Though we are not going through infertility treatment now, people are still saying things that irk me – to both me and other friends who are struggling. I know that you mean well, but we need you to take a second and think about what you are saying before you let it escape your lips. Many of us are highly emotional and take comments to heart. I have personally cried many tears after comments by well-meaning family and friends. If you don’t know what to say, you can tell me that. You can’t go wrong with, “I don’t know what to say except that I am very sorry for what you are going through, and that I am here for you.”
As some of you know, I was recently part of a web series for TLC.com that followed me and five other women on our paths towards motherhood. One of the women posted a “top 10” list of sorts – her top ten infertility related pet peeves. She was spot on. I am going to borrow some of them from her (thanks, Mary!), add my own, and tell you what would really help someone who is experiencing problems getting – and staying – pregnant.
1. When other people say that they are going to get pregnant at a certain time.
I know that one seems innocuous, and that people have the right to do and say whatever they want about their own lives. It’s a tough statement to hear, though, when you can’t get pregnant. I, or any other person who happens to hear that and hate it, just has to suck it up and deal with it. And then drink a glass of wine later to cope…stopping after one glass of wine.
2. “Everything happens for a reason/God has a plan.”
I’m a firm believer in God. I pray to Him just about every day. During my treatments, and the months preceding it, it seemed like I prayed all the time. Yes, God does have a plan, and if I want to seek it and His will, I have my Bible, my pastor and my prayers. Do not tell me about His plan, because it’s trite. Tell me that you are sorry for what we’re going through, and that you pray God provides us with comfort. (Or, if your friend does not believe in God, tell her that you will think of her often, and hope that she finds comfort in her family and friends.)
3. Backhanded compliments (I stole this one straight from Mary because I can’t put it any better.)
“You’re house is so clean! It must be easy since you don’t have kids.” Or “You’re so skinny…but you haven’t had kids yet.” Thanks … wait a minute … are you implying that if I had kids I would be a fat slob?
4. Why don’t you just try IVF?
I’m really trying to cut down on my use of 4-letter words, and wish these folks would do the same. “Just”? “Just”? IVF is very costly, between $10,000 – $15,000 per cycle. The chances of becoming pregnant via IVF really don’t go too much higher than 50-60%, which means most people need multiple cycles. The mother has to take lots of pills and shots – some in her stomach (which isn’t so awful) and some in her butt (which is very painful). Both the father and mother need to undergo surgical procedures. The mother then has to limit a lot of what she normally does. That’s not “just” to me. But if you want to pay for it, clean my house, cook my dinner, and walk my dog, come on over!
5. Once you start an adoption, you’ll get pregnant! Everyone I know who started an adoption/adopted got pregnant during the process/within a year.
I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who slept through science and health class throughout school. Filing legal paperwork to take permanent guardianship of a child that someone else brought into this world does not factor into the reproductive process at all. If you don’t believe me, Google it. And everyone you know? That’s B.S. (See? No 4-letter words!)
6. You are stressed; you just need to relax.
Who isn’t? Believing that stress is the reason that a person can’t get pregnant isn’t cool. There are lots of factors that can contribute to infertility, and many of them have absolutely nothing to do with stress. My problems are not related to stress. I’ve been dealing with this for years. I know you didn’t know that, but please don’t make statements based on your assumptions. And telling someone to quit their job is just silly. They need to work to be able to afford the treatments!
7. I know how you feel.
I have heard this from people who have only been “trying” (the old-fashioned, fun way) for a few months. How on earth can you know how I feel? Please don’t ever say this unless you have been through infertility treatment. I would never say to someone undergoing IVF that I know how they feel because I don’t. My approach was a different, less invasive one, so I don’t know what it’s like. I also don’t know what it’s like to miscarry, so I would likewise never tell someone who miscarried that I know how they feel. If you tell me you know I feel, be prepared for me to ask me about your infertility treatments so we can swap stories.
8. If you would just stop running/eat meat/gain some weight, it would happen.
Are you my doctor? Don’t you think that the people who are looking at my hoo-hah (the nice way my niece refers to lady-parts) know me pretty intimately, and that they would be the ones advising me what I should and shouldn’t do? Trust me, they take a thorough history before starting treatment, and you have to tell them how much you exercise, dietary habits, etc. Also, by saying this, you imply that something I am doing is causing my problems. It comes across as somewhat accusatory.
9. Are you sure you want kids??? (said while that person’s child/children are running around like maniacs)
Yes. Yes, I do. If you don’t want yours, let’s talk.
10. You’re not missing out on anything by not going through pregnancy and labor.
You have got to be kidding me. Do not ever, ever say this to anyone.