I got another negative pregnancy test. After months and months of trying, and seeing negative pregnancy tests, we decided to get the professional help that was recommended. I met with doctors, was “probed” more times than I can count, was given drugs that I never thought I would take, and have cried often. We spent several thousand dollars just on the first round of fertility drugs and testing, and, yet again, a negative pregnancy test. The disappointment was more overwhelming than I had anticipated. To add to my disappointment, I see pregnancy announcements all over Facebook. I see people complaining about how hard parenthood is and quotes about how rewarding those “special moments” are.
I just want to disappear. Withdraw from social media, withdraw from friends and family who keep telling me to “just keep your head up.” But that’s not the right answer. It feels very lonely.
If you have someone in your life struggling with infertility, here are my suggestions of what not to say:
- “Have you thought about adoption?” Great idea…because that’s the first thing to do to solve the issue of being barren, just take someone else’s kid. No, it’s not about having any kid, it’s about having my child. An integral part of who a woman is, as evidenced by Biblical stories, is her ability to reproduce. If that can’t happen, or is difficult, it is a major identity issue. You can’t just solve it by simply adopting. Not to mention all of the issues with bonding and adoption, but that’s for another blog.
- “At least you can have fun trying.” One can’t, or is very unlikely to have fun trying when sex is so emotionally painful. Sometimes women have issues reproducing because sex is impossible for some reason, which is not a subject one will likely want to bring up. Sex is emotionally exhausting and often triggers emotional pain beyond words when a couple is struggling with infertility.
- “At least…” Don’t even say this phrase. As Brenè Brown says, it is minimizing the person’s experience. No matter what they are going through, saying a sentence that starts with “at least” is NOT empathy. It means you are trying to make yourself feel better because you are uncomfortable. It makes the other person who is suffering feel more alone.
- “When I was trying to get pregnant….” Don’t talk about your story unless you dealt with infertility or you get the other person’s permission to share your story first. Everyone has to wait even if they get pregnant on the first try, so please don’t compare this to the pain and anguish of infertility. Waiting is NOT the same as infertility. Not even close.
- “God has a plan, it will work out!” I’ve heard this one too many times. According to what God “told” people, I should have a baby right now. Also that I should be pregnant with triplets right now. But none of that happened. I wanted to believe it so badly, but it didn’t happen. The truth is, we don’t know what will happen. If God wants it to happen it will. I know this. Being reminded of it minimizes the pain that is present right now. Today is scary. Today is painful. Today I need a hug and a friend who is willing to sit with me and cry. When someone tells me that “It will work out,” I feel shut down – as if my pain is not valid, even though it is.
It is a struggle to keep my head up some days, but sometimes all I need is a hug and a friend to ask me how I am doing and not dismiss my pain.