Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Things You Can Never Ever Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility

...Even though you really want to.

Like, Ever.

This week, April 22-29, is Infertility Awareness Week.

To recognize this, (Not celebrate. Just recognize.  Infertility is never celebrated.) I've decided to bring back an oldie, but a goodie. Or at least, a relevantie. I've updated it for our purposes here.

Much love to all of you going through this <3 i="">

In May of 2010, right around my daughter's first birthday, I posted a brief history of her adoption. Minutes later, I panicked. What kind of Pandora's box had I just opened???? I braced myself for the unsolicited advice.

Then I realized I didn't have to accept it. (The advice. Sadly, the infertility is out of my control.) I had a forum. I'd just rebut the comments before they came in. Here's what I had to say:

- Maybe it was your thyroid, that can often lead to infertility. (My reaction- it was not. That is only true if your levels are off. Mine are not, they are regulated quite well with medication. It's been checked. Lots of times. By lots of doctors. But thanks.)

- Maybe all of the trying and worrying was the problem. (My reaction- it was not. There is actually NO scientific evidence to support this. None. I guarantee I have done more research about this than you. But thanks.)

- My friend... (fill in the blank with a thousand possible scenarios)... You should try that. (My reaction, most likely, is "I have." But thanks.)

- Everything happens for a reason, also known as It's all in God's Time. (My reaction: I know. No, seriously. I know. Doesn't make it hurt any less now. But thanks.)

- Now that you've adopted, you'll probably get pregnant. (You don't want my unedited reaction to this one. Seriously. But I can tell you that what I hear is "Now that you've stopped all that trying and worrying, you can have the baby you really want." Don't want me to have this reaction? Then don't say it. Thanks.)

So. Two sections. Why We Don't Want Your Advice, and What You Can Do Instead.

Why We Don't Want Your Advice

We know you don't mean it, but when you give unsolicited advice to someone dealing with infertility, it comes with the following implications:

1. You have thought of something she hasn't thought of. This is seriously so very unlikely.

2. Her difficulties in getting pregnant are somehow linked to her actions. Not only is this probably not true, but it only adds to the guilt and shame she is already feeling. I'm sorry to tell you, but this is especially true of the "Just relax/ don't worry/ stop tryin so hard" variety of advice. I'm begging you. Don't say it. Ever.

What You Can Do Instead

Aside from avoiding unsolicited advice at all costs? Here are some general ideas:

1. Don't ask about it. We know you're curious, we know you're thinking about us. But a) it's kinda none of your business, and even worse b) you may have caught us in a rare moment when we were not thinking about it.

2. Understand why we might not come to your baby shower. I promise you that we feel worse about it than you do.

3. If we want to talk about it, let us. But just listen unless we specifically ask about something. (which we probably will not.)

I know it sounds like a lot to ask. It's difficult. Not nearly as difficult for you as it is for us, but difficult. Just remember to support us as people first, and try to remind yourself that it's not your problem to fix


  1. I <3 this! I wish people would realize how RUDE and HURTFUL they are being when they say some of these things. for instance: 1)well, maybe it's just not God's plan--- to me insinuates that I am somehow unworthy. 2) why don't you just adopt?----really P***es me OFF! you know how you and your husband wanted to share that creation of life experience?? well we do too and we have the right to try so shove it. and my all time favorite 3) "you are soo lucky you don't have to worry about getting pregnant!---- this usually comes from either an exhausted mommy or a partying whore who just doesn't want to have to use birth control. that is HURTFUL though. I've vented this to my non-infertile friends and their reactions was---"well, what DO you want us to say?" to which I replied-- "nothing." tell me you love me, you support me, and you are here if I need you. but if you tell me to put my legs over my head or tell me a miracle story of some friend of a friend's relative who was told they would never conceive and have 3 kids now I will start daydreaming about kicking you in the face. Sorry for the long comment, just agreeing with you and trying to say MORE people need to be telling non-infertiles what NOT to say!

  2. Actually, I would love to hear your unedited version of what you said! We are in the process of adoption (going on year 3) after starting fertility treatments in 2004/05. We've gotten the same things, as if adoption is not "real" and our adopted child/ren are there to tide us over until our "real" child/ren come. I like to hear how others handle those situations. Gives me a different idea of what to say next time! Hugs to you!


  3. Been through all of this!

    I can totally relate. Thank you for your post.

    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side and The Witch
    Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
    The Freedom of Nonbelief