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Ten Things Not To Say To Anyone Suffering From Infertility EVER

By Melanie Blodgett |

Aled LewisAs one who is going through it now, I know the hyper-sensitivity that comes with infertility. I’ve been offended by a t.v. commercial that portrayed a couple with kids loathing their child-filled existence because they never had a moment to themselves. I realize I need to watch myself with taking offense too easily. People often mean well but let’s consider watching our conversations and avoiding the following:

1. “Just relax and it will happen.”
While stress might be a contributing factor to infertility, “just relaxing” is not the answer for most. Relaxing won’t heal a uterus or help sperm swim.

2. “You’re still so young; you have plenty of time.”
When you make the very personal decision to have a child, you feel ready no matter your age. And gaining years will do nothing for infertility besides make it worse.

3. “Are you going to have kids soon?”
This is one, I think, where infertile women could maybe be a little too sensitive. Those who ask this question often don’t know that you are dealing with infertility and, let’s be honest, they are often well-meaning and overly curious aunts or grandmas. But, the last time I checked, our family planning wasn’t any of your business.

Keep reading for the rest of the list.

4. “When are you going to give (name of first-born child here) a sibling?”
Just because a couple were able to conceive one child, doesn’t mean that other children will come easily.

5. “Well, my cousin’s neighbor’s daughter tried yoga and fish oil supplements and they were pregnant the next month!”
I don’t like yoga. Each couple’s infertility is different. There is no one size fits all cure. And infertile couples have studied every treatment method conceived by humans.

6. “God must be punishing you.”
I actually haven’t heard that one yet but it would be the easiest one to take because of how ridiculous it is. I’ve heard stories though…

7. “You can have my kids. They’re driving me crazy.”
No thank you. Please appreciate the miracle you’ve been given.

8. “At least you can still sleep in.”
Infertile couples would trade any luxury in order to have a child.

9. “I hate being pregnant! I’m so fat.”
To me, pregnant women are beautiful. I would happily be fatter. But this is another one that you hear when the speaker may not know that you are dealing with infertility.

10. “Well, I know someone who dealt with it for seven years before they had any kids. So your situation isn’t a big deal yet.”
The classic one-upper. Never helpful in any context.

Honestly, I have probably been guilty of making some of these comments in the past and just realize now that they aren’t helpful. Does anyone have any stories of outrageous commentary?

image: Aled Lewis

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About Melanie Blodgett


Melanie Blodgett

Melanie Blodgett writes daily on her blog You Are My Fave, which features a mix of parties, projects, and fave finds. She's currently settling into her first home in Denver with her husband Ryan and their baby son Beck. Read bio and latest posts → Read Melanie's latest posts →

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65 thoughts on “Ten Things Not To Say To Anyone Suffering From Infertility EVER

  1. Krissy says:

    My husband and I struggled to get pregnant with both our children. For some reason, I was so scared to tell my mom, and when I did, she was one who most often said things on your list. It drove me crazy! Of course, her solution to every problem is to relax. Unfortunately, it is impossible to relax when you’re dealing with infertility (especially when people are telling you to relax) and it certainly doesn’t help my ovaries release eggs. After going through the process twice (and thank heavens, it worked and we have two beautiful children), I now understand that people in that situation don’t need advice and they don’t need people to “fix” their problem (aside from doctors, of course). They just need someone to support them and listen to them and say “that really sucks.”

  2. Katy E says:

    On the flip side, when a dear friend suffering from years of infertility found out that I was pregnant, the first thing out of her mouth was a very accusatory, “Were you even trying?!?!”. It hurt my feelings but I didn’t draw attention to it because I felt a “survivors guilt” of sorts. Little did she know that while I was overjoyed that I was pregnant, I wanted so badly for her to be pregnant first. I would have given nearly anything for her to get the positive pregnancy test before I ever did. She became pregnant towards the end of my pregnancy and months later delivered a beautiful baby girl.

    I know how hard it is to have this huge, strong desire in your heart for something and watch while it all seems to land in laps of those ‘seemingly’ less deserving or less grateful. I felt like that when I was single(and very much wanting to find “the one” and get married) and watching a different friend cheat on her husband and completely cheapen the marriage vows I held (and still hold) sacred. Everyone has struggles and none of us deserve the good or bad things that happen to us, we’re just lucky/blessed. We have to have faith and an open heart that the hopes God fills our hearts with will one day come to fruition. One way or another.

    I’m cheering you on! As a child of a couple plagued with infertility, I have to say it will all be worth it one day.Also, Do not be afraid to change reproductive endocrinologists if you aren’t getting satisfactory answers.

  3. Anon says:

    This comment was made about an infertile couple and I was offended on their behalf: “They should just adopt.”

  4. Kaitlin says:

    Very good list! During our two years of infertility I think I heard all of them – repeatedly – apart from number 6… Number 3 is one of the hardest to deal with, because it generally comes from well-meaning, friendly interest, and it can just hurt so damn much. I always tried not to let the pain show, and gave vague and general replies. You can never know the reasons behind a couple’s childlessness, and there is potentially so much pain there – maybe they just found out they have fertility issues, maybe they were just rejected by an adoption agency, maybe one person wants kids and the other doesn’t, the list goes on and on – that I wish people would just learn to keep their mouths shut on this issue. Unless someone brings it up with you, just do not comment. Ever.
    And when someone does bring it up, don’t let number 1 be the first thing out of your mouth, especially followed by something pointless like “Well, you hear about all these people who adopt and then – hey presto! – they’re pregnant.” Yes, this happens. No, it’s not very common. Yes, I have heard about it. No, it’s not helpful.

  5. Kelly says:

    Very nice article. I especially like the one upper comment. It does not matter how long a couple has been trying, how many babies they have lost or what the “causes” may be … each infertile couple is on a journey and each journey is equally challenging.

  6. Karen Petersen says:

    like anon said “they should just adopt” doesn’t take into consideration that “just adopting” isn’t like “just going to the store and picking out a baby” there’s a lot more to it than that!

  7. Sarah says:

    I am dumbfounded at why infertility and miscarriages are so taboo. My mother had three miscarriages, very late in pregnancy. I never fully understood how unbearable it was for her, until I became a mother. My husband and I accidentally became pregnant. So I never appreciated the “work” that goes into “making” a baby. We have been trying to get pregnant with our 2nd for over 6 months.
    7 weeks 5 days pregnant we have our first ultrasound to find that it’s an ectopic pregnancy with a heartbeat of 100. A week ago I had surgery to remove the plum size fetus that had gotten lost. We’re beyond devastated. It’s going to be a long road ahead of us.
    While my little family was with my in the pre-op room the nurse came in and said to our 3 year old oh my goodness you’re just so adorable. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Our daughter responded she wanted both. (We had been asking what she’d like, and yes she wants both!) So the nurse said well tell your parents you want a brother or sister soon. I had to restrain myself, bite my tongue, and say nothing. In my mind I was giving it to her, but our daughter was there, and it was a terrible two days, I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with this nurse.
    My surgery was pushed back 3 hours and that’s too long for a toddler to wait in a tiny room, so my husband and her left for a bite to eat and a visit to the mall’s play area. While they were gone the nurse had read my chart, realized what she had said. She came back with tons of magazines, warm blankets, and kind words of encouragement.

  8. Abby says:

    I have had friends who have heard “Well, maybe God doesn’t want you to be parents” or “Maybe you won’t make good parents.” Because my 15 year old student got pregnant because she would make a great mom (And who knows…maybe she will but I don’t think that is why she got pregnant.) I wanted to punch the person who said that and I wasn’t even there.

  9. Sara says:

    Ugh, the one-upping. I struggled with infertility for six months to conceive this child. At 26. And yeah, many (most, probably) infertile people have it way worse, which I cannot even imagine. But I’m getting really sick of people say ‘oh six months, that’s not a big deal’. It was a big deal. Maybe six months of having fun ovulation week sex is not a big deal for most people. It was a big deal for me. Months of knowing from the start that I wasn’t ovulating, months of medical intervention to try and make it happen. Months of wondering if I was ever going to be a mother. Then months of successful clomid treatments where I didn’t get pregnant, leading us to schedule IUI for the next cycle, and leaving me to wonder if we had yet another problem. Infertility in any case is awful.

    I also had a friend tell me that he felt we were ‘trying too hard’. I still have not forgiven him, and it seems unlikely.

  10. J. says:

    good grief, ANY adoption comments “have you considered adoption?”, etc. Gee, NO, never thought of it. What a novel idea. And yes, adoption would be easy and affordable, wouldn’t it? Silly us, how could we have passed up that idea?

    The one-upping, ugh, killer obnoxious -also can come in the form of the whole ‘what are you eating/living like/painting your walls with’.

    I just think on the subject of kids and pregnancy and health in general, people should follow the lead of whoever initiated the topic -as in, don’t question or suggest unless it’s totally obvious that the person is wanting to go that way. However, many people’s social skills are just not that developed.

  11. Karen says:

    I think I owe you an apology b/c I’ve said variations of at least two of these to you. I’m the worst!

  12. Jackie says:

    Um Sara, trying to conceive for 6 months is not “struggling with infertility”. That is the normal window of time for what it takes for anyone to conceive. Was that a typo?

  13. lindsay says:

    As far as number 3 goes…

    Why is this a question that’s off limits? I suspect it is only when you are struggling. Just as we have built a culture of shame around infertility and miscarriages, I believe that trying to hide conception just cultivates this cycle. I see it going something like this: :we’re trying to conceive, but we don’t want to tell any one just in case we have problems because…. essentially then we’ll feel ashamed.” I’ve never understood this mentality.

    I’ve always struggled when friends have tried to act insouciant about reproduction or even go so far as to say, “Oh, no we’re not trying — we’re not in any hurry.” All the while they are trying and then 2 months later pop up with “We’re 3 months pregnant!” (Obviously this speaks more about the nature of that friendship.) Why can’t we just say what’s really going on. “We ready to start trying…, etc.” I guess for the same reason we will all feign happiness and perfection when others ask us, “How’s it going.”

    I understand not taking out a billboard, but if you are not going to let your closest friends and family walk the journey with you, how are they to really know your struggle and subsequent joy? And as for the original no, no statement (#3), I actually think it’s a really valid and your family has a — right, maybe? — to know as it is family and will also affect them. (Maybe too strong of a description, but it’s also personal to them.) But no, asking a total stranger who is not ready or able to give you a straight answer is probably not the best question.

    What I think I’m trying to say is a little transparency that everything is not perfect, goes a LONG way. You might be surprised…

  14. Sara says:

    Wow. How fun to be anonymous on the internet. Failing to ovulate and conceive without pretty crummy medical intervention is ‘struggling with infertility’.

  15. Jackie says:

    Sara -yes I bet it was crummy. Clomid sucks, I know. But when you conceive in 6 months time you are not considered infertile. Lots of people have mild fertility issues without being “infertile”. Luckily, you have absolutely no idea what its like to be infertile.

  16. Jenna says:

    Lol. I think the author needs to add one more faux pas to the list.

    11. “I know totally how you feel. It took me 6 months to get pregnant. It was such a nightmare.”

  17. Nessa says:

    My husband I I tried for a year and a half. But I felt just as crappy at 6 months as I did at one year. So simmer down the judgement. And do you realize that after a 6 months of trying she had to have a D&C?? Maybe what should be added to the list comments “You should be classifying your self as understanding infertility if you hoven’t been trying for over 12 months.” Have some compassion. A loss of a pregnancy is hard – really hard. Especially after the months of trying. No matter the persons situation, trying and not having a baby is so excruciating.

  18. Katie says:

    All these things offended me deeply when I was in the infertile category. Now that I have two children and can see both sides of it, I get it better. Sometimes I do just want to sleep and I remember being offended when my BIL made a comment about that. We’re such silly things, us human beings. We live in the moment and in the circumstances that surround us. I thought I’d be such an angelic mother because it took us over 2 years to get our first and we weren’t sure if we’d ever be able to have a second. But look at me now, mother of a toddler and a 3 month old and I’m impatient and floundering along. I’m now living in the moment of being a mother and the hardships it brings (yes, hard to believe that being a mother would be anything but magical when you want it so bad, I know). Anyways, it’s interesting to be on the flip side and see both perspectives. I don’t enjoy being pregnant for the most part – it can be miserable. And sometimes on a Saturday morning I really want to sleep in. I’m still human. But I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything – they are my main source of joy.

  19. mandi says:

    Has it ever occured to anyone that sometimes hearing that a woman is infetile is just as heatbreaking for those that hear it? That most of the list is what comes out of people’s mouths when they feel bad and aren’t sure what to say?

    As someone who is about to be 30 and has yet to have kids, i get the questions all the time. And while awkward, the people who ask aren’t jerks, they are people who care and that is why they ask.

  20. gina says:

    I think it’s important to note that where ever a woman is at in her infertility process, she is feeling it at 100%. Meaning that whether it’s been 3 months or 5 years, she is feeling 100% of her struggle. And it’s real and it’s hard no matter how long the wait.

  21. Jennifer says:

    After 3 years of fertility hell, I think I heard all of the above mentioned. Some of my favorites were “Maybe you should drink more milk…I heard that helps with fertility problems”, “You know, you don’t HAVE to be a parent” (that one hurt the most, coming from my dad).
    Infertility is a painful, emotional diagnosis, no matter how long you suffer from it. I joined an infertility support group that helped. The wonderful group of women, all with different diagnosis’ and in different stages, cried with me, laughed with me and celebrated with me when we finally conceived and eventually had two beautiful babies. Talking about infertility is what kept me sane through that emotional time.

  22. Heather says:

    These are definitely worth thinking about. I do think that #10 could be viewed as someone trying to provide hope and less about it being a one-upper though.

  23. Jessica says:

    reading through this list made me tear up, even though many are humorous, because my husband and I have heard just about all of them! After struggling with infertility, we are thankfully now pregnant, but all the feelings are still so fresh. I wish I could have given this list to everyone in our acquaintance!

  24. Brooke says:

    well-i’m not sure what i have to add to this conversation. i do not struggle with infertility, but my heart goes out to those of you who do. i truly believe that for the most part, people have good intentions. i know i myself have said some pretty stupid thing (to my OWN sister who at the time was struggling with infertility) and went home hating myself for what came out of my mouth! everything i ever tried to say just came out wrong, wrong, wrong, but believe me, i love my sister and would never in any way want to hurt her.

  25. chris says:

    geez give people a break!

  26. Marjolijn says:

    ( Sorry- i live in Europe and do not write English well). In the past 5 years I am struggling with infertibility and the one’s that i heard are:
    - ” Well, maybe it is because you would be a great great foster mother” (I quess this is meant as a compliment?)
    - ” Maybe you should take a dog, so you can take care of something” (uhhh, yes indeed we got a dog 2 years ago and she is really a true joy in my life but you can not compensate a dog with a kid)
    - ” Maybe it is because you do not belief in it (the possibility that a pregnancy could happen) strong enough”
    - “Well, at least you have a great career”
    - “Ahh, how sad. Do you have holiday plans?”

    Thank you for sharing.

  27. jenny says:

    I suffered with secondary infertility, complete with surgeries, fertility drugs and miscarriage (for what was a painfully long time for me) and I have heard them all from well-meaning, not-so-well-meaning and downright clueless individuals. Except for #6. That one I only heard in my head.
    To Sara, I’m sorry for your struggle no matter how long it was.
    When something is personal and painful for someone else, I try (my hardest, I’m not perfect) to not quantify that pain by the perceived duration. Admittedly, some situations are harder to “keep myself in check” than others…
    To Melanie, I’m sorry. Truly, deeply, empathetically sorry. You are in a club no-one wants membership in. I am sorry that you have (not yet) been able to become a mother. Best wishes and continued support from a member of “the club.” Thank you for sharing your personal journey.

  28. Nikki says:

    I think what everyone can learn, or be reminded of from these comments, is to “treat others as you would like to be treated” as my grandmother used to say.

    When I was trying to conceive with my first child, we had been trying for a few months (please note I did not say infertile) when my boss came up to me and said “na na na na na, Bryan and his wife got pregnant first!” Bryan was a co worker who was the same age as me so I guess they assumed we were all trying as no one knew my family intentions. So yes, a grown man said that to me and although I wasen’t struggling with fertility issues, it still stung. I did however get pregnant shortly after and quit that job as soon as I went on mat leave.
    My SIL is currently struggling and although I will never know the pain that her and her husband are going through, my heart aches for her and she knows it. I would do just about anything for them to have a child of their own. Being on the other end hurts too.

  29. Bri (like the cheese) says:

    It was no secret from our family that we were wanting a second child. For the 12 months it took before it finally happened (I know, not very long, but still, as has been mentioned here, no matter how long the ‘struggle,’ when your heart is ready, each month that it doesn’t happen is devestating.) I was asked repeatedly by my SIL if I was pregnant. Sometimes more than once in the same month. Once she even asked my husband, was told ‘no’ by him, and turned around and asked me not a week later! Each time, her inquiry was met with the same response, “We’ll let you know when it happens.” I was hoping this would give her the impression that I didn’t appreciate her constant inquiries and to lay off and wait for the news from us. The topper was when, after being told, “Not yet, we’ll tell you when it happens,” she responded with, “well, just be patient, it’ll happen when the time is right.” This, coming from a woman who sought invasive fertility treatment because she wasn’t getting pregnant on her own…

    With regards to those who share seemingly ‘one-upper’ stories, this is possibly another area of over-sensitivity. Comfort is often found in community – knowing that you are not alone in your struggle, whatever it be. And while each person’s experience is unique to them, and they are certainly allowed to grieve their own situation, I think the people who offer these kinds of tales are not trying to tell the person, “you’re not the only one” so much as “you’re not alone.” These stories may not be appreciated by the person who is in the moment experiencing the difficulty, but it might help to remember that it is rarely out of malice that these stories are shared.

  30. bwsf says:

    Astounding what people will say. A lot of these can also apply to couples who suffer miscarriage or stillbirth. People have said some of the dumbest stuff to me… I know they probably mean well (most of the time), but it’s enough to be going through the heartbreak, why do people feel like it’s ok to add pressure to the mix, and to remind you a hundred times that “other people go through this too”. Like you hadn’t thought of that yourself. People just need to MYOB.

  31. Ann says:

    After 3 yrs of infertility, several IUI’s, lots of meds and a couple of IVFs, I can safely say that 6 months of infertility is not nearly as emotionally or physically draining as 3 years. My MIL always made the first comment to us…’once you relax and the pressure is off, It will just happen’. Drove me nuts! I always tried to explain to her that the first year we started trying (before all of the infertility stuff) we were very relaxed – but we never got pregnant! Didn’t help though, she said it all the time. Happy to say we now have beautiful 14 month old twins and couldn’t be more blessed :) Good luck to all of you who are still struggling…hang in there and be strong.

  32. blondie says:

    It took 4.5 years to conceive our second…not something I would ever want to go through again!
    I have to agree that actual infertility, unless you have a known issue before starting out, is considered 2+ years of ttc. Anything up to a year is normal and average conception times…1-2 years is longer than average but still in the realm of normality. I personally take/took offense to those claiming IF or conception difficulty when ttc less than a year. Yes, losses are an exception…that is not a ‘successful pgcy’, after all! But the whole ‘any length of time is hard when you’re ready,’ while perhaps true, feels nothing remotely similar to those year after year ‘anniversaries’ of ttc! I know! I went through those first 2 years. They started out annoying, things weren’t happening fast enough, AF would arrive and of course I’d be sad but then I moved into the next cycle. Most women u have talked to who struggle(d) with IF have their worst year between years 2 and 3. Those are the years you’re left with this emptiness, the wonder of ‘will i ever have a/another child?’ That is when pg women stand mockingly in front of you at checkout rubbing their belly, eating things out of their shopping cart, making you feel like a big fat failure with a capital F! The pain month after month is that of mourning.

  33. Nicole says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate on numbers 7, 8 and 9 though:

    As a woman who has had not just one but two unplanned pregnancies, the second one while even being very careful with birth control, I can tell you there is also a lot of pain, stress and anguish that can go along with raising children. I think the way they were worded in those numbers is super inflammatory and highly inappropriate.

    But the sentiment of being sometimes overwhelmed and not always perfectly happy with the blessing those with children been given should be permissible. It’s not fair to expect someone who has to tend to several other little someone’s every needs 24/7 to be happy 100% of the time, particularly when the parent got pregnant without meaning to. (And for me personally it was on an unsatisfactory income, so I had to be a full time online student while home with children to try to get into a better career.)

    It’s not a personal affront to those struggling with infertility; it just sometimes happens. Life’s not fair, but I think it would do us all a bit of good to try to see things from other folks’ perspectives and not be so overly sensitive. Most people mean well, even when the stuff coming out of their mouth is totally idiotic.

    And Blondie, seriously, you think a pg woman in the line in front of you at checkout rubbing her belly is purposely mocking you?!?! I can promise, with almost 100% certainty, that she’s thinking about many other things and maybe doesn’t even notice you are there. Life doesn’t revolve around our own selves, no matter what we are going through.

  34. Kate says:

    Though you can show some tact when you are aware of someone’s difficulties, It’s difficult on all ends not to take things too personally, especially when you are surrounded by pregnant women and people with children. It’s important to understand that they have no idea what you’re going through when they make jokes about giving their kids away, very likely they would NEVER really consider that. If they are strangers than they should mind their own business and if not, it wouldn’t hurt to make them aware so that they do not offend another.
    @Katy E. I agree it can be hurtful on both ends. It’s not as if you got pregnant to spite your friend. After suffering from a miscarriage at 4 months, I was angry at anyone who got pregnant for a while and I swore I would just hate my sister if she got pregnant before I did. I think back on that now and see the intensity of my feelings. I could never hate my sister and never feel spite towards any children she may have. The lesson I take from this, as well as miscarriage as well as being pregnant is that we all just need to be more sensitive to each other and when taking things personally, try and see either the others point of view or their ignorance.

  35. Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD says:

    In my 32 years of working with couples who struggle with infertility, I can say that these items and others are par for the course. There is no protocol for what to say to someone who is in this challenge. Even well-meaning people seem to say the wrong thing. Infertility would kill the self-esteem of Godzilla, yet you need a thick skin at the point in time when stresses and disappointments are rolling at you from all fronts. You might find solice in this article which appears on my website:
    My heart goes out to you and II wish you all the best of luck.

  36. Sarah Robertson says:

    Thank you for this list. I think I’ve made some of those comments. I’m going to try to be much less annoying in the future.

  37. Elissa says:

    It must be truly heartbreaking, and I can see why you feel so sensitive about it. May I ask though, what do you want to hear? Most of the time people don’t know what to say, and they don’t mean any malice by whatever awkward comments or questions they come out with.

    I’m not asking to be insensitive. I really do want to know because I have trouble knowing what to say myself.

  38. Xena says:

    Being on the other side of things, I think there is also a lot of insensitivity on the part of those dealing with infertility.

    It’s not anyone’s fault that you cannot have a child/children. To be bitter and expect everyone else to walk around on pins and needles and not talk about our children is also very insensitive.

    I have 2 beautiful children who I am thankful for every single day, but just because ‘you’ don’t, doesn’t mean that I have to pretend that they don’t exist just to make ‘you’ feel better. And that comment about a pg woman stroking her belly? Give me a break! That was up at top of the list of things that I loved to do while pregnant. Now *that* is considered as a personal affront to people dealing with IF?

    I sympathize with the hurt and pain that comes with infertility. I really really do. I have close friends who have gone through it obviously and I have done my level best to be as inclusive and respectful and I watch everything I say (since I’ve been ‘educated’ by friends dealing with IF). But at some point, ‘you’ have to realize that everyone has their struggles. *Everyone*.

  39. jaina says:

    MY herat breaks for anyone wh is struggling with infertility or who have lost a baby. I try really hard to not dish out judgement because many people are well intentioned. When I got pregnant the first time, my husband and I had been married for six months and while we were excited we were extremely suprised. A friend of mine had been trying to get pregnant for a year and I dreaded telling her because I knew that she wouldn’t be happy for me, and it almost ended our friendship. THe worst part was recieving the ‘how could you’ letter two days after I had miscarried. While it was hurftul to have her react the way that she did, I now know that it was simply because of how much she longed to be a mom and how much she was hurting.
    I truely believe that God if has put a desire in your heart to be a mom then he intends to fill it, but that doesn’t make the season that you’re going through any less hellish. It is one of the most painful things that a couple can face. However, unless someone has gone through the same thing you have, they can’t begin to imagine the hurt that they are inflicting. We need to have mercy on others even when we feel like putting them in their place.

  40. Tabitha27 says:

    We have just been telling people who ask, “when will you guys have kids?” that we are still ‘waiting’. We have also told people who ask, we really like the freedom of no kids for now, it gets people off your back and then you don’t have to go into detail and explain. I once told someone that we might have our dogs instead of kids, I just don’t want to explain things!

  41. iris1973 says:

    Also worth not saying: “Hey the world has too many people in it anyway.” No no NO. Don’t say that. In fact, why not just stay away from the conversation altogether? And if your infertile friend brings it up, just listen. Don’t talk.

  42. Ann says:

    @Elissa, thanks for asking! When I was going thru infertility, I always appreciated when friends and family would simply listen and empathize with me. Nothing fancy, just a kind listening ear and some comforting words. Advice isn’t always necessary (and it usually isn’t necessary at all).
    @Jaina, I’m sure you’re friend was genuinely happy for you, as I was happy for my friends when they told me they were pregnant. It just reminds us what we are going through and makes us wonder if we’ll ever be then ones to share the happy news. Infertility is a devastating rollercoaster of emotions, and we try our best. :)

  43. Sarah says:

    As much as I’m not proud to admit this, as someone who hasn’t had a successful pregnancy yet — In the last two years I’ve had multiple miscarriages but no live birth births — I am sort of sick of hearing about the pains of secondary and tertiary (and…quadrinary? and so on) infertility…just as I would expect for people who haven’t conceived even once to be sick of hearing me be upset that we haven’t been able to sustain a pregnancy. It’s not a strict spectrum, of course, but I think it’s reasonable for us to try to locate our empathy and compassion within a spectrum of “success,” in terms of “how much infertility” someone’s struggling with, and the relative pain of that experience.

    I’m very sorry for people who haven’t been able to conceive or birth second, third, or fourth kids, for sure. But for those of us who haven’t even had our *one* yet — our one conception, one live birth, etc — it’s agonizing to hear that your one (or two or three) isn’t enough. How bout being grateful for that one you have?

  44. Wendy C says:

    April was 15 years since we started trying. I had an ectopic, then my cycle went haywire. We went through 3 years of fertility treatment. I hate fertility treatment. Though we were treated as individuals, with care and concern, having to have sex at a specific time, whether you feel like it or not, just plain sucks. Also, hubby “having sex with a cup” and me being ‘shot up’ afterwards with it, is not enjoyable. During this time, I had two miscarriages. When people ask me about kids, I simple tell them I’ve lost 3. Either they listen to my story, or they change the subject .. mostly the latter.

  45. sophia's mom says:

    Sarah, I totally agree that secondary infertility is not nearly as devastating. It took me over two years to get pregnant the first time and now I am trying for a second. As frustrating as it is now that the months are passing me by, i can definitely cope better this time. I’m so sorry you have to go through such a painful process. No one can possibly understand unless they have gone through IF personally.

  46. blondie says:

    Nicole, don’t be stupid…of course I knew they weren’t trying to upset me! A)i didn’t know them, B)how were they to know I was struggling with IF, and C) they were just doing what pg women do! It wasn’t their fault. You’re fortunate you don’t know the pain of being unable to conceive, but in that reguard, you dobt know or understand how it feels to be struggling and everywhere you look, pg women are out roaming in hordes!

    Sarah, I am sorry you’ve been unable to conceive and carry a baby to term. Sure, I had no trouble getting pg the first time (we weren’t trying), however I think it’s the pits being told that my infertility must be less painful than yours simply because I already had a child. Infertility is painful and incredibly difficult to work through and I certainly didn’t come out the other side unscathed! I was very grateful for my DD!
    Sophia, how do you know secondary IF ‘isn’t nearly as devastating’? You had primary IF and I’m sure that has left you hardened to the possibility you may struggle again (i hope you don’t!), but the fact you have already been through it and came out the other side would surely mean you already went through the what ifs and worked through them so if faced with secondary, it probably wouldn’t be as painful (though I could be wrong)…but without experiencing secondary IF as purely secondary IF, how can you know how devastating it is to those of us who are going/have gone through it? Can’t we acknowledge that the first time you go through IF, it will be heart breaking and gut wrenching. Whether or not you already have a child? It might be just as devastating, at least for some, the second or third time, too…I don’t know!

    I know I got tired of women telling me my pain couldn’t possibly be as bad as theirs…how did they know? Did they jump into my body and compare pain levels when I wasn’t looking? I think it is very unfair to do that…

  47. sophia's mom says:

    Yes blondie you’re totally right that everyone feels pain in their own way. But I agree with Sarah that there is something extraordinary about the pain of never becoming a parent. Never hearing a child calling you mommy. That is a level of pain thankfully most people do not experience. But for those who do, I can see why they can’t muster up sympathy for people like me trying to get pregnant a second time. I totally get it. But I agree it gets a bit tedious having to rank whose got it worse.

  48. Twizzlersmom says:

    So I have to add something here about insensitivity and this issue. I know that a lot of women on here will probably be mad at me, but at this time I would like to make a point. I am a mother of three kids (5′s and 3), and I was on every kind of birth control imaginable when I had twins at the age of 18! 18!!!! I was just out of high school and had to drop out of my full ride scholarship. Yes I was also a newly wed, to add to frustration, so instead of having the chance to get to know my new husband I had to sacrifice my first year with him for weekly doctor’s appointment, sickness and financial difficulty. Due to religious reasons we didn’t adopt, nor would we. And I would never even think of abortion. Then a year later I had an ectopic pregnancy with triplets. Again on birth control (IUD, condoms and oral). Then after a month or so of that I got pregnant once more with another baby (nuvaring) and carried her to 36 weeks in pain. My uterus had ripped and it was literally a miracle she survived, but if I was to have another child I would die. After that I had all my organs removed as to prevent anymore of these unexpected pregnancies. I had three kids all before I was 22, and end up having night shifts at retirement homes, care givers to provided for them. I was envious of my friends who could go out and get a big mac, where I had to haul three carseats, (an oxygen tank) just to go to the store. We were on government assistance, so even the idea of purchasing some ‘fast food’ was ludicrous. Most 22 year olds are either ‘partiers’ or at college. Not diaper changing, throw up cleaning zombies. I had NO support from either set of parent (grandparent) or any other family members for that matter.
    My problem was that I had a sister in law who wanted kids (dealing with IF) and I clearly didn’t. I still work night shifts in order to fed and care for them while my husband sleeps, and then I care for them during the day when my husband would go to school (eventually start a job of his own), and end up with about 4 hours of sleep a day. Still do. She thought that I was ‘bragging’ about having kids. On the contrary. I wasn’t ‘harming’ her. I was trying to be there for her, and let her know that I know her situation is difficult, and try to be sensitive about it. But my situation is equally as so. Medical bills from my children being early and in the NICU I will be paying until they are married. Seriously. Every time I turn around there is some new medical issue with the twins. So if she wanted to know what was up with my life, I can’t ignore the fact that I have kids, and taking my life sob story as a personal attack on herself is ridiculous. Yes if you call me I will complain about my kids. I am a mom, that’s what I do.
    My Sister In Law can go into any store she wants, and I can not. I have in tow three kids, I can’t eat at certain restaurants, I can’t watch certain shows, I can’t even drive a car I want, or even leave the house without food on my clothing. And that is a fact. If she has a meeting during the day, she doesn’t have the hardship of finding a reliable sitter (miraculous as that is in itself due to the ever mounting pedofiles, and kidnappers), keep her clothes clean for ten minutes while you leave the home, usually upset by whatever issue is happening at home. She doesn’t have that. When a parent looks to someone dealing with IF and says take my children, they usually aren’t kidding. The kids were probably unexpected, and the thus said parent probably needs a break even if it is for a half an hour to get their first shower for the week. The fact that they are comfortable enough to joke with you is a sign that they trust you with their kids, which is HUGE in this society. They are probably under so much pressure, that they were trying to relieve tension by making a joke, and weren’t meaning to hurt. The conversation probably went like this-
    “No we haven’t had any luck concieving.”
    “Well, Johnny don’t put gum in your sister’s hair!”
    “As I was saying we are doing test this week… (crash)”
    “Samantha Get out here now! You are in timeout, not make a jungle gym of your room!”
    “You know you can always have my kids.” Silly smile as she grabs the passing child to wipe their runny nose.-
    I am sorry for your hardships, but before you pass judgement on those around you realize that they probably do not know of your situation. They HONESTLY don’t. Especially if they have children. At that moment in time they are probably more focused on the whatever it is their kids are getting into that they shouldn’t be. They aren’t purposely trying to hurt your feelings. You have to understand this. Remember this number one thing that is spouted by most therapist and psychologist- You are RESPONSIBLE for your OWN feelings. Meaning that you have more control over your feelings and shouldn’t be blaming someone else for something they said. You can chose to react one way or another, but you will not change the person or their perspective, or most importantly what was said. Remember that. Usually give them the benefit of doubt. We aren’t naturally trying to show off, most of us are drowning in responsibilities, sleepless nights, and three day old deodorant.

  49. Heather says:

    I am so sorry for all the pain that a lot of you are suffering with – those who are struggling with infertility, and those who have other struggles – but I am also sad about how cruel some are being with their comments. EVERYONE has struggles, and to them, their struggles are excruciating. Trials simply can’t and shouldn’t be compared. You can’t know what someone else is experiencing because you’re not them. Something that seems manageable to you probably isn’t to someone else. I think we all should try to be a little bit more compassionate, it would do us all some good!

  50. blondie says:

    Yes, Sophia, for the unfortunate few who never have children a.d do not wish to adopt (two totally different experiences, of course), those couples tend to shift their focus onto something else when they give up trying and lead happy lives. Of course they live with that emotional scar and I am sorry they have it. Yes, for those couples, perhaps they experience greater pain than those with secondary IF, but you don’t know because you overcame IF and are now w parent! What that pain feels like, i’ll never know…does it surpass the woman I was recently told about who just lost her full term twins the day before they were to be delivered, this after losing 2 previous full term babies? I imagine that would be much more starring than never becoming pg and certainly more than Mc’s (of which I have suffered 4, one was my eldest child’s twin).

    I agree, Heather. Compassion never goes wrong!

  51. Sarah says:

    How about “at least you know you can get pregnant” to someone that has had a miscarriage and/or ectopic pregnancy. I’ve had both (in 2011, treatment for the ectopic just finished a couple of weeks ago), and have no children, so for me personally, it’s not really a comfort to know that I can get pregnant. All I know at this point is that I can lose a pregnancy, and that any future positive pregnancy tests need to be regarded more as something that can cause me serious harm until it’s proven that it’s in the right place than an automatic happy event. That said, asking when you’re going to have kids is, while painful to hear, just people trying to be curious about your life, and is the same to them as asking how you are unless they know what’s going on with you.
    And it seems like at least a few of the commenters didn’t read #10. Just because you think you’ve had it worse doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t have it bad, or have the right to say how they feel. Let’s try to be a little more symapthetic to each other, and a little less judgy.
    I wish everyone here all the best of luck, and a metric buttload of sticky baby dust.

  52. Lindsey says:

    I wrote a list like this a year or so ago when we were in the middle of infertility, it still gets hits and I hope that it helped just one person understand what NOT to say!

  53. sally says:

    Really great list.
    I’ve been dealing with infertility for 7 years and I have heard it ALL and then some.
    I think the toughest one for me to hear has been said a couple times in this thread in one form or another. stuff like:
    ‘when i WAS dealing with infertility (blah blah blah) but now i have a (or many) babies and it is the best thing ever.’

    it’s the myth that, while infertility is a struggle, there is a baby at the end of the tunnel.

    this is not always the case, and in my situation, it is becoming less and less likely that i it will happen.
    More and more I am finding that infertility discussion groups and threads become populated by women who have children. At times I appreciate their perspective and at times I like the message of hope, but I wish I could find a safe space to talk about the long term reality of infertility and whet it means to not conceive and not have children…without having happy moms always chime in to remind me that having their kids is the bestest thing ever.

  54. Kat Gott says:

    “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”
    Really? That’s all you’ve got?!!!

    “Think of all the money you’ll save!”
    Yeah, I’d rather have the kid.

    “Who wants to bring a child into this world anyway?”
    I do! And besides, maybe my kid will help make this world a better place.

    “You can always adopt.”
    No, no you can’t. If you don’t make enough money, or live in the right house, or (my case) you have some serious medical conditions — you may not qualify.

  55. Tina says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with Lindsey. Question #3, whether you are having difficulties getting pregnant or not, is highly invasive and inappropriate. It is like family members and acquaintances asking how many times you and your spouse have sex, or the positions you use, or whatever. Because when you ask someone if they are “trying” you are essentially asking “you guys doing it?” But in our case, my husband’s infertility makes that question go from merely an annoyingly inappropriate one to a very painful one. I don’t care how close a friend or family member you are, that is not something I am obligated to share with you.

  56. Misty says:

    Well, this post is obviously a few months older but I just had to comment.

    First off, I’d like to say that my husband and I are currently enduring a battle with infertility. It will be 2 years in October. More than 6 months but not as long as 3, 5, 14 or even many many more years than that. We’ve told a few people about what we’re going through and, while they try their very hardest to understand, most of them don’t. During the first year of infertility I kept telling myself “well, as long as you don’t make it a year then you’ll be ok” and then- the 1 year anniversary hit and I was heartbroken. Every test under the sun has been done and no one has any idea why we can’t conceive. I’ve taken Clomid pill after Clomid pill. I’ve tried Pre Seed, Provera- anything that my OB doc can prescribe me. We’ve finally decided to give IVF a try early next year if we’re still not pregnant by then. There have been times where I’ve even wondered “are we having sex right?”. Of course, silly but it entered my head more than once. I can say though, as I enter into the second year, I’m less and less offended by pregnant women and their obnoxious glow, people who constantly tell me to “relax” or people who say “you just haven’t given it enough time” (that one still stings a little, I’ll admit. Because, really? 1 year and 10 months isn’t enough TIME? Then tell me- how much time is enough time to give it?). I’ve chosen to ignore pregnant women in the store. I imagine them maybe struggling with infertility before conceiving and it always softens my heart towards them. I’ve also chosen to give a soft smile when people say to just “relax” and I say “we’ve tried that. this is a medical issue, not a stress issue”. When people ask me when we’re going to have kids I always say “some day!” (the most obvious answer I suppose). Although there are times where I am frustrated and annoyed with those questions and remarks, I have just learned to let them roll off my back because I’ve become so numb to them.

    We are the type of couple who has left most of this a secret. Although our close family members know and very very few of our close friends know, no one else knows. The people who do know try very hard to understand our struggle and they ask lots of questions like “so is the cyst on your uterus causing all the problems?” (not any more, thank you very much), “sooo what month is this?” or “how are things coming on the baby-front?”. While I appreciate the questions, I’d rather people just leave me alone about it. We aren’t ready for the whole world to know about this battle yet and we are really just trying to support each other.

    With that being said, I can say that there were some pretty annoying comments on this blog. Although none as annoying as TWIZZLERSMOM. First off, I’d like to thank you for telling us your struggle. I truly do feel bad and I would have been terrified if at age 18 I was pregnant with twins and then had another a year or so later. Truly terrifying. But, I’d also like you to consider your audience here. A LOT of the women who have commented have gone through or are still going through an infertility struggle. I don’t think you could possibly ever understand JUST how frustrating it is to hear someone say “we were using multiple forms of birth control and we still got pregnant- with TWINS!”. There have been times when I think “why did I even waste my time with birth control?”. I’d also like to let you know that not ALL 22 year olds prefer partying. I was 22 when I got married and 23 when we started trying (a whopping 2 months into our marriage). If you didn’t already know your husband when you got married then why did you marry him? I knew my husband very well when we got married. Though, I’ll admit, I’ve learned a few new things about him since marriage. But the basics still remain- if his right eyebrow is higher in the morning, he’s in a grumpy mood, when he’s angry- just leave him alone, he hates to have his feet touched. The basics. Now, I’m about to turn 25, still wanting what I’ve wanted most for my entire life. A lot of people learn a new appreciation for life through having children- I’ve learned a new appreciation through not being able to have children. It doesn’t seem to me that you’ve learned this appreciation yet. Just based on your comment here you seemed to have nothing but negative stories to tell about your children. God forbid you have to give up a big mac to support your family right? I mean, everyone knows that infertile people and couples without children are just driving up to McDonalds every day to get themselves a nice juicy big mac and then call you up to tell you all about how it tastes. Let me ask you this- why CAN’T you go into any store you want with three children? Why CAN’T you watch what you want on TV? Are you not the parent and in charge? To me, when I read your comment it seemed as if your children are a huge burden to you. Even saying you didn’t want them at one point- that’s fairly heartless. Especially to say to a blog full of women who want nothing more than hold their own sweet babies in their arms. Like you said “you are responsible for your own feelings”. You could choose to really enjoy your children or you could choose to sit around and gripe about them all day long. I will tell you this though- if I were your sister in law, you would be the absolute LAST person I would ask for support. I would also like to bring to light this sentence “you can’t blame someone else for something they said”. Ummmm what? Pretty sure if someone said something like “you can always have my kids”, I’d definitely look at them as heartless- ESPECIALLY if you knew what they are going through. So, although I sympathize with your “struggle”, I would also ask you to do the same. I understand that you have a lot going on in your life and as you said, everyone has their struggles. So, while you expect people to listen to your complaints about your children- we expect you to listen to our complaints about infertility and to do so with a little compassion and understanding. Because, by the sounds of things, you don’t seem to understand or care about any of our situations as you say you do. Next time your going to comment on a post about what not to say to infertile couples, please actually READ it before posting. It doesn’t seem to me that you did.

    There, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m off to go take my last clomid pills for this month and get the day started.

  57. Alice says:


    I am not English speaker, but I’ll do my best to write in English.

    I have been trying to get pregnant for 4 years, so this post definitely strikes a chord to me. I have to say that it has always been a bit hard for me for a few days when I discover someone I know is pregnant (especially when this person is not close to me, I don’t know why) but I have always tried to keep in mind that when I’ll get pregnant, I’ll want to tell all of my friends and family this good news without being afraid that they won’t be happy for me because they may be dealing with infertility themselves. So, when someone tells me that they are pregnant, I am happy for them, I also feel a bit sorry for myself for 2 days, and then I go on.

    The good side of having friends who had children before I do is that I can learn a lot and get really ready to have my own kids. The down side is that I am turning 32 next week and almost all of my friends already have babies, which make me feel lonely and “different”.

    The other thing that helps me not being jealous, and that works for everything else as well, is to remind myself that everyone has their own problems, so it is not fair if I am not happy when something great happen to them. It helps me understand others when, for instance, they complain that they do not like being pregnant, or that they became pregnant when they were not ready or that the kids are driving them nuts… All sort of things that pregnant women or mummy may complain about. I truly empathize, even though I do not really know what they are going through and even though I would love to have kids myself and to complain about them ;-)

    Also, I wanted to add that even though annoying it can be when people say things that are on your list, I would rather people giving me that kind of “pre conceptions” sentences than avoiding me or being really cautious when they want to talk to me about anything related to babies. It can be annoying sometimes, but at least I feel that they are being authentic and that they care.

    I also know that they can’t know how it is to be infertile and that they really want to help or cheer me up. My step-mother, for instance, who I love, asks me each time she sees me : “when we will do a little kid?”, although she knows our difficulties and all we do to make a pregnancy happen. I realized that this a way for her to open up this subject (I keep her posted about the all process), to express that she really want us to achieve a pregnancy and that she would love to be a grandma. I get it and I know that it is not easy for her as well, because there is nothing she can do for us, because she knows how important it is for us and because she would probably love to become a grandmother, like all of her friends.

    Good luck to all of you, I sincerely wish you to have your baby!

  58. Ga says:

    I would like to add two:
    1. If you stop doing/start doing more of X (less stressful life, less coffee, more massages, etc.) you’ll get preg.
    2. maybe you were not meant to have kids, maybe there is a different “plan” for you.

  59. Ailine says:

    if you cant say any of the above to someone trying to have a baby, then what the hell do you say? pple trying to have a baby, first or second, need to take a step back and realise that not everyone needs to revolve around them and their baby making. they can talk abt something else apart from babies becos not everyone is trying for one too. and if all of the above cannot be said then i guess are we supp to not talk to those who are trying? cos it doesnt seem like anything else is left to be said. good lord. there are other things in this life to be thankful about apart from babies, try talking abt that.

  60. susan says:

    so everyone who agreed with this list should also have the same compassion for those who can’t get a BF yet/ not yet married/ can’t get that promotion or job yet etc

  61. Darby says:

    Sara, although I’ve been trying longer I’ve never come that close and I think that coming that close would be even harder. Sure to some people six months of trying might not seem difficult, but I remember the fear that started to grow at six months that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. Losing a pregnancy is a whole new ball game with different emotions. You have my sympathy in your lose and my hope that things will get better.

  62. Mom22 says:

    An acquaintance/new friend of mine has been struggling with infertility, and has had heartbreaks with the adoption process. I try so hard to say all the right things, to apologize when I don’t, and, most of all, to not “rub her nose in my own kids”. I almost always worry that I’ve said something wrong, and desperately want to be the supportive friend she deserves. It’s hard when you want to be sensitive, but you’re never sure what to say. I’d love to see a 10 things TO say to someone suffering infertility list.

  63. waiting says:

    For the person who said that “real” infertility is only if you’ve been TTC for 2+ years, well thats bs. At month 10 of trying but no baby, our doctor decided to get my husband to do a sperm analysis. Its a good thing he did. Because there was none. Then to wait almost two months to see the urologist, only to be told that he is most likely sterile, and has never been able to produce sperm, and trying to convince me to consider donor insemination.
    In a couple weeks he gets to have a testicular biopsy, to see if they can find any sperm(which is a 10% chance), or cell changes that would point to the rare syndrome they think he has. After that its the fertility clinic, and most likely genetic testing. So by the time we go back for the results, it will have been one year. So although it hasn’t been two years, our chances of ever having a biological baby together are so low it would be an honest miracle if it ever happens, no matter how many years we’re trying.

  64. AussieChick99 says:

    Have found your lovely list after my 2 years with subfertility. (I won’t go into the medical definitions except to say that they are time based). I hardly told anyone about what I was going through, precisely because I knew I wouldn’t be able to bear hearing comments like these!

    For those who have asked, if this is what you don’t say, what do you say?, I suggest this. Give her/him a hug, tell them you love them and that you will be there for them when they are feeling miserable, tell them you wish them well, tell them that you will hope for them, even if they have lost hope. This is what my best friend told me when I was crying on her shoulder and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

  65. Kristen says:

    38 percent were pregnant after 1 month.
    68 percent were pregnant after 3 months.
    81 percent were pregnant after 6 months.
    92 percent were pregnant after 12 months.

    I started to worry after about 6 months, now its been 13 months and I know now I need to start seeing a doctor. Yes some have tried for longer than me, but your comment is a basically on the not to say list.

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