This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to make my first blog post on DC Area Moms Blog on an important topic to me. I struggled for 2 years to get pregnant. It may not sound like that long, but it felt like forever while I was living it. My husband and I met with an infertility specialist and testing ultimately showed that I was unlikely to get pregnant without IVF, so that was our next step. I was incredibly fortunate that our first embryo transfer was successful. I know many couples are not so fortunate and I can’t imagine how taxing it would be to go through years and years more with the hope and crushing disappointment that each month brings.
The years that I spent unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant were such an emotional period for me. Friends and family wanted to help and tried to offer advice and consolation, but sometimes well-intentioned advice just made me feel worse. I truly appreciated that they cared and knew that these people never imagined how I would perceive their words, but it still upset me. I consulted with some friends and relatives dealing with infertility who confirm that these are some of the worst things to hear.
- “You’d get pregnant if you would just relax about it.” This one was my personal pet peeve and just made my blood boil. “Thanks, Aunt Sharon, I’ll just relax my fallopian tubes clear. I can’t believe my fertility specialist failed to recommend this!” For one, the advice is entirely untrue- there is no such thing as infertility caused by failure to relax. It also implies that it’s my fault that I can’t get pregnant, which is hurtful.
- “See what a pain my kids are- do you really want kids?!” Friends/acquaintances would tell stories about the misadventures of parenting, then add “See how stressful parenting is; Are you sure you really even want to have kids?”. This one was hurtful to me. Because I was sure. I wanted to have kids more than I’ve ever wanted anything before. I wanted the good and bad that comes with parenting. I wanted stories of misadventures too.
- “You can always just adopt!” This advice was annoying because it makes it seem like adoption is such as easy solution when it’s not. Adoption requires money, paperwork, lawyers, home studies, waiting, more waiting, etc. Then you have the anxiety that the birth mother could change her mind. It also overlooks the fact that many women want to experience pregnancy. Adoption is a beautiful thing; My husband is adopted and we talk about adopting someday too. But it’s not such a simple solution to infertility.
- “Just do IVF!” If only it were that simple! This one overlooks the expense and unpredictability of IVF. Each round of IVF tends to cost around $15,000 and insurance rarely covers it, so it’s not a possibility for everyone. Plus, IVF isn’t guaranteed to work. Unfortunately, many hopeful couples spend their life savings on multiple rounds of IVF without success.
- “You have plenty of time. <Insert celebrity name> got pregnant when they were in their 40s!” This is another one that was frustrating to hear because it’s not that simple. Many celebrities getting pregnant later in life have done so with IVF or other assisted reproductive technology. Celebrities are fortunate enough to have the money for multiple attempts with the best doctors around, but not everyone is so lucky. Plus, a pre-menopausal woman in her 40s without underlying fertility issues is not infertile; She just has less of a chance of conceiving than she did in her 20s and 30s. For a woman with infertility, age is only going to make pregnancy more unlikely.
If you have a loved one dealing with infertility, please oh please, try to avoid saying these things to her. So, what DO you say? In my opinion, the best thing you can do for your loved one is to listen to her, recognize how emotionally difficult infertility is, and let her know that you love her.
If you are dealing with or have dealt with infertility, what would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.