I’ve seen a lot of little snippets about things not to say to couples with fertility issues, and while I know they are meant to educate the public about the sensitivities of infertility, each time I wonder if it’s all just a bit much.
There is an imaginary line that sometimes separates fertile and infertile women. Don’t ask me who put it there. I didn’t! I can understand that there may be ill feelings whenever something happens easily for someone else, but not for you. But, with these lists about what not to say, I can’t help but feel like I’m being put in a corner with the word “infertile” tattooed to my forehead. Handle these folks with kid gloves and, for the love of all things holy, don’t dare mention the word placenta to them!
I don’t want people treating me differently because my husband and I are having problems conceiving. Maybe that’s why I don’t share it too openly except on this blog? (This blog is my secret diary of verbal vomit, if you haven’t noticed already.) I don’t want the concerned looks, the furrowed brows, and the puppy dog eyes. I don’t want the stories about friends of friends who had a frozen egg flown in from Lithuania that joined with frozen sperm in a plane at 35,000 feet in the air, and now they have a baby. I don’t want friends driving home from dinner with us saying to each other, “Man, that sucks. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I were them.” True, you can’t imagine what you’d do, because you aren’t in our situation. However, if you were, you’d have to suck it up and figure your shit out.
That’s life. And living life also means I can’t prevent every furrowed brow, frozen egg and sperm story, or thought of pity. I can’t, because it’s impossible. I need to put my big girl pants on, and deal with it.
Clueless people flub up when speaking to infertile people, engaged people, families of the deceased, pregnant people, sick people, disabled people, divorced people, the list goes on. If you are in some situation that not everyone on this planet is going through at the exact same time you are going through it, you may be the victim of clueless people’s flubs.
Most mean well, don’t know what to say, and say the wrong things. I’m sure I’ve done it a bunch. Very rarely is someone trying to be malicious, just for the sake of ruining your good mood or well-being. (And in those rare instances, you have my blessing to tell them to go fuck themselves.)
When someone says, “Don’t worry, it’ll happen,” they likely aren’t trying to cause a nervous breakdown or a knife in their back. Rather, they probably had no idea what to say, and just blurted out the first thing they imagined would be comforting. Right or wrong, they said it, and it’s up to us to decide how much it is going to affect us. Usually the offender says something dumb, and forgets about it five seconds later. While we, the offended, sit three days later, replaying the scene in our heads, recounting every word, and trying to figure out what it all means.
I’ll save you some time. It means NOTHING. Zip, zero, zilch. It’s stupidity, ignorance, thoughtlessness, dog shit.
Life is filled with people who don’t know what to say; that’s what makes it funny, depressing, interesting, and infuriating at times. We aren’t all the same, and some might not be as thoughtful or empathetic as you are. Remember that, and just let some of it go. We can’t spend our lives telling everyone off. There simply isn’t enough time for that.



  1. momentspassslow

    April 28, 2011

    You're such a beautiful writer. This is so well done. I have definitely found myself saying "did they REALLY just say that to the PREGNANT lady?" but you're right – the people mean well (at least so far!) and just don't know exactly what to say because they aren't in this situation. I absolutely love your honesty here. I wish so many of my family members didn't read my blog so I could open up a bit more. Maybe someday.

  2. E @ Oh! Apostrophe

    April 28, 2011

    I love this post. I've been told stupid things and have no doubt said stupid things as well… thank you for putting it all in perspective.

  3. Cathleya

    April 28, 2011

    Hi honey. My friend IRL Michelle writes a blog and is struggling with TTC right now and I really love reading her posts but don't have a lot to say… I know you'd love to read it. She usually reserves her conception posts for Tuesdays, but they are all very well thought out and written:



  4. Woman Warrior

    April 28, 2011

    This is so beautifully written. You're totally right. There are people who say things maliciously, those who mean well but don't realize how they sound and others who don't care how they sound. And then you have close friends and family from whom you might expect more understanding so when they say something that they didn't mean to come off as they sounded, it hurts more. It's not easy for anyone!

  5. -J.Darling

    April 28, 2011

    Very true! People often say the darndest things, usually well intentioned. In my first marriage, everyone kept saying "When are you going to have kids?" They didn't know we couldn't biologically make baby's even if we'd been ready for it! Then when I was divorced AND infertile it was "You're better off without him." Even though it was true, it certainly didn't feel that way. Now it's, "Isn't being with a guy in the military lonely?" Talk about pointing out the obvious. I wouldn't trade My Sailor for the world, and yes, it does get lonesome when he isn't able to be around. But I wouldn't trade the love of my life for all the 'company' in the world.
    Just like you said – you just have to live your own life and make choices on how to deal with various situations going on with you. And consider the source whenever you're listening to advice.

  6. -J.Darling

    April 28, 2011

    ps – your blogs are sounding MUCH stronger lately. Sounds like you're getting to a good place. 🙂

  7. honey my heart

    April 28, 2011

    i totally know what you mean about people just saying what first comes to mind. it's been hard to brush it off, but i know most mean well and i just shouldn't take it seriously. hope that you are doing well 🙂

  8. Layla

    April 28, 2011

    I hate the pity! I don't want it. Don't pity me because I can't (or maybe can? Or maybe can't?) have kids. I still have my life, I still have love and friends and am happy. I hate it when people act like my future happiness depends on my ability to reproduce. I get more irritated by that than anything. But you're right, it's unintentional on their part (most of the time, anyway…) and I've learned to let it go. Or, well, I'm LEARNING, anyhow, lol.

  9. Chelsea Talks Smack

    April 28, 2011

    tHIS IS lovely and very well said…learning…learning.

  10. thelessthandomesticgoddess

    April 29, 2011

    Thanks so much, everyone, for all the great comments! 🙂

    @Cathy: Thank you for passing along Michelle's blog! I will definitely check it out.

  11. completelyrandomsally

    April 29, 2011

    Thank you for writing this! I completely understand. I'm not in quite the same place where I can write about it as openly as you, but I read this and know that someone else out there is also having troubles in this area.

  12. sillie smile

    April 29, 2011

    i loved this post too. while i have 3 kids, conceiving the second one was VERY hard and emotional for me (many miscarriages). i'm totally open about my struggles too- because i think people should talk about it and feel free to ask questions. i think it's healthy that you talk about it 🙂 i always talked about the hormones that i took, my reactions to it, etc etc.

    and yes, there are ALWAYS going to be people who say the wrong thing. they usually mean well, but i guess it's just a way for you to grow some thick skin. geez, when my brother passed away- when i was at my lowest, was when i was forced to grow thicker skin, be able to muster up a smile or witty response when i least felt like it. because i knew that whoever it was i was talking to at that second- was not intentionally being mean. they just didn't have a clue.

    everyone's battles are different. yet everyone has their own battle. i'm glad you write about yours, get it off your chest!! you inspire many people 🙂 at the very least, you made me feel normal.

  13. secason

    May 19, 2011

    I went through infertility for two and a half years until I just couldn't stand it anymore. Come to find out I had a blocked tube and my last effort to deal with infertility was to get dye put into them. I told myself after that, I am done. I can't buy one more pregnancy test, I can't take the hormones, I just can't.

    And oddly enough, I got pregnant two days after the procedure.

    I have since found out I am 33 and post menopausal and they tell me it was a miracle I even had a child. They determine I started into menopause around 28.

    It is so hard to be a woman, and it kills me, because it seems to come so easy for some. But at the end of the day I chock it up to we all have our problems…

    I admire your bravery and have really enjoyed finding your blog.

    PS. I always wonder how people find me, I found you by googling 1st year paper anniversary. Used your idea last night and my husband was so moved.

    Thank you so much. (and sorry for the novel-esque comment)


    Woman on Pause aka Sarah

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