These tips on talking to people who are coping with infertility are from a woman who can’t have children. Knowing what to and not to say to a woman who can’t get pregnant – or a man who can’t get his partner pregnant – can be a challenge.
I’m reading this book called Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families by Diane Ehrensaft, PhD. It’s a fabulous book, all about the benefits and drawbacks of donor sperm, surrogate parenting, fertility treatments, and telling kids about their genesis. Click on the book cover for more info, and read on for Anastacia’s tips on talking to people who are coping with infertility.
Below is my interview with Anastacia, which will give you tips on talking with people coping with infertility. If you yourself are coping with infertility, you might find How to Deal With Depression When You Can’t Get Pregnant helpful.
How to Talk to People Who Are Coping With Infertility
“Remember that infertility is above all a medical condition,” says Anastacia, who is coping with female infertility. “Treat it like any other medical condition. Be sensitive.”
What is the most insensitive or hurtful thing someone has said to you about infertility?
“Just adopt.” My sister-in-law said this to me; she has four easily conceived children with my husband’s brother.
But adoption isn’t merely a case of picking up a baby from the local adoption store. Often it is a very long process that involves lots of money, time, and emotional risk as potential adoptive families are asked to put all aspects of their lives out for questioning in a way never asked of fertile couples.
Is there anyone in your life who does understand, or who knows the right thing to say?
A few of my close friends. One went through a six month miscarriage and two subsequently difficult pregnancies. While she was able to get pregnant easily twice, she did not have easy labors. She never rubs it in my face.
What do you recommend that people say when they know that infertility is an issue?
Understand that infertility is above all a medical condition. Treat it like any other medical condition. Be sensitive. Just as you would not brag about your fabulous health to someone struggling with depression or mobility issues, you shouldn’t go into great detail about how easy it was to conceive your children to someone who has been through five failed IUI’s.
If you can’t get pregnant but aren’t sure if you’re coping with infertility, read 10 Most Common Signs of Infertility in Women and Men.
Does it get easier to cope with infertility, and with people’s remarks or questions?
No. I think it gets harder in some ways. I find very little sympathy or understanding for the infertile. As time passes I find that people often expect you to get over it while you may still be mourning. As we’ve gone through our sad infertility journey I find myself less and less open about the subject.
What would surprise people to learn about coping with inferility?
Just how hard it is for many people. One study from Harvard Medical School found that women with infertility had levels of emotional distress equal to patients with cancer or heart disease.
Infertility is particularly hard for women. Women tend to invest a much larger part of themselves into creating a family. When you’re denied that opportunity you’re shut off from a large part of the female community. Your friends move on with their lives. They have the perfect family. You feel as if you’re sitting on the sidelines watching life go by for other people while it goes nowhere for you.
What about you? If you have any advice or suggestions for talking to people coping with infertility, please do share them here. I’d love to hear what you think.
One of my most popular articles is Reasons You Can’t Get Pregnant – A Fertility Checklist. You might find it helpful if you’re trying to conceive.
May you find peace and acceptance, whether you or a loved one is coping with infertility.