Saturday, April 3, 2010

Things not to say to those who are suffering through infertility...

Here's a list of comments that infertile couples hate to hear. I compiled this list from my own experience, other infertility survivor's experiences, When the Cradle is Empty by John & Sylvia Regenmorter, & The Infertility Companion by Glahn & Cutrer.
  • "Just Relax! You're trying too hard." or "You're thinking about it too much." Okay, this one is my all time pet peeve. Relaxing is not going to help a bona-fide medical condition. Let's all go tell the person who just got diagnosed with cancer to "Just relax!" I'm probably comparing "apples to oranges" as my husband likes to say but this one makes me want to scream so please don't tell me to relax! If you don't want to take my word for it, here's what The Infertility Companion has to say about the subject, "About 80-85% of the time, doctors find a diagnosable medical cause, for which no amount of relaxation will help. And in cases of unexplained infertility, often the problem is due to a factor such as chromosomal abnormalities that are impossible to discover through a routine workup. (In other words, ... A diagnosis of unexplained infertilty may mean that there is no method yet developed for diagnosing the problem.)" (pg 27)
  • Referring to secondary infertility, "You've already experienced the miracle of childbirth once." or "Think of all the people who don't have any kids." So b/c I have experienced it once, 14 years ago, in my previous marriage, & at a time where I took everything for granted means it is wrong for me to long for another child; a child who is biologically part of me & my husband together, a child who will be my husband's first biological child. I do want it for myself (I have finally turned my life around, given my life to Jesus Christ, & want to do it right this time - I want to teach my baby all about Jesus from the time of birth, which is something I never did with Austin, though I praise the Lord every day for him) but I also want it for my husband (Mike has never seen a gender ultrasound, never experienced the miracle of childbirth or feeling the baby kick, he has never taken care of a newborn or watched him/her grow - he became an instant dad to an 8 year old & trust me, it was a rough start).
  • "At least you can have fun trying! (Wink, wink!)" Timed intercourse, month after month, for possibly years on end is NOT fun; it is very stressful! According to The Infertility Companion, "In a study of more than 2,000 Christian women, 'lengthy infertility treatment' was listed as one of the four key causes of sexual aversion. (The other three were childhood sex abuse, rape, & painful labor & delivery.)" (pg 26) Sound fun to you?
  • "Maybe you're just not meant to have children." or "You're being too sensitive." or "It might never be in God's plan for you to have a baby." This one is my husband's favorite. True, we may NEVER have a baby but saying this just hurts; it doesn't help us feel better, it just HURTS.
  • "Adopt, then you'll get pregnant." We all know *someone* who got pregnant after adopting but have you ever stopped to consider that maybe the Lord wanted that family to adopt (& thus allowed infertility in their lives b/c otherwise they would never have even considered adoption) & once they took that step of obedience He, then, opened her womb, allowing them to finally get pregnant? Actually, "it has been estimated that between 5 & 14% of couples who quit treatment & pursue adoption eventually go on to conceive. That's about the same percentage as for couples who quit treatment, choose not to adopt, & subsequently conceive." (The Infertility Companion, pg 28-29)
  • "You can always adopt." It's not always that easy & it is expensive. There are so many rules & regulations when it comes to adoption & often adoptive parents feel like they are put under a microscope & even question, "Would a birth mother even choose us to parent their child?" There are forms to fill out (with questions that are VERY in-depth, just check out a friend's blog for some of the questions she has had to answer through her adoption process, Taking things one step at a time: The easy part is done...), background checks to complete, physicals to be performed, & home studies to be done. (What is a home study? Well, that's where a social worker comes into your home & interviews you, while determining if your home meets the minimum requirements to provide a good environment for a child. Talk about pressure!)
  • "It'll happen when it is meant to happen." or "God will bring you a baby when you are ready for it." or "Just give it some time. It'll happen!" or "Think more positively, it'll happen."
  • "Shouldn't you just pray about it harder? I really think if you just prayed and really believed, God will answer." Being a Christian myself, this one just irritates me. I haven't heard this one personally but I know several other ladies who have so it seems to be a common comment unfortunately. So what you are saying is that the person is not praying hard enough OR that God is cruel & just doesn't care; both are WRONG.
  • "If you are having trouble getting pregnant, why don't you just do IVF like Jon and Kate?" IVF doesn't always work plus like adoption, it's expensive, but not only that, IVF is a serious medical procedure & not something to be taken lightly. I have never had to cross the IVF bridge & hope that I don't but a recent friend has. You can check out her blog for a little more insight into the seriousness of IVF, Bringing Home Baby: Resting.
  • "I can understand why you'd want to have a baby with your husband, but it's not the end of the world if you don't."
  • Referring to miscarriage, "It was probably for the best." or "There must have been something wrong with your baby if you miscarried." or "At least you know you can get pregnant."
In most, if not all, of the comments above, "the would-be encourager totally invalidates the grief that runs through the very core of the infertile person." (The Infertility Companion, pg 30) The Bible even tells us that the barren womb is never satisfied. It is natural for the childless couple to want children. (Proverbs 30:15-16)

For those of you that know someone who is suffering through infertility:
What can you say? How can you help? You really don't have to say anything at all. Just be there for that person. Be understanding & sympathetic (even though you may not fully understand her emotions). Honestly, the best thing you can do is listen & be a shoulder to cry on. Oh & here's an AWESOME video that everyone who knows someone with infertility should watch...

And for my infertility brothers & sisters:
We are going to encounter those who just don't know what to say so they misguidedly say the wrong thing. Forgive them. Let it roll off your back & when it hurts the most, turn to the Lord. He is the only one who can ease the pain. And please don't ever think (unless the Lord has specifically told you otherwise) that your infertility is due to your past or present sin & that you are now being punished or that your infertility is a curse.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
John 9:2-3

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