I was older than most women before I started trying for a baby. Despite my best efforts, I was in my late twenties when I met my husband, thirty-one when we got married, and thirty-three before we started trying for a new addition. Two and a half years of trying – two of those years with every fertility intervention my husband and I were comfortable trying – and we faced the fact that I was unlikely to carry our baby. While I didn’t proclaim my barrenness from the rooftops, I never shied away from sharing my story, because I don’t believe infertility should be swept under the rug like some ugly problem. (But that’s a story for another time.)
We grieved the dream of a biological family and started talking next steps of building our family that didn’t involve my uterus. And then… a miracle… I was pregnant!
Since enough people had shared in our infertility journey, we got to hear some expressions of joy that truly made me cringe. I know people meant well, but the rose-petals of their well-wishes often felt like rocks pelted at my bruised heart. Here is a very brief primer of what to avoid saying if you are ever put in the situation where you find out your barren friend now has a bun in the oven. And the only phrase you ever need to remember and you can use Every. Single. Time.
- You just needed to relax! I’m pretty sure most of history has not been conducive to relaxing while procreating. It seems that there have been large portions of time where we were battling war and famine and yet we’ve still managed to amass more than 6 billion people.
- You just needed to give up! Nope. Most things do not happen when you give up. And I seriously doubt that my uterus was just camping out waiting for the time I gave up to kick in.
- You guys must have decided to adopt! I’m sure some people get pregnant after considering adoption. I’m willing to bet it happens just as often as pregnancy happens for people who thought they were done having children or those who were never planning on having children.
These things hurt because if it was really this easy to get pregnant, these would be the first three things reproductive experts would advise. In fact, no one would struggle with infertility because they would just relax, say they weren’t going to try to get pregnant, threaten to sign adoption papers and viola! A bebe.
So, what can you say to that friend who is suddenly pregnant after battling infertility?
What have you heard from well-intentioned friends who missed the mark?