We all know that there is nothing anyone can say to take away our pain, whatever the circumstance. However, as i have found so far in our walk with infertility, there are a lot of things someone can say to make it worse.
One of the first things you learn in the field of social work/counseling is that we do not
give advice. We also learn that we do not go out of our scope of expertise in working with someone. By the same token, I feel both of these things are universal in our friendships & romantic encounters through our lifetimes.
One of my favorite things i’ve learned in grad school so far was a clip from Brene Brown on empathy, which I’ve attached below.
In this clip, Brene Brown points out that, rarely can a response make something better…to me, this statement alone speaks volumes & it’s also something i don’t think a lot of people realize. The clip also talks about people’s negative reactions to someone sharing something that is very painful in an attempt to lessen their pain. In doing so, you not only fail to lessen their pain but, i believe, worsen it with a hurtful advice giving, or, “at least….” responses. If you’re struggling with infertility I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of ignorant/unhelpful statements. Below I will share some of the things I’ve been told so far.
Things NOT to say to your infertile friend:
- Just don’t think about it & then it’ll happen. Number one, you do not know that. Secondly, you have no idea how many months we tried & failed, time & time again…bought ovulation kits, & downloaded app after app predicting ovulation windows. Not to mention that hey, we do know the cause of our infertility &, “not thinking about it,” could mean no baby ever. it’s just not possible for us.
- “The minute we stopped trying, we got pregnant!” Do you have a fertility issue? obviously f*&^%$# not, so stfu
- Enjoy being able to sleep in & go out while you can, or…Be glad you don’t have kids!
- You can always adopt. Gee, we never thought of that.
- Do not-& this one is a kicker for me-complain about your pregnancy. Someone struggling with infertility would kill to have your morning sickness, i promise.
- Don’t ask, “whose fault,” it is. It’s nobody’s fault. we are a unit with a problem.
- You’re soooo young, you have plenty of time to get pregnant! Thank you, for reminding me of my age..without that, i’d never have realized.
- maybe you should cut out caffeine, alcohol, & eat healthy. Maybe they already do, (I know i do) this is irrelevant.
- Everything happens for a reason. I’m going to punch you…in the f*#!^%$ throat
- when the time is right, it’ll happen
- if you’re meant to be a mother, you will be
- You better be careful with those fertility pills/treatments, you’ll end up like Octomom!
- maybe you should ____________ if you’re not a medical professional, seriously….just stop!
- “it could be worse.”
What are some of the things you’ve been told?