Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Top Ten Things NOT To Say To Someone Experiencing Infertility

The Top Ten Things Not To Say To Someone Experiencing Infertility

(with bonus pithy commentary)

(1) You need to relax!

Of course, I was experiencing anxiety over this, but telling me that I need to relax sounds like you're blaming me. Infertility is a kind of illness, a malfunction of one of the body's systems, so please treat it that way. You wouldn't tell a cancer patient that she'll get well if she will "relax", would you?

(2) You should just adopt!

Adoption? Why, I've never heard of that! You say you can pay thousands and thousands of dollars, have every aspect of your life scrutinized, get put on a potentially years-long waiting list, and then possibly have the biological parent change her mind? Sign me up!

Seriously, though, this one really irks me. After two miscarriages and several years of infertility testing and treatment, we were tapped out physically, emotionally and financially.

It's not just some kind of checklist you go through

1.Try naturally: Check.
2.Go through testing: Check.
3.Clomid and timed intercourse: Check.
4.Injectables and IUI: Check.
5.IVF: Check.
6.Adoption: Check.
and only when you complete the checklist are you allowed to grieve your inability to have a child. No. No matter where you stop, you're still allowed to grieve.

After spending years trying to become pregnant, considering adoption is a complete switching of gears, and it's just not always possible to do that. Sometimes you just want it all to be over.

The fact that we didn't adopt doesn't mean that we really didn't want children enough. We decided to start a family for the same reasons most people do - we wanted to create a being that was a part of us. Is it selfish? Of course it is. But so what? Most people don't have to think twice about that.

Anyway, it is not the responsibility of infertile couples to take in all the unwanted children of the world. I am in awe of those who have chosen this path, but my heart just wasn't in it. I don't think one should do it under those circumstances. That doesn't seem terribly fair to anyone, especially the child.

And I wonder if couples who already have one or two of their own biological children and are considering having another ever have this suggested in such a dismissive way. After all, if anyone should consider adoption, it should be those who have already been blessed, right?

Look, it's just a very personal decision, and it's not the "answer" to every couple's infertility problem, nor is it the solution to world hunger and poverty.

(3) You want kids? Please, take mine!

Oh, I get it. Raising kids is hard! Thanks, but I think I already knew this. And besides, I don't want your kids. They're funny looking and rude (I'm kidding - your children are adorable). Also, you don't really mean this. You're just trying to be cute, and you're not succeeding.

(4) There's probably a reason for it.

Like, maybe, my child iss going to be the next Hitler or Manson? Something like that?

I do actually know the reason for one of my miscarriages. It was an abnormality resulting in a fetus with a genetic makeup that was "incompatible with life". (That's exactly the way it was phrased in the report. I find it kind of strangely poetic.) But, what was the reason behind that? It's simple: there is no reason for these things.

Would you ever tell a parent with a severely deformed child that there was a reason for it?

Sometimes bad stuff just happens, and that's that. At least that's the way I look at things. Please respect that.

(5) Oh, you're still young. It'll happen.

I'm not that young and how do you know it'll happen?

You are not clairvoyant. Don't give me false hope based on nothing more than your need to be "supportive".

(6) My cousin adopted a baby, and then one year later, boom, she was pregnant!

Well that's certainly a good reason to adopt, isn't it? I'm also pretty sure this doesn't always work. I can just hear the discussion now...

Joey: Mom and Dad, why did you adopt me?

Mom and Dad: Well, we really thought that, if we adopted a baby, then we'd get pregnant.

Joey: But I don't have a brother or a sister. So it didn't work, right?

Mom and Dad: No it didn't. But we've got you. And you're the next best thing! (Joey is now in therapy.)

(7) Have you tried accupuncture - meditation - standing on your head after sex, etc.?

Certainly not all at the same time! But, yes, believe me, we explored just about every avenue, be it based on medical science or on an old wives tale. We even went to a Chinese herbalist, who kept talking about "the house of the baby" (I assume he was referring to my uterus), and I spent two weeks drinking some sort of dark brown liquid twice a day that tasted like a combination of tree bark and liver. It made me want to throw up, which is the closest to pregnant I got with it!

(8) I wish I had that problem!

So you're...what? Hyperfertile? There are things you can take for that, you know. Now please go away before your water breaks on my carpet.

(9) There are too many people in the world anyway.

Thank you Mr. Malthus! I fully realize this, and I promise that, if I'm lucky enough to have one, I'll immediately kill myself so it'll all even out.

Besides, you should be talking to the Duggar family. They live in Tontitown, Arkansas, and they probably have their own page in the phone book.

(10) I think that people who have infertility treatments are selfish.

I am actually torn on this one. I did think it was kind of selfish when I was going through it. Selfish for me - I'd never judge someone else for it. It was also incredibly expensive and mostly not covered by insurance. I know that medical resources are a finite commodity, so, yes, I was conflicted. I went as far as considering IVF, but took one look at the procedure and knew that I just couldn't go through with it.

But is it only the treatment that's selfish, or the desire for a child in the first place? Frankly, I thought they were both selfish (again, for me), but it seems like it's only the infertile person who is "lucky" enough to hear this one.

In situations like this, here's a good rule of thumb: Not every opinion that is in your head needs to be voiced.