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5 Things NOT to Say to Your Friend Struggling with Infertility

March 5, 2015
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5 things not to say to your friend struggling with infertility

You might not know it by looking at my family now, but there was a time when I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to have biological children.

Our fertility journey started with a bang – you can read about my tubal pregnancy and resulting emergency surgery here.

After our scary beginning, and down one fallopian tube, we struggled to get pregnant. We learned that I didn’t ovulate regularly, and when I did, it was usually from the side where my tube was now missing – without the tube, the eggs couldn’t make it into my uterus. After awhile, we turned to pharmaceutical help. Rounds of clomid didn’t work, and after another miscarriage, we kicked it up a notch and I started taking hormones and giving myself shots.

Beautifully, we got pregnant with our lovely Avery – she’s such a treasure.

A couple years after giving birth to her, my cycle still hadn’t returned. This time, a whole different slew of fertility issues came our way. This time, we wouldn’t be able to have more children without surgical intervention. Invitro fertilization was our only option if we wanted to have more biological children.

Our story has a happy ending. Sadie and Davis were born almost four years to the day after their big sister was. Our family feels complete. But the interim years – the ones in which we struggled to achieve our happy outcome – those were rough. Infertility consumes you. It’s an impossible to forget burden.

I recently overheard someone trying to give some advice to a friend who is now struggling herself. And I had to cringe. When you haven’t been there yourself, it’s so hard to know what to say. Hear me when I say that I know people have good intentions – they don’t mean to be hurtful. But they can hurt nonetheless.

So I thought of a few things you should definitely NOT say to someone who has a hard time conceiving, and the thoughts that ran through my mind each time a well-intentioned friend said them to me all those years ago.5 things not to say to your friend struggling with infertility

1) “You should just stop trying and then it’ll happen for you!” 

There is a misconception out there that a big part of infertility is simply attributed to an inability to ‘relax.’ That it must be my stress that’s preventing that baby from coming. Let me tell ya – when you are in the midst of wanting nothing more than to have a baby, there is no way I’m just going to forget about it for awhile and STOP trying.

2) “Just trust the Lord for His timing, not yours.”

I realize that the Lord’s plans are much better than mine. After all, He is God and I’m just Cate. But the Bible tells us to ask so that we can receive. And I want a freaking baby, so I’m going to keep asking until He answers. Also, thanks for hinting that essentially I’m just impatient and not just responding to the desire in my heart to become a mother.

3) “Don’t worry – you’re young! You have lots of time left to have a baby!”

I may be young, but I’m not growing a second fallopian tube any time soon. And I may be young, but I’d love to be a mother – and I don’t want to wait until I’m old to do it.

4) “You should try eating kale, doing yoga, going organic, taking sugar out of your diet….”

This list goes on and on. It seemed everyone I knew had a suggestion for what I should be putting in my body when I was trying to conceive – and tons of things I shouldn’t. But thanks for making me feel like that caffeine filled cup of coffee I started the day with rendered me infertile.

5) “I have a friend who adopted and then they got pregnant right after that – you should totally adopt!”

There are so many things wrong with this suggestion. First of all, adoption is not an easy road or an easy answer. It’s expensive, can take years from beginning to end, and can be a heart wrenching process for many reasons. Secondly, it implies that somehow a biological child would be somehow better than an adopted one – get that practice baby in your house and somehow you’ll magically get a real one too!

I know that many of these things were said to me in love. They came out of the mouths of people who loved me, who wanted to see me happy, and wanted me to become a mother. But there was a sting in much of what was said.

There’s not much you CAN say to a friend going through this. But you can tell them that it sucks. You can say you’ll pray for their happy ending. You can tell them that you’re there for them. Trust me, it’ll go over much better than any suggestions you could dream up.

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6 comments

  1. I continually struggle with what to say in this situation! Someone close to me has been trying about three years – it’s kind of an elephant in the room… I get really nervous when she says something negative about the situation and I start blabbering. I just want her to get what she wants!

  2. Thanks for writing this. =+)
    I’ve been struggling for 4 years now to have a child. Two miscarriages, 1 less-than-ideal tube, endometriosis, and a ton of disappointment every time aunt flo comes; I am starting my first round of clomid tonight. Hoping all goes well . . .

  3. It’s hard to know what to say in these situations, I just want to somehow “fix it” for my friend…. but it’s very helpful to hear the things NOT to say.
    Thank you!

  4. I have a couple of friends who struggle with infertility and I think they’d agree with all of these. I do my best to just be there and listen and sometimes those things are what they need more than my words. And when all else fails, a hug or sometimes even a little space. Great post, thanks for sharing it!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I think it can be so hard to know what to say, especially if you have never gone through it yourself. Like you said, I am sure most people have good intentions, but I am sure it can be so hurtful to hear these things. We all want to be there for our friends and help in any way, and sometimes that means just being an open ear or a shoulder to cry on or open arms with a warm hug. Thanks, Cate!

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