Dec 11, 2012

What Not to Say

I've talked about what I've learned from PCOS, some good, some bad, but today I thought I'd share some things I've heard.

Everyone has an opinion, and nine times out of ten they are trying to be helpful, or offering advice. However, the following are a few things you might want to steer clear of when talking to someone dealing with infertility. (Also, I feel like I shouldn't have to say this but I guarantee if I don't someone will email me about it. This post is not directed at anyone in particular - it's simply a compilation of things I've heard over and over again).

1. Just relax, it will happen.  Saying this to someone going through infertility should be an automatic punch in the face. Okay not really, but come on! I understand the sentiment, but this is the least helpful advice out there - so much that I just laugh when I hear it.

2. There's a plan for everything. A lot of times this is comforting - but mid-rant about the despair you're feeling, it comes off more as a way to just fill the space with words. It's better to simply listen.

3. I was afraid to tell you I was pregnant. This one breaks my heart every time. No one should have to be worried to share this news. One of the biggest things I struggle with is trying not to treat myself differently and I want the same from you. Just because I'm not pregnant doesn't mean you can't be - I want to celebrate with you!

4. Why don't you just adopt? This often follows a conversation about different fertility treatments. It's like people think going through the adoption process would be less emotional, or not as hard, when that couldn't be further from the truth. Adoption is an amazing choice, and I hate hearing it relegated to a "have to" mentality.

5. When are you two going to have kids? Oh yes, this still happens - typically from strangers. (I talk about our struggles enough that if you are in my life and don't know what's going on you must be living under a rock). I've ranted before about how obnoxious this question is and it's because you never know what someone's going through. To a couple who have been trying, or want to have a family, this question can make them feel ashamed and upset all over again that it hasn't happened yet.

Here are a few things to try instead:

1. This sucks. I'm a fan of inserting an expletive, but even hearing an acknowledgment the situation is not what anyone wishes for can help a lot.

2. I don't know what to say. It's okay to admit this. It's pretty easy to assume the man/woman/couple in this situation doesn't know what to say either - and it kind of levels the playing field. You don't have to feel like you need to solve the problem and the person you're talking to knows it's okay to just vent.

3. I'm here to listen. Please please please only say this if you mean you will truly listen. Sometimes crying or venting is necessary and it's a natural inclination to want to suggest solutions or try to make that person feel better, but a patient ear goes a long way.

I think there are these kinds of sayings or questions no matter where you are in your life. What ones have you encountered?

(Psst - the 12 Days of Letter Writing is still going strong! Hop over to the More Love Letters blog to read the request for Winnie and to script her a letter!)


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Great post, Becky. I think a lot of times people really don't know what to say, especially if they have not been in your shoes, so it's helpful to know what helps/doesn't help... I never want to add to the sadness/anger/frustration someone is feeling. I am sending you hugs and I really am here to listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about a surrogate mother? I always wanted to do that for someone. I recently read a really good book called Bringing in Finn by Sara Connell. You might remember the story? Her mother carried her baby, she was the oldest surrogate mother at the time. I know you want to have the pregnancy experience too. It was just a thought.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I think this post is spot-on. While I *try* to be sensitive to everyone's situation, I'm sure I say stupid stuff that is completely unintentional and very hurtful. It's always good to be reminded that we really do need to stop, listen, think and then decide whether saying anything at all is truly necessary. What I find amazing is that Ben and you are going through this together and supporting each other along the way. Truly inspiring.

Lucy The Valiant said...

I think you're wonderful, that's all :)

Allison said...

I wrote a similar post about living with diabetes, which gets equally inane things said. However, I try to sympathize because I know if I was in their situation, I wouldn't necessarily know what to say. That's why post like these are so helpful. Thanks for the friendly reminder, even though I like to think I would never say anything stupid. Ya never know! :) Love ya!

Aly @ Breathe Gently said...

I wrote something similar when we were struggling with IVF.. and people generally just have NO idea what to say. It's heartbreaking. :(

Thinking of you guys. xxx You know I'm always here for you!

Nora said...

My ears are open and shoulders here; I don't know what else to say other than what you are feeling (and writing) is right (as in, I know a lot of people say you should feel this or that, but I believe that your feelings are what you need to be feeling, if that makes any sense?).

Alli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alli said...

I found myself nodding emphatically at this post and thinking that so many of us could write similar posts about things we are going through or have gone through and the things people say. Though most people are trying to be helpful, sometimes people say things that are so dumb that they leave you awestruck thinking, "No one over the age of 8 should think that was appropriate." Oy!

Btw, one of my favorite things is when friends know to be there both listen and to not listen as the case may be because sometimes you don't want to talk and cry and dwell sometimes you just want another person next to you while you try to not think about it for awhile.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Awww, this post made me want to reach through the computer and hug you. I'm so glad you did a post like this. Sometimes it is so hard to know what to say sometimes and saying nothing seems wrong, but sometimes, nothing is appropriate and listening is totally appropriate.
Love you lady, and I know you know I'm always there to listen if you ever need someone.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

This fucking sucks, & I don't know what to say, but I'm here to listen. <3

No, REALLY. All three of those.

Dani said...

I have posted almost the same thing word for word before. I actually do know what you're going through and I am here to listen if you need it.

Jessica said...

I can't believe I just very randomly stumbled upon your blog and this post (as I was looking for new paper craft blogs) I just posted very similar words on an infertility site. My husband and I are going through baby struggles, or rather lack of baby struggles too. my body is broken, my spirit is broken, and my heart is broken...and it sucks.

Anyway, just wanted to tell you that I'm right there with ya sista.

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