When it comes to infertility I have found that people just don’t know what to say to those going through it. Then when they finally find the words, you kind of wish they hadn’t. My husband and I have had many crazy things said to us throughout our journey. I find these statements mostly come from those closest to us who are having trouble seeing us go through the pain we are going through. The crazy part is people say these things and their words come from a place of love and care(mostly- there are exceptions!). I think our family and friends are trying to be helpful. They just want to make it better.
Listed below are ten unhelpful (and borderline hateful) things people usually say to those of us struggling with infertility. I personally have heard each and every one of these. I have also included what I wanted to respond with and what I actually said.
1) "You are just stressed. If you relax and stop thinking about it, it will happen."
What I want to say: Thank you Captain Obvious for pointing out that I am stressed. Guess what? As long as I am dealing with infertility I am going to be stressed. Makes things pretty bleak for me if I go by your assessment of the situation. By the way, how can I stop thinking about it when I am injecting myself daily and getting vaginal ultrasounds every other day. Also for your information, if stressed people didn’t get pregnant the human race would die.
What I say to end the conversation: Hmmm, maybe I will take a Yoga class or something.
2) "You want it too bad. You just can’t force these things."
What I want to say: What is wanting it too bad when it comes to bringing a life into the world? What does that even mean? Tell my doctor who is pumping the heck out of me with meds he can’t force it, because he feels otherwise. Oh and by the way, I am PAINFULLY aware of my lack of control in this situation, but thanks for the reminder.
What I say to end the conversation: You really can’t.
3) “You are so young. Why are you worrying?”
What I want to say: Yes I am young AND 94% of my eggs are bad AND I have endometriosis. What is there not to worry about? (“Older” women get a lot of grief too I am sure) I feel like commenting on age either way is really dismissive and unhelpful.
What I say to end the conversation: Yup. I am certainly young.
4) “You’re too skinny” or "You’re too fat"
What I want to say: If my weight was the issue, my doctor would have told me day one. Do you think if that was the problem he wouldn’t have caught it? During a fertility cycle, I probably see my doctor and their staff more than I see my husband; it would have been noted. My infertility is not my fault or in my control!
What I say to end the conversation: Hmmm, I will check that out.
5) “You’re working too hard at your job.” or “This fertility stuff is your only focus! You need a distraction.”
What I want to say: My lifestyle is not the cause of my infertility. THIS IS NOT MY FAULT. Honestly, I have a super sized box of drugs that I am pumping into my system through needles, if it was as simple as cutting my work hours or getting a hobby I would be pregnant.
What I say to end the conversation: Who doesn‘t like a vacation?
6) “It will happen when it is meant to be”
What I want to say: Though that may be true, I simply don’t want to hear it right now. What if it isn’t meant to be? If it is meant to be, how do I take all the steps to make it happen? Why wasn’t it meant to be already? It may seem like a wise, reasonable answer, but it just isn’t practical. What if my fertility doctor said that to me when I went to him with my troubles? What I say to end the conversation: Well that is true.
7) “You’ll be pregnant by next year. I‘ll bet you.”
What I want to say: Fine, you want to be a psychic friend? I will accept this answer on one condition. If you are wrong future me gets to come back in a time machine to this very point and smack you, really hard.
What I say to end the conversation: Wow, that would be really nice.
8) “Wow, I never had any trouble at all conceiving.”
What I want to say: Clearly, thanks for sharing.
What I say to end the conversation: That is really good. It’s a tough road. But, we all have our journeys.
9) "I understand what you mean, with our first one it took two months to get pregnant."
What I want to say: (Long sad sigh)
What I say to end the conversation: It IS a scary thing to think you are going to get pregnant right away and then it doesn’t happen.
10) "Maybe you’re pregnant" or "Maybe you will get pregnant on your “infertility break”"
What I want to say: I am not pregnant, though I may look it because I am swollen and full of cysts from a cycle that didn’t work. When I said we were on a break, there is no room for a “Hey you never know it could happen when you least expect it!” I am on a pill to rid myself of those cysts that will prevent pregnancy. Actually, the cysts are so big, I am banned from participating in any “relations” that will get us pregnant. The fact that you are insinuating such a possibility is devastating to me because I know it is not true now or will be true in the near future (unless through immaculate conception).
What I say to end conversation: Maybe!
I am comforted by the fact that most of these people who say these things love me dearly. These are the same people who pray for me, help out with my needs during these tumultuous times and love me when I am whacked out on hormones. So I hope this blog will help not only those who have heard these things, but those who are trying to support loved ones going through this. I look forward to all of your additions to the list.