Infertility: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say

April 24, 2014 9 Comments

1.) Never ask a couple when they’re going to have a “family of their own.”

Eh-hem…

Let me be clear:

NEVER ask a couple when they’re going to have children.

Why?

Well, frankly it’s none of your business.

But also — and perhaps most importantly – it could be a really painful question to answer.

So just quit it.

[And for the record: A couple with no kids is still a "family" in my book.]

2.) Never tell a couple to “relax.”

This means, DON’T tell them they’ll conceive if they take a vaca.

Seriously?

That is just…dumb.

For real.

Pretty sure telling a couple to relax ain’t gonna do nothin’ but stress ‘em out more.

So don’t do it.

3.) Never question a couple’s intent to want to be parents.

Don’t ever [I repeat: DO. NOT. EVER.] tell a couple struggling with infertility, “Are you SURRRRE you want to deal with [fill in the blank here]…?” as if becoming a parent is filled with burdens they haven’t considered.

I’m fairly confident most couples going through the trials and tribulations of infertility will deal with WHATEVER burden or hardship you attribute to parenting.

4.) Don’t drop a “SURPRISE” pregnancy announcement on someone experiencing infertility.

This means if you know someone who’s having trouble conceiving, don’t tell ‘em YOU’RE pregnant without being sensitive to how s/he might be feeling.

If you’re pregnant and you have a good friend or family member who has been trying to get pregnant for quite some time, send them an email. Talk to them in private and validate that you understand it might be hard for them. Give them time to process your announcement. I promise they’re happy for you. But sometimes what they’re going through is just really heavy and it’s hard to show their happiness when they’re grieving their own loss.

5.) Quit complaining about being pregnant.

Trust me when I say there’s another woman who would do anything to be in YOUR shoes, Ms. Pregnant Woman, whoever you are.

There is a woman who would happily accept morning sickness all-day sickness, bed rest, swollen ankles, sleepless nights, headaches, tiredness, a bulging belly, weird cravings and a terrible labor just to be in your shoes.

Somewhere out there — in your circle of friends, in your neighborhood, in your church, in your school, in your office — there is a woman who wouldn’t complain about anything you are experiencing.

Wanna know the best thing to say to a couple experiencing what is likely the lowest point of their marriage?

Here it is:

“I’m so sorry you have to go through this.”

-Shelley

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  1. Mom of 4 says:

    You should have a “like” button on your blog! For those of us who have been blessed with the experience, we don’t always think of the other side. Thanks for Sharing!

  2. Married Without Children says:

    Shelly,
    My husband and I have been married for 6 years now and do not have children, by choice. I have had many family members and “friends” ask me to my face when we are going to start our own family. We started our family when we got married. People always assume we are not a family because we don’t have kids and have chosen that way of life. It is very insulting and hurtful to have people say, oh you’ll change your mind. Umm, no I don’t believe we will. We are in our upper 30′s and are adults and know what we want and don’t want. Thank you SO VERY much for addressing these issues. What a wonderful blog!!!

  3. Deb says:

    You may want to remind folks that grandmas (to-be) are also sensitive to pregnancy announcements. Two of my children have suffered miscarriages, and while others proudly announce their joy about new grandchildren, it can unintentionally hurt those who are praying for grandbabies, too. These announcements always seem to come at holiday gatherings where there is no escape. Thankfully, I now have a gorgeous grandson and another on the way.

    PS Your baby is a dolly!

  4. Amy says:

    I feel like this is a great article for not only infertility but also people who have suffered from a miscarriage or stillbirth. Last Fall we had family continuously asking me and my husband when we were going to have kids. None of them knew we had a miscarriage a year earlier. It’s not a story I want to tell so I bit my tongue and kept saying hopefully soon. My friend had a stillbirth last August and these questions not to ask are perfect for her experience as well. The whole “just relax” thing is what I feel bugs her the most. I will be sharing this one with my friend.

  5. Melissa Stansbery says:

    Shelly,

    Thank you so much for this. I have known I wouldn’t be able to have children since I was diagnosed with turner syndrome at 14. While I had a long time to adjust to the idea before I was married, nothing prepares you for the loss you feel when it is time to start a family. My husband and I were blessed with a surrogate that was able to carry my husband’s biological child. Today she is going on 14 months old and I thank God every day I look at her sweet little face that God led us to this point in our journey.

  6. Catherine says:

    Like married without children, my husband and my choice to not have children is not popular with some around us. Also, at work, not having children means I am expected to do Saturday and evening work since, according to others, I don’t have a family.

    You hit the nail on the head, Shelly, when you said this, like many of life’s most important decisions are personal. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jenna says:

    Well said, Shelley, and thank you for speaking out about this. This is a difficult thing for people to understand. I get insensitive comments all the time and they make me crazy. Sometimes they think they’re being helpful. I appreciate your blog so much and am thankful that you write about these kinds of things to educate people on the heartache of infertility.

    I also appreciate your eloquent way of talking about your family’s journey. I’m so happy you were able to adopt. As a woman struggling with infertility, I’m not ready to have the conversation about adoption yet but I enjoy reading your blog because you are honest and open about your journey without making me feel like adoption MUST be the only other option for me. I greatly appreciate that because all too often, I get people who strongly urge me to consider adoption as if that is the ultimate and only solution to our issue.
    Your blog is so helpful because you talk about your family’s experience without being judgy about adoption. You have no idea what that means to me and I’m sure the countless others who read this blog.

    I have great respect for you and thank you again. Keep up the great work!

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