Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To Say or Not to Say?

I mentioned here that there are good and bad things to say to a person dealing with infertility. While most people mean well, their comments can be hurtful and even harmful. Here is my list of do’s and don’ts.

What not to say:
  • Are you pregnant?! If she is, let her tell you in her own time and her own way. A person dealing with infertility has to tell herself and her husband every month that she is not pregnant. Don’t make her say it again.
  • I know of so many people who got pregnant as soon as they started the adoption process. You may know people in that situation; however, it is not the norm. In fact, the statistics are very low. And also, adoption shouldn’t be used as a good luck charm.
  • I had a friend who just did _____, then got pregnant right away. You should try ___. Maybe yoga fertility poses and all-natural deodorant worked for your friend. Or maybe she would have gotten pregnant without those things. Either way, just because something worked for one person doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
What to say:
  • How are you doing with the infertility process? By asking the question, you show that you care and that you understand she is in a tough season. 
  • Do you want to talk about it? If she doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t push. 
  • I have walked with several friends through infertility. Are you interested in suggestions? Maybe your friends did find the secret to success. Before offering advice, ask if your friend is interested. She could be experiencing information overload already.
  • Which emotions are winning in you lately? Infertility brings about a mixture of emotions: hope, fear, sadness, discontentment, frustration, confusion, and more. Those emotions can tend toward unhealthy feelings: bitterness, envy, anger. Give your friend room to express emotion, but don’t let her be swallowed by sinful thoughts.
  • What do you need right now: a distraction, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to listen,...? Infertility can be a cloud over every aspect of life. Getting distracted from it can be helpful. Sometimes, you just need to cry. Other times, you need to process out loud.
Please remember that nobody is perfect. You may say the wrong thing. Hopefully, your friend will learn not to take offense where none is intended. Most likely, she will appreciate your intentionality.


  1. This post is extremely helpful in knowing what to/what not to say. The hardest thing is that you have good intentions in asking, but it comes across as hurtful. Having some ideas/topics of what to bring up is eye opening.

    1. I think most people really do have good intentions. Through this blog, I am hoping to give people with good intentions a look inside infertility that helps them be more sensitive.

  2. The problem with me is that I so.badly want to fix everyone's problems. As if I could! It's the mom in me. So used to helping/advising/guiding my children that I sometimes forget they don't really need that from me any longer. It's hard on a mom when she realizes that she's really not needed anymore. So when I say stupid things like, "Have you tried this tea, or read that book, or checked out such and such?", I don't mean to be hurtful or to pry. Thanks for sharing your insights and feelings and challenges with us during this difficult journey. I am so glad that you wrote this blog and pray that many other hurting couples dealing with infertility will be encouraged by your words.

    1. Moms are always needed. There is no age at which a mom's guidance is no longer needed. Suggestions and recommendations can be helpful, but timing is important. I think just asking someone if they are open to a suggestion is an extra kindness.