stop me from miscarrying. Good for the "someone" you know, but suggesting infertility can be corrected by filling out adoption paperwork makea light of the whole heartbreaking situation.
"I have too many kids, you can have one of mine!"
Okay? Thank you? I'm sorry?
"Enjoy your time together while you can"
We have enjoyed our time together, now we'd like to enjoy it together as parents of a house full of noisy kids.
"Why don't you have any kids yet?"