People have tried to be helpful throughout my struggle with infertility, but many times their attempts at support fail epically. Here are a few of the most idiotic.
Your Comment: All you need is to relax. As soon as you stop trying, you’ll get pregnant. Just take a vacation.
My Comment on Your Comment: Saying that relaxing will get me pregnant tells me three things:
- That you don’t quite understand the basics of reproduction
- That you think it’s my fault I’m not pregnant, and
- Since I’m not actually stressed, it makes me realize that you don’t really know me, which then makes your advice all the less appropriate.
Your Comment: You’re still young. My best friend’s neighbor’s dog’s sister’s owner got pregnant when she was 43.
My Comment on Your Comment: It may happen, and that would be great, but the facts are these:
- Women in their 20s have a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month
- By 35, the rate lowers to 10% each month. The miscarriage rate is 25%
- After 40, 90% of a woman’s eggs are genetically abnormal
Could there be a good egg in there somewhere? Sure. Might I eventually get pregnant? It’s possible, but I’m not going to bank on it. Also, your best friend’s neighbor’s dog’s sister’s owner probably ended up using a donor.
Your Comment: I’m praying for you.
My Comment on Your Comment: I actually don’t mind that you’re turning to your mythological deity for my benefit and support, however I do ask that two things never happen:
- You don’t condescend — and you even accept and validate — my atheism, and
- You don’t wave your magic prayer book at me in the event that I do finally conceive
While I love, love, love that you’re thinking of me during quiet moments of meditation and prayer, a surprise pregnancy doesn’t qualify as a win for Team God.
Your Comment: You should see my fertility doctor, acupuncturist, yoga teacher, homeopath, psychic, astrologer, and Chinese herbalist. And also eat pineapple.
My Comment on Your Comment: See, this kind of thing’ll make a girl crazy. I’m not doing all that. Also, it would be nice to feel that you trust me and my choices of providers and consultants.
Your Comment: Have you considered adoption?
My Comment on Your Comment: Simply put, Yes, I have considered adoption. Now if I may explain why this question is offensive…
The want of genetic children cannot be satisfied by adoption. The grief of infertility can only be quieted by two things: conception or time. And even when people do adopt, they’re still left with the residual trauma from the ups-and-downs of medical treatments, miscarriages, and an asphyxiating level of hope. Those don’t just disappear.
Think of the process of healing from grief as a continuum. On the one side of the continuum is the pain of never having kids that look like you, and on the other is peace and serenity about that reality. Wanting to adopt babies is a whole other continuum, and I’m not on that continuum; I’m on the grief one.
Also, adoption isn’t easy. The process costs upwards of $30,000 and takes a minimum of one to two years filled with teases of “Hey, here’s a baby. Oops, just kidding.” It’s not any cheaper, it’s not any easier, and it’s not everyone’s solution to not being able to conceive naturally.
Maybe one day I’ll want to adopt, but right now, I just want to get pregnant.
Your Comment: Keep trying. Don’t give up. It’ll happen.
My Comment on Your Comment: This is a tricky one. On the one hand, because the process of seeking fertility treatments is exhausting, this kind of cheerleading can feel very supportive. But on the other hand, people reach the end of their rope, and at some point they need to stop living in a constant state of hope. This isn’t giving up as much as it is moving on, which is sometimes the best thing to do.
Your Comment: I’ve been so sick throughout my entire pregnancy! You’re lucky it’s not you. By the way, do you know of any good nurseries in town?
My Comment on Your Comment: No comment.
Tips on What to Say Instead
Nothing. Don’t say anything. Really. You don’t need to say a word. Just listen. I understand why you keep sticking your foot in your mouth with these idiocies: it’s because you don’t know how to handle my grief and sadness, and you’re just trying to fill the darkness with vapid words. But I’m telling you now that nothing you say will help. It’s not about words. Just nod, pass the tissues, and give me a hug.
But if you do need to talk, here are some places to start:
- This must be really hard for you.
- I can’t imagine what you’re going through.
- I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with all this.
- I support you no matter what you decide to do.
- If I can do anything, please let me know.
That’s it. Honestly. I know it’s not much, but it’s all I need.