Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Woman Who’s Trying To Conceive
My husband and I have been trying to conceive for a year and a half. For those of you with a magic uterus or a vast misunderstanding of reproductive health, that’s right around the time of fertility tests and drugs. I’ll spare you the innermost workings of my vagina (partly ’cause you don’t want to know and mostly ’cause it’s my own damn business) but basically, shit ain’t easy.
The thing is, it hurts. Every month thinking this could be the one and every month getting a big, red “NOPE!”. And we struggle, we cry, we wipe our tears, and we try again. It’s grueling. But you don’t understand that. And in a way I’m kind of glad that for whatever reason (you already have six kids, you don’t have and don’t want any, you’re a man) you’ve never experienced this. But on the other hand I just want you to shut up.
So here are some things you need to stop saying:
“When are you going to have kids?”
This is from those that don’t already know we’ve been trying. This is also something I think that should never be asked to any person. This is a big, fat, none of your business type of question. It’s asked by everyone to any female (regardless of age) and any male newlywed. You don’t know what is happening in that person’s life. You don’t know if they have a uterus, if they have sperm, if they just flat out don’t want children but don’t want to explain that to you because you’ll just tell them that they’ll change their mind when they’re older.
Which, by the way, is ridiculous. Stop telling other humans what they want. If we stop telling people that they need to have children to fulfill themselves then there would be a lot less children in foster care. Some women are not maternal and know it. And that’s ok! Let them alone.
But I digress. Point is, this is a nosy question that no one really needs to know the answer to. If we’re going to have kids you’ll find out when I get steadily rounder for 9 months and then start carrying around a tiny human. But if you ask this question you might be deepening a wound you don’t see. Because the honest answer is “I don’t know.”
“Oh, you just need to stop trying!”
Listen, cupcake, this isn’t Baby Jesus. My uterus isn’t going to start growing a human of its own accord. God loves me, but probably not enough to put his second begotten son in there. And my husband’s sperm isn’t going to osmosis its way out of his testicles, through the air, and into my body. We’re going to have to “try”. In fact, we’re going to have to try harder. Calendars are involved now. Charts, graphs, fertility drugs, shots, pee sticks, tests. Shit just got real, y’all.
But you don’t understand that, because you didn’t have to go through that. You probably got off birth control cause y’all thought you’d start trying soon (or more realistically just forgot the birth control this time) and after a night of too much wine, cheesy music, and a movie you don’t remember… BAM! Totally preggers. But we’re passed that point. You need to respect me and my knowledge of the situation. I know what we need to be doing.
“It’s all God’s plan”
OK. I get what you’re trying to do but stop. I don’t need things to be put in perspective. Also, I personally consider this a misinterpretation of what God does. He’s not some puppeteer that has everything in the universe micromanaged. Sometimes shit happens. Sin in the world has caused some pretty terrible things. Murder isn’t God’s plan; rape isn’t God’s plan; starvation, disease, homelessness, these aren’t part of God’s plan. And while infertility isn’t as serious as these, it’s not his plan either. He loves me but again, that doesn’t mean a baby will flutter down from heaven into my lap. I can’t pray hard enough. That’s just not how it works.
“Agh, you can just take mine!”
Really? Can I? Can I just take yours? This is usually uttered by a friend that knows about my infertility but doesn’t empathize. They love me and might be trying to lighten up the situation. It doesn’t work. I find it incredibly insensitive. One, I obviously cannot have your children. I’ll watch your child if that’s what you’re really getting at, but just say so. Don’t beat around the bush and act like trading your kids is funny.
Two, this makes it seem like you don’t appreciate this amazing gift you have. I understand raising children isn’t easy. They’re a lot of work. They scream and cry and sass. They are messy and expensive and don’t appreciate everything you do for them. I get it. They’re just straight up hard. And sometimes you need a break. But to tell someone who can’t have a child of their own; who is trying everything but hasn’t experienced that unforgettable feeling of life inside of them; who would do anything just to see those double lines; that they can essentially watch your kids. It’s not a consolation prize.
“You can always adopt.”
No one ever realizes the gravity of this statement. It’s presumptuous and shows me that you haven’t the slightest idea what the adoption process entails. Some people don’t have the heart for adoption. And that’s ok. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to do it. They aren’t better or worse people, just different. When you say this to someone who can’t do it, you make them feel guilty.
Then there are those of us that would adopt if we could. Again, you obviously don’t understand what goes into it. To adopt a newly born child is anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. This price can get higher depending on state, parentage, and race of the child (but go ahead, try to tell me we don’t have a race problem in America). Through foster care this can be much cheaper but let me explain the process.
After about six months to a year of foster training and state approval you become a foster parent. You can then get a newly born child. However, the goal of being a foster family is an eventual reunion with the birth family. That is always your number one goal. Foster care systems make that very clear. The birth family has a year to get their shit together; take classes, go to meetings, get a job, secure a home, whatever it is that they need to do. After a year if they haven’t gotten what they need done, foster care begins the termination of parental rights. The parents can appeal this for another year.
So think about that. I could get a newly born child. Raise it for the first two to three years of it’s life and have it taken away from me. Do you have a no soul? A stone heart? Because I don’t.
“This is what worked for me…”
Followed by some needlessly TMI conception advice. Just don’t. I shouldn’t have to tell you that no one wants to know this. You’re making everyone uncomfortable. I also shouldn’t have to tell you, but I will because clearly you were raised in a state with terrible sex education, that every woman is different. What worked for you will probably not work for me. Seriously, just don’t.
“What about In Vitro?”
Again, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. Also, YOU ARE NOT MY DOCTOR. I’ll explain this because of that shitty state’s education of yours. IVF involves removing an egg from my body, sperm from my husband’s, combining them in a dish, and then replacing it back in my body. It cost anywhere from $12,000-$15,000. Oh yea, and IT MIGHT NOT WORK. In fact, there’s a 60% IVF failure rate for my age range. (or a 39.8% success rate on those optimistic, IVF pushing websites) We could pay all that money (that we don’t have) and the embryo might not take. I lack a stone heart, we’ve been over this.
“Don’t worry, it’ll happen.”
Actually, it might not. You don’t know anything. Again, you are not my doctor. You aren’t some all-powerful entity that sees into the future. And again, I know you mean well. You’re trying to make me feel better, raise my spirits by telling me to be positive or have a good outlook. But we need to face the facts sometimes. What if this doesn’t happen? What if I can’t carry a child? What if I get pregnant and lose the baby? We need to deal with this very real possibility. Telling me over and over again that it will happen raises my hopes, gets me excited, has me thinking of baby names and what the nursery will look like. And then over and over again it doesn’t happen. And with every red dot on my underwear, delivering the Morse coded message “Not this time”, it hurts more and more. Your temporary hopeful message crushes my soul later on.
So there’s a list. It doesn’t include everything but you get the idea. My vagina is none of your business. If I share my infertility with you, be kind. Open your heart; experience some compassion and empathy. If you’re worried whether or not you’ll say the right thing, you don’t have to say anything. Hug me, love me, pray for me if that’s what you want to do. Understand that I’m struggling, that it is so much more than having baby. It’s my whole body, my mental health, my marriage, my career, my entire future plans. Everything is affected by this. And it hurts.