Ladies and Gents,
I live in the South. There is nothing more important in a woman’s life in the South than growing up, getting married and having a baby. It’s what we’re supposed to do. There comes a time in a young woman’s life, especially after marriage, when the inevitable “When are you going to have baby?” question rears its ugly head. Oh, it’s always some well-meaning elderly type of woman who thinks she is asking you an innocent question for conversational purposes, and doesn’t realize she just gutted you.
I have luckily learned that I can usually answer this question with “What do you mean? My kids have 4 legs and a tail.”, I get a laugh and the question they really asked is avoided. Occasionally, I am pressed to give a detailed answer to the question, and when I say “I can’t have kids” a new round of infertility quizzing/advice starts.
I know someone who tried FOREVER to get pregnant and when they stopped trying it just happened.
Just please, never say this to an infertile woman. I’m going to be bluntly honest here and tell you why. We don’t CARE. It’s not comforting in any way. It doesn’t make us feel better, it doesn’t make us happy. It’s like saying ‘Hey you know that thing you wanted really bad? That thing that will send you into therapy and make your life miserable for years? I know the person who avoided all that by randomly getting pregnant.” (Oh, and your big cheesy grin while you say it makes it worse.) Every time I hear someone say this phrase it makes me LIVID. Like, punch em’ in the throat livid.
Do you tell someone with Cancer to just relax? How about MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Heart issues, or someone in a wheelchair? Infertility is a medical condition and while stress doesn’t help any medical condition, telling someone struggling with infertility to just relax is one of the most insulting things you can say. Please don’t do it.
You can/should/why don’t you adopt/foster?
First, adoption is NOT as quick and easy as everyone thinks it is. Yes, I can go to state websites right now and find a gazillion kids up for adoption. Yes, I can go pay enormous fees to an agency to find a child I am able to adopt. Oh, and by enormous, I mean up to $30,000. Someone always knows someone who is willing just to give a baby away too.
Really? I knew a couple who met a young lady through a church who was willing to give her baby away. She moved here, she went through the labor and she “gave” her baby away. However, the Navajo Indian Nation took exception to a 1/2 Navajo baby being “given” away and 3 years and speciality lawyer fees later their daughter finally belonged to them. Not to mention the waiting lists, the mothers who back out, OR the simple fact that you want to be able to hold your child NOW.
Fostering: While I think fostering is an amazing gift and some people are cut out for it, not everyone is made to be a foster parent. Not everyone is ok with a State Employee coming to their house whenever they want and making sure that you have chemicals in a place a 15-year-old can’t reach them. Not everyone is ok with having their finances examined like the damn IRS is doing a tax audit. Not everyone is ok with having every single detail of their lives scrutinized in order to have a child in their home when so many other people are able to have the same gift without the hassle.
Infertility and the struggles it causes in your life are hassle enough. Some of us wear out long before we are emotionally able to fight those larger battles.
I know! We’ve been trying for 6 months and haven’t gotten pregnant yet! It’s AWFUL.
Infertility is not even diagnosed until you have been unable to conceive by doing ALL the right things at ALL the right times for a year. ONE YEAR. Infertility is not a bragging right. It’s pain, humiliation, heartbreak, fear, depression, guilt, and genuine sadness. While we understand you’re trying to relate, and maybe even make us feel at ease, we likely won’t have sympathy for you until a doctor says you’re infertile. I hope it never happens for you, but if it ever does, the rest of us will love you and help you as much as we can.
Have you tried …???
Yes, yes we have. We have propped up our hips and thrown our legs against the wall after sex. We’ve tried different positions, we’ve tried charting and ovulation tests and apps for smart phones. We’ve kept logs on our computers, we’ve read books, we’ve joined internet communities and quizzed doctors and anyone who might have a scrap of an idea on how to get pregnant. WE’VE GONE PSYCHO over it. Completely totally 100% certifiably BONKERS. WE KNOW and WE’VE TRIED.
I was going to invite you to (insert random event involving children here) BUT…
There comes a time in every infertile woman’s life when her friends start moving ahead with families. It’s natural for people who are able to have families and who want families to begin their own lives. It’s understandable, and we’re ok with it. We WANT you to be happy. You see, an infertile woman would never wish infertility on anyone because we know how destructive it is in every way possible. If you want kids, we want you to have them. But…
We don’t want you to pretend for a single minute that you have any control over OUR emotions involving infertility. If you want to be a good friend, you invite us to baby showers. You invite us to birthday parties. You are not responsible for OUR feelings when it comes to being around other children. It is NEVER going to hurt our feelings to get invited to an event by someone who loves us and cares for us. Yes, there may be times when we have to say, “I love you, but I just can’t this time”. (And it’s because we’ll be in our beds watching A Baby Story and bawling because we don’t have kids.) We hope you understand. But, if we LOVE YOU, we’re going to LOVE YOUR KIDS. No, they didn’t come from us. No, they are not ours, but it doesn’t mean we don’t LOVE THEM and that we don’t want to be involved.
It’s all part of God’s plan for you…
Here comes the most blunt of blunt I can be. If you know the religious affiliation of the person you say this to, it MIGHT be comforting to them. However, I can guarantee you that even the least devout person on the planet has dropped to their knees and prayed about it. I promise you they have asked or even begged God for help already. I promise you that there comes a time during infertility when people are ANGRY at God. Why can a junkie have a baby when you can’t? Why can’t your body just work like it should? Why can’t you be NORMAL like every other woman who jokes around about her husband looking at her and getting pregnant? Why is that couple griping about their tube tying not working and how they didn’t want another baby? Why is that woman complaining about being pregnant when you would do almost anything to have swollen ankles while waddling through a grocery store? Trust me, infertile people talk to God and not all of it is good. If you say this to the wrong person at the wrong time, you’re likely to get a very unwelcome response.
I hope that a few lessons can be taken away from this post:
1. Don’t ask when someone is going to have a baby. If you think you know them well enough to ask, you’ll probably already know when they’re going to have kids.
2. If you do ask, be prepared to give them a hug, say I’m sorry you’re going through that, and ask, “Is there anything I can do?” and MEAN IT.
A BIG THANK YOU to Michael Macks who took this awesome photo for me. Obviously, I do not have baby shoes lying around the house!