It is often said, and sometimes indelicately so, that you don't know what it is like to feel like someone else until you have been in their shoes. Although that is somewhat true, if we truly believe this, then no one would be able to relate to any other person on the planet ... the whole no two snowflakes are alike kind of thing. Everyone is an expert on making babies we found out. Good thing because I woke up today and thought to myself "Gee, I can't wait to talk to the checkout clerk at the grocery store about my broken uterus and why I am buying tampons instead of baby diapers." All snark aside, what do you say to someone who is suffering through infertility? We'll we can certainly share with you what not to say.
Over the years we have pretty much heard it all. Being on the receiving end makes you feel very exposed, sad, somehow less human. It was like we just admitted that we lost the primal ability to procreate, or procreate easily anyway. If this has happened to you, we are sure that-regardless of the outcome-it was not an enjoyable experience. Or maybe you may know someone who is grappling with filling their empty nests, and can use some tips and mental slaps as what not to say. Therefore, we have made a list of the top 5 bonehead things not to say to people wrestling with infertility as well as cheeky responses that, if nothing else, you can think of in the moment. Chris, the other 'C' in our C&C will chime in as well on these.
1. Why don't you go on vacation? My friend _______ got pregnant that way.
Candace- Well, we would love to go back to Mexico or somewhere else tropical and amazing, but oddly, all that is left in our vacation fund jar is dust bunnies and IOUs. We spent it on the $5K in meds that made me hormonal casserole and the $13K in IVF costs. Will you pay for us to go on vacation so we can make a baby like your friend _______ did?
2. Just means you get to practice more ... lucky man!
Chris- Hmm, all the sex I can handle. That doesn't sound too bad. Unfortunately, it's all scheduled around ovulation, or transfers, or the last time we had sex, or Candace just had surgery, or whatever. Not only that, but the whole time you are thinking, "I wonder if this will work?" or "Why are we even doing this, it hasn't worked before." or "Alright, I need to make sure to get this over with so I can help Candace with some gravity-assisted fertility acrobatics." Talk about some erotic thinking!
3. Why don't you just adopt?
Candace- Sure because it is really easy, no red tape at all! Now, all we need to do is drive over to the Adopt-O-Mart and pick out that cute little baby with blue eyes, blonde hair and the dimples! Why don't you give me the $30-60 thousand US that it costs to adopt? Better yet, why don't you make our profile book for the adoption agency, fill out the bazillion forms, hire an adoption attorney, freak out for us about our home study, provide proof of pet vaccinations, fingerprints, blood tests, anal probes, who knows what else on top of the costs to help us adopt? Oh, and then after jumping through flaming loops to adopt you get to wait a few years for you to get placed.
4. Why are you in such a rush to have a baby?
Chris- Rush is kind of a subjective word. Molasses 'rushing' out of a container is still going pretty slow. We are 'rushing' to have a child if you consider the months-long process of IVF 'rushing.' We have 'rushed' through that process several times. We may even start to 'rush' through the 2-5 year adoption process soon. At that rate, our kids would 'rush' to graduate college just before we turn 60!
5. Don't you think you are trying too hard?
Candace- Would you tell a cancer patient that they are trying too hard? How about somebody that is having trouble adjusting to a transplanted heart? Extreme analogies ... perhaps. The message here is that infertility is not sexual retardation. It IS a medical condition.
What we need to keep in mind is that these comments are not personal attacks. They are insensitive, ill-timed, and just plain stupid BUT they are well-intentioned. Friends and family are grasping at straws to figure out what to say. It is awkward being in your childless shoes, and it is equally awkward in theirs. This has been a taboo topic for so long and no one really wants to make their baby-making activities public. For us, we had years of these instances to finally realize that educating our circle of support will help make this everyone.
If you are on the other side of the coin, you are one of the people delivering these comments to a couple, our best advice is don't. It is difficult for any of us to hear a problem and not want to lend some one-line reply to help. Really though, it is often the person 'giving' the advice that feels better. You go away thinking, "Man, I am glad I could put their issue in perspective for them." Instead, offer your loved one support and encouragement, not the Spanish inquisition as to when they will start their family or why it is not working out. Or simply to quote my mom or Thumper from the movie Bambi obviously both sources that are profoundly wise, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".
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C&C from MTV's True LifeSuggest a correction