Do you know the things not to say to your friend going through infertility? Many people have never thought through this at all.
So a good friend tells you that they are struggling to get pregnant. You want to offer them comfort and support, but you don’t know what to say, right? Maybe you already have a handful of kids of your own and can’t relate. Maybe you don’t want to say the wrong thing. You may want to be helpful, but don’t know how.
We all have said things we later regret. And sometimes we say things (with good intentions) that we don’t even know are hurtful. That’s why I’ve put together these 8 critical phrases to help you know:
1. “Just relax. It’ll happen.”
When someone experiences infertility, it feels like they are never going to get pregnant and having a child is not going to happen. While your optimistic vote of confidence aims to be encouraging, it flies in the face of all the struggle someone going through infertility is feeling. We don’t need you to tell us that it will happen. We need you to empathize with our feelings and accept that it is just difficult to go through. And…relaxing about having kids may be easy for you to do, but it becomes very difficult when it’s all you think about or do.
2. “You’re young. You’ve got time.”
Infertility strikes people at different times and for different reasons. You do not know what factors are going into a couple’s infertility. If they have biological issues that are indeed time-sensitive, then they may not have time. If you consider a healthy, fertile couple, the statistics say they have a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month. When you also have infertility working against you, your chances decrease even more. So maybe they do have time, but maybe not.
3. “Have you considered adoption?”
This is an obvious option for someone going through infertility. Please don’t treat it like a novel idea. Generally, we aren’t against he idea of adopting; in fact, we might be going through the process of preparing to adopt as we speak. Regardless, adopting isn’t the same as going through the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. A woman looks forward to worrying a baby, feeling the baby kick, and watching the miracle of life develop within her. It’s a God-given desire and, evenig adoption is a possibility, someone unable to biologically have a baby will grieve that fact. Don’t ignore their grief by offering a “simple solution” of adopting.
Also, please don’t say “As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant.” Yes, this has happened to many couples, but there is not a direct correlation between adopting and conceiving.
4. “Have you tried…?”
When you offer unsolicited advice, it most likely won’t be well received. We heard a plethora of “suggestions” or “techniques” that ranges from potentially helpful to completely off the wall. You may be tempted to say “My aunt had trouble getting pregnant and she did _______ . Have you tried that?”
First off, we might not be ready to share the intimate details of our struggle. Secondly, we feel belittled when you offer suggestions like we haven’t done our due diligence.
If you have a suggestion, please ask permission first. Don’t offer ideas right off the bat. Listen to the struggle and the pain. Those going through infertility want the freedom to share without being judged or fixed. There’s a part of us that already feels defective for struggling to conceive. Don’t make it worse by questioning our processs.
5. “I’m happy to let you borrow my kids…”
Whenever people said this to my husband and I, the tone was never “I know you enjoy being with kids and if it would bless you to be able to snuggle with ours, you are welcome to.”
Generally it came with an exasperated tone of “I would be more than happy to get some time away from the chaos of my kids. Name the day and they are yours!”
Be grateful for the gift of your children. Share them graciously, but not as an escape. Someone who longs for kids can understand that parenting is challenging and difficult; however, that’s a burden they can’t wait to experience and call their own.
6. “He just looks at me, and I get pregnant.”
While we can appreciate the fact that you are a “Fertile Mertile”, we obviously aren’t. Celebrate the fact that conceiving comes easily to you, but please don’t rub it in our face. Our struggle to conceive comes with calendars, timing, temperatures, procedures, medicines, etc. it’s not that easy for us.
I heard that comment so many times during our bouts with infertility that I just smiled and changed topoics, because it was obvious that the person couldn’t empathize with what we were going through.
7. “Stop thinking about it, and it’ll happen.”
Um…telling a woman to stop thinking about her life dream is like telling a child not to think about the big bowl of ice cream sitting in front of them. It is much easier said than done. Even those of us who are able to compartmentalize different feelings and events can’t escape the constant, unconcious and concious, thinking about children. Our minds think about it 24-7 and it’s not just something we can let go.
8. “At least you already have one.”
Sometimes couples face secondary infertility (the inability to conceive a second time). Maybe they had no trouble conceiving the first time around or maybe they equally struggled with infertility the first time. Regardless, the desire for more children is not any less strong than the desire for the first one.
True, they may already have a child, but that doesn’t lessen or negate the struggle and grief of not conceiving another time. Chances are the couple is extremely grateful for their first child and why wouldn’t they be?! Please don’t make a statement like “Be grateful you were able to have one child…” as you assume we aren’t thankful for our children.
Hopefully this post helped you to understand how these statements can impact a friend going through infertility. What statements have you found to be well received by those going through infertility? If you are struggling to conceive, what additional thoughts do you have? What would you add? Let me know below.
To read past posts on infertility click below: