Post # 1
Last night (I work night shift) a coworker I barely know came out of the bathroom and you could tell from her eyes she’d been crying. I asked if she was okay and she privately told me she’s been trying for 4 years and just got her period which means another month, another negative. Like I said, I’ve only talked to her twice before, but I also realized I have no idea what to say and not say in these situations. We haven’t started TTC and won’t try until September 2020 so I have no idea what the frustration feels like.
I just told her I was so sorry she was dealing with this, it wasn’t fair, and that I’d keep all my fingers crossed for her because I think she’d make a wonderful mother. I was thinking if I were in this situation the last thing I would want is advice (“have you tried temping?” Etc). But it got me thinking, for women who have been through this what are the helpful and not so helpful comments you’ve gotten? Could I have said anything differently?
and for those wondering, she’s has multiple failed fertility treatments and both she and husband have seen several fertility specialists and no one can find any reason to explain their 4 years without a single BFP.
Post # 2
keikochan : what you said was perfect. It took us 2 years and IVF to get pregnant with our daughter and “helpful” suggestions just made me want to punch people. Anything beyond “I’m sorry you have to deal with this” is not helpful. Infertile women have doctors and the internet – if we want more advice we will ask for it.
Post # 3
I’ve never dealt with this, but from several close family and friends, never EVER say “when you relax and stop worrying it’ll happen” or anything to that effect.
Post # 4
I also think what you said was perfect. As someone struggling with infertility, we don’t want advice, because we know everything there is to know about fertility treatments. We wake up in the middle of the night and good time lapse imaging of embryos for IVF. But sometimes the emotions bubble over and we just need a hug or someone to say something sympathetic. The worst things that anyone has said to me are things like “just be positive!” or “it will all work out for you!”
Post # 5
hockeybee0104 : 100%. That just makes a woman feel like it’s her fault she isn’t pregnant even more than she probably already does. Infertility is a medical condition just like any other. Would you tell some one to just “relax” and they will be cured of any other ailment? Of course not. But you’d be shocked at the number of people who say “you don’t need IVF – just relax more and it will happen”. Ok – well you don’t need [treatment], just relax and [ailment] will be cured! So stupid.
Post # 6
- Wedding: October 2016 - Montego Bay, Jamaica
What you said was perfect! Last thing I would want was advice especially from someone who admittedly can’t relate to me.
Don’t say things like “Just relax, then it will happen!” or “Have you thought about adoption?”
also, don’t tell anyone miracle stories like “I had a friend with infertility issues who magically got pregnant right before they chose to research adoption!” or “as soon as Bob and Tina took a break from trying she got PREGNANT!!”
Post # 7
I have not struggled with infertility but even the 6 months of TTC after my miscarriage I would get infuriated if anybody told me “It will happen for you” or “Don’t worry, you’ll be pregnant again soon” — like they have no idea, they can’t see into the future.
Feeling supported without advice was the only comforting thing. I think what you said was spot on. Also the most valuable friends to me were those that would let me vent/air my frustrations without trying to solve the problem. They’d just listen, agree with how shitty the situation is, and let me get the frustration/anxiety/sadness/feeling of no control out of my system.
Post # 8
- Wedding: October 2016 - Wedgewood Las Vegas
I think what you said is absolutely fine. If you knew her better, you could just simply offer a “if you ever need to talk” comment as well. Sometimes it feels good to have a real live person to just vent to.
I’m also struggling with infertility. In the 10 yers I’ve been with my hubby, we’ve never even had a pregnancy scare. It breaks my heart that so many other women can so easily get pregnant. Some of the worse things said to me include “relax, it will happen if it’s meant to be”, “it’s God’s will” as well as every imaginable version of “have you tried…”.
We are now seeing a specialist who will hopefully help me. My hopes are high, but I know that every month that it doesn’t happen I’ll likely be similar to the woman in the OP’s story.
Post # 9
What you said was spot on and you are right, the last thing she might want to hear is advice. Empathy goes a long way.
Post # 10
- Wedding: June 2015 - Backyard
What you told her was perfect.
I’m not diagnosed with infertility but it’s been a long road to pregnancy for us and here’s some things people have said to me that were the worst:
”Even if you can’t get pregnant, there are other ways to be a mom.”
”You just need to stop trying. I finally got pregnant when I stopped trying.”
”Are you going to see the fertility specialist yet?”
”I can’t believe I took my IUD out one year ago and my daughter just turned one!” – Said by someone who started trying several months after me.
Post # 11
I think you handled it really well, and kudos for trying to be as empathetic as you can. A lot of people don’t care enough to do that.
Post # 12
Agree with pps, you handled it beautifully. Unless you are her doctor, there is nothing you can or should say. Acknowledge that you are sorry to hear she is going through this, and ask if there is anything you can do, any support she needs. Infertility treatments can have you at the doctor daily, dependent where you are at in your treatment – which can be just so stressful with work. I am not sure what industry you are in, but offering to cover for her or pick up some slack on appointment days, or days she is feeling less than, can be a huge blessing!
Post # 13
Also- not specific to your post personally , but anyone who may be reading this thread for guidance as well. Refrain from “don’t give up/don’t quit” etc as well. Just as many patients of other illnesses (as infertility is) do not like their medical struggle being referred to as a battle (or subsequently losing their battle), or being told “you can fight this”- it can trigger many deep feelings of guilt. There may come a point, be it for financial, emotional, or medical reasons, they may have to decide, or be told it is time, to stop. It’s not an easy decision and can be a whole new wave of grief the couple has to deal with.
Post # 14
You handled that so well! I appreciated when friends would say “that sucks, it’s not fair this is happening to you!”
Things not to say:
”you can just adopt”
”have you considered adoption”
”it’s God’s will”
”it will happen in God’s perfect timing”
”but your mom had 4 kids, what’s wrong with you?”
”but your mom and aunts had kids at 40, how can you be infertile?”
”stop trying and it will happen”
”let me sell you a whole Plexus kit so you can heal your gut and get pregnant”
“have you tried xxxx?”
”whose problem is it – yours or his?”
Those were some of my favorites 🙂
My friend has a 5 year gap between her two daughters. It took them 3.5 years to get pregnant again and the comments she got almost seemed worse:
“when are you having another”
“little Suzy is going to be spoiled if you don’t get her a sibling”
”little Suzy is going to be so old by the time you have another that they won’t be close / won’t like each other”
Post # 15
This is my absolute favorite page for friends and family of those who are infertile… what to say, not to say, common questions, etc…. https://resolve.org/support/for-friends-and-family/?fbclid=IwAR1Gtq81KMKa1J8uiqByPElMA4TvCgYuFszlbKQuxCcP-x2DtFPJj-o_Pi8