16 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman Who Is Childless But Not By Choice

These following statements are just not okay:

1. “You must not really have wanted to have a child or you would have one.” Really, is that the problem? Me and Hillary, we just didn’t want it enough. Thanks.

2. “You must have some psychological block that is preventing you from getting pregnant.” I am guessing that means Jamie and Britney Spears are totally free and clear of psychological issues. Good to know.

3. “If you would just change your beliefs about all of this, you would get pregnant. Have you seen ‘The Secret’?” This question always makes me want to ask the well-meaning questioner if they have seen my middle finger. I believed I would get pregnant — I mean, I believed. I believed so strongly that I had names and furniture and preschools picked out. If I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t have shelled out $100,000 in my attempt to conceive, and I certainly wouldn’t have endured that kind of pain and suffering.

4. “If you would just quit trying you would get pregnant,” or, “If you would adopt you would get pregnant.” No, this myth is just that: a myth. According to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, “Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as for those who do not adopt” — and the percentage of people who get pregnant after failed infertility treatment is even smaller. I find the notion of adopting in order to get pregnant totally unconscionable. If you want to adopt then you adopt, but you don’t do it as a means of getting pregnant.

We haven’t been trying to get pregnant for almost four years and not once in all of these years of not trying have we managed to get even a little bit pregnant.

5. “God has another plan for you. God doesn’t want you to be pregnant,” or, my personal non-favorite, “God wants you to be in service and if you had a child you couldn’t do God’s will.” Please, please, I beg you, unless God has phoned you up or shown up in your living room with choirs of angels, would you please do me a favor and not be a spokes person for any deity on my behalf. Oh, and if God has visited you and given you an inside scoop to my life purpose, I would suggest you find your way to the nearest psychiatric hospital.

6. Another of the God ones that should to go unsaid: “Maybe God knew you wouldn’t have made a good parent.” Following this logic one would have to infer that all the people who have children are great parents. One trip to Mc Donalds will disprove this absurd theory. “God” gives all manner of incompetent people children. I know many parents that any higher power in its right mind would have never chosen to care for a houseplant let alone a helpless child.

7. “Do you want to throw me a baby shower?” No, I don’t. I love you. I love you very much, but I just cannot throw you a shower or even go to your shower. Sometimes the mere act of taking a shower makes me cry. Going to a party to celebrate someone else having a baby is out of the question. Also, I am not going to birthday parties 1-12. Once they are 13 and are driving you to drink, I will happily attend and I will come and celebrate your suffering. I hope you understand.

8. “I am thinking about having an abortion.” No, do not tell me this. I am all for choice. Really, I am. I just cannot hear about your choice just now.

9. “Do you want to go to Chucky Cheese, Disneyland, Toys R Us or to the American Doll store with me?” No, no I don’t. I want to go to a bar and drink a bottle of Vodka and smoke a carton of cigarettes — would you care to join me?

10. “I had six kids, and as soon as I had them I realized I didn’t want to be a mother.” It was 6th child that made you realize this? When talking, it is important to be aware of your audience. This is not something you say to a woman who was not able to have one child.

11. “I have a very small family, I only have four kids.” Please be quiet.

12. “You can be a mother to your friends kids.” I know people mean well by this. But, to those of you who say such things, let me tell you that babysitting for your kids is not the same thing as being a parent. It just isn’t.

13. “Well, why didn’t you try and adopt?” I did, and it hurt more than the IVF when the mother decided she had changed her mind and she would instead go on welfare and drop out of school so she could keep her child. I can’t do it again. And by the way, even if I managed to adopt, I would still be grieving the loss of not being able to have my husband’s child.

14. Here’s one I am getting a lot of lately: “Get over it.” I am not likely to get over it. This is a wound and emptiness that will be with me forever. Infertility is, as Shelagh Little writes, “like a low-level, lifelong bio-psychosocial syndrome. My physical inability to produce children has emotional and social consequences that I struggle with, at least to some extent, every day.”

15. “You are soooooo lucky not to have kids.” I can take this one now and then, but on the day after a failed IVF, I could not stand to hear how lucky I was and how horrible kids are. I know it may be true. I know the statistics about how childless couples are happier and have more satisfying marriages — but we were going to be the couple with the house filled with kids, bikes on the lawn, and a tree house in the yard. We would not be the couple who spends holidays at others’ homes — we were going to have a family, or so I thought.

16. “Don’t ever give up. Keep trying. You can’t stop now. Maybe just one more IVF and you will get pregnant.” This is one that really gets to me. I once asked a friend of mine who has worked with the terminally ill if when people in the late stages of cancer decide they can’t bare any more treatment if they are met with this same kind of attitude. She assured me that they aren’t. With cancer and other terminal diseases there seems to be a collective understanding that at some point that the compassionate thing to do is give up and die with dignity. The same kind of understanding does not seem to be there for us infertiles. I suppose that it seems to an outsider that there is always something more you can do and that if you “really wanted a baby you would do it.” We did IUI, IVF, and ICSI. That is as much as we could do. We could not do egg donor or hire a surrogate or attempt another adoption. There was a time when we could do no more. There was a point when trying to have a baby started to feel like it was killing my spirit, damaging my relationships and draining our finances. However, since there are more things we could have tried, I often get the sense from others that I don’t deserve to grieve over our childlessness, that we should keep going, and only when we have exhausted every option do we then deserve to grieve.

You might get these reactions:

Sadness

Anger

Depression

or a gun in your face!!!

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. disorientata
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 07:16:45

    You’re sooo right! I’ve embarked in this journey only recently and I already had lots of “maybe if you really try with your husband you’ll get pregnant naturally even before you start IVF” which really got on my nerves… and my sister told me “we can raise my child together” when she lives 250 miles away from us and never comes to visit!

    Reply

  2. Leighann
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 10:10:32

    My favorite comment was “Are you sure you guys are timing it right?” They didn’t even know about BBT charting and OPKs. They said I should have sex 14 days after the start of my last period lol. How do all of these people manage to reproduce?! And why the hell would I be doing IVF if it was just a matter of timing?

    Reply

  3. Lara
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 13:30:50

    I heard another great one today: “I’ll give her my egg.” The woman was offering it to another (no present) infertile, not to me. But I jumped in with a detailed explanation of what donating an egg really takes. She quickly withdrew her offer. Happy ICLW – thanks for stopping by!

    Reply

  4. trufflelove
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 15:00:59

    Hi, you’re so right on the money. how annoying…

    Reply

  5. sams
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 16:45:44

    I love this post. It’s pretty much everything I ever wanted to say to someone who said the wrong thing to me about IF…plus a few expletives.

    Reply

  6. road2ourbaby
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 19:21:19

    Ugh. It frustrates me to no end when I tell people where we’re at in our struggle, and they still say, “It could happen naturally, you never know!” Like, no. It couldn’t.
    I just got the “You can practice being a mommy on your best friend’s baby!” the other day. Um, no thanks.

    Reply

  7. B: JustcyclingAlong
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 20:17:12

    Oh, so many on this list are SPOT on. I am tired of well meaning people telling me, with a chuckle, that I will probably get pregnant naturally after (if) we have a kid from IVF. Really??? What possibly scientific reason would there be for that!

    Reply

  8. alleyrose
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 21:45:46

    I LOVE this list. Honestly, I think we have had all of those in the last year and a half. I also hate “Everything happens for a reason.” Yes, I know. Please tell me the reason for my empty uterus, I would love your insight.

    Reply

  9. @EndoJourney
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 00:54:54

    Hi from ICLW! Ugghhhh to all of the above! I think anyone who has been through fertility treatment has heard at least one of those at some point. And what’s worse, people actually think they’re being helpful! It is NOT helpful to give your unsolicited, uninformed advice on a medical issue. That’s all. Great post btw! 🙂

    Reply

  10. Trackback: Internet Roundup: Best of the Net for Infertility and Adoption | Creating a Family
  11. Mrs. Gamgee
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 15:49:34

    I recently wrote a similar post as a guest post for a blogger friend (not at all connected to the IF community) about what not to say to someone dealing with IF. One thing that I would add to your list is… never say ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ or ‘it’s for the best’ to a woman who has just had a miscarriage. No matter what the medical reason behind the loss, losing a child, even at 6 or 8 or 10 weeks gestation is never for the best. (I actually had an aquaintance tell me that it was good that I lost my first baby because it was after I had been on the pill and the baby would have been ‘defective’.)

    Reply

  12. Justine
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 21:15:05

    SO true … I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard all of these!

    Reply

  13. KayBee
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 23:24:29

    Here from iclw… This post made me really laugh out loud! In particular… Have you seen my middle finger? I had a conversation with a woman at work that pretty much covered a good amount of the things you listed. “god has a sense of humor” if you care to read.

    I’m officially a follower. 🙂

    Reply

  14. 1suburbanchic
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 10:15:09

    Two things I hate hearing are; “It will happen” (and I think, really, when??) and “I thought it would take forever after I got off the pill, but I got pregnant a month after” eek!

    Reply

  15. waitingonaangel
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 16:10:26

    As we are dealing with both IF and recurrent pregnancy loss, my favorite is always, “at least you know you can get pregnant”. A-that does me no good if I can’t stay pregnant, B-just b/c I’ve gotten pregnant before doesn’t mean I will get pregnant again. Gahh

    Reply

  16. hazel
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 17:25:08

    #3!! I had a well meaning friend tell me that we just needed to believe and it would happen. I wanted to tell her that she just needed to shut up.

    The one that always makes me crazy is, “you can always adopt!”. As if adopting is as easy as dropping by Target and picking up a new kid. As if it takes away the pain and disappointment of infertility. Angry making!

    Reply

  17. Dipitie
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 17:51:29

    Yep, yep, yep. #16 is the the one that gets me now that I’m working on accepting my childfree life. Well meaning friends that tell me I should try again, but this time with Chinese medicine/this new drug/wheatgrass/Vitamin whatever…. I’ve moved on, and trying to drag me back into the depths of infertility despair is not helping me move on with my life.

    Reply

  18. Trackback: 16 Things You Should Never Say To A Woman Who Is Childless But Not By Choice | Childproof

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