The Comic Section, Waiting for Baby Bird, When Someone You Know Is Infertile

25 of the Worst Expressions to Say to Your Infertile Friend (and the responses I would like to give)

Since coming out of the infertility closet several years ago, everyone including the male cashier scanning my ovulation prediction kit has offered me their words of comfort, awe-inspiring stories of hope, as well as their golden nuggets of advice. This is why if I had a dollar for every time I was educated on the best vitamins to increase my egg quality or the latest medical science has proven to guarantee conception, I could go out and buy that vacation to Hawaii that my friend suggested I should take. Because after all, her Uncle’s niece who has a friend from college took one and she came home pregnant! With twins!

{Insert fake squeal occupied by an eye roll}

I know! I know! Each person is only trying to provide those of us struggling with comfort and help “fix the problem;” but when it comes to infertility? There are a few expressions I wish people would try to avoid if possible. Would you like to know which ones they are? And are you ready to have a little tongue-in-cheek humor while we are at it? If so, brace yourself because I am not holding back…

Disclaimer: My first language is English, my second is sarcasm. Be advised most of this post is written in my second language.

25 of the worst expressions with border

1.  “Trying to get pregnant is the fun part!  I bet you are enjoying it.

You’re right! What’s there not to enjoy?! For the last several years I have had to schedule intercourse nearly every other day for at least three weeks in a cycle (thanks to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and kick my legs up in the air for 30 minutes afterwards. It’s not only romantic, but supa fun!

2.  “Just remember, there are worse things that could happen.”

True. But try to remember everyone reacts to life’s experiences differently. Your “worst” is probably different from mine. In fact, I know it is; because you said “it was the worst thing ever” when the shoe store didn’t have your size…

3.  “If you drink more water and eat healthier then you would get pregnant.”

This comment always makes me feel at fault for my inability to conceive. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me want to grab another Mountain Dew and Snickers bar while I cry over your helpful suggestion.

4.  “Why do you want kids? You get to sleep in late and do whatever you want.”

I don’t want to sleep in late. I don’t want to travel when I want. Or go shopping whenever I feel like it. What I want is to be a mother to my own children and hear the pitter patter of their tiny feet come running down the hallway on a Saturday morning begging for me to turn on the cartoons. And as crazy as this sounds? I want to pick up toys before bed. Or hear the cries of a newborn who wants to be snuggled at 3am.

5.  “Be thankful you miscarried early before you were too attached.”

I might have only been a few weeks weeks pregnant, but I was attached to my little miracle more than you could ever imagine. In fact, the second I saw those two pink lines, I fell in love. And you know? I am still in love.

6.  “It’s all in God’s hands.” 

I know that genius. And while I trust in His plan and timing, it doesn’t make the struggle any easier to navigate. It just makes it more confusing. 

7.  “It must not be God’s will for you to be a mother”

You wouldn’t go to a paraplegic and tell them that God didn’t intend for them to walk. So why would you tell someone struggling to conceive that God doesn’t intend for them to be a mother? This comment is cruel. Please don’t say it.

8.  “You just need a glass of wine and some sexy underwear!”

Is that all it takes? Why didn’t I think of that? Tonight I’m ditching my granny panties and grabbing my boxed wine. Look out for a pregnancy announcement next month, folks!

9.  Isn’t it funny how people who want kids can’t have them but people who don’t want them seem to have a bunch?”

This is funny to you? Clowns are funny. Monkeys are funny. My husband trying to tell a joke or dance is funny. What isn’t funny is my situation.This comment only makes me feel bitter and angry as it reminds me of just how unfair and unjust life can be.

10.  “Take my children for a while–that will change your mind!”

I know it is usually meant to be a joke, and trust me, I do like to laugh! Even snort when I do. But this? I can’t laugh at this. Besides, I don’t want your snotty, whiny, lip poutin, bratty kid (did I just type that?). Instead, I want my own snotty, whiny, lip poutin, and bratty kid. Not to mention, this “joke” kinda makes it look like you don’t want your kids, which I know you do. So just be mindful about this one, mmmm…k? Especially if they are standing around listening.

11.  “Has your husband tried boxer shorts?”

Do we really need to discuss my husband’s underwear? No. But for the record, he stopped wearing thongs after college. And the boxers you suggest? They will not magically balance my hormones—mature an egg. Or cause my body to ovulate. They just won’t. But oh, how I wish they would!

12.  “You got pregnant once, so I know you can do it again.” 

I completely understand this reaction, and I think it’s a common one for most people to say, especially to someone who struggled so hard to get pregnant in the first place. In fact, it was my nurse’s reaction after she informed me I was going to miscarry. And to be honest, this one never bothered me because I sort of agreed. But after four years of repeated negative pregnancy tests since my loss, this statement no longer provides a glimmer of hope. In fact, it only reminds me that the only time I got knocked up was when the Doctor did it.

13.  “If you would just relax…”

Your Aunt Sally’s niece, who has a friend who lives in California, knows of a neighbor who finally became pregnant after she relaxed? Neato! But did you know there is no medical proof that soaking in the hot tub or taking a few deep breaths makes people more fertile? Not to mention, when you tell me to “just relax,” it only stresses me out more. Capiche?

14.  “Your house is only clean because you don’t have any children.”

But I don’t want a clean house. I want a filthy one like yours. I want Cheerios on the kitchen floor. Puzzles scattered all across the living room. And fingerprints smudged on the window because they were impatiently waiting for their superhero of a daddy to come home.

15.  “Why don’t you just adopt? There are lots of children who need a home!”

You are right! There are lots of children who need a home. Sooooo, why don’t you “just” adopt? Don’t get me wrong; I love adoption and the opportunity to give a child a forever home; it’s just not something I want to do at this time in my life.  Besides, you can’t “just” adopt. It takes thousands upon thousands of dollars…Lawyers…Home studies…References…Classes…

16.  “Maybe God gave you infertility teach you a lesson.”

Is this statement really suppose to make me feel better about myself? Or offer any type of encouragement? Thank goodness I already know that God is loving and only gives good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). Or this comment that I have heard a bazillion times, well, it would keep me up at night.

17.  “You are just thinking about it too much.”

Possibly…but I like to pray continually and without ceasing; therefore, I kinda like to think about it a lot.

18.  “If you stop trying, then it will happen.”

Did I miss health class the day the birds and the bees were discussed? Unless I am the next virgin Mary, I think we have to be trying a little…

19.  “Maybe you should lose some weight.”

If it wasn’t enough that my self-esteem has already taken a hit due to an increase in acne, excess sweating, hot flashes, mood swings, facial hair, and body hair (compliments of PCOS)? Your comment might have just made it take another sharp nosedive. And now I feel the need to run five miles and eat only three peanuts. Thanks.a.bunch.

20.  “You are so young! You have plenty of time.”

Even though I am 30ish and haven’t applied for my AARP card yet, my eggs have. Because according to recent tests, I have the eggs of a 60-year-old woman. So, what’s that you say about being young?

21.  “I bet you wish you hadn’t waited so long.

Actually, I was married in August of 2006 and stopped using protection in January 2007. According to my calculations, I waited a whopping six months…

22.  “I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to try so hard. All my husband has to do is look at me, and BAM!”

Super comforting words right there. Maybe your husband could teach my husband how to “look at me, and then BAM, I could be pregnant too?

23.  “You are so lucky. You don’t know how hard it is to wake up every two hours to feed a baby.”

You are right; I don’t know. But I wish I did. 

24.  My Uncle Bob has a cousin who knows of a friend who has an Aunt that found out she was pregnant after she adopted.  If you adopt, then I guarantee you will get pregnant!

Statistically, I am sure that happens in less than one percent of couples who adopt. But I was never that good at Math; therefore, I might be wrong. It’s probably more like 100%. 

25.  Everything happens for a reason. 

Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Unfortunately, that’s the amount of comfort I get from this comment.

disgusted face

So, there you have it. My personal 25 worst expressions to say to an infertile friend. Wasn’t it fun?! Maybe you read these and realized you had said one. Some. Or maybe all. And up until now, you believed your words were comforting and encouraging. Maybe even supportive. I want you to know this: I get it. Because before I began this struggle to conceive, I said a few of these myself. It’s hard to know what to say to your hurting friend, especially when you haven’t walked in their shoes and dealt with the daily struggles of infertility. Or felt the overwhelming sense of loss from a miscarriage. This is why I want you to know that it is okay. No, really! It’s okay! There is no sense in beating yourself up or kicking yourself in the fanny. I just want you to remember that when your friend confides in you about her struggle, she doesn’t want you to fix her problems, and she isn’t expecting you to have any of the answers. She has her doctor for that. Instead, what she is really coming to you for, and what she needs the most, is your shoulder to cry on. Your ears to listen. And your mouth for… nothing. Because honestly? A warm, sincere hug is far better than most anything you could ever say.

And sweet sister, if you read this list and completely sympathize with each word, remember most people don’t know what they are saying. They don’t realize the comments, the advice, and the questions dig deep into the spaces of your heart that long for a baby. They don’t know the buckets of tears you have shed or the worries and fears that have caused you sleepless nights. Most likely, many do not even know that you are trying, trying, and trying to see those two pink lines. Therefore, as hard as it is, and as much as you want to scream back at them your sarcastic remarks, try instead to look past their words and see their heart. Allow yourself to give them the benefit of the doubt that while they could have bridled their tongue, their words were not malicious in nature. I know it’s hard to do, but for me, in moments like these when forgiving is hard, I remind myself of Jesus. After all, if He can hang on the cross crucified and whisper the words, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” then so can I. And you know, I bet with His help, you can too.

With Love

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129 thoughts on “25 of the Worst Expressions to Say to Your Infertile Friend (and the responses I would like to give)”

  1. I used to be so ignorant of how my words affect other people. Now I just know how others’ words affect me. The way you write is truly beautiful but you still manage to completely hit the nail on the head.

    I have had a m/c at 9 weeks (blighted ovum) with d&c, chemical pregnancy, natural miscarriage at 6 1/2 weeks and an ectopic (they found twins). I am pregnant again – 4 weeks 6 days. I am afraid to move in case something I do “causes” a miscarriage. I was told that my first miscarriage happened because of all my stair walking! When a colleague lost her baby to SIDS, about ten other colleagues came up and told me how “lucky” I was that I lost mine early. I get it – objectively her situation was ten/a hundred times worse and more painful – but the thing is, you just can’t measure grief.

    1. Oh goodness you are so right…you can’t play the “pain olympics” as I call it. We all struggle and grieve in different ways and for different things and in different lengths. Praying for you today. I am believing and speaking Exodus 23:25-26 over you and your baby today. It says, “Worship the Lord your God, and his blessings will be on your food and water. I will take sickness from among you and none will miscarry or be barren in your land.” Love ya girlie!

  2. Elisha,
    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed your blog/website. My husband and I have been TTC for 2 years and I stumbled upon your website a few weeks ago while searching for Bible versus on infertility. I feel like God pointed me to your page on purpose. I have heard all the above expressions from friends who are just trying to help and all they do is prevent me from mentioning my infertility to them again. I feel like reading your blog has given me a great gift – a friend who can give encouragement and reminders of God’s amazing love and plan for us. You have given my emotions a voice when I can’t find the words to express not only my sorrow, but my hope as well. I just want to say thank you and let you know that I am praying for God to fulfill both our desires.

    1. Hey there Lauren! Thank you so much for your sweet words and I’m so glad you have found this page/blog as well! Please, never hesitate to email me or message me on my waiting for baby bird facebook page! I never want anyone to feel discouraged, defeated or alone while on this journey! xo

  3. Umm yes! I have recently heard # 1,4,6,8,10,13,14,15,17,18,20,22,23,24,25. Wow. And most recently, my friend who told me to add “Get pregnant” to my monthly goals list had this response when I told her that we’ve been trying and are trusting the Lord and His timing – “Here’s my advice. When you’re ovulating, go and get a professional massage. Then come home, have sex and you’ll get pregnant! That’s how I got pregnant with Holly.” I was baffled and really hurt by it though I try to have grace for her. People’s comments amaze me. Reading this at least makes me feel not alone and honestly, it’s ok to be frustrated with those comments.

    1. oh girl! It sounds like you have heard it all too! I think the biggest thing we can do is give others grace when they say things that might cause hurt. Most (if not all) do not mean to be hurtful. It’s just that infertility is a tricky subject and they don’t know what to say…or advice to give…so they just start saying things. And some of those things hurt. I know that for me, I said a lot of the things on this list BEFORE i was struggling with infertility. I cringe when I think about it but I hadn’t walked in the shoes of an infertile before and so I couldn’t relate. But now I relate and I wish I didn’t. LOL!

  4. How do you forgive someone who actively tries to use your infertility to hurt you? My partner and I have been TTC for over two years. I have never shown a positive ovulation on any test. I am overweight but trying desperately to lose weight so that we can be referred on to a fertility clinic, which is difficult as I am an emotional eater. Recently during an argument with my cousin she said “Well you’d understand if you have kids, eh?” and I felt white hot rage. She then went on to say that my partner and I would never be parents as we are too lazy to lose weight and that she has her two beautiful children because she deserves them. I can’t get over it and it’s making me a bitter and twisted person. I need advice. Please.

    1. That’s a tough one. For me, forgiveness is more of a spiritual thing. And I have always been taught (and for me it’s been true), that holding on to the anger and unforgiveness of what they did only hurts myself. It’s like holding on to hot coal to throw at them but instead burning yourself. I also like to sing the Taylor Swift song “Shake it off” when someone really rubs me the wrong way 🙂

  5. So what is proper and correct to say? could you provide words of support that are comforting?

    1. Thank you so much for askikg! So sweet of you. Sometimes just saying, “I am so sorry you are going through this. It just seems so unfair” is enough. It is always good to validate their feelings so they don’t feel silly or crazy. Does that make sense?

    2. Sometimes the best thing to do, is let them talk it out and not say anything. Just being there, not belittling or giving “Advice” is the best route to go. I can’t tell you how many times I wish people would just let me talk it out, let me be angry, jealous, sad, pour out my grief and not give me “advice” or switch the subject cause it makes them feel awkward or worse, just tell me to be happy for others and move on. Acknowledging that Infertility is an illness, its an investable illness, and that adoption, foster care, and at times, infertility treatments does not “cure it.” Sometimes the best thing to do is be quiet, let them talk it out and give them a hug. Be a listener, not an Advisor.

  6. I needed this blog, and I needed this post. There are a million words I want to say, but right now, I truly hope that as I wipe my tears and try again this month, you’ll know I mean it when I say thank you.

  7. I felt myself cringing as I read this list remembering each time I’ve heard those phrases, even from my own mom. However, sadly on number 7, you would be surprised at the things people said to my father after he was paralyzed in a freak accident. They asked him what sin he had committed to cause God to punish him and told him God was teaching him something, all while he lay in his hospital bed. Very sad how tactless and heartless people can be.

  8. Oh so true! I’ve been processing infertility through writing and let me tell you, these are so true! I remember opening up to one of the first people outside of my family and close friends that we were struggling to conceive and one of the first comments they responded with was, “Have you ever thought about adopting?”

    1. Ugh! Isn’t that one the worst? It’s like…of course I have! Along with doctors, and vitamins, and supplements, and smoothies, and taking vacations…

  9. As a 44-year-old single (never married, but have always wanted to be) I have heard many of these things in regards to my desire for marriage and children. And I agree with your responses!

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