Handling Insensitive comments regarding infertility can be an emotional and difficult thing to navigate. It is hard enough to deal with infertility and then have to deal with people and their rude comments. Unfortunately, people who haven’t experienced it just don’t know what to say and sometimes end up saying the wrong thing. If you are someone who has never experienced infertility, consider yourself lucky. Here are some things you shouldn’t say to a friend (or anyone) going through this struggle.
Things to NOT say to someone suffering from infertility:
- “It’s part of God’s plan.”
- “Maybe I’ll have twins and you can have one!”
- “Are you sure you want to go through all of this again for a second child?” (She’s not even pregnant with her first)
- General Complaints about their Pregnancy
- “You aren’t going to share this on social media, are you?”
- “You’re so lucky you’re not pregnant. At least you can pick up a pen if you drop it.”
- “I wish you could see how amazing your life is just as it is.”
- “You didn’t even want kids and now you’re doing this?”
- “Knowing my luck, I will get pregnant the first month.”
- “You should wait at least 6 more months before you spend all that money on IVF” (Says my friend who got pregnant on the first try)
- “Just adopt!”
- “You’re worrying about it too much.”
- “You are still young. You have time.”
- “Have you prayed about it?”
- “Be patient. It will happen.”
- “Just do IVF.”
- “You’re lucky you don’t have children. Enjoy the freedom!”
- “Just relax.”
- “Get a dog! They’re easier.”
- “Maybe you aren’t meant to be parents.”
- “Have you tried losing some weight?”
- “Maybe if you hadn’t waited so long you wouldn’t be struggling so much.”
Have you picked your jaw up off the floor yet? I know…me neither. Ridiculous. People actually say these things and I really wish that weren’t the case. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the more you share about your journey, the more people will feel entitled to the information. They will begin to feel comfortable sharing ALL their feelings with you. Unfortunately, it is what it is and you cannot control what comes out of people’s mouths. If you aren’t going through infertility, take this as a hint…DO NOT say these things to someone suffering from infertility.
How to HELP someone suffering from infertility:
Conversely, here are some words of comfort for someone going through this excruciating time in their life. Believe it or not, infertility does have an etiquette.
- I’m sorry you have to deal with this.
- I love you.
- Call me anytime.
- What can I do to help?
- A simple hug.
- Take their mind off of it. (I.E. Go out for drinks, dinner, or a pedicure!)
- Get them a gift like this
- Remember them on Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
- Attend Appointments with them when appropriate
- Ask them about their next steps in their fertility journey. Be genuinely interested.
- Just listen to them without judgment or advice.
- Announce your pregnancy to them first before they can hear it from anyone else. AND do it in private.
- Don’t pry. Allow them to share information if/when they are ready.
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice.
- Validate their pain.
Tips to Cope with Insensitive Comments
If you are in the thick of it, here is how to handle those hurtful comments people make regarding infertility.
- Be Sensible. The people who make comments like this usually have never experienced the pain of infertility. Take pity and cut them some slack. They probably want to help, but just don’t know how to.
- Be Loving. Try to do your best to love them in spite of their faults. They usually mean well. Love them.
- Be Honest. It’s culturally normal to hold your tongue and not “rock the boat”, but if you feel you need to put someone in their place…do it! You might want to brainstorm your thoughts beforehand so you don’t say something you might regret later.
- Be Realistic. Though it may seem that some people have it all put together, they don’t. Nobody does. Social media likes to portray it this way, but the fact is that everyone has their own trials and problems. This is yours and theirs are different, but they still have them.
- Be Blunt. Explain to someone how their comments are making you feel. Explain that this is a very personal matter and from now on you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with them.
- Turn it into a Joke. Without responding to their comments, just turn it into a joke. (I.E.- “God has a sense of humor.” “Let me know if you need help picking up your pen.” “What can I say?-I am just a worrywart!” “Too bad I am allergic to dogs!”)
- Ignore It. If you are the kind of person who can ignore things like this (I’m not…) then do it. Sometimes arguing about this isn’t worth the loss of a relationship. Weigh your relationships carefully.
- Change the Subject. If you don’t want to get into details and explain yourself then just change the subject. To some, this may come across as rude, but I guarantee you they will get the hint. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your personal life.
- Turn the tables. If they are going to make you feel uncomfortable by the comments they make, then you sure as hell can make them feel just as uncomfortable.
Park Avenue Infertility also has some great tips!
In conclusion, it’s hard to deal with people and their insensitivity especially in a journey as difficult as this. Mourn. Cope. Feel better. And realize that people mean well even though it may not come out that way. You are loved. You are not alone. Reach out anytime. I would love to hear from you!