This is a post that I started writing on March 6, 2017. I recently found it in my drafts and decided to resuscitate it. So much has changed in our infertility journey since I started writing this 339 days ago:
- We had three more failed IUI procedures
- We went to Europe
- We started IVF
- We found out we only made two viable embryos
- We transferred both of those precious embryos
- We got pregnant only to eventually miscarry our last hope of a baby from our first (and maybe only) IVF attempt.
Even though our journey has changed so drastically since I started writing this, most of the things people have said to me regarding my infertility have remained the same. Even after my miscarriage, I was surprised at how insensitive some people could be without realizing it. After losing our pregnancy, someone literally told me: “You guys love your pets so much. You can always help animals and adopt lots of dogs.”
I felt better about my lack of response to this when the person standing next to me gave me seriously supportive eye rolls, and a look of, “I’m so sorry people can be dumb.”
To be fair, I know this person meant well…but this is the type of comment that can be incredibly hurtful when someone is suffering.
But yeah…I super love my animals.
In light of everything that has happened, and the fact that we are still hearing the same (less than helpful) things over and over again, I decided it was time to finally share “The Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say (or Do) to Your Infertile Friends.”
Though some of my words may seem harsh, I don’t post this to belittle anyone, or to make people feel badly. If you have reached out to us in our time of need, we know how much you care (even if you did say things we would have rather not heard). With that in mind, I seek to educate the masses – the 7 in 8 – the fertile ones. I know you don’t mean to be unkind, but many of the things you say are incredibly hurtful to your infertile friends.
1. Saying: “Just Relax and it will happen.” Um, thanks for that gem of knowledge. It’s funny, but in the more than four years of trying to get pregnant it never once occurred to me to relax. I bet this advice is going to change my life. This is the thing I have heard the absolute most since opening up about our infertility. Seriously though, let’s just stop implying that infertility and/or loss is somehow the woman’s fault. By you telling us to relax, you are saying that the reason we are not pregnant is because of us. I know for my husband and I, when we first started trying we had a blast. It was fun and exciting and not stressful at all. So, I can promise you that “relaxing” will never help anyone struggling with infertility. Also, how easy would it be for you to relax when someone is constantly telling you that you need to?
2. Saying: “You can always adopt.” Let me start this by saying that I LOVE ADOPTION. I have friends who have been adopted, I know people who are in the middle of adoption….adoption is awesome. If I am speaking just for my situation, my husband and I plan to try to adopt. However, adoption is NOT a cure for infertility. Adoption won’t take away all the years of hurt and anguish we have gone through while trying to have a baby; adoption won’t make it easier to cope with the fact that our family’s bloodline may end with us; adoption won’t make it easier to know that we can never make a child with the men we love. Aside from all of that, adoption is by no means the easy route. Adoption can cost three times what IVF costs, and there is NO GUARANTEE that we will end up with a baby. Yes, you can spend up to $60,000 and never end up with a child. Fostering to adopt is much more affordable, but there is a whole new type of grief that must come from bringing child after child into your home, and having to say goodbye to them. I can promise you that every single one of your infertile friends already knows that adoption is an option. You don’t need to tell us. We already know, and we may already know that isn’t the route we will be taking. For you to remind us of that doesn’t help.
3. Saying: “If it doesn’t happen it wasn’t in God’s plan for you to be parents.” You’re right, God probably wanted me to spend my life depressed, in debt, and with constant strain on my marriage. You mean to tell me that it is in God’s plan for a 15-year-old, or a drug addict, or someone who is abusive or neglectful to get pregnant, but a woman who has a great job, stable housing, and a loving marriage isn’t supposed to be a mother? Let’s all just STFU with one. Seriously. Please stop saying this to people.
4. Not inviting us to baby showers/birthday parties. Don’t get me wrong on this one. If you invite me to your baby shower, or your baby’s birthday party, I will probably not attend. Many of your infertile friends may make the same choice, but that is our decision to make, and no one else’s. If you value our friendship and our feelings, don’t make the decision to exclude us. We will make that choice if we feel it’s the right one for us. Not inviting us makes us feel like you do not want us there.
5. Saying: “You’re lucky. Kids are so expensive.” Um…really? By all mean Person Who Got Pregnant for Free, please tell me more about how expensive children are. You actually have no idea. I’ve already spent over $30,000 just trying to get pregnant, and I can pretty much guarantee that all of your infertile friends spent more than you did to get pregnant. You really think we are going to feel better about our infertility because of the cost involved in raising kids. Please.
6. Comparing your own Trying to Conceive (TTC) struggle to infertility. Listen, we get it. I’m sure that you felt frustrated when you started trying to conceive and it didn’t happen right away. I’m sure that you started to have fears that you would never get pregnant, or that you would need medical intervention. But at the end of the day, if you were able to get pregnant within a year, and without the aid of costly medical procedures, you don’t know how your infertile friends are feeling. TTC is frustrating, but it doesn’t even compare to the pain we feel as the infertile ones. Any of us will gladly welcome your support and empathy, but when you say, “I know how you feel, it took me eight months to get pregnant…” we do sort of want to punch you in the face.
7. People who have just started trying to get pregnant asking us for the most basic advice on how to get pregnant. I mean seriously, why? First of all, we have obviously been unsuccessful in this endeavor, so why would you even want our advice? Don’t you know any friends who have successfully gotten pregnant and been able to carry a baby to full term? Could you please ask them for their advice? Aside from that, I personally find this to be tremendously hurtful. Your question serves to remind me of my own infertility, and should you be successful and get pregnant before me, as I fully assume you will, I will now know exactly how long you have been trying to get pregnant and I may become resentful towards you. So seriously. Please. Stop asking infertile women for tips on diet, lifestyle, supplements…etc. I’m sure your own doctor would be more than eager to help you with this, and if not, the internet is a wonderful resource.
*As a side bar to this, I love sharing my knowledge on things that have worked for my endometriosis, and I’m happy to help those in the infertile community learn about things they may not have discovered. Are you getting ready to start IVF? If so, I would love to share my knowledge and tell you what I learned from my experience, even though it didn’t work out for us. But when people who have just started trying to get pregnant come to me with the most basic questions about fertility, it shakes me to my core.
8. Saying: “You can have my kids.” You may say this in jest, but to us it just serves as a painful reminder of how many women and men take their children for granted. Your children are a gift. Try to remember that.
9. Complaining about your pregnancy. We get it. It’s no fun to be nauseous or throwing up all the time; to have swollen ankles; or to have such bad heartburn that you can’t sleep. But the thing you should keep in mind when broaching this subject is that your infertile friends would literally give anything to be feeling that way right now.
10. Finally please stop telling us that, “Things happen for a reason.” This is just ridiculous. Um, yes. We get that. The reason is infertility…so…thanks for the reminder.
Your infertile friends love that you are thinking of them and it wonderfully that you want to offer loving words and support, so my next post will be dedicated to The Five Things You Should Say (or Do) to Your Infertile Friends.
Thanks for reading.
Signed with love from,
Your Infertile Friends
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