Thursday, January 1, 2015

What NOT to Say to Someone with Infertility

Talking about infertility can be awkward.  I try really hard to make things as not awkward as possible, and I know when people offer advice it's because they want to help.  But even though I know people have the best of intentions, sometimes I have to bite my tongue at some of the things I hear.  So, as a public service announcement, here's a little cheat sheet of the things to NOT say to someone struggling with infertility.

1. Just stop thinking about it, and you'll get pregnant.
Oh, thank you for that information!  When you figure out how I can stop thinking about my biological clock and the thousands of dollars I've spent on trying to get pregnant, you let me know and I'll be sure to try that, too.  Is there anything in life where this advice is actually helpful?  Maybe if you cut off your right hand and then stop thinking about it, it will stop bleeding.  Sound ridiculous? That's how it sounds to us infertility peeps when you tell us to stop thinking about getting pregnant.

A related piece of advice I hear often is, "Just try not to stress about it."  Again....biological clock.  Thousands of dollars.  Try applying this to the hand you cut off and see if that makes any sense here either.

2. Why don't you adopt?
Why didn't you just adopt?  Maybe it was because you wanted the experience of being pregnant, of growing a baby inside your body, of feeling a baby kick or seeing her move inside your belly.  Or maybe you wanted a biological baby - someone who had the family nose or the family eyes.  Maybe you wanted to see your mom or your grandmother in your baby's eyes.  If you didn't want to "just adopt", I don't want to either.

***Fine print here:  We are not opposed to adoption.  In fact, fostering and adopting is something I have wanted to do since I was in high school.  And we are at a point where adoption is becoming a very real possibility.  And even if we are able to pregnant, I will likely want to adopt in the future.  But if we aren't able to get pregnant and we do adopt, I know I will love that baby like he was mine biologically.  But telling a woman who is desperate to become pregnant to "just adopt" is one of the least helpful things you can say.  Getting to the point of adoption is a huge process.  It doesn't just happen for most women.

3. Giving unsolicited advice.
Listen.  I understand that most of the time people who didn't struggle to get pregnant don't know what to say.  I get it.  In fact, I empathize with that position.  You want to say something helpful, but you have no idea what to say or how to be helpful.  But please don't give unsolicited advice.  Chances are that I've done more research and am more knowledgeable at this point about my uterus than you are.  Just give me a hug and listen to my struggle and say you're praying for me.  Your love and friendship is all I really need.

4.  Complaining about your pregnancy -- especially on social media.
Listen.  I know that pregnancy symptoms can be less than enjoyable.  But there are a lot of women out there who would trade your crappy pregnancy for our lack of pregnancy!  I remember about a year ago I was in the Starbucks drive through when a wave of nausea came over me.  I was SO. EXCITED. to be nauseous!  This could be morning sickness!!  WAHOO!!!!!  I learned that day that taking a prenatal vitamin on an empty stomach can lead to nausea.  Oops.  But the point is that while someone who hasn't struggled with infertility is likely to be bummed about morning sickness, I was thrilled to throw up!

So if you're going to be sensitive to the infertility strugglers among you, please do not openly complain about your pregnancy.  Even if it really does suck.  And please, please, please for the love of all things good, do not complain about your pregnancy on social media.  Remember.  I would pay you for your morning sickness if it meant I ended up with a baby!

5.  I know someone who...
This next piece of information may just be me....I don't know if everyone feels this way, but I felt like this when I struggled with singleness, too.  I really am uninterested in hearing about your cousin's husband's friend who had infertility and just took Clomid and got pregnant.  Or your co-worker's brother's sister-in-law who started the adoption process and magically got pregnant.  (BTW: Starting the adoption process and getting pregnant are two unrelated events.  Just because you start adopting doesn't mean you're going to get pregnant.)  Everyone has a different story.  There are many people I know who took Clomid for a month and then got pregnant.  Or did one round of IUI and got pregnant with multiples.  Or did a round of IVF and ended up with twins.  Or started adopting and got pregnant after all of the fertility treatments failed.

But so far that's not my story.

In this process one of the things I'm learning is to not compare my story with someone else's.  (P to the S.....that's really hard!!)  The Lord is writing each of our stories to be unique and not to be compared with another.  And if you want to help someone you love who is struggling with infertility (because Lord knows it is a struggle!), don't be afraid to talk about it.  Stay up to date with where they are on their journey and then just love them and hug on them and pray for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment