Monday, 15 November 2010

I say, I say, I say

I got an anonymous comment on Friday's post (the one about how the fertiles tend to mishear us somewhat) it said:

On behalf of your fertile readership (I know we are in the minority!), can I request a follow up post to this with suggestions of what is the right thing to say. It can be a hard thing to get right!

As I was rubbing my hands with glee, and contemplating my response, I got a phone call from a mate.

She apologised for writing the comment, explaining that she was in a bad mood at the time.

I hadn’t even read the comment in a negative way (as trolls go my friends have a lot to learn), but it did get me thinking about how I can be misinterpreted.

So let me be clear.

Despite my acerbic rantings, I don't hate fertile folk, all some most of my best friends are fertile.

I would do anything to be fertile. (Well, I don’t know about anything, but certainly IVF).

Any bitterness that you detect in my writing is jealousy. Pure and simple. But not the sort of jealousy when you don't want anyone else to have what you don't.

That, plus the fact that I’ll do anything for a laugh, even a bit of fertile-bashing.

Please, don't take me too seriously.

And as for saying the wrong thing, if anyone understands 'foot in mouth' syndrome it is me. Remember, I am the girl who asked her friend, on his way to a funeral, whether he had a dead body in his car.

So back to the original question. What should you say?

Don't give advice, don't try and say what you think the infertiles want to hear (like how you met someone who got pregnant with IVF, or didn't get pregnant with IVF but then got pregnant when she gave up, or was told she could never get pregnant but then just chilled the fuck out and bingo).

Just say that you are sorry, and of course, "You should read this blog I know, Womb For Improvement, it's awesome."

That'd be good.


  1. At least your friend had the courage to say it was her! Good friend. I get what you mean, most of my spewing anger comes from being so jealous that I am infertile and they are not. Good luck with the IVF when does it officially start? And I hope your sister is coping well too.

  2. The one I've heard a lot, especially in response to my miscarriages is: everything happens for a reason. I want to punch people in the face when they say that. How horribly inappropriate.

  3. I didn't take that comment as rude either - probably because I ask the same question all the time. What is a good thing to say? I know what I don't want to hear, but I never know what to say. Other than "I'm sorry"

  4. Agree with "myprettyones"...My most hated comments are the, "everything happens for a reason," and the "your time will come." I consider those up there with "you just need to relax and it will happen," and "G-d knows best." I'm not sure what the latter is supposed to mean exactly...

  5. "just chilled the fuck out and bingo".... thanks, I needed a good laugh today!

  6. I'd like to add - don't offer suggestions on how to conceive. I really hate that. The dumbest "suggestion" that I got from a super-fertile friend was "have lots of sex". My response: "really, you have to have sex to get pregnant? Why didn't you say something sooner?"

    In a small twist of irony it's the infertile that know every little thing on how to get pg, and the fertile really don't know anything!

  7. It's so funny that you are writing this! I had a very similar thing happen to me, only my situation wasn't quite so positive. My friend anonymously wrote, "you should be thanking your family and friends that have to deal with you. It's not easy walking on eggshells" in reply to my blog about what to not say to an infertile.
    Long story short she randomly fessed up and was very apologetic etc...

    Anyhow, I love your response, and I think it's pretty much a copy and paste of how many IF girls feel!


  8. I second that advice. I'm aware that I can sometimes be a mine field for my fertile friends. Sometimes I feel badly because of it. But mostly I want to tell them, "Well, look at it this way. You might have to deal with my occasional irritability. But at least you're fertile. So that's a nice consolation prize."

    No, not really. (Except for sometimes).

    A mine field, I tell you.

  9. I just cringed every time someone would say "Just go get drunk" it worked for me....

    Well I suppose if I were drunk and 18 and in the back seat of a car it would have worked for me too.

    I know people meant well, but it annoyed that crap out of me. On the flip side, after I had a baby I was an open book I would tell any trying couple anything and everything that I went thru, just in case it helped them. But I never once told them to get drunk.

    One that really stung was when my neighbor and my friend made comments about how fast it was for them, that they had only been trying one time and gee they must just be super fertile. Just so,so insensitive.

    Ironically I did do a couple months worth of drinking prior to conception, however I do not believe that this is what helped me get pregnant. Also I was not 18 and not in the back seat of a car. haha

  10. It's amazing how far a "this sucks" and "I'm sorry" will go. In my book those are a great place to start and end. Especially if the next thing you want to say is that everything happens for a reason.

    Anything, really would give anything for a chance to be just like anybody else. It's a kind of special that no one wants to be after all.

  11. Just to add to the list of things that fertiles should never say to someone having trouble conceiving: complaining about the minor inconveniences of parenthood. The difficulty of finding a good babysitter/creche, those early mornings... Because they think somehow it will make us feel better about it all?

    They should count their blessings they have a child at all, and be lucky not to get their lights punched out.

  12. As I've said before, my own fertility has been a shock at times - if only I'd taken more care with contraception! That's not to rub salt in, I'm just embarrassed by it and the incredible injustice. Why isn't fertility linked to something in your head? The more you desire to have children the more fertile you ought to be.

    On the other side of the great divide, I hate people who offer 'well-meaning' solace to my lament about my disabled son's needs. They say I should arrange for myself a bit of respite, but never offer to lend a practical hand. And when I say, "Why couldn't all my children be healthy and normal?" The one that gets me in the gut is: "God chooses people who'll be the best parents for a disabled child."

    I still think your best answer lies in the 'wear orange' idea. You'll look mad but cheerful. It's as helpful as having lots of sex and keeping your fingers crossed. My goodness, you deserve a little bun in the oven. I'd offer you my eggs to bake with if I could be sure not to pass on a rotten one.

  13. I wouldn't have taken that as a negative comment either. As for what to say, limiting it to "I'm sorry" and/or "this sucks" may be best (see Misfit above). Sometimes there are just not so many helpful things to be said, especially if "you" have everything we want.

  14. Wow, quite a flood of response. Thanks for the honesty. I think the problem is that a simple 'I'm so sorry' seems woefully inadequate at times so we foolishly flounder around for something that seems a bit more positive or constructive, partly out of embarrasment that it is all so sodding unfair. I suppose the only excuse I can offer is that generally the intention is to try and provide comfort although often we get it it horribly off key - as the hilarious funeral incident demonstrates! Will try and stick to the simple sorry in future- this is the last time I try this blogging business..

  15. "I'm sorry" is always the safe way to go, whether it's regarding infertility, deaths, or any one of life's awesome gut punches.

  16. You're right, I can think of a lot more things I'd rather NOT hear than anything else. I never want to hear, "Stop stressing (or just relax) and it'll happen," or "here, you can have one of mine," or the always awful "everything for a reason" response.

  17. As someone of unknown fertility status (the pill is my friend for the moment) I usually start with "I'm so sorry"/"that must really suck"/"how awful" and see how they want to go from there.

    The bonus is it works for any situations involving health problems and/or grief. No-one wants to be told what to do or how to feel: they want you to listen and support.

  18. Hmm. If we were a special ops unit - and why not? - our service dictum would be NEVER ASSUME, I reckon. That's the best thing I learned from All This. So Sympathise and Then Just Listen is great advice, because any individual's feelings are unique on any given day.

  19. "I'm sorry" does sometimes seem inadequate, but in all honesty it's probably the best thing to say.
    The things that really get to me are:
    "It wasn't meant to be" (re my miscarriages)
    "Just relax and be happy"
    "Maybe God doesn't want you to be a parent."

    I think the thing to do as a fertile person talking to an infertile is not to offer advice, unless specifically asked for. Don't try and find a reason for it. Offer to listen if they want, and do just that - listen without comment (except for sympathy) and don't talk about your children constantly, especially don't complain about them.

    At the end of the day, nobody gets it quite right. None of my fertile friends have been perfect, though most of them have tried very hard to be tactful and compassionate and that means the world to me. The only ones who have got it right are those who have been through infertility themselves and managed to struggle out the other side.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!