Thursday, January 6, 2011

What NOT To Say: A Tutorial

I've been on the ugly side of some pretty hurtful, yet always well-intentioned comments throughout our 4+ years of struggling with infertility and in both our first and newest journeys in adoption. I have the most amazing friends and family and hands-down, they ALWAYS have the best intentions! The ugly truth is that sometimes the best intentions come across as hurtful simply because if you haven't been in someones shoes, you just don't know.

My mom and dad struggled with infertility for years before they had me and brought my brothers home so my mom and I have had many many many tearful conversations (or venting sessions, depending on how you want to look at it) after many 'best-intention' comments from friends. For your reading pleasure, we've compiled a list :-)...

The Top 15 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Struggling With Infertility:
In no particular order...

1. "You're young... you have lots of time to have a baby."
2. "Maybe God doesn't want you to have kids yet."
3. "It doesn't sound like you're giving it all to God."
4. "You just need to relax and then you'll get pregnant."
5. "Is your husband shooting blanks?"
6. "You're being selfish to want more than one child."
7. "Just be thankful for what you do have and focus on that."
8. "There's always next month."
9. "Are you sure you're having the right kind of sex?" (No, this was not a joke!)
10."It's time to move on and realize that you're just not supposed to be a mom."
11. "Are you making sure you elevate your hips for 20 minutes after sex?" (Thanks Ashley!)
12. "You just watch; As soon as you bring home your sweet baby (through adoption) you'll get pregnant!!"  (Thanks annonymous... this is a perfect one!)
13."You're not getting any younger... when are you guys going to start your family?" (This comment mostly comes before anyone knows of your struggle to get pregnant... and it still hurts. Thanks Annonymous!)
14."At least you're married..." (Thanks Jill!)
15."Don't you ever want your 'own' baby?" (Thanks Lindsay... I can't believe I left this one out!)

Between me and my mom, we've been on the receiving end of each one of these comments/ questions and so many more. We've NEVER doubted that these comments were said in hopes that we would feel validated, encouraged, or loved... but we were hurt.

So, the question remains for those of you who may know someone going through the pain and frustration of infertility; "What SHOULD I say to comfort and support them?"

It's simple...

"I'm so sorry you're going through this. I don't understand but I'm here to talk whenever you're ready and in the mean time, I'll be praying you through it all. I can't wait to celebrate with you when your baby comes home!"

I know that so many of you, my sweet blog friends, are now or have in the past struggled with infertility. Do you have a comment to add to the list? What can or has someone said to you that made you feel loved and cared for in this dark time of your life?

Please share... we can't get angry at a 'well-intentioned' comment if we're not willing to let people know what they CAN say or do to help us through this tough time.

** I'm officially enabling the Cone of Safety! This means that you can vent and be honest without fear of being judged... and for the first time ever, you can even comment as 'annonymous' :-)**


  1. I found your blog through Jenny's Sophieshope08, I hope you don't mind. I'm sorry you are struggling with fertility. My husband and I are experiencing the same issue and I try and remember that people want to help and say something encouraging, but a lot of the time end up saying something hurtful. I think I've been told/asked 9/10 things you mentioned. One to add: Are you elevating your hips after sex for 20 min?

    ps - your daugther is cute

  2. Hi Ashley! Welcome :-) I'm adding your's to the list... I've gotten that one, too! Thanks for sharing!

  3. My husband and I were struggling with infertility and we decided we would not proceed to IVF. We felt God calling us to adopt instead of proceeding with costly IVF. SO MANY PEOPLE said to us, "You know what is going to happen.... You are going to adopt and then you will get pregnant with 'your own baby.'" 1. We would never adopt a baby because we think that would increase our chances of conceving. 2. So, when we do adopt, how is that not "our own baby?" Some people just don't think before they speak!

    The other comments I always hear is "Well, just think about what you do have... " and "At least your married.. lots of women your age just wish they were married."

    UGH! This is a sore subject in case I've not expressed that! :) Best wishes with your next adoption! We're praying for our first adoption and hoping 2011 will be our year to bring our baby home!

  4. My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for a couple of years now and we have pretty much kept it a secret until recently, we have decided to share what was going on b/c people were starting to say things that were hurtful. We have been married 5 years and some people found it weird that we didn't have children. They would tell me that I'm getting old and that we couldn't wait forever and people would ask other family members if something was wrong with me. So we thought if we started telling people they would be more understanding and thoughtful. Some people have been great and super supportive others have been well intentioned but are still hurtful. I hate being told that I'm trying too hard and that when I least expect it then I will get pregnant. Thank you for letting me vent.

  5. Annonymous #1 :-) We felt the same way about IVF: your chance of bringing a baby home thru adoption us 100% and we wanted to be parents, not necessarily experience a pregnancy. I'll be praying for your journey to bring your baby home :-)

    Annonymous #2... SO glad you felt comfortable venting! I added your "you're not getting any younger" comment... I've had that one, too. Good for you for being transparent and letting people know what you're going through... that was the BIGGEST and most difficult step for me and though sometimes I regretted it, more often than not it was freeing and such a relief! I had actually missed out on a LOT of support from people who love me. I will be praying for you and your husband, too! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I was so glad to see this post. I believe most people are well intentioned, but unless you have dealt with infertility yourself, it is difficult to know how to respond to others going through the same. Sometimes the most important thing you can do to help someone suffering with infertility is to just LISTEN. In our two years of dealing with infertility, probably the worst comment I ever received was being told I was "selfish" and "at least I was married" by an individual when I confided in her about my suffering upon finding out a mutual friend was pregnant.

    A few months ago, we felt led by God to begin our family through adoption and I have, too, heard several times "you know you're going to get pregnant after you adopt." That may be the case, but that is not what we are putting our hope in. God has the perfect plan for creating our family and we will trust HOWEVER he chooses to make that plan come about!

  7. Let me just say that .. as a mom (and a grandma to an adopted granddaughter) who has experienced the personal pain and frustration of infertiliy .. and as a mother to a daughter who is now experiencing infertility, and is in the process of adopting ... I applaud the honesty you've shared on this blog. I recall so vividly the pain and frustration of my long ago experiences; and am so grateful today for hind sight. My encouragement to each of you today is ... stay strong and stay dependent on God to chart the course of your future. He will accomplish greater things than you could ever do on your own! Get your Bible out and read Jeremiah 29:11. And continue to support each other and share your victories with each other! I wish these blogs were available for me all those years ago! You are a source of strength and encouragement for each other! I will pray for each of you!

  8. I've gotten LOTS of the comments you listed. But, the worst comment I've gotten wasn't about our infertility, rather about our son, who we adopted. At a playgroup, a woman said to me, "I'm sure you love him, but it's too bad you'll never know if you could love him even more if he were your own son, since you'll never have your own kids" .....WHAT!?!?!?....I'm not sure how I didn't hit her.

  9. Hi, I would love to follow your blog and read about your cherished moments of being a mom and also your journey to adopting another child to add to your wonderful family.

    As I read the list you have compiled with your mom tears just kept coming from my heart and eyes. We've been struggeling with Infertility for a few years now and for the longest time I thought IVF was what I wanted to do but due to financial constraints we can only choose to do 1 thing..either that or international adoption. In my mind i think internatintional adoption can at least bring more hope for us to start our family. We both personally feel that a child who is not born through me is still our child. We just have so much love to give. How much of a price do i have pay to put my body thorough so much chemical drug beatings and constant failure?..just to conceive my own child? when do i start? that is the question that is on my mind constantly. Doubts is always in my mind cause friends/family constantly never know how to talk to me..i've gotten the whole realm of criticisims either through questioning or telling me what is best for if we don't know..or the best is one is "oh have you heard about this great option for you to start your family??.....yes, of course not because i'm not stressed about my IF issues so therefore I don't research or read about EVERYTHING out there about options on becoming parents! There are days i wish this whole business of being IF is gone from our lives..vanished..oh and of course the best other comment is..your eggs are old--why are you so stressed..oh because you are so stressed this 4th IUI treatment did not work at all we can't even do the insemination..yes BLAME ME! coming from my infertility doctor and from my are getting so old..what are you not doing to accompllish on becoming parents...or you waited too long since you were both married..(married less than 4 years!) or even if you don't do any IF treatments you can live a life without children at all. Or have you considered surrogacy, adoption.etc etc etc...once again i hate when people think they know better than you and understand how you feel when they ABSOLUTELY DON'T!. My belief is if you don't know how to react or what to say to someone it is better to keep your mouth shut. and just listen.
    Thanks for letting me vent in has been a tough journey.

  10. We have been struggling with infertility for almost 3 years now and the comment that I receive most is "just relax and it will happen". It's SOOOOO frustrating. It doesn't matter how much I relax - relaxation isn't going to fix the medical reason for our infertility. I have primary ovarian insufficiency (basically, I don't have a lot of eggs left and the ones I do have may or may not be good quality).

    People do mean well and I think some of the comments we all receive are just because people feel like they have to say SOMETHING but they have no idea what to say.

  11. What I have read here resonates in my heart because I have SO been there. We have 2 adopted kiddos, heard most of the insensitive comments that are posted in the blog and people still say shockingly inappropriate things even after you have brought your children home. God doesn't make mistakes (much to my 12 yr. old's dismay some days - and then we remind her of God's perfect plan) and these are OUR children. We have become a part of an adoption ministry at our church to help educate others on adoption. I believe that most comments are made without any real knowledge or understanding of infertility and adoption.

    Just weeks ago, our daughter was prevented from picking up her little brother from a church activity because 'they didn't look like each other'. WOW! Our daughter didn't even blink, but just informed the helper that they were adopted and that's why they didn't resemble one another! So glad that our kids have always known their stories.

    The comments don't stop after you have your children but it does become a little easier to handle once you have at least one child and your focus changes from how it affects you and your feelings to how it affects your child and their feelings.

    Our newest dynamic to add is our son's birthmother is now married and pregnant and eventhough our daughter has many half siblings, she is the youngest of those siblings. We'll see what new comments are made when this is added to his 'story'!

  12. I love your blog and your willingness to share your journey. We will be praying for you and the birth-parents of Baby Smith #2 or 3 :)

    We struggled with infertility for 4 years. We were blessed to be successful with our one and only shot chance at IVF and got PG.

    This one did not apply to us have one beautiful child, why struggle for more.


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