Trying to conceive (TTC) through months of disappointment rips a woman up inside. It's only natural to want to offer a few words to anyone who is struggling to get pregnant, but if you haven't gone through it yourself, it's tough to put yourself in our situation. We know people mean well—we can even acknowledge we may be overly sensitive at times—but sometimes what people say triggers feelings of isolation in what is already a lonely journey.
While there are plenty of tactful, helpful, and compassionate things to say to someones who's struggling with infertility—"I'm sorry. I know it must hurt. You're so strong" and "You so deserve to be a mom. I'll keep praying and hoping for you," for example—there are also plenty of not-so-helpful things that seem to fly out of people's mouths. So please, don't say...
1."Just relax" or "Stop trying so hard."
Yup, I'm sure most of us were super relaxed, oh, say, the first few months of trying. But after those failed tries pile up and stare at you like dirty laundry, relaxing takes a back seat.
2. "Why don't you just adopt?"
Just like, say, the IVF process, the adoption process can be long, arduous and emotionally and financially demanding. Some TTC'ers are at a point in their rough journey where they don't have the resources or emotional reserve to consider adoption. Also, people don't realize the decision to adopt has to be unanimous. Some women I know are ready to start the adoption process, while their partners are still grappling with even accepting adoption as an option, and vice versa. You get what I'm saying—it's complicated.
3. "Have you prayed on it?"
God answers the prayers of the faithful, so maybe TTC'ers aren't faithful? Or maybe we're being punished, because prayer worked so easily for you when you wanted a child. Yes, that's what that gleam in your eye and that wince on your face say to us. Or... maybe it's just bad gas from that bean burrito you had for lunch. Tough to say for sure.
4. "I personally don't believe in fertility treatments."
Oh, no? That's something you wouldn't do? Well, then, good for you. No, actually, if we're speaking plain, then... It's easy for you to say you won't go there, because it means life spared you from being pushed to the point where you're desperate enough to try anything.
5. "Is it him or you?"
Really? This doesn't seem the least bit inappropriate to you?
6. "Not every woman is meant to have a child."
You might as well tell the scoreless peewee baseball team they'll never win a championship! Dang. Talk about a dream killer.
7. "I'm pregnant... I would've told you my happy news sooner, but I didn't know how you'd take it."
I'll tell you how I would've taken it—with a deep-down wince of jealousy and a flash of why-not-me, but I would've swallowed it all down, and hopefully you wouldn't have noticed. Because this is your moment, and we should celebrate.
8. "At least you don't have a sick baby."
Wow, are our only two options really no baby or terribly ill baby? Way to look on the bright side!
9. "It'll happen when it's meant to be."
Nice sentiment, but depending on where your TTC friend is in her journey, this may spark some major resentment against Mother Nature. In her mind, it was meant to be when she fell in love with her partner, or got married, or made sacrifices in preparation of motherhood, or a countless number of things.
10. "That's too bad. It happened to me on my first (second, third, other amazing timing) try!"
Blank stare. Yes, you've told us several times before: your partner only looks at you and you get pregnant. Your second and fourth children are secretly nicknamed Oops 1 and Oops 2. And so on. But, please, just... not now.
11. And once the TTC'er you know is blessed with a pregnancy (Hallelujah!)... "So, how did it finally happen? IVF, IUI?"
Unless theperson you're talking to happily volunteers this info, it's not any of your business. Just don't go there. Be happy for her—even without the nitty-gritty details.