Infertility: What To Say and What NOT To Say

imagesLast summer I shared about my infertility journey. At that time we were undergoing fertility treatments with hopes of conceiving our second child. On September 11th, 2013 I found out I was pregnant and on October 3rd (a day I will never forget), we found out we were expecting baby number two AND baby number three.  If you are interested in reading about my journey, you can find it here.

Infertility is debilitating. It is heart-wrenching and emotional. It causes severe physical and financial pain and it is all too common. It may seem surprising, but statistics show that one in eight couples will have trouble conceiving. That stat seemed hard to believe since every time I looked left I saw a woman with an adorable baby bump. And every time I looked right, there were women with strollers. Sometimes it may seem hard to know what to say to your friends who are going through this… there really is no perfect thing to say, but I have compiled a list based on my experience of things that you may want to avoid saying and statements that your friend may find encouraging!

What NOT to say…

“Everything happens for a reason.”

This was one of the most painful things that someone could say to me during our infertility. I strongly discourage anyone from using this cliché to a couple trying to conceive. While the intention is right, if you stop and think about what you are saying to that couple – it is really hurtful!

“You should adopt OR once you adopt you will get pregnant.”

While I am very much in favor of adoption as a means to become a parent and had begun looking into the adoption process, it does not alleviate the current pain of infertility. In fact, the adoption process is very similar to the infertility journey – full of ups and downs and highs and lows while yearning for a child. If you want to adopt then you adopt, but you don’t do it as a means of getting pregnant!

“Just relax, it will happen.”

I really couldn’t handle hearing this. While I am a pretty laid-back, level-headed person, my life was consumed by my overwhelming desire to start a family. Sure, we were still living our lives – taking weekend trips to the beach, playing unlimited amounts of golf and tennis, going to a movie without paying a sitter $10+/hour, sleeping in on the weekends… but living on a calendar and the lack of control was stressful.

“If you stop trying, you will get pregnant.”

Yes – I am well aware that a lot of people conceive babies when they are NOT intending to. But in our case, we were doing everything possible to start our family and it wasn’t happening… if we had stopped trying, we likely would have never been able to become parents. Everyone has different fertility battles they are facing but the majority of people shelling out thousands of dollars to a fertility clinic are not able to get pregnant without ‘trying’.

“Enjoy your freedom/Trust me, you’re lucky you don’t have kids!”

We lived and loved life. We took many vacations and had many life experiences together. We were at a place in life where we were financially stable and ready to enjoy life in a fuller, richer way – as parents. So try not to complain about the difficulties of parenthood to someone desperately wanting a child. And don’t tell someone who wants a child that they are ‘lucky’ that they don’t have kids yet! {A few people actually said this to me!}

What TO say…

“I cannot imagine the hurt you are feeling, but please know I am here for you.”

It is hard for those who truly love you to know what to say to you – but knowing they are there for you is worth everything in the world. Whether you feel like talking or remaining silent, it is comforting to know you are not alone if you need a shoulder.

“Kids are a blessing and I can totally understand why your heart desires one.”

In saying this you are not dismissing her heartfelt yearning for a child. And it can be very touching for her to hear when she is going through the emotional and physical struggles every month to achieve this dream.

“I love you.”

Just knowing that someone loves you helps eases some of the isolation.

“I will pray for your miracle baby.”

Whether or not you are a religious person, I think most of us can agree that we like to be prayed for. And knowing that we are in someones thoughts and prayers can bring comfort… sometimes faith is all you need.

“WHEN you have a baby, you ARE going to be amazing parents.”

The optimal word in this statement is WHEN, do not use the word IF. The power of positive thinking, right?

Just know that if you have a friend or family member suffering through infertility, there are times that she will want to talk and times she will want to be alone… but be present in the sense that she knows you are there for her if and when she needs you. Your kindness during her time of agony will never be forgotten.

9 Responses to Infertility: What To Say and What NOT To Say

  1. Heather Askew April 26, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    What an excellent post! Very well written, helpful and insightful – I love that this topic is being featured on the mom’s blog for all those who’s mother heart is still waiting.

  2. Jessica July 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Love this – thanks Alisa! I especially love the “what to say” comments. And CONGRATULATIONS!

  3. Karen Voelkel July 31, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Alisa, I know your article will be very helpful to those going through this painful experience. You have been in their place, and know what you are talking about.

  4. Lindsey July 31, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this fantastic article Alisa. Maybe I will make copies and pass them out to people in my life 🙂 xo

  5. Amy July 31, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    I heard all of those when we were trying! So frustrating and unhelpful! And I question the 1 in 8 statistic because three friends were also struggling at the same time. Thank you for sharing your story. This is typically a subject that many don’t feel comfortable talking about. I took part in a free support group that takes place monthly at St. Mary’s. I found this incredibly helpful and would recommend it to anyone struggling through this.

  6. jenn August 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    This is so great. Someone should do one for couples who are adopting. Unreal what comes out of people’s mouths

  7. Ashley Garcia April 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    Such an amazing article Alisa. Thanks for sharing. XO

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