So, let's say that you are in the grocery store picking up your umpteeenth prescription for progesterone-estrogen-whatever crazy medication you have just been told to take and the lady at the checkout counter says, "Any news on the baby front?" What would your response be?
That exact scenario happened to us. What do you say? Should you unload about the myriad of doctor's appointments and medications or tell her that it is none of her damn business? Maybe your reaction will be like ours and you will become so instantly embarrassed and honestly, ashamed, that you don't have any good news that you reply sheepishly with a , "Still trying," while wearing the greatest fake smile you can muster. 20 questions later, we finally paid for our groceries and promptly left the store. Somehow, through this interaction, we felt very exposed, sad, even felt like we were somehow less human. It was like we just admitted that we lost the primal ability to procreate, or procreate easily anyway. As an aside, this was followed by Candace being so upset that she got sick in the grocery store parking lot. All that wasted dinner.
If this has happened to you, we are sure that-regardless of the outcome-it was not an enjoyable experience. Therefore, we have made a list of the top 10 bonehead things not to say to people wrestling with infertility as well as cheeky responses that, if nothing else, you can think of while you are in the moment.
1. Why don't you go on vacation? My friend _______ got pregnant that way.
Candace- Well, we would love to go back to Mexico or somewhere else tropical and amazing, but oddly, all that is left in our vacation fund jar is dust bunnies and IOUs. We spent it on the $5 K in meds that made me hormonal and the $13 K in IVF costs. Will you pay for us to go on vacation so we can make a baby like your friend _______ did?
2. You just need to pray more.
Candace- What? are you kidding me?! Let me get this straight, you don't think I am praying enough? I was just at my acupuncturist, laid out on a table, looking like HellRaiser with who knows how many needles poking out of my body! Yes, I am praying, and doing anything else I can think of.
3. Just means you get to practice more ... lucky man!
Chris- That's right, nothing puts me in the mood more than my wife sitting on the toilet, peeing in a cup, and saying, "Yep, there is a line. Now make sure that you do this, and that, and we have to be positioned this way when you 'finish.'And you have to hold my legs up after we are done for several minutes." Damn, its easier to change brakes than to have sex to get pregnant.
4. Why don't you just adopt?
Chris- Why don't you give me the $30-50 K that it costs to adopt? Better yet, why don't you make our profile book for the adoption agency, fill out the bazillion forms, hire an adoption attorney, freak out for us about our home study, provide proof of pet vaccinations, fingerprints, blood tests, anal probes, who knows what else on top of the costs to help us adopt?
5. Start the adoption process, you will probably get pregnant then.
Candace- SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! This whole time all I had to do was go through the emotionally trying and personally probing process of adoption and BAM! I will get pregnant? Hmmm... now what do I do with that kid I just adopted?
6. It will happen when the time is right.
Candace- I'm 32. Is the time right yet?
Chris- Alright, tonight's the night. I am going to knock her up! Let me go through my checklist. Nice wine-check. Great dinner with expensive stuff-check. Sultry, get her in the mood, music-check. Snazzy silk boxer shorts with little cupids shooting arrows-check (just kidding on this one). Crap! I forgot to ask my friend if the time was right or not. Dammit!
7. You need to eat more __________.
Candace- I would drink ketchup standing upside down if it would guarantee that I would get pregnant. Trust me, after 5 years of this, we have read, tried, and done everything possible. I am on a pretty restrictive, sometimes sucky, fertility diet. Please tell me what I should STOP eating to get pregnant.
Chris- Unless that blank is beer, candy, beer, pizza, beer, beef, or beer, I am probably not going to take your word for it. Just sayin'
8. You know, you may want to talk to a doctor about something like artificial insemination.
Chris- Holy Crap! You know, I never thought about that. What is this dark art that you are talking about? And you say people are going to medical school for this? Boy, I guess they will let anybody just make up some field of medicine these days!
9. Why are you in such a rush?
Chris- Rush is kind of a subjective word. Molasses 'rushing' out of a container is still going pretty slow. We are 'rushing' to have a child if you consider the months-long process of IVF 'rushing.' We have 'rushed' through that process several times. We may even start to 'rush' through the 2-5 year adoption process soon. At that rate, our kids would 'rush' to graduate college just before we turn 60! Shitty huh?
10. Don't you think you are trying too hard?
Candace- Would you tell a cancer patient that they are trying too hard? How about somebody that is having trouble adjusting to a transplanted heart? Extreme analogies ... perhaps. The message here is that infertility is not sexual retardation. It IS a medical condition.
What we need to keep in mind is that these comments and questions are not personal attacks. They are totally insensitive, ill-timed, and just plain stupid BUT they are well-intentioned. Our friends and family are grasping at straws to figure out what to say to us. It is awkward being in our shoes, and it is equally awkward in theirs. This has been a taboo topic for so long and no one really wants to make their baby-making activities public. For us, we had years of these instances to finally realize that educating the ones in our circle of support will help make this smoother for us and everyone around us.
If you are on the other side of the coin, you are one of the people delivering these comments to a couple, our best advice is don't. It is difficult for any of us to hear a problem and not want to lend some one-line reply to help. Really though, it is often the person 'giving' the advice that feels better. You go away thinking, "Man, I am glad i could put their issue in perspective for them." Instead, try these gems out:
"I'm sorry you have to go through all that. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers."
"That must be tough. I'm here for you if you need me."
"Here, take $50 K and get your child!" (We are still waiting for that one. Can't hurt to try right?)