Friday, October 3, 2008

Infertility Part III: What Not to Say

I've covered what I've found to be the more blessings of infertility, as well as the hardest aspects of it.

This week, the list of what NOT to say. I always assumed that people knew better than to say things like this, but sadly that is not the case. I've been shocked at how often these things have actually been said to me.
  • So, when are you guys going to start a family?

  • Don't you want to get started soon? 

  • What are you waiting for?

  • You're not getting any younger you know. Don't you want to have kids before you get too old to enjoy them?

    and, in contrast,
  • You're still young. What's the rush?

  • It'll happen. I'm sure of it.

  • I understand completely - it took us 3 months to conceive! I thought we'd never get pregnant!

  • For my second, it really took a long time to get pregnant. Six months!

  • Want mine?

  • You're so lucky you don't have kids. You get to sleep in and have so much free time and disposable income

  • Bet you're having fun trying!

  • I can't believe we're pregnant again already! We weren't even trying!

  • Ugh. I can't wait for this pregnancy to be over. I'm so miserable. I hate being pregnant. Nine months is endless!

  • You don't have kids? Why not??

  • People without kids are so selfish.

  • Haven't you started a family yet? Don't you want your parents to have grandkids?
Really, I don't think I'm that cranky about it, and I don't mind hearing about other people's pregnancies or kids. I'm happy for them. I don't expect people to tiptoe around me and never mention anything about it. Just a little awareness and sensitivity would be appreciated!

Part four next week: Things for which I'm Thankful.

Update: Because after a comment made me realize I wasn't explaining myself well (and I tried so hard, but do realize how I could be misunderstood).

Some of the comments above, yes, should NEVER be said. And some of the comments may seem harmless, but after they were said to me by people who knew we were having trouble, well, that stung. (specifically, the ones about getting started soon, giving our parents grandchildren, how easily they got pregnant, how they understood since they'd had "trouble" conceiving).

Some annoy me more than anything - I don't mind people asking if I/we have kids; we're of an age & marriage length where it's kind of expected. But if I say no and change the subject, it does bother me if people keep coming back to it. And that's when the "you don't have kids" and "why not" have happened; after they'd asked the general question nicely, I'd answered it in the negative and tried to change the subject, and they came back to it as if they hadn't quite heard me. Please, no, don't do that. If I say no and change the subject, please let me.

So, I should have clarified that many of the statements bug me most of all when they're repeatedly said during a conversation that I keep trying to avoid. Or when, you know, they get hammered at us over Thanksgiving or Easter. Please don't put us into a situation where we end up telling you about our fertility issues; it just ends up making you feel awkward (it's happened) but when you keep repeating "why no kids?" "haven't you been married awhile" "don't you want a family" "kids are the best things ever - why wouldn't you want some of your own" it's likely that you'll end up having me tell you something you probably didn't want to know.

Maybe that's clearer?


Giggles said...

I agree.

groovyoldlady said...

Well...those are things not to say if you KNOW the couple are having difficulties. And some of those quotes are just rude anytime. But others sound like honest inquiries from someone who just wants to know you better or try to encourage you.

It's so easy to put your foot in your mouth and say the wrong thing when you don't already know someone well. (Trust me, I have permanent treadmarks on my tongue from ill-timed but well intentioned questions and remarks!)

Renee said...

@ giggles - thanks.

@ groovyoldlady - I tried to clarify my post in an update above. I think I was remembering situations when they were said to me too much and wasn't thinking about how they'd read to others.

I think tone of voice means a lot too, and I didn't touch on that at all; I don't mind well-meaning questions or comments. It's the harassing questions and rude statements that I've gotten so much recently that just shocks me so much.

I'm probably still not explaining myself all that well. I think I'm just hoping for people to be kind. Many of the comments I listed were said to me in tones of disapproval or scorn or ridicule. Ouch.

And, you know, pick up on it if I'm not wanting to talk about it (can you tell that's a big one for me? Lots of family who ask about it all the time. No, we don't have an announcement to make. Yes, we know you think the family needs a new baby. Still nothing to announce.) If I don't volunteer it, please don't ask me why we're still childless.

Life In Progress said...

This was such a great post. And it is so HARD to know what to say and what not to say, so I really appreciate this advice.

Kate said...

A couple more that are said to me far too frequently:

- Just relax. It will happen in no time.
- You're not praying hard enough.
- You should adopt. I know so many people who have gotten pregnant after adopting.
- Why don't you just give IVF a try. That always works.

[deep sigh]

Renee said...

@ lifeinprogress - thanks for visiting & commenting.

@ kate - I'd forgotten about the "just relax" and "adopt & then you'll get pregnant" advice but fortunately the other two haven't been said to me - those just made me wince. I also forgot about the suggestion to get a dog, because of course that's a sure-fire cure for infertility.