Infertility Etiquette: Do's & Dont's
There are dozens of this exact blog post circulating around, however I have yet to find one that I 100% agree with. Also I don't expect my friends and family to search and sift through every blog post if they are struggling with ways to comfort Alec and I during this time.
Since one in eight couples experiences infertility, awareness of infertility has grown — but we have a long way to go in infertility etiquette. People can be insensitive when it comes to painful topics like infertility, and many make hurtful comments, even when they don’t mean to.
So here it is - a cheat sheet of things you should definitely avoid saying:
- “Are you pregnant yet?”
- “You just need to stop stressing and relax, and it’ll happen.”
- “It’ll happen one day, just wait your turn.”
- “It was so easy for me to get pregnant! My husband just looked at me and I was pregnant!”
- “Maybe you’re not meant to be a mom. God has other plans for you.”
- “Forget about it, you’re trying too hard.”
- “You don’t know how lucky you are! Kids are expensive and a handful.”
- “I know exactly how you are feeling.”
- “Still no babies yet?”
- “You can have my children if you want.”
"If you really wanted a baby, you'd have one already. Your mind is probably preventing you from conceiving."
"Being pregnant sucks anyway."
"Maybe you’re just not meant to have a baby now."
Many couples struggling with infertility, including myself have heard these (maybe even all of them). Even from people rooting for us, it can be hard to know what to say if you have never been down this road.
Infertility Etiquette: A Few Dos and Don’ts
If you think you may know someone with infertility, here is some basic advice to follow.
1. Lend a caring, patient ear.
If you know someone who opens up about their infertility, the best response is to listen. Give them a hug and let them share what is on their mind. Don’t ask questions or offer advice. By listening, telling them you care and letting them know you are always there for them, you can show your support.
2. Be understanding if they opt out of social obligations.
They aren’t skipping the party because they don’t care about you; they are opting out because some events can be so painful that their heart aches. Being at events with children or where they could be asked upsetting questions may be a challenge they wish to avoid. Sometimes people need a little space and privacy to grieve as they deal with infertility.
3. Think about what it is like in their shoes.
An infertility diagnosis can cause feelings of shame, inadequacy, depression and isolation. People with infertility often blame themselves for their diagnosis. Be aware and sensitive to what their needs may be, and choose your words wisely.
1. Ask them when they’re going to have children.
Prying and pressuring about when there will be children can be extremely hurtful to hear if you are trying for a baby and have not achieved pregnancy. Avoid this question at all costs. Nonetheless, asking how things are going in their life or if they ever need an ear to listen can be very helpful to couple who needs to share.
2. Say “Just relax. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.”
These are two of the most common insensitive statements that those with infertility hear, and also some of the most painful. Sadly, they may have heard both of these statements many, many times. Telling someone to relax comes across as disrespectful, blaming and dismissive. To imply that someone is not meant to be a parent is devastating to anyone who longs for a child. Instead, simply saying that as they go through this journey, there are many options to help them. Hope is very powerful and words of encouragement can go a long way.
4. Complain about your pregnancy or children.
While you may be experiencing sleep deprivation, weight gain and swollen feet, someone with infertility longs for the day their pregnancy and child brings about these challenges.
And if you are in the middle of the struggle right now, please know that all the sorrow, disappointment, angst, and worry you feel is real. The whole thing f***ing sucks, but remember that you are strong, and whatever ends up happening in the end, you are going to be okay.