Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Not To Say To Someone Struggling With Infertility

This post is not meant to offend anyone or meant for anyone in particular, but these are some of the most common phrases I hear pretty often. Now, if you know me, you know I'm not a person that is easily offended, but I am human, nonetheless. Infertility is such a hard thing to deal with and is something no one can possibly understand without experiencing it themselves. I have good days and I have bad days. Some days I feel completely hopeful, faithful, positive, patient and am able to keep the eternal perspective in mind. Other days, I am on edge and feel like I can blow at any moment, the smallest things will set me off, and on these days, emotions are running on an all-time high. Now, to be fair, I know no one can tell if its a bad day or not without me prefacing it, so I apologize if I have been (and I pre-apologize for my future bad days!) snappy and short with anyone. Many people don't know they are saying something offensive and of course don't intend it to be hurtful, but on my bad days, I can't promise I won't blow up at you or go off on you.

Sooo these are some of the phrases that, in general, should be avoided when you're talking to someone you know struggling with infertility.

"Just relax." -I hear this all.the.time. Generally it is accompanied by "go on vacation" or a story about how they were trying to conceive and as soon as they weren't so worried about it, and relaxed, it happened. If you can just "relax" and get pregnant, chances are, you do not struggle with infertility. You probably also don't know much about the medical conditions behind infertility, or just have a lack of knowledge in anatomy of the reproductive organs and the intricacies of what it takes to create a child. Trust me, just "relaxing" doesn't work.

"It will happen when you stop trying." -Okay this somewhat goes along with the "just relax" comment. I doubt stopping treatments or stopping timed intercourse will help anyone get pregnant. Would you tell someone looking for a job to just stop looking and sit back and wait for a job to come to them? Doubtful. In order for someone to get pregnant, certain things need to happen in a certain order. (If you have some comment about teenagers getting pregnant or other 'accidental' pregnancies, and how they weren't trying to get pregnant, save it. Totally don't want to hear it.)

"Don't worry, you're so young!" -First off, I want to be a young mom, what's wrong with that? Secondly, the fact that we are young and having trouble is scary in itself. People are the most fertile when they're young, and so if we're not getting pregnant now, the odds are not going to be any better than now the older we get!

"If my husband looks at me the right way, I get pregnant." or "Oh I definitely can't relate, I always get pregnant right away." Or any other comment about how easily you get pregnant, I assure you, I can do without. That is not a way to comfort someone trying so hard, and spending so much money to bring a child into this world.

"You're so lucky you don't have to deal with this morning sickness (or insert any other 'awful' pregnancy symptom here)." -Again, just don't. I get that there are some not-so-fun pregnancy symptoms, and you have every right to complain about them if you want, just don't do it to one of your friends/someone you know struggling to get pregnant. It is so not nice. And although you friend will probably not say anything, in her head she is thinking how she would love to be throwing up a few times a day if it meant she had a baby growing inside her and would give up anything to be able to be so uncomfortably huge, with a bundle bruising her ribs with kicks.

"You want one of mine?" -This is just plain rude. Of course you mean it as a joke, but seriously? You friend wants a baby soo badly and would love to have more than one, why would you want to insult her with such a question? Maybe instead, try appreciating and loving your kids a little more, knowing there are people without such a luxury.

"Just enjoy this time together!" -Trust me, we are! I absolutely adore my husband and have been so grateful for the time we have spent together. We have an eternity to spend together, which I plan on fully enjoying as well. Enjoying time with my husband and having kids together are not separate events. Can we not enjoy time together as a family?

"You're so lucky you can travel/sleep in/do whatever you want/etc." -You're completely correct. We are able to do those things, but we would give it up in a second to be able to have a baby! We have been so blessed and fortunate to be able to do all of the traveling we have done. We do get to sleep through the night and sleep in on weekends. We can take a random trip and don't have to worry about getting kids ready and car seats in the car before going to the grocery store. But it isn't by choice. You may see it as a sacrifice to give those things up because you have kids, but we would willingly and gladly give those things up for a chance to start a family.

There are probably more things I could have written, but these are some of the most common I hear. And like I said, most of the time I can shrug these comments off, but sometimes it stings even if I don't say anything. I'm hoping maybe this post can help you be a little more aware of the things you are saying to/around someone you know who may be dealing with infertility and trying to conceive a child.

It is also important for you to know that you do not need to tip-toe around subjects or avoid conversations with someone you know struggling. We do appreciate support and don't really mind answering questions. It is normal to complain about your children when they are being a pain, to complain about pregnancy symptoms, and to complain about how your kids messed up your body, house, finances, etc. Just know we would trade you places any day, and complaining about those things to us are hurtful when you know what we're struggling to start our family.

Unless you've walked the shoes of infertility, you can't relate, and we know that. So just knowing that you're there and that you care helps. We don't want to hear nor do we need empty, long, elaborate, no-ill-will-intended-but-it-kinda-comes-off-that-way advice or 'sorrys' when you haven't been in our shoes.

Now, for some things that are helpful to hear:
"I'm so sorry you're going through this."
"I'm here for you."
"I'm praying for you."
"Let me know if you want to talk."

Short, sweet, and genuine. And trust me, that's what helps the most.


  1. Great post! I think this should be a handout given to every person alive. :)

    1. Tell me about it! :) Let me know if you need any more guest bloggers! I may be able to come up with a little somethin' somethin'... although my blog isn't too exciting (or annonymous) to follow! :)

  2. Well stated and so true. I think it's particularly hard in the LDS culture because everyone is so family-focused. Keep on going, our prayers are with you. Don't forget about some of the ones we men hear, certainly not fun.

  3. Great post! I swear I'm going to start keeping a list of all the stupid crap people say to me.