Challenging If Well-Meant Comments

Part of the infertility challenge is coping with comments by well-meaning friends and relatives who haven't got a clue how insensitive their words sound to your ears. The things they say can be downright painful. You may even find yourself tossing and turning for nights on end, unable to sleep and unable to stop those hurtful words from repeating in your head, over and over again. What follows are some typical comments.

Happy Endings

"We had these friends who tried (insert whichever works here: adoption, IVF, having sex at 4:53 each afternoon for seven days straight) and became pregnant right away."

This comment is meant to give you a positive outlook on a bad situation. People think that if they tell you a story with a happy ending, you will feel better about your chances for conception. But the unfortunate fact is that all these comments do is make you feel like you are the unlucky one for whom none of the appropriate steps will work. It underpins the point that these things work for everyone except for you.

"So…I guess…you don't want children?"

Social Deviant?

Some people call this a nosy comment. But in most cases, the intentions are benign. This person can't figure out why such a nice couple wouldn't want to become parents. There's a societal expectation that children are a natural consequence and desire of married folk, so if you don't have them, it must be you don't want them. Though nothing could be further from the truth in your case, it is hard to answer such questions. You don't want to give too much personal information while on the other hand; you don't want to be viewed as a social deviant. This is an awkward one, for sure.

"So, my Man—what's the issue here? Are you shooting blanks? [hearty laughter and pat on the back]"

Coping Mechanism

You know it's true: men equate fertility with virility. Manly men can impregnate their wives. Wimps cannot. Think about the source, though. These comments are always from men. Men can't cope with discussing fertility issues so they make jokes. They use humor as a coping mechanism. But it also reassures them.

What they're really saying is, "Are you shooting blanks? I'm not. You're not okay, but I still am." Or at least he'll be okay until his prostate swells in middle age and he needs to ask his doctor for a prescription for Viagra. He's insensitive, but true to his species.

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