“…and a swelling rage.” ~White Blank Page, Mumford and Sons
Everywhere you look on the Internet, there are lists like this. What not to say, do, or otherwise think about if you are a fertile mama and you are around people whose wombs are dry as a desert. Just to add to the fray, here’s my take on that list. Keep in mind that while herein lies a decent dose of humor, everything on this list is truly serious.
1. “Just relax, it’ll happen!”
Let me tell you, relaxing does nothing for an infertile. Living from pregnancy test to pregnancy test, wishing and hoping for two pink lines only to see just one over and over again (or you just happen to get your period first). I’ve been “relaxing” and being patient for almost three years now, during which time you’ve popped out two kids, and I don’t see that it’s gotten me anywhere.
2. “I can’t believe how easy it was!”
Listen here, honey. Sex is easy. Conceiving a child is not. Especially for an infertile who has been trying for a year or two or three at this point for one child. You are amazingly lucky to be pregnant at all, so if you got pregnant on the first or second try, congratulations. You are a rarity among women.
3. “Have you tried…?”
Come here so I can smack you before you finish that sentence. If you are infertile, yes, you have tried it. Timed intercourse, missionary position, keeping your legs in the air for half an hour after, shoving your fingers up your hoo-ha to check the position of your cervix and the consistency of your cervical fluid (white? Turbid? Transparent? Egg white? Stretchy?), vitamins, yoga, prayer, dancing around naked in a thunderstorm, yes, I have tried it.
4. “Ugg, I wanted a boy. Why am I having a girl?”
Fine, then. Let’s draw up the papers now so I can take the child you clearly don’t want because you don’t like the gender. You are lucky enough to be having a healthy baby, you should be thankful enough for that.
5. “This will be your year, I can feel it!”
Look, I know you mean well. Being optimistic is good. But when that year inevitably comes and goes and I’m still without a child, how do you think that makes me feel? Like a failure, that’s what. So let’s avoid any encouragement for which you have no real sure-fire way to make come true.
6. “Do you want to come to my baby shower?”
It’s very thoughtful to invite your friends to your baby shower. Thanks for the invite, seriously. Some infertiles may be able to handle it. And it’s not that I’m not happy for you, because I am. But I’ll only come if you let me cry in the bathroom the whole time.
7. “Are you pregnant yet?”
No, I’m not. And when I am, believe me, I’ll shout it from the rooftops for everyone’s hearing pleasure. As soon as I’ve peed on 20 more sticks, gotten two pinks lines every time, and had a doctor’s appointment to confirm all is well to make sure it’s completely for real.
8. “Ugg, my ankles/boobs/feet/hemorrhoids are killing me from this baby!”
Look, everyone is entitled to their right to complain. Believe me, I whine all the time when I don’t feel well. But it would be helpful for both you and the infertile next to you to keep the complaining to a minimum. A little bit every now and then will garner sympathy, but too much complaining might find nasty looks and thoughts flying in your general direction.
9. “Guess what? WE’RE PREGNANT!”
I don’t think you realize the damage those simple words can do to the psyche of a woman who is infertile. Especially when we’re blindsided by it. I know sometimes when you’re telling your happy news to a group of people, it’s impossible to avoid your resident infertile from being there too. But if at all possible, try to take that person aside and break the news to them in a private place, so they can grieve their own loss in their own way. Because it does feel like a loss every time it’s someone else and not you. You’re falling further and further behind as everyone else moves ahead with expanding their families. I never expected to be almost 31 and still childless.
10. “Just do fertility treatments. Everyone does nowadays.”
Do you have $12,000 I can borrow? Or maybe $25,000, in case the first cycle fails? I know I sure don’t have that much money lying around. Do you? Does anyone? And I know at least my health insurance doesn’t cover any of that stuff (it only covers one visit with my REI specialist, which we have already had). So “just doing fertility treatments” isn’t as easy as it sounds. But thanks for the advice, since you conceived your kid for free.
Bottom line, take heart and be mindful of what you say. I know people who say these things don’t mean any harm and just want to help a friend they see is in pain from the continued failures of trying to conceive. Every one of these statements has been said in my presence and they hurt like a knife. So please think about how what you are saying might be perceived by someone with infertility.