Monday, April 30, 2012

From Facebook to Real Life: What You Can Say to Those Dealing With Infertility

A few days ago I read an article that was shared via Facebook.  Infertility: 16 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman Who Is Childless But Not By Choice.  I thought it was pretty true to life.  There are so many out there that can say hurtful things simply because they just didn't think it through.  Or they haven't really known someone who is dealing with this particular problem and so don't understand the deep hurt that comes with the territory. I could go on, but that's not the point today.

A friend posted on this asking what she actually could say to someone dealing with infertility.  To tell you the truth, I hadn't really thought of that before.  What can someone actually say that would be good.  That wouldn't be a reminder of the pain, the loss, the trauma.

Infertility is shaky ground.  There are different levels of infertility and different phases in dealing with it.  There was a time in my life where I couldn't deal with anything baby related.  It just hurt too much.  As time has progressed and David and I have dealt with this for years now, we've grown.  This last move we found ourselves giving people a quick rundown of why we didn't have children yet in a very public place and with no reservations.  We found that it was just easier to put it out on the table and get all the questions taken care of right at the beginning.  We saved ourselves the questioning glances and were able to put other at ease with where we were in our lives.  It also gave us a huge cheering squad while we went through the IUI and IVF processes.  But until we hit that point... well... it was just hard.

So. A few things to keep in mind about infertility.  It hurts.  Hormones are involved (and we all know how fun and completely unreliable that can be).  Some days are better than others.  Some are worse, much much worse.  But there are things that you can say to someone dealing with infertility and be completely safe!  I hope.

1.  You look great today.
2.  Have you lost weight?
3.  How's work going for you?
4.  How was your week?
5.  Got any fun plans for the Summer (spring, fall, winter, weekend, etc.)
6.  You two sure do look happy together.
7.  Let's do lunch.
8.  I love your outfit.
9.  Let's get together for dinner and games.
10.  What do you think about (insert topic from politics to sports, just not fertility)?
etc. etc. etc.

Notice a trend? 

Please remember that regardless of whatever child-bearing state someone is in, they are still a person.  A person with hopes, dreams, pet peeves, opinions, humor, and individuality.  Our entire being is not defined by our ability to have or not have children.  We are all much more than that.  And if your infertile friend is up to talking about it, then they will.  When they are ready.  Some will be ready in .5 seconds, others longer, and still others never will be.  It's up to them. 

Me? I'll talk about it anytime.  It's how I've learned to deal with it, by sharing it.

I know, easy to say as I sit here typing away listening to my son coo and suck on his hands.  He is our miracle.  Our thank the good Lord above for modern medicine and inspired physicians miracle! He may be our only one.  Not by choice.  It's just how it might be.  Which means we are still dealing with it.  Dealing with the fact that we can't seem to produce a child on our own.  Dealing with the unknown, the hurt, the loss, the pain.

However, I have lost weight, my week is full, I'd love to do lunch, and we are happy thank you very much for noticing.

Have a lovely day!


  1. My husband and I are dealing with the same thing. Some days I want to talk about it and some days I just can't. I'm so glad that you have a little one though and would love to talk to you sometime. We have done some IUIs and just went through our first IVF cycle (it was unsuccessful). It's hard not having a lot of money, needing to find what i should do in life when all I want to do is be a mom, etc.

    1. I hear ya! When David and I finally got up the guts, and funds :), to do the IVF it was soooo hard. In fact we made plans to take a luxury cruise to Italy in the event that it didn't work. Would love to chat sometime.

  2. Okay, I am lame -- I'm copying my comment from FB... but I wanted to add it both places. You, my dear, are amazing. I think it is SO important to be careful what you say to someone... you just never know. I can't imagine how many times I have said something offensive and trying to mean well. I am so grateful to you, for sharing your life with us and letting us know up front what you were going through. I'm sure that was beyond awkward, but it helped me to understand. I am SO amazed everyday at your strength and compassion and view on life. Benjamin is the sweetest little miracle baby :) loveyou

    I know I've told you before about my very best friend who went through all of this as well and she wasn't quite so open and it's been hard on our relationship for many reasons... reasons I don't quite understand. But I remember her calling to congratulate me on the birth of Zoe (my second child!) and she was in the hospital having a HUGE cyst removed from her uterus. I cannot imagine how much willpower and courage it took for her to call me -- I know it was HARD for her, but she was TRULY happy for me as well. All of you are so amazing in my eyes... I'm not sure if I could get through that one.

  3. Well said Lora, as always. The thing is though, even though we do have babies (or me an almost kindergartener :() it is still there, but now it doesn't rule my life. I know that this is part of "my plan" and I am dealing with it, but somedays it still sucks. I remember those days when my emotions were all over the place, and someone would ask me about it and I would completely lose it. While other days, pull up a chair and i will let you know all about it. No matter what, there are people with tact and some that have no idea what that word even means. Some who truly try to understand and be compassionate and others who don't care other than how hard it is for them to be pregnant for the 5th time in the last 5 years. Blah blah blah. I am just thankful to have other people in my life who do completely understand and that we can share our burdens together, and try to lift each other up during the really hard times and be each other's greatest cheerleaders during the good times! love ya Lora, you are great!

  4. Trials are funny, funny things. And the 'can't have kids card' is particularly tricky. And so full of assumptions by people. And people often suck. So...there's that.

    I know I've spent my fair share of time saying the wrong things. I know I've also made people uncomfortable being all 'out there' about why I can't have more kids. But I'm glad I have opportunities to grow and learn and do better all around. And not be in the 'people often suck' category quite so often! I need to remember to just be...real with people and follow cues.

    Most of all, I'm so very glad you have Ben. And wisdom. And grace. And compassion. Even if you don't always see it.