Guest Post: HOW NOT TO BE A DICK TO YOUR INFERTILE FRIEND: CONVERSATIONAL EDITION, by Laurel Wells Thompson

**Public Service Announcement** by Laurel Wells Thompson
(feel free to share this far and wide, with attribution)

 

HOW NOT TO BE A DICK TO YOUR INFERTILE FRIEND: CONVERSATIONAL EDITION


About 11% of women are unable to conceive within one year of "trying," so if you are a person that breathes air, you have probably encountered one of us. It's very tempting to offer words of comfort or advice, or to ask questions, but very often there is a disconnect between what you're saying, and what your infertile friend (heretofore referred to as YIF) hears. Allow me to translate some of the most common attempts at sympathy:

You: "Just relax!"
YIF hears: This is your fault, if only you could be like everyone else you could make this happen.


You: "Everything happens for a reason/it's all in God's plan"
YIF hears: You're clearly not cut out to be a parent/God wants everyone to be happy except for you.


You: "Why don't you just adopt?"
YIF hears: Give up. You're never going to get pregnant.


You: "My friend's cousin's aunt's neighbor tried EVERYTHING to get pregnant, then they gave up and it happened.
YIF hears: Just keep on spending every red cent you can scrape together, push your body to the limits of medical possibility, destroy your marriage/partnership, hit rock bottom....and THEN you'll get pregnant.***


***and a footnote about this anecdote: People tell this story because it's EXTRAORDINARY, not because it happens all the time. You never hear someone say "my friend's cousin's aunt's neighbor wanted to get pregnant and then she did," because that story is BORING. Please stop telling this story as if it happens every day. It doesn't.

You: "At least you don't have to _________ (insert petty complaint about not being able to sleep in, watching the same Disney movie ad nausaem, etc.)"
YIF hears: Oh that thing I have that you don't? I don't even want it (because I'm a horrible ingrate with no soul).


Even mental health professionals will join in on infertility bashing:

Psychiatrist:  You're not "really" infertile because you are "still young" (I was 33!) and you could always "decide to do IVF." 
YIPatient:  So much for helpful therapy!  I kinda wanted to punch her.

This one (above) is from an anonymous YIF.  She kind of explained it all like this:  "I've been TTC (Trying To Conceive) for like 4.5 years, and there is nothing more hurtful than people who act like infertility is no big deal."

So there you have it. One thing about infertility (and especially many of the pharmaceutical hormone treatments involved with it) is it can make a b* cranky. Next time a friend confides that she is having a tough time getting pregnant, consider a simple hug and I guarantee the phrase "just let me know what I can do to support you" will go a lot further than you think.

*And just for fun, here's a helpful info-graphic about the causes of infertility. Believe it or not none of them is attributed to not being able to relax.


*This graph shows only female factors for infertility.

Comments

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