When my husband and I decided it was time for us to start a family nearly four years ago, we never thought that in 2014 we would still be waiting, still praying. We thought that by now, we’d be pregnant with our second.
Since we started on this road we have done two attempts of entry level treatment taking Clomid and two IUI’s (artificial insemination), which involve injections every day. I’ve had an operation, and Michael, my husband, has been for many tests. We recently started our road on ICSI IVF, and are hopeful that our prayers for a child will be answered soon.
Through a blog I started about my journey, I’ve realized that though a lot of couples are struggling with infertility, we don’t really talk candidly about it. And when I have shared with friends and family, I was often offered advice—advice that came from a place of love, but was often hurtful, nonetheless.
If a friend or loved one tells you they are struggling to get pregnant, you should listen to them, mourn with them, encourage them that God is in control—but here are a few things you shouldn’t say:
“I’m Sure it Will Happen as Soon as You Relax.”
I’ve heard many different variations of this idea: “You’re thinking about it too much, as soon as you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
It is difficult to try and explain why not thinking about it is impossible. The only thing I can think to compare it to is when you need to use the bathroom—when your bladder is so full that your leg actually starts twitching and your eyes are watering. Now imagine you’re waiting in a long line to a bathroom so you can finally be out of this “pain” and someone comes up and tells you that if you just stop thinking about it you won’t need to go anymore. It’s impossible and just untrue.
“Just Have Lots of Sex.”
The only way I’ve ever responded to this is a slightly uncomfortable giggle, but let me shed some light on this. By the time you’ve gotten to a place that you’re in a doctor’s room, worried that something might be wrong—you’ve done A LOT of trying to get pregnant. A doctor won’t even see you until you’ve been trying to have a baby for at least a year. So while you might think you’re making light of it, it’s better to stay clear of this one.
“You’ll Have a Baby When God Feels You’re Ready and Actually Deserve One.”
This was the most hurtful thing someone has said to me when they learned about our struggle. It hit me like a ton of bricks. As someone who is actually pretty positive and believes in God’s plan, this comment took me by surprise.
For anyone who’s even thinking of saying something like this, or along those lines, please don’t. Believe me, after years of trying to have a baby, there have been many times when I’ve thought “why me?” or “am I being punished?” So suggesting to someone that they may not deserve to have a child yet is down right despicable. We beat ourselves up enough; we don’t need to think anyone else thinks we’re not deserving.
“I’m Pregnant, I’m Sorry!”
There seems to be a misconception here that people who want children and are battling to have them hate all pregnant people and people with children. We don’t.
When my friends and family tell me they’re pregnant, I am overjoyed. It is a blessing, a life-changing event that I want to celebrate with the people I love. So let’s get this straight, we’re not going to be angry with you when you tell us you’re pregnant. Please know and try understand that we’re frustrated with our situation, not with you.
“Have You Tried ____?”
It can be anything from a different doctor, a homeopath, a 1960’s herbal remedy (yes, even that was suggested to me). I’ve even had people say that all I need to do is get drunk so I can relax (see point 1 above).
It’s not that some of these things don’t have their merits; some of them really do, but be careful how you say it or how often you offer and suggest solutions. We have tried all sorts of things. We haven’t forgotten your suggestions; we’ve just chosen not to go in that direction.
Let’s Just Pretend it isn’t Happening.
While saying the wrong thing can be hurtful, ignoring the topic altogether can be worse. If someone has trusted you enough to tell you about their infertility journey, don’t pretend it is not happening. I’m not saying that we want to talk about it in every conversation, but avoiding mentioning it at all can just come across like you don’t care.
Again, please know that I acknowledge that advice or suggestions are given with love and the intent to help. My advice to people who know someone who’s going through this is to just show the couple you are there for them, praying for them, that you are sorry this is their journey and just let them talk and you be there to listen to their pain.
This article was originally published at patientlypraying.com.
Tamlyn Dennekamp is a South African who works at a digital marketing agency and recently started writing candidly about her and her husband's journey with infertility and how God and prayer keep them strong. You can follow her story at Patientlypraying.com and find her on Twitter @tam_dennekamp.