At the grocery store today, I was browsing the “family planning” section. Of course, there are the things that help prevent pregnancy, but I was obviously looking at the things to help promote pregnancy. As I was reading the back of every box of “ovulation predictors” and trying to decide which was the best one, a female employee that was probably in her later 30s came up to see if I needed any help. The conversation went like this:
Employee: “Ma’am, you need any help?”
Me: Oh, no, I am just reading the back of each one of these ovulation predictors… my doctor recommended doing these as well as the ultrasounds over the next few days to ensure we catch the egg as quick as possible for doctor-assisted insemination.
E: Trying to get pregnant, huh?
Me: Yea, unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as I would have hoped… and definitely not cheap. (With ovulation predictors, you have to buy digital because the lines are too hard to read on the others, so for a week supply it can cost upwards of $25-35)
E: Never had that problem… my husband would look at me and I would get pregnant. Had to get him fixed since I refused to have any more kids after 6 little rugrats running around, all under the age 9. You can have some of mine if you want!
Me: Lucky you. Thanks for your help. Have a great day.
I threw my predictors in the cart and walked away slightly fuming. I know she was trying to be polite. I know she was trying to make conversation. I have had people say the same things that were trying to be encouraging or provide empathy. I just kept telling myself that the woman didn’t realize what she was saying and didn’t know any better.
Over the past three years of trying to unsuccessfully conceive, I have heard many phrases that *irk* me. Here goes my ranting:
Oh thanks! I can certainly relax on command now that you told me to!
…Just never say this. Ever.
Why don’t you just adopt?
I really want to turn the question around on them and ask them “Why didn’t you adopt instead of having your own biological children?” If you can’t answer that without the answer involving the kid being yours biologically, creating a mini-me version of you and your spouse, or wanting to experience pregnancy, why do you expect me to? Especially since I am still in the first few years of trying to conceive and just now doing our first round of intrauterine insemination, why are you suggesting we give up and start the just as long and equally hard road to adoption? We still have options for conceiving our child.
I knew this one couple that adopted and right after they got their adopted kid, they got pregnant!
So you are saying I should adopt just in the hopes that I will become pregnant… and ignore the fact that I have labwork, ultrasound results and countless doctors telling me that I have a slim to none chance of getting pregnant without medical help? I am pretty sure that 100% of infertile couples that adopt will not go on to have their own biological child (with or without medical assistance). Do not throw that in my face. EVERYONE *knows* a couple that had that happen.
You want kids? You can have mine!
I hate this comment for a couple different reasons. I don’t want to be a babysitter, I want to be a MOTHER. I don’t want YOUR kids. I want MY kids. Don’t offer your kids up to me like they are a cup of sugar. I have been trying so hard to have kids that when someone else seems willing to just give theirs away it tugs at the heartstrings a little bit — even if it’s a joke. I get that raising kids is hard and that you would never actually give your kids away, but with this phrase you are just trying to be funny or amusing, and it isn’t working.
Everytime my husband even sneezes/breathes/touches/looks at me, I get pregnant.
Gee, thanks for pointing out your hyperfertility. Thank you for pointing out how easy this process should be if we could do it naturally. Would I have loved to magically take a pregnancy test one month and have two little pink lines come up instead of one? OF COURSE. Would I rather be able to enjoy the baby-making process instead of having to be impregnanted by a turkey baster? Duh! Yes, please! I didn’t choose to have these issues, but thank you for informing how easy it was for you and how difficult it is for me.
Oh, you are still young! You have plenty of time!
While I may be 27, I have to have a full hysterectomy by the time I am 35 and they want me done having kids by 34. So, in baby-making years, I am mid-30s. My actual age doesn’t mean anything to my uterus or ovaries. Do not point out how young I am because you are actually doing the opposite. You are pointing out how old I am, how much closer I am to needing that hysterectomy, and forever losing my chance at biological motherhood. Basically: never point out someone’s “young age” as positive because you never know their full medical issues.
You are so lucky… you can sleep in/have date nights/travel/etc.
Yeah… but I can’t just pick up and jet off to an island. My schedule is all around doctor appointments and testing. I can, if I choose, to have a date night on Saturday or whatever day with my husband — but so can you. You may have to find a babysitter, but you can do everything I can do if you truly wanted to. Guess what I can’t do as easily as you? Be a biological mother.
At least you are having fun trying!
Yes, having our romantic encounters scheduled is fantastic. Ever have to pee on a stick to find out if it is time to have sex? On top of that, the hormones I am on make me feel ubersexy with hot flashes, moodswings, and even weightgain. Trying to conceive with fertility issues is a completely different ballgame that isn’t near as fun as any infertile couple would like.
The main reason I actually wrote this is because I know the people that have said these things have only meant well — I’m hoping to enlighten. While someone that has never experienced infertility may view these comments as completely harmless, helpful or even funny, the person experiencing the infertility issues may not.
To me, this is the best thing you can say to anyone going through infertility issues:
Try this instead: “I am here if you ever need to talk. I can only imagine how hard it must be.”
With this, you are not saying that you “understand,” — you are empathizing. The only people that can understand what infertility feels like are infertile people. For instance, I would never tell someone that has reached the point of IVF that I understand… because I don’t. I have not reached that point. I hope I don’t need to get to that point. But if I were talking to another person that has experienced several miscarriages or not being able to conceive again for the past four years, then I would be able to say “I understand” because I have been through that.
Empathize without downplaying their problem — offer support and comfort.
If you struggled with trying to conceive, what were the MOST HELPFUL things people said to you?