What NOT to say to someone struggling with infertility

Things have been pretty slow on the blog here in regards to infertility posts. I’ve been on birth control 2x a day(plus prenatals and low dose aspirin) for the last 3 weeks and my suppression ultrasound is on Wednesday(!), so things should be picking up later this week(maybe. Fingers crossed!). Until then, here is a great-and also humorous- list of things that you definitely should NOT say to someone who is dealing with infertility.
So, what do you think people would say to you if you were
paraplegic instead of infertile? (author unknown)
1. As soon as you buy a wheelchair, I bet you’ll be able to walk again!

2. You can’t use your legs? Boy, I wish I was paralyzed. I get so tired of
walking, and if I were paralyzed I wouldn’t have to walk anywhere!

3. My cousin was paralyzed, but she started shaving her legs in the other
direction and she could walk again. You should try that.

4. I guess God just didn’t mean for you to be able to walk.

5. Oh, I know exactly how you feel, because I have an ingrown toenail.

6. Sorry, we don’t cover treatment for paraplegia, because it’s not a
life-threatening illness.

7. So… when are *you* going to start walking?

8. Oh, I have just the opposite problem. I have to walk walk walk – everywhere
I go!

9. But don’t you *want* to walk?

10. You’re just trying too hard. Relax and you’ll be able to walk.

11. You’re so lucky… think of the money you save on shoes.

12. I don’t know why you’re being so selfish. You should at least be happy that
*I* can walk.

13. I hope you don’t try those anti-paralysis drugs. They sometimes make people
run too fast and they get hurt.

14. Look at those people hiking… doesn’t that make you want to hike?

15. Just relax, you’ll be walking in no time.

16. Oh do my legs hurt, I was walking and walking and going up and down the
stairs all day.

17. I broke my leg skiing, and was on crutches for weeks, and was worried I’d
have a permanent limp, but I’m 100% healed.

18. I’d ask you to be in my wedding party but the wheelchair will look out of
place at the altar.

19. You’re being selfish, not coming on the hike with us, and looking at all of
my track & field trophies.

20. Don’t complain, you get all the good parking places.

21. If you just lose weight your legs will work again.

22. If you would just have more sex, you could walk!

23. You don’t know how to walk? What’s wrong with you? Here let a real man show
you how to walk!

24. You are just trying too hard to walk. Give up, and then you’ll walk.

25. Here, touch my legs, then you’ll walk!

26. Just take a vacation, and the stress-break will be sure to get you walking!

27. When *we* were young we only had to worry about having to walk too much.

28. And I bet a paraplegic going to a bookstore doesn’t find books about
paralysis stacked next to all the books on running…

So here’s a little hint. If someone you know tells you that she’s trying to get
pregnant and it’s taking longer than expected, DON’T tell her to just relax.
Don’t tell her to adopt and then surely she’ll get pregnant with her own child. Don’t say, “At least it’s fun
trying!” Scheduling sex with the person you love isn’t fun. Getting
vaginal ultrasounds every other day and intramuscular injections in your derriere twice a day isn’t fun. Finding out every single month that – yet again – it
didn’t work this month either is Just. Not. Fun.

DO tell her that you’re sorry she’s going through such pain/grief/frustration.
Do tell her that you’re glad she told you. Do tell her that, even if you don’t
bring it up (because you want to respect her privacy and understand that she
might not feel like talking about it sometimes), that you’re there for her if
she ever wants to talk or vent.

And DON’T feel that because she told you that it’s okay for you to tell your
other friends, children, co-workers, neighbors, cousins, mailman, whomever –
unless she tells you that it’s okay to do so. Your need to share news pales in
comparison to her need to maintain a shred of privacy and dignity.

So, there you have it. Be gentle, be kind, and when in doubt- don’t say anything but “We’re praying for you!” Because more than likely, I’m crazy hormonal and everything that is said will make me cry!
And we all want to avoid that sort of crazy cakes meltdown in public…

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  1. I was referred to your blog by a friend, and started with this entry, since it was at the top. 🙂 Enjoyed your humorous but so very truthful entry! I have had some of those comments said to me!


  2. It really is crazy some of the things people will say to someone dealing with infertility! It just boggles my mind sometimes.

    1. That's why I loved tying it together with paralysis. Something you have NO control over. Something you can't change. Medically diagnosable. And yet, people STILL think they have something to say about it that we haven't already heard or thought about!

    2. Also, no one would EVER say any of those things to someone who is paralyzed. Everyone realize's how preposterous that would be. But, it's no holds barred for the girl with less babies than they think we should have.

  3. Thanks for writing this. We have gotten a lot of these types of comments in the past (not out of malice or anything – just not quite understanding what we were going through), so it's nice to know that we're not the only ones. 🙂

  4. I think it all comes down to the fact that only you know what you are going through. No one else knows what that is like. People are human and even I have been guilty of saying some of these things or some iteration thereof. I think that it is important that people to be gentle on themselves for saying stupid stuff. Life is too short to get worked up over stuff. That being said, thank you for the post.

    1. I'm pretty sure I've been guilty of saying(or at least thinking and believing) some of these things before my own experience with infertility. I never would have wanted to hurt someone or cause anyone pain, especially a dear friend, so I would have been happy to have been taught what would be good things to say/not say before experiencing it personally(the comments towards me regarding infertility).

      It's a good reminder to not let comments get under your skin since they are usually coming from a "trying to be helpful" place, but it's also nice to be able to inform people before their next encounter!

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. This is so funny and sadly so true. I have heard at least a half dozen of those comments from well-meaning friends and family members. I am so glad I found your blog… I have had trouble finding infertility resources and your posts are so helpful. (I just spent 2 hours reading from the beginning).

    1. And that is PRECISELY why I have this here. If I can help even one person with my story, it's important for me to write it and have it out here. {of course, it is amazingly helpful and therapeutic for me to write it out as well} Thank you commenting and letting me know that 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! I saw your blog on The Bump and this post is funny and such a great analogy. Would you mind if I reposted this in my blog with a link to yours?

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