Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Not to Say

For those of you who aren't dealing with infertility, it can be difficult to know what to say to someone who is. How can you be encouraging to them? Let them know that you're there and that you care?

Here are some things that, in my personal experience, have helped and some that haven't.

{1} "My (fill in female friend or relative here) couldn't have kids for (x amount of years) and as soon as they stopped trying, BAM! Pregnant."

We all know this story. It is truly a miracle when it happens. However, infertility is not something that is controlled by how much you try or don't try. I can't just turn it on and off. I know where this story is coming from, the sentiment is there, but ultimately, not helpful.

{2} People quoting scriptures about prayer + faith at me. [[popular example: Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.]]

This person gives the impression that I'm not praying enough, or fasting enough, or trusting God enough, or believing enough. If I were better at praying and believing that God would give me the desires of my heart, then I would get pregnant. Again, this person believes that they are being encouraging, when in reality, they are doing exactly the opposite. They are unintentionally making me feel worse by telling me that my faith is not enough.

{3} "You're not alone!"

For me, this was one of the sweetest things I heard when I started this journey. Just hearing that there are other women, other families, like me, who have experienced this pain of loss, was a healing salve for my wounded heart.

{4} Keep it simple.

Just admit that you don't have an answer, and let me know that you're not here to "fix me."

Also, because so many people struggle with infertility and keep it private, here is a question not to ask couples who don't have children:

Why don't you have children yet? // When are you going to start a family? [[I really despise that phrasing because it implies that the couple isn't a complete "family" because they don't have children.]]

This question has always bothered me simply because, you don't know what private struggles this family is going through. They may be having trouble getting pregnant or they may have even suffered a miscarriage. They'll most likely smile politely and give you a short answer, but on the inside they may want to scream and lash out. [[Okay, this may be just me...]]

I know I can't speak for everyone, but these are just things that I have heard since I started sharing my struggle with others.

My last piece of advice is to just be sensitive to those around you. Don't just assume that everyone has "perfect working" bodies that can just pop out babies like Michelle Duggar. Sometimes it is the most flippant remark that cuts the deepest.

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