Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #13

After someone said something a little insensitive to me last week, I almost posted something along these lines then. But, I decided to cool off first and now that I'm "over it" I thought it would make for an interesting Thursday Thirteen. I realize that most people are just trying to be helpful, but I also think most of the time people don't think before they speak. Infertility is a touchy subject and is very painful, and you never know who is touched by it since it's not normally a visible problem. I have chosen to share some of our struggles, but many choose not to... and thanks to more than a handful of insensitive people, I now know why. So, in honor of those of us who spent mother's day wondering about and perhaps mourning over the unknown futures of our motherhood, here are:

Thirteen things you shouldn't say to people having trouble conceiving (or just to be safe... anyone, really...)*

1. "Have you considered adoption??" Personally, YES, we have considered adoption and I plan to adopt someday regardless of whether or not we have biological children. However, why is that anyone's business unless I choose to make it their business? Sometimes it takes a little while to grieve the children you may never have. You have to be ready in SO many ways to adopt... emotionally, financially, mentally... Don't assume someone hasn't considered it, and don't assume they SHOULD consider it. Ever. Not everyone can or wants to, and that's okay.

2. "Just relax!!" If stress was a main cause of infertility, half the population would not be here. Relaxing will not fix infertility. Taking a "fertility cruise" or other such nonsense will not miraculously cause your body to grow a child. Not to mention, it's virtually impossible to relax when you find out you can't get pregnant as easily as you think you should and there are a million and one things you have to think of, and you live your life in two week increments. This is one of the most insulting things people can suggest to someone struggling with this issue. If only it were that easy.

3. "Maybe it will happen if it's God's will...
" For people who don't believe, it sounds crazy and downright mean. For those of us that do, it's just plain painful. Yes, I believe in the will of God and it's in His control. That, strangely, does not offer comfort. It really just reminds me of the fact that the Lord doesn't always truly give us the desires of our hearts (or at least not always in the ways we hoped and planned). Don't presume to know His will for my life, please. Thanks!

4. Any other Christian cliches, for that matter. "It's in His hands" "It will happen in His time" "Give it to Him" and on and on and on. I'm not a Christian cliche type of gal, obviously. If you want to offer religious comfort, pray with me and for me.

5. "Is your husband avoiding ______, ______, and ______? (Insert heat producing clothing items, activities, or possible fertility impairing consumables of your choice.)" Would you like to come over and make sure our house isn't baby-making-proof? And is it really your business what my husband wears under his pants?!

6. "My cousin's neighbor's aunt's dog sitter knew a woman who was having trouble conceiving her 3rd child and after nine long months of no luck, she tried ______ (Insert awkward, overly personal, didn't-want-to-know information here.) and she got pregnant! Have you tried that?" First, if you were pregnant with a successful pregnancy in any amount of time less than a year, you're not infertile and most people who really are don't want to hear your "advice". Be thrilled... it's not a club you want to join, believe me. Second, those who ARE infertile are usually obsessed with gaining information on the topic and have heard just about every "remedy" in the book (and off the books, even) and have probably tried them all at least 10 times, naively thinking that maybe... just maybe... they'll get lucky.

7. "If you would not have used birth control when you first got married, you wouldn't be having this problem now." I have no nice words to say about this one, and I hate birth control. It's nice how people that hardly know you love to diagnose your issues, whether they be physical or even supposedly spiritual. (As if God really punishes someone for using the evil hormonal pills by withholding the blessing of a child from them. Yes, people really believe this. I know... wow.)

8. "It might be because of your weight."
or "Maybe if you just lose/gain xx pounds, that will help!" It doesn't matter if you're skinny or fat, people love to ask if your struggles are because of it, one way or another. Unless you're my doctor or nutritional counselor, just don't go there.

9."Some women just aren't cut out to be mothers." This one hasn't been said to me, yet, but to others. I'm going to have to stop writing about this one now, in case there are little eyes reading my blog.

10. "You should be thankful you don't have a baby yet. Once you have one, you won't be able to _____ anymore!" (Insert whatever thing you can think of that is supposedly more important than a child. Yeah, when it's put it THAT way it's not so easy to say, is it?) Sadly, this one is most often said by mothers. Tell you what... I'll trade you my sleeping late, still hot meal, extra money, nice house, and childless vacations for your baby. Sound like a good deal? Didn't think so. Remember that next time you try and use this to "encourage" a struggling woman. Most of us would give the world to have cold meals and sleepless nights because of a child.

11. "Just stop trying, and that's probably when it will happen." Riiiiight. Nope, sorry, didn't work.

12. "So when are you going to have kids/make me a grandma/make me an aunt/uncle/great grandma/cousin??" or "Why aren't you pregnant yet??" It's bad enough when this question is asked when you don't know the person's struggles... once again, it's a very personal issue that is only your business if I make it your business. But once you DO know and you STILL ASK? Wow.

13. "HAVE YOU SEEN A DR???" Not everyone wants endless medical testing and expensive treatments that can promise nothing. Some choose the medical path, and that's fine. Others choose a more natural one, and that's fine too. Not everyone can afford medical intervention, and not everyone wants it. It doesn't mean one of us wants a baby more, or that she hurts less than the next woman. But don't ask. It's just rude.

So what CAN I say, you ask? In most cases, there's not much to say at all. Unless you've been there and honestly know what it's like, it's normally best to just support us with prayers, a shoulder to cry on, a voice to scream with, a passage of the Word that offers hope and encouragement, and (for those of us who don't mind it) hugs. People who offer their prayers and I KNOW they are really praying from the depths of their hearts bless me the most. Ask us what you can do to help, and most importantly, just be there when we need you.

*This is not directed at any one person.
If you have said these things to me or anyone else, just check yourself and move on with a resolution to do better next time.
For those of you who are my close friends and closest relatives, you know that you are exempt from (some of) this list.

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Nicole Austin said...

I'm sorry you're going through such a difficul time. Yes, people generally are very insensitive and careless with their words. I wish you all the best!

Babe King said...

Folks say the darndest things, and I have got to be a culprit of that too. But having cared for people who have lost a baby (and other aweful things too -can't talk about your situation coz I don't have a lot of experience with that- just 2 of my friends) but it is better for folks to say their stinky things and stuff it up, than it is for them to stay away coz they're scared to say the wrong things. Sometimes I think you just need to hear what they're really saying, ie
"I'm hurting for you and it stinks big time that I can't find something to say to make you feel better coz I care how you feel and I care about you." Instead of the dumb words coming out of their mouth. Big hugs.

The Rock Chick said...

Hi Crystal,

Thankfully, I never had any infertility problems. I really feel for you. I saw the struggle some of my closest friends went through.

Twelve years ago, my brother passed away after quite a battle with AIDS. I could not believe the questions people were asking me nor could I believe some of their actions. One of my co-workers actually asked for a transfer to another shift on the "off chance" that I might contaminate her.

I really think that sometimes people say these silly things because either they don't know what to say or they are genuinely trying to help without realiziing how insensitive they actually sound. Fear for themselves or you makes people act kinda goofy, too.

Hopefully from your post, people will learn to think a second before they speak.

Hugs to you, Crystal!!!!

Jessica The Rock Chick

Jessica Morris said...

(((hugs))) I'm proud of you writing that post. People need to read it!!

Love ya my dear!! And still praying for you!

mar said...

Here's a lesson on how to be tactful! yes, everybody should read this! So sorry your ears have to deal with such insensitiveness...
and happy thursday!

Bethany said...

Thanks for the timely reminder to be more careful about the words we choose when people are hurting.

I haven't dealt with infertility yet, but I do know a little of what it's like when it feels like God is ignoring the desires of your heart for a very long time. I spent over a decade as a single wishing I was married. Once when a much-younger friend got married, another lady in the church asked when it would be "my turn". When I told her that was up to God, she then tried to reassure me by saying "Well you know, not everyone is meant for marriage." Yeah, thanks. I felt like I had a huge "NOT WORTHY" sign stamped on my forehead.

Crystal, I think of you and pray for you often. Thanks for being willing to share your struggles with us.

David said...

It's amazing how some folks can never seem to NOT open their mouths before engaging (what little, if any) brain they may posess.


Next time, just gently answer, "MYOB*" and move on.

(If they ask what "MYOB" means, simply reply, "Mind Your Own Business." *heh*)

I would likely, being who I am and where I am in my journey, have a slightly more blunt answer for such folks, honest but blunt. And I imagine such folks would walk away thinking I was being unkind, never getting the irony...

Alasandra said...

Thanks for visiting my TT.

I think you will make an awesome Mom someday. I am sorry you are having such a hard time getting pg, it must be really hard; even without the insensitive jerks comments.

Christine said...

This post just breaks my heart. My sister struggled with infertility for 2 1/2 years before conceiving through IVF, which I know isn't for everyone. She went through such pain and got the most awful comments. She is not a Christian and when she would receive the "Christian cliches" you mentioned it turned her off to God even more. I tried to be a support for her, even knowing I really couldn't understand, but through part of her infertility I was pregnant. I know it hurt her to see me but she was always gracious and is a wonderful aunt. She now has 2 little girls. I will pray for you, Crystal. Thanks for sharing about such a sensitive subject.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Hugs to you. My BIL and his wife went through the same struggle for years.

Shelby said...

People can be so very rude. I'm so sorry. Here's HUGS!


Crazy Working Mom said...

Wow, what a great list!

I think sometimes people just try to be nice by thinking what they're saying actually helps or matters...not really realizing that you've heard it all before or that it's just plain RUDE to say what the've said!

Thanks so much for dropping by my blog today!

Happy TT.

Haley-O said...

How bout not saying anything, and just...((hugs)). Or, just saying, you'll get there and you have our support....

Xilly said...

Just a small little advice to you: Why so care about those people's wording?

We all know that we will not feel people's pain until it's hurt to ourselves. Just go off and be patient on your journey. Wish you all the best. *Hug*

Tink said...

My compliments on posting this list! I'm glad I can say I've never said those things.. Just yesterday I heard a woman say one of these horrible things (9 to be precise) to my friend and because I don't have kids she thought I'd support her. No way, I almost exploded. My friend was very close to tears so I gave that woman a piece of my mind. I'm still angry when I write about it. Hang in there, sweetie. All my best and good luck!
Thanks for visiting my detective TT.

DK said...

What a wonderfully helpful list! Thank you. I know 3 couples struggling with this and - never having had kids myself - I've been a bit lost for words. (And I do hate those cliches!)
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you have a terrific weekend.

Lisa said...

I'm sorry you're struggling. I got pregnant very easily on my first try, and have been trying 11 months on the second. I know that this doesn't BEGIN to compare to some people's struggles, but it does give me a slight idea of how hurtful and stressful it is. Living life in two week increments is exactly true. There are about 3 days a month that I am not obsessed 24/7 (days 5-8) and I am lucky enough to have a child already. I really really hope this doesn't come off as insensitive. I know my situation doesn't compare to someone with true infertility. I'm sorry.

Laurel said...

Hi...thank you so much for posting this. It is very insightful for those of us who haven't 'been there' and want to offer support and not stick our foot in our mouth. I have to do a lot of mouth-cleaning because of feet in mine. Sometimes I think it's the 'Christian Culture" i grew up in....pat, trite answers for everything. God is much more complicated than our silly answers. Somehow we have even managed to make certain wonderful scriptures into flat, peaceless that is some trick.