Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So your friend is infertile: What {not} to do.

1. Please don't bring up my infertility loudly and in front of a large group of people. It's a very private thing, and I don't necessarily want to share my deepest hurts and desires with all those other people. Conception is very closely related to sex, and my sex life is MY business. Also, #1 can directly lead to #2....

2. If I don't personally tell you about or share my infertility with you, you don't need to bring it up just because you heard about it. For some reason, I'm not yet comfortable sharing that part of my life with you, and you bringing it up can be really painful for me! You may think you're being sensitive, but you're not. If/when I want to talk about it with you, I will.

3. For the love of all that is holy, please stop telling me stories about random people you are related to, know, or heard about who "had infertility" and then got pregnant. These stories DO NOT HELP. I already have to face all the women around me getting pregnant. I have to smile and congratulate them and, although I am truly happy for all pregnant people, it still hurts. I'd rather you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it, than that you tell me that more and more people (who I don't even know!) are pregnant. When I hear you say "I just want to encourage you" followed by a story, piece of advice, etc,  I just want to scream. I'm terribly sorry, but generally I am NOT encouraged by your story. Just because it happened that way for someone else doesn't mean it will happen for me. 

4. I don't really want or need your advice. Just today I was told to a) look up mandrakes in Genesis 30, because they are good for conception, and b) try standing on my head for 15 seconds during sex. Unless I directly ask for your advice (or if you're my mom. moms get free reign. deal with it.) then you can just go ahead and assume that I've already heard of that drug, herb, technique, etc. Either it hasn't worked or I've ruled it out as something I'm uncomfortable with. I'm a big girl, I can research, talk to my doctor, and seek advice on my own. 

5. Please don't try to come up with reasons why this is happening to me. Trust me, I ask God "Why?" a lot, but I'm pretty sure that, should He choose to answer, that answer will be directed at me, not you. If you think I'm infertile because of sin, health, or even because I just can't handle children, you can keep that to yourself. Go ahead and believe whatever you want about the reason, but I really don't want to hear it. 

6. Even with other women who struggle with infertility, I really try not to say that I know exactly how they feel, what they are going through, etc. There is no way that I can have experienced that exact pain, and so I try not to compare. But if you have never gone through infertility, please don't say "I know how you feel. I really wanted children" etc, because chances are, you have no idea what this feels like, and I might resent you for pretending like you do.

Of course there are a million ways to be a good friend to someone with infertility! Pray for us, please! If your close friend is infertile, and she talks to you about it, you really don't need to be afraid of saying the wrong thing! I personally do want to hear about your pregnancy, to hold your baby, etc. I also appreciate you sensitively knowing when to stop talking about babies and change the subject. If you are close to someone with infertility, she'll probably tell you when she wants to talk, and when she doesn't. 
Listen as best you can, offer advice if asked, and just be there for her. If you really must say something, "I'm sorry" is a good go-to! You can also try "That sounds hard/awful/scary/etc." As humans, we tend to feel the need to always relate, to say something, to have our own comparable story to tell, but that's really not helpful to a friend in any kind of crisis. I'm not going to relate to your child birth pain/story. I can only sympathize and remind you of how brave you have been. And you can do the same for me. 


  1. People are awful, aren't they?
    You are always in my prayers. I nag God about you a lot, actually. I'm so very sorry that you're going through this, and I'm so glad that you're writing about it.

  2. Thank you!!!! I think it's about time that someone wrote down some thoughts on this subject (you said it's been done before, but I haven't seen it). I appreciate what I've learned and hope to be sensitive to others in these areas - and think of other ways I can be encouraging. You are in our prayers, and I love your willingness to be so open and encouraging to others by what you share here.

  3. Wow, thanks for the post!! It was very eye-opening for me. I find it really helpful to know exactly what that person (struggling with whatever they are struggling with) tell me how they want me to be. That way I can be "talky" when they want it or "quiet" when they want it. So, thanks for your words!!

  4. I really appreciate this post. As you I am sure you have noticed, my family isn't exactly awesome at being sensitive especially when we cannot relate. I am obviously no exception. This will really help me from putting my foot in my mouth one more time and cause you any extra pain. Thanks