Insensitivity or Ignorance?

I will admit that I put a lot of people in awkward positions by being very open about infertility, but I was often met with comments that, while probably well-intentioned, were shortsighted and hurtful. I suspect these comments were born out of ignorance to the realities of infertility, rather than insensitivity. All the same, I was ready to shake my friends and family after the words left their mouths. As I know that many people who have experience with infertility have also heard seemingly insensitive comments, I thought I’d share some of my most memorable. Most of these took place over Facebook so I was actually able to get the verbatim transcript.

1) Friend: Maybe some little baby out there needs you ..whatever is meant to be will be. But you will be a mom one way or another! Believe me…I’d skip being pregnant! Not so fun lol

My response: Sometimes I do wonder if maybe we can’t have a biological baby because I have the capacity to love (100% love) a baby who isn’t related to me, or even the same race as me. But we still have to try biologically for our own curiosity if nothing else. I really do want to experience pregnancy. I know you say it’s not fun. But I want to know what it’s like to pee on a stick and actually see a positive, to see an ultrasound, to feel a kick, and to even experience the pains of labor and delivery. If I can’t experience that, I will still love my child, but I will grieve the loss of experience.

2) (immediately after discussing the roller coaster of emotions involved in infertility and waiting for IVF) Oh and (name removed) is pregnant!

3) I can always send you (my daughter), those darn teenage girls.

4) You aren’t getting any younger. (How apt since it turned out that I have DOR.)

What are some of your “favorites”?

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9 thoughts on “Insensitivity or Ignorance?

  1. The classic, “Just relax, maybe your body needs a break.” Coming from the friend who got pregnant the first try both times.

  2. #4 is just plain rude! I say “you gotta do you” whatever fulfills your life at the end of the day. It’s true a lot of symptoms associated with pregnancy aren’t fun, but I agree you gotta experience them for yourself. Unfortunately, a lot of it is said out of ignorance in general. Good luck and baby dust!

  3. I’ve heard #1 and #2 (#2 is the worst!!), plus the old “Just relax” advice. The latest comment that irked me came from my in-laws last weekend, when they told us that we probably didn’t have fertility problems and had just been stressed. I’m sure they said it out of the goodness of their hearts to make us feel better, but it made me feel like they were trivializing our experience.

    The one that always bothered me in a different way was the “Just adopt” advice, because I felt like I had to educate people. I know that people say it to make you feel better, and that they genuinely want to help. What they don’t understand is that it is really tough, time-consuming, and expensive to adopt a healthy infant. I always felt like I had to explain all that so they wouldn’t think I was a jerk for trying fertility treatments first. Plus, while adoption is so wonderful and something I would absolutely consider, it’s a different experience from creating a child with your husband.

    • Agree with you 100% about adoption! A friend who knows I’m pregnant said, “You know what I think it was? You finally relaxed and let it go.” To me that is similar to your in-laws comment. I felt the need to still point out that I do have diminished ovarian reserve, so it was still harder for us and not just a matter of me being a stress case.

      • Yes, it sounds like you got pretty much the same comment! It’s amazing how you get those comments even when you have a specifically diagnosed condition. Yes, these conditions don’t always make it impossible, but they do make it difficult. Like you, I responded by pointing out to my in-laws that I think what really did it was the medication to make me ovulate normally. (I didn’t point out that their son also has a lowish sperm count, and the IUI also helped overcome that. My husband is private, so I feel more comfortable talking about my own reproductive shortcomings. =))

        I really feel for those ladies with unexplained infertility. Although there is still some cause for their infertility, it’s unknown, which makes it easier for people to blame stress and other lifestyle factors.

      • Yes, unexplained would definitely be hard. My RE said although I have DOR there are no studies that show that DOR really does make it harder (but from forums and everything else I think it’s pretty obvious) so I was still technically unexplained. We didn’t end up using any treatments, but in your case, with meds and IUI there’s medical intervention that you can pinpoint to show that it’s not all about stress reduction. I do think stress reduction can help, and it probably did help me to an extent, but that’s not all it is. We wouldn’t all magically get pregnant if we just calmed down.

  4. i’ve struggled with endometriosis for many years and we were told we would never conceive without IVF, it was a hard thing to deal with and I found people are just ignorant when it comes to understanding what you’re dealing with physically and emotionally
    I taught myself to ignore those people
    now i’m happily pregnant :)

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