I had a great lady lunch with some friends yesterday that had one bump in the road. It occurred when I talked about starting our final IVF while also seeing an adoption process on the horizon. My dear friend, in trying to show she cared used one of “those phrases” that seem harmless but are in fact, full of harm:
“You know that once you adopt you’ll get pregnant.”
Because she’s my close friend I didn’t feel the need to mask anything and just said, “well actually all this testing is showing us why we’re likely not getting pregnant and it’s because I have a number of things that can affect implantation so as awesome as it would be to just get pregnant, it just doesn’t look like that would happen.” We talked it out and it’s fine, but it definitely showed me that when the time comes that we “go public” I can likely expect more of these statements.
I did a quick google search of the phrase “what not to say to an infertile couple” and I got some juicy ones. Here are thoughts on just a few.
“It could be worse, it could be (insert awful disease here)”
Um, thanks? Why don’t we make a Pie chart of other things that could be worse: pooping my pants on an airplane, having 14 mosquito bites for a year in places I can’t itch, falling into a cactus while my naked lady bits are exposed…. This is a fun game!
“just relax and you’ll get pregnant”
I laugh alot, professionally and personally. I also knit, which is my own form of meditation. I like to cook and chop and stir, all very zen activities. Re. Laxed. And hey look, not pregnant.
“at least you’re having fun trying”
Am I? Infertility makes “trying” into math: when to try, when to abstain, when to try alot. Pee on this stick or take your temperature every day to check for ovulation. Plus, you’re tired! Tired for normal life reasons AND there’s something you really want that you’re not getting and that makes you more tired. So no, we’re not rampantly running amok “having fun trying” on top of all the tables and chairs and in closets morning noon and night. (Not that we were before….who do you think I am?)
There so many more ridiculous things that get said by the way – Google them and have a giggle (or a cry). Don’t get me started on the ones that involve God/supreme beings/what the universe wants.
Honestly, we dodged a big bullet by getting married in our 40s – I can count on
one hand two fingers the folks who’ve blatantly asked “so, when are we gonna see some kids?” Apparently, getting married late = implied automatic shut down of parental endeavors?
I’ve been at wedding receptions and seen people walk up to the bride and ask “when are you having kids.” I wanted to throat punch on their behalf. (for the record: I didn’t). Btw, it’s usually a craggy old aunt who does the asking. Don’t be the craggy old aunt.
This is second friend who used the “once you adopt you’ll get pregnant” on me. My friends absolutely wanted to help, wanted to show that they cared (alot!), wanted to show that they were hopeful for my success….but just didn’t think about the fact they were saying these phrases to someone who’s been trying too long.
The sad thing is….before I was in this muck, I likely used these phrases, or at the least wouldn’t have thought about the full impact.
So, before you go throwing what you think is a helpful phrase around, consider:
Do you know if they’ve been trying? Do you how long? Do you know them well enough to deal w/the potential anger/sadness you might trigger w/your pretty friggin personal question?
No one MEANS to be insensitive, but man we all step in it sometimes without thinking.
Maybe just have the balls to say, “I’m really sorry. It must be hard to face all this. I don’t really know what to say.”
It’s likely gonna make you an even better friend.
But if I see you at a wedding and you walk up to the bride or groom and ask them….I will find you.