What Not to Say




1.  "Maybe if you just relax" 

This is the one that gets to me the most. Of course, I experience anxiety over this, but telling me that I need to relax sounds like you're blaming me. Infertility is a physiological problem, a malfunction of one of the body's reproductive system, so please treat it that way. You wouldn't tell someone with a serious illness that she'll get well if she would just "relax", would you?
2.  "Maybe you should stop trying" 

Although this may seem like sound advice and may have worked for you it didn't work for B and I for the two and a half years that we didn't use protection before we started "trying."  Besides, last time I checked, you a sperm needs to meet an egg to make a baby (crazy, right?) so this "not trying" is not an option for B and I. And as a side note *this advice pisses me off almost as much as being told to "just relax"!

3.  "You are just trying to hard!" 

Just because you, your friend, and your second cousins wife got pregnant the first month they "tried" and/or on accident doesn't mean that everyone will. Some of us have to work for our miracles.


4. "Oh, you're still young. It'll happen."

I'm not that young and how do you know it'll happen?  Did you know that because I am 30 years old, I only have five years to keep trying naturally before my fertility declines?  With 12 months in a year to for it to "happen" that only give B and I 60 more shots at this before our odds of success decline even further.  

The doctors already give us only a 3% chance of achieving successful conception naturally any given month.  That's a 97% chance of NOT GETTING PREGNANT every month unless we step in and intervene.

Don't give me false hope based on nothing more than your need to be "supportive".


5.  "Are you pregnant?" 

Trust me if I am pregnant I will scream it from a mountain top.  When you ask and I am not it's kind of a slap in the face.  

Also, suffering from infertility puts you at a higher risk of miscarriage, if I wanted you to know I'd tell you.  If I am pregnant and you don't know it's because I am trying keep it a secret for 3 months.  If I'm not then thanks for reminding me that another month has gone by!


6.  "Maybe you should try (insert random advice here)" 

Although it's great to hear ideas and I know that you are just trying to help me, please keep in mind that every one's infertility issues are different and what may work for one person, may not work for me.  I have been working with  three different fertility specialists, and one of the best urologists in the country for B, and after a year and a half of actively TTC (after two and half years "not trying not to") I've probably already tried what you suggest.


7.  "Maybe there is a reason for it/it's not meant to be" 

This is not only insulting and extremely hurtful but very ignorant. How can you know if I'm meant to have a child or not?  Would you tell a parent whose child had unexpectedly died that maybe there was a reason for it? Sometimes bad stuff just happens, and that's that.  Looking for deeper meaning as to reasons why it happens doesn't help me to live with reality of what is happening.


8.  "Would you ever consider using a surrogate?"  

This one has been asked of three times lately.  I know it was coming from a very kind and generous place every time, because the women close to me in my life followed it with the offer of carrying a child for me if I wanted.  I wish it were that simple.  As far as we know, I have no problems with carrying a baby to term, our problem is with conception.  We'd still need to pay for IVF and put my body through all the trauma of the hormones for egg retrieval in order to create the embryos that a surrogate would then carry for me.  But I can do that part, and I don't want to be robbed of yet another natural step in the process of becoming a mother.  So again, while I know that this question has been asked with the  best of intentions, offering to be my surrogate doesn't help us.


9.  "Why don't you just adopt?"

For the record, infertility is NOT just some kind of checklist you go through:

Try naturally: Check.
Go through testing: Check.
Timed intercourse: Check.
Clomid and IUI: Check.
IVF: Check.
Adoption: Check.

The fact that we do not choose to adopt doesn't mean that we really didn't want children bad enough. We decided to start a family for the same reasons most people do - we wanted to create a being that was a part of us.   Is it selfish?   Of course it is.  But so what?   Most people don't have to think twice about that.

Adoption is not the easy solution to infertility that many people think it is.  You can pay thousands and thousands of dollars, have every aspect of your life scrutinized, get put on a potentially years-long waiting list, and then possibly have the biological parent change her mind?  Doesn't sound easy to me.

Besides, it is not the responsibility of infertile couples to take in all the unwanted children of the world.  Adoption is a calling, not the last resort for those who cannot have their own biological children.  I am in awe of those who have chosen this path, but B's heart just isn't in it.  I don't think one should do it under those circumstances.  That doesn't seem terribly fair to anyone, not to him, not to me, and especially not to the child.

And I wonder if couples who already have one or two of their own biological children and are considering having another ever have this suggested in such a dismissive way. After all, if anyone should consider adoption, it should be those who have already been blessed, right?


10. My cousin/coworker/friend of a friend/woman I read about in a magazine adopted a baby/became a foster parent, and then one year later, boom, she was pregnant!

I'm pretty sure it doesn't always work this way for everyone.  I think these miracle stories are wonderfully happy for the couples involved, and I'm glad to hear their success stories.  But this is no reason to adopt, especially if it is not something your whole heart is into.  Couples should adopt because it is the right choice for them, not because they hope to get pregnant naturally after doing so.  What does that mean for the child you adopt?  Whether it works and you get pregnant naturally afterward or not?  Any child you bring into your family should be welcomed for no other reason than you wanted that child.  End of story.


*This list was adapted from several other infertility blogs.  I googled "what not to say to an infertile" and came up with tons of results.  I took a little bit from many of them, changing them to reflect my own experiences and feelings, but some of them I liked so much exactly the way they were written, that I copied them in their original form.  There were two that I especially liked:


More blog lists of what not to say and additional information about infertility etiquette can be found here:


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