Dealing with insensitive (in)fertility comments

Yesterday, I had a mini-meltdown after my husband’s Aunt asked me how things were going and then proceeded to give me her opinion (or observations as she put it) about our fertility situation.

I defended myself over and over again until I broke down into tears and my husband told his Aunt to drop the conversation.

As I went over the conversation in my head later on, I found myself having to remind myself of the following (in)fertility facts.

1. Relaxation may help the process, but it’s not the main reason why you haven’t conceived or carried a baby to term. 

“Just relax”. Those are fighting words. Straight up.

Resolve.org has the best response to this statement: Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

2. A vacation may help to ease your mind and give you some time to reconnect with your spouse, but you are not guaranteed to come home pregnant. 

Fertility treatments eat away at finances and vacation time. Each month, we require time off for appointments and extra cash to pay for treatment and drugs.

If any fertile would like to speak to my boss about paid time off and donate a nice all expenses paid trip to us, I’d be more than willing to test our their ridiculous theory that vacations = babies.

We’ve taken many vacations throughout our journey, but that hasn’t changed where we are at today: still (in)fertile.

Since my husband and I are going out of province for our upcoming IVF cycle, we are actually considering it a vacation of sorts.

3. Minimizing the situation or offering your fertile (meaning unsubstantiated) advice is not supporting us on our journey. 

I can handle when a fertile shares a hopeful story of a friend who conceived via fertility treatment.

I can’t handle when someone offers advice that doesn’t make any sense at all!

Example: “Maybe you should stop acupuncture? Going to all of those appointments must just cause you more stress”.

Couples going through fertility treatments have a ton of appointments and a very strict schedule: follicle scans, pills, needles, egg retrievals, transfers, blood work, etc.

You may think that adding an extra appointment for acupuncture or yoga here and there may create more stress, but these activities are known to reduce stress and compliment fertility treatments.

I do my best to follow our doctor’s recommendations. I wouldn’t be doing anything that decreased my chances of conceiving. I know myself, my body and my limitations. If something is too much for me, I’ll make the decision to cut it. Thanks for your opinion, but that decision is not yours to make. 

4. (In)fertility is not anyone’s fault. 

Throughout our journey, I’ve felt like both side of the family have tried to pin our unexplained diagnosis on the other half of the couple (meaning my parents thought it was my husband’s fault and his family thought it was mine).

Statistics from Resolve.org show that (in)fertility cases are divided into:

  • 35% female factor
  • 35% male factor
  • 20% a combination of male/female  factors
  • 10% unexplained

It doesn’t matter what factor defines your diagnosis. You chose to pursue the path to parenthood. As a couple, you are on this journey together.

I truly believe that anyone who faces (in)fertility ends up being a stronger person in the end. We learn to communicate better with our spouses, our friends, our family and our doctors. We become advocates for our health and wellness. We recognize our limitations, but continue to push ourselves further than we ever thought would be possible.

None of us asked to be (in)fertile. We were diagnosed with a medical condition that is beyond our control.

If you are faced with nagging, insensitive comments, or ignorance from your friends or family, just remember that you don’t have to tolerate it. Your emotional well being should always be top of mind. Excuse yourself from the situation, leave the premise, tell them you don’t want to discuss it, or defend yourself and shed a few tears – like I did. Whatever you choose, just remember that there is no reason to be ashamed.

(In)fertility doesn’t define you. It’s just a part of your journey, your story, your life at this moment.

And when the going gets tough, always remember: us (in)fertiles are in this together.

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20 thoughts on “Dealing with insensitive (in)fertility comments

  1. *Standing Ovation* Well done! Sorry you actually had to have that retarded conversation with the aunt–that is torture and I don’t know how you managed to refrain from b*tch slapping her. But you are better than these would-be oppressors, so you go on wit yo bad self. *muah!* XOXO

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  2. First, I’m so sorry that you even have to write this post. I know how much I would have just been broken by those comments. I hate that your aunt is so insensitive and uneducated. And second, this is one of the best posts I’ve read on this subject, although I wish it wasn’t necessary, it is. Thank you for writing it! Perhaps I should just print out your post and hand it to people when they start saying stupid stuff? Like an information pamphlet?

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  3. This is one of the most difficult parts of being able to handle infertility with any sort of grace. I want to throat check people daily. My friend – who knows we just had IVF – told me “oh just borrow my kids!” Because babysitting someone else’s child is totally the same as having your own. The relax comment is the worst. I tell them “would you tell a cancer patient or someone with diabetes to relax as a treatment to their condition?”

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  4. Well put! Especially the vacation part. I can’t tell you how many we cancelled. Ugh. Ignorant people. I tell you…they need to be…let me stop there. Glad your hubs stepped in but sorry your aunt appears to be so insensitive.

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  5. I can relate to this post so much. I have had the most insensitive things said to me that have completly broken me. We tried for 2 painful years before I got the dreaded words. you are infertile. People tell me to now give up and have a happy life but i cant 😦

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    • Giving up can easily be said by someone who isn’t in our situation, but it’s just like the cancer or diabetes comparison. Would you ever tell someone else to stop their meds and just give up when there actually is still hope? Definitely not. Hang in there and be true to your heart’s desires.

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  6. Thank you for bringing that to light. I’m sorry you had to deal with such a conversation. There has been a time or two that I had to leave the room.

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  7. Thank you for this post. You are absolutely right! I’ve heard – why don’t you adopt, some people aren’t ment to have kids and just relax. Fertiles can be uber stupid sometimes!!! Above all else, you are 100% right when you say we are all in it together. The IF community provides so much love and support.

    Good luck and love to you on your journey xx

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  8. Ugh! I’m sorry you had to deal with that! Horrible aunt. Your post is amazing though. So well said. I think you should print out a copy of this post and give it to her!

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  9. PREACH! I can totally relate. We are going to a party tomorrow at my hubby’s dad’s house and I am fully expecting comments from everyone. I’m going to do my best not to lose it, but there are no promises.

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