In the infertility world, we tend to notice trends in the things people say to us. “Advice” that is given, even by the most purely intentioned people, that is far more harmful than helpful. So, in no particular order, here’s my cohesive list of the top 20 things not to say to someone struggling to get pregnant. Prepare yourselves, the sass is real, y’all. Ready? Great!
1. “Just stop stressing”
– No. Just, no. First of all, that’s way easier said than done. The more intense the treatments, the higher the stress. I mean, you have to not only repeatedly poke yourself with needles (or be poked by other people), but you legitimately time certain injections down to the minute. Any delay, even by 30 minutes, can be catastrophic. So yeah, it’s stressful. However, not the cause of the infertility in the first place. Second of all, we play the self blame game enough as it is. This reminds us that there’s something more we could be doing when in reality, there’s probably not.
2. “You’ll get pregnant if you adopt”
– First, I know this sounds crazy, but adoption isn’t right for every family. Not only that, but it’s a very long and difficult process that is very costly. In fact, it’s no less stressful or less of an emotional roller coaster than infertility treatments. In some cases, it’s probably more stressful. So, just because your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister’s mom got pregnant after she adopted, doesn’t mean that’s how it works every time.
3. “Just have fun ;)”/”Trying to get pregnant is the fun part”
– I’ll combine these two. For starters, it’s “fun” in the beginning when you’re starting out. Then you start tracking ovulation because fun isn’t working. Then it’s not so fun anymore. If you think trying is the fun part, clearly you’ve never tried and failed to get pregnant.
4. “Just get drunk”
– Tried it. Still not pregnant.
5. “Have you tried _______?”
6. “Maybe it’s not meant to be.”
– For a million reasons I don’t have room enough to list, just don’t say this to anyone. Ever.
7. “But you’re young, you have time.”
-I have severe damage to my reproductive system that actually gets increasingly worse as time goes on so no, I really don’t have time.
8. “Try (insert random sex position) or putting your legs in the air after sex”
-I’d really prefer not to discuss my sex life in this much detail, but if you must, refer to number 5 for this one.
9. “Maybe you should try losing weight”
-Can we not discuss my weight? I’m painfully aware that PCOS make gaining weight incredibly easy to do, and losing weight near impossible. I stick to a pretty strict diet (with the exception of occasional slip ups) and am a fairly active person, so thanks for that.
10. “Take a vacation!”
-This goes with number one. Also, I’m saving all my pennies for expensive fertility treatments since I have an actual medical condition that prevents me from getting pregnant. You see my problem.
11. “My (insert relationship) had trouble getting pregnant, they did (insert treatment). You should try that”
-To quote a fellow infertility warrior, this isn’t as simple as sharing beauty tips. (See also: number 5)
11. “Take one of mine!” / “My kids will make you change your mind”
– This isn’t Amazon, and I wasn’t looking for a review of motherhood. Please cherish the gifts I so desperately want
12. Anything considered medical advice
– I’ve had the test, I eat the things, I take the meds. Please, please, if there’s not an “MD” after your name, refrain from doling out medical advice
13. “It’s all in God’s timing”
-Believe me, I know. God and I discuss His timeline allllllll the time. But, in behalf of non believers, please be sensitive that not everyone is a believer and this might actually be more frustrating in those cases.
14. “Wow, I can’t imagine! All my husband had to do was look at me and I was pregnant.”
-Don’t ever respond with this. Literally ever.
15. Anything about miscarriage
– I’ve never had a miscarriage personally. But I imagine things like “at least you can get pregnant” “it’s for the best” “there must’ve been something wrong with the baby” or “you can just try again” are anything but helpful
16. Anything about “real” children
– In reference to adoption (or egg/sperm donation) the term you’re looking for is “biological.” Those children are real, and those adults are the parents. “Real” parents. Perhaps not biological, but still “real”
17. Referring to IVF successes as “designer babies”
– Stop. Just don’t do that.
18. “You don’t need IVF! God performs miracles every day!”
-That He does. And my baby will be no less of a miracle. In fact, I feel strongly that God is telling me to do ivf.
19. “It was just a negative pregnancy test”
– I have a less than 2% chance of getting pregnant naturally. While not impossible, it’s extremely unlikely. Doesn’t make it any less disappointing each cycle when I’m still not pregnant
20. “Get a dog! It’s basically the same thing”
– I have four. Not the same.
There you have it! My comprehensive list of things not to say to a woman (or man) experiencing infertility. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally know that most of you have nothing but good intentions. People don’t know what to say, I get it. But unfortunately, sometimes saying something you think is helpful is actually the opposite. So what can you say?
“I’m thinking about you”
“How can I help support you?”
“I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this”
“I’m here for you”
“Hoping/praying/wishing for your baby, too”
Join us on our battlefield. Lock arms with us. Be there to listen. Give advice only when it’s asked for. Love on us, support us, be there for us. If the person you know struggling with infertility is a person of faith, offer to pray with/for them. If they’re not, you can still offer positive thoughts/vibes. We don’t want or need to feel judged. This journey is hard enough, and we’ll be judged enough when we actually become parents. Just love and support us until we get there.
And, if you can’t find it inside yourself to love and support us on this journey, then simply keeping quiet is best. I can appreciate and respect that not everyone “gets it,” but you know what they say about when you have nothing nice to say…
Hopefully you enjoyed my *attempts* at humor, y’all. Thanks for your continued support!
Until next time,