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Things NOT to Say to Couples Potentially Experiencing Infertility


I have learned that we often say things that hurt people's feelings without realizing it. We say hurtful things unintentionally and people then get in their car and cry or sit in a bathroom stall and try to hold it together--not that I am speaking from experience.  One of the hardest things about going through infertility were all the things that were said to me that made me angry or cry and people NEVER knew that it made me feel anything. This list is pretty strict and you may think it is too harsh or make you overthink everything you say, but I think we have to become aware of what we say.  So here is my list of things NOT to say or at least ways to maybe rephrase questions...

First of all, if you have a girlfriend that you know is NOT trying to get pregnant, then don't feel like you can't say this stuff. For everyone else that you don't know well or you're unsure, try to follow this:

1) "So do you have kids?" 
So you've just met someone or you're just making small talk with someone and boom, you immediately go to this safety question right? Okay, I know it is easy to ask this because it seems so basic, but every time I had to answer, "No", a part of me felt like crying. I hated having to say "no" and saying "no" to that question like 1,000 times really wore me down. If people have kids, chances are it will come up in conversation in the first 10 minutes of talking to them as they should! Kids are a HUGE blessing. So to avoid the painful reminder for someone, wait for them to mention if they have kids.

2) "Are you thinking about kids?" or "Do you want kids?"
Again, this seems very general and a harmless question, but this presents awkward situations. If you ask this to a couple, one may be ready and one not or they may not have talked about it quite yet. If someone is struggling with infertility and you ask this question, most likely, the answer that is going through their head is, "OF COURSE I WANT KIDS YOU DUMB IDIOT. THAT IS ALL I EVER THINK ABOUT. THANKS FOR REMINDING ME THAT I DON'T HAVE THEM." Somedays my thoughts weren't so g-rated when I answered this question in my head. If people want kids or feel comfortable talking, I bet they'll bring it up. So let them be the one to bring it up and try to avoid asking.

3) Complaining about your baby weight, stretch marks, or what breastfeeding did to your boobs. 
I get it. Babies can sometimes wreck our bodies. But somewhere there is a woman who would kill for all of those things if it meant she had a baby. I know it can be incredibly difficult to think about what a beautiful thing you body was able to do as it grew life when you're left with a not so pretty aftermath, but you've got a child. That's pretty incredible. I would say that all of you would agree it was worth it. Just be careful of complaining around people...

4) "We decided to start trying and it happened the first month!"
Congrats! That's great for you, but it doesn't happen for everyone. When you brag about how easy and quickly it happened, women will start to worry something is wrong with them even if there isn't. Be aware of bragging about how easy it was to get pregnant. I hated feeling like I was "broken" or not "good enough" when I went through infertility and the reminder how easy it was for some made me feel even worse.

5) "We weren't even really trying!"
No other comment makes me want to hit another person so much. Seriously. Glad it just happened and you didn't have to count days, pee on sticks multiple times, take your temperature, chart every fricking thing having to do with your body, go to dozens of appointments, deal with insurance, and wow, super glad sex has just been fun for you and not stressful or the thing that made you and your spouse fight. Seriously, at all costs, avoid saying these words.

6) "Yea...this was our surprise baby" or "We really didn't want kids..."
Do you see a pattern here? Making it seem like you weren't excited or that you really didn't want that extra one makes ones struggling with infertility angry or upset. I think most people struggling to have a child or waiting for adoption deal with jealousy, bitterness, and anger a lot even when they don't want to. We already feel bad enough as it is so help us not stir up more emotions. Somedays we are a ticking time bomb.

7) Complaining on FB or other social outlets about how tired you are, how bratty your kids are, how much work they are, etc...
By all means, you gotta vent! I get it. But this should be done privately to good friends or your mom. Just like the body shaming stuff, someone will read that status or tweet and wish that they were that tired or had a rough day with THEIR child. I know it seems crazy, but it's true. I understand that there are some REALLY REALLY REALLY hard days as parents, but you get to be a parent. I understand complaining doesn't mean you are ungrateful or don't love your child, but those were still so, so hard for me to read. Think over before you post some of your venting on social media.

What are some other things that have been said to you that were upsetting to you? I'd be curious to know other situations or comments that were difficult to navigate.

Comments

  1. I've gotten the "it happened on the first try" comment followed by lots of unsolicited advice about all you have to do is listen to your body! That's what I did!

    The most difficult one was a good friend sharing with me that he just found out his wife was pregnant with twins...the day after I had a miscarriage. There was nothing inappropriate about it, he had no idea. It stung a little nonetheless.

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