Setting the scene: You're at a baby shower and you turn to friend A and ask, "When are you guys going to have a baby." Friend A gives you a weary look and blindsides you with the Infertility Bomb. What do you say? In my experience most people say the wrong thing. That's why I feel compelled to educate as many people as possible about inappropriate and appropriate comments.
We Infertiles know that most inappropriate comments usually come from a good place. I'm sure that even I'm guilty of some of these inappropriate comments myself, pre-infertility of course.
First, let's start with the most obvious. The comment that invokes Fury from the depths of our souls... under NO circumstances should you utter the word RELAX... or any variation of the word. I know you have heard many stories of women who relaxed... stopped stressing... didn't think about it... and got pregnant. For most Infertiles relaxing does not make a baby. We have actual medical problems that cause our infertility. Also, I'm sure you have been really stressed about something and then someone told you to "relax". Did you relax? I'm thinking not.
The second inappropriate comment is a bit trickier. For newer Infertiles this offense is not as bad as it is for a veteran Infertile such as myself. -Please try to refrain from giving us medical advice. Do you know how many times I've been asked, "Have you tried an ovulation predictor?" Just once I want to say, "Oh my gosh! My team of highly skilled Reproductive Endocrinoglists never thought of that!" I do still welcome a suggestion of an herb or vitamin that might increase fertility but I guess that's because my doctors don't give me recommendations for those. Try to think of it this way... If I told you I was diabetic would you say, "Have you tried insulin? I've heard it's helpful." No because you would assume my doctors would have gone over that with me.
The third inappropriate comment is more about the way it is delivered rather than the actual comment. When an Infertile confides in you, try not to immediately tell her about your friend's cousin who went through the same thing. The problem here is that it seems like you are trying to disregard our issues. As if you are saying, "Well this random person I heard about got pregnant after having issues so I'm sure you will too. Problem solved." Ummm. Problem NOT solved. Just because someone else got pregnant after trying for three years doesn't mean that I will. But like I mentioned, it's all about the delivery. I am encouraged by success stories and I welcome them... just don't try to offer them as a solution. Encouragement only.
I know that it can be awkward for you Fertile Myrtles out there so here are a few suggestions of appropriate comments: "I am so sorry. I will pray for you." OR "I had no idea you were going through such a struggle. Is there anything I can do to help?" OR "I'm here if you ever need someone to talk to." It's that simple. You can also ask some questions, if you like, and gauge by her reaction how far to dive into her personal issues. The most important thing is to be sincere and thoughtful of her emotions.
I hope this helps the next time you meet one of my fellow Infertiles.