“You may never know what someone is going through, but if you notice any signs of pain—hostility, negativity, or over-sensitivity—then odds are, you know how they feel. Respond to the pain instead of judging the signs.” Lori Deschene
I have unexplained infertility and my fertility journey was very long and painful with almost 8 years of failed treatments. I had 3 miscarriages, 3 IUI failures and 8 back to back IVF failures. It was an emotional roller coaster. I struggled in silence for the major part of my journey. I avoided talking to people with the fear that they will ask me about having kids. I avoided going to India (where all my family is) for 4 years in a row giving all sorts of bullshit (pardon my language here) reasons on why I can’t go. I wore a mask at work and never talked about anything personal. Talking to friends and family members was a nightmare especially who recently became pregnant or had a child!
I always avoid telling others about my infertility journey to avoid the comments that can really sting, let my blood pressure rise and bite my tongue to put it mildly. There are some times where I wanted to react in a more animated fashion to those somewhat insensitive and ignorant comments.
This doesn’t just happen to me. It happens to many of us who are struggling with pregnancy loss, primary or secondary infertility. I recently put a question (What is that one thing that people say annoys you most about infertility?) to an online FB support group and its members had overwhelming response talking about their personal experience with these insensitive comments.
This list is based on my personal experiences and the collective experiences from many amazing souls going through fertility challenges including my wonderful fertility clients.
I am writing this to create awareness to those people who haven’t experienced infertility, who typically say things like this (many times with good intentions) to others going through infertility.
Here are 20 things NOT to ask/say people going through infertility:
- When are you going to have a baby? You are running out of time.
- Just relax, it will happen
- Drink a glass of Wine, it will happen
- Go on vacation, it will happen
- Stop trying, it will happen
- Lose weight
- You are young, you have plenty of time
- Do this, try this, it worked for , it will happen (Varies all the way from eating McDonald’s fries to using essential oils)
- For people with secondary infertility or have experienced losses before- You at least know you can get pregnant
- I know a bunch of ladies who’ve had babies in their 40’s! Don’t worry, it will happen
- To people with secondary infertility- At least you’ve got one, you’re so lucky, you might just have to be happy with one
- You are lucky you don’t have kids yet! (or) It’s so hard having so many kids
- You can have one of mine
- My husband looks at me and I get pregnant (or) I sneeze near my husband and I get pregnant
- Comments by younger couple- We tried for a really long time( 2-3 months) to get pregnant, I understand your frustration
- Don’t worry, the technology is so good these days!
- Have you thought about adopting? it will kick start your hormones and you’ll get pregnant. It happened to my (insert random relative)
- If God thought you were ready, you’d be pregnant.
- Maybe it’s just not meant to be (or) whatever is going to happen will happen.
- It’s not just the words, it’s the body language too- When people ask if I have children and I say, I do not, their reply almost always is , you never wanted kids?! With a surprised look on their face.
Even today at my nail salon, my manicurist asked me , how many kids, I said one(adopted). How old, 5 years. The next question immediately, you don’t want to have more???? You should have more..
This article is not intended to judge or blame those folks who say these comments. Many of you say these things out of good heart and well intentions. You all want to support and care for your loved one dearly.
Just keep in mind, these words can and will create a deeper wound to people going through fertility struggles. Because many of us are desperately seeking and doing whatever it takes to get and stay pregnant and yet it’s just not happening.
Unless you have experienced infertility, it’s hard to understand and relate to the pains and struggles all around. Infertility affects ones overall being- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Here is one suggestion I will offer to people who are supporting a friend or a loved one.
Tell them, I may not truly understand what you are going through, but remember, I am here for you. And give them a big hug. Sometimes that’s all we need to feel better even a teeny tiny bit!
“Sometimes, what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” Anonymous
Guest Post by Pradeepa Narayanaswamy for Fertility Road