8 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Who's Struggling To Conceive
There are many things we're taught to say to someone in their time of grief or need.
"I'm sorry for your loss," is a go-to. Not the deepest sentiment, but absolutely acceptable when the moment requires it. Another may be, "I'm sorry to hear that." Again. Not digging deep, but kind, and evident that you care.
For some reason, I am yet to figure out why, when it comes to talking about pregnancy, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or in fact any downside to motherhood, people CHOKE.
It’s fairly accurate to say most people struggle with an average conversation these days, so when you dive into the world of infertility and fertility treatment, the responses and conversations are almost comedic. Except that with pregnancy loss and what sometimes feels like a life-consuming-soul-breaking approach to starting a family, not much about IUI or IVF is natural or very funny.
Allow me to take this opportunity to suggest some questions and statements that you should avoid.
These questions have been collected from couples in my #Couplegoals? Podcast community who are all struggling with infertility in their own ways. [Names have been changed.]
"Just relax, it'll happen when it's meant to happen," said Karen from the gym.
No Karen. No amount of relaxation is going to get sperm into my uterus. My husband does not ejaculate. Other women don't ovulate. While I do understand the idea of stress and anxiety contributing to the body not being able to conceive, it is a completely redundant suggestion to those of us who have medical issues that make it impossible to conceive; even if we do more yoga.
READ MORE: 'I Spent $50,000 On IVF... And It Failed'
"My friend's sister's aunty did IVF, and it worked straight away, so you'll be fine," said ted from work.
I didn't realise I was related to or had the same body as your friend's sister's aunty, Ted. My body is mine, and hers is hers. Ted, is your body the same as your mate's brother? Nup. Didn't think so. So pretty sure you aren't receiving the same health treatment he is.
"If it's not working naturally then maybe that's a sign that kids just aren't meant for you," said Glenda from the hippie book store.
Glenda, even if you know something we don't via your crystal ball, just kindly shut it. Your emotional and psychic appraisal isn't helping me find my way.
"At least if you're not pregnant, you can drink," someone said to a woman after the stillbirth of her twins.
Wake up Australia. We seriously have a drinking problem. Trying to fall pregnant or pregnancy loss ain't the same thing as a big night out. And if you believe that, it is probably time to check yourself into a meeting.
"At least you can get pregnant", “It's a good thing you can fall pregnant, some people can't" or "Surely it's good news that everything works?"
This is a really common perspective. My question is, if you were trying to conceive and losing babies, would it be enough for you?
"Have you tried acupuncture? That worked for my friend's cousin’s son and his wife," said james from a woman's partner's work.
The response James received was, "Acupuncture, yes it is supposed to be great, awesome suggestion!"
The response James should have gotten is "Mate, I go twice a week, every week, and have done for the last five years... I'm on it."
"It's just the flavour of the decade -- no one had this many problems in my day," Dorris said.
Dorris. We are allowed to use condoms now and are also able to vote. Things have changed, slightly.
And to finish off with my personal favourite...
READ MORE: When The Baby I Never Met Told Me Her Name
"A holiday will be so perfect for you. You never know, it's likely that's what it will take for you two to get that positive result you want!"
This was said to me by my fertility nurse, as she was inserting a camera up my vagina. I had shared with her that we were off to the South Coast of NSW for our Christmas holidays.
Oh, dear nurse. As it mentions in that thick folder of personal medical information under your coffee, my husband's sperm is in a freezer across the hall from your office that the hospital charges us to rent.
After his cancer, he stored it there for safekeeping and will never have a chance of spontaneously making a baby. So unless you are packing your bags, a reliable esky and a syringe with you, hopping into our tiny car, and driving six hours south to holiday with us -- THIS IS NOT A LIKELY POSSIBILITY AT ALL.
I am very fond of this particular nurse, so I understand she and many of you mean well. But this experience is not happening to a small number of us. It's widespread, and it is very hard and we need your and society's support.
Please don't stand in silence either. We can do better than that. We may seem angry, but behind the anger and frustration is pain.
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Something like "that sucks" or “I hope it turns around for you" are good places to start. Perhaps "you will make great parents" would be a positive, kind thing to say.
Let's get better at struggling with others' discomfort. We are exhausted from being the people who need to find the words and energy to alleviate your discomfort, all while we are trying to keep our heads held high.
More about the #Couplegoals Community can be found here.