The Best of Intentions

I’ve struggled with this post for a long time.  I start to write it, and then I delete, and then I start all over again.  The thing is, I know that the people who say the things I’m talking about say those things with the best of intentions.  I know they aren’t meant to be hurtful.  Still, what happens when they are said is that I feel hurt, and someone walks away from the conversation thinking they’ve been helpful.  So, while I don’t want to offend anyone, this has been a big part of my infertility experience, and I want to share it in the hopes of educating people on the best way to talk to your infertile friend.  I don’t ever want people to feel like they have to tiptoe around me when they talk, but I think that people often just don’t know what to say.  While I can’t speak for everyone, here’s what drives me nuts…

  1. You could stop all of this and just adopt. Yeah.  I could.  The thing is, I’m not ready for that step yet.  Adoption is also extremely expensive…and not covered by my insurance.  Are you offering to pay for it?
  2. Everything happens for a reason. Ever notice how people only say this about bad things?  No one ever says, “Everything happens for a reason,” after you get engaged or get a promotion.  They say it after you break up, or lose your job, or can’t have a baby.  It really doesn’t make anyone feel better.  The reason I’m not pregnant is because I have endometriosis, not some great cosmic plan.
  3. You’re trying too hard.  Just relax and it will happen. I’ve got to tell you that this one really burns my cookies.  What exactly is trying too had when it comes to making a baby?  You do know that if I stopped “trying” I wouldn’t get pregnant.  I’m not really in the market for an immaculate conception here.
  4. It’s not the end of the world.  Worse things have happened. Wow.  Way to diminish the sucktasm that is infertility.  Did you know that women who go through infertility have the same stress levels as those who face terminal illness?  Of course I know it’s not the end of the world.  Most things aren’t.  My dad’s cancer isn’t the end of the world either.  Neither is war, famine, or death.  They still really suck though.
  5. I just know it’s going to work this time. I know this is meant to be supportive, but it really just puts more pressure on me, and it ends up making me feel like shit when it doesn’t work.
  6. My friend/aunt/sister/cousin/coworker tried drinking green tea/clomid/IUI/IVF/standing on her head after sex/cranberry juice and she got pregnant/didn’t get pregnant/had 8 babies/gave birth to an elephant/died. Again, I know you are trying to find a way to relate, but hearing other people’s crazy baby-making stories doesn’t really help me any…especially when you don’t even know the true details of what happened to them.  Most of the time I get half of the story, and it has nothing to do with my story.
  7. I know how hard this is for you. No.  You don’t.  I’m sorry to be blunt, but unless you’ve been through this yourself, you have no idea how hard this is.

Have I completely pissed you off yet?  I hope not!  Please know that I probably would have said some of these things myself if I hadn’t had the experiences I’ve had.  So, what should you say?  These are a few of my favorite things that people say to me…

  1. How are you feeling?
  2. I love you.
  3. I’m here for you if you ever want to talk.
  4. Do you want to go get a non-caffeinated non-alcoholic beverage with me?
  5. I’m thinking/praying/hoping for you.
  6. That really sucks.
  7. I know I can’t say anything to help, but I’m here if you need me.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, I hope you don’t all quit reading my blog!  I really do love you all, and I appreciate the support you give me by reading about all of my infertility nonsense, especially since most of you aren’t going through it yourselves.


  1. I’m sorry. It really is meant with the best of intentions.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..I’ll be the girl in the back, with the turkey on her head. =-.

  2. This is a great post. I know I probaly said a lot of those things before I found myself in the infertile club. The adoption one is the one that gets to me the most. I know people mean well but adoption is a HUGE deal. You’d have to really feel as though you are ready to love and parent a child that is not biological and feel as though it is what you are MEANT to do. It’s not like buying boots “Well, they didn’t have the pair I wanted so I’ll get these boots instead”- how would it be fair to a child if I adopted because I can’t get pregnant rather than because I had the DESIRE to adopt? Add the expense to that and I swear that one just rubs me the wrong way!

  3. Well, you didn’t tick me off!! I actually appreciate this post. I have no idea how it feels to be in your shoes. I am desperately baby hungry, but we can’t even think about trying until I lose 200 lbs. Yep, 200. People say dumb things to me also about losing weight. And I just want to say to them: “shut up! You trying to lose 20 lbs is NOTHING like me trying to lose 200.”

    So BRAVO to you for writing this post. I might take it as inspiration to write my own.

    And to you, I just want to say: “How are you feeling? I love you. I’m here for you if you ever want to talk. Do you want to go get a non-caffeinated non-alcoholic beverage with me? I’m thinking/praying/hoping for you. That really sucks. I know I can’t say anything to help, but I’m here if you need me.
    .-= Aimee´s last blog ..Asthma … =-.

  4. I love you. Period. 🙂
    .-= Phil´s last blog ..Bad, Bessie! Bad, Bad Bessie! =-.

  5. Truthfully, I’m glad you posted this!! I know it’s been swirling around your head forever and it’s just about time everyone has a mini-lesson on how to sympathize with grief of any kind. That said, let’s go out for non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks soon. Come visit my new house after next weekend and I’ll whip up some hot apple cider!
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..When did my uterine activity become public fodder? =-.

  6. I’m glad you put this out there. I want so, so badly to help you feel better where I can, but it can be hard to find the right words.
    .-= Allie´s last blog ..Collaborative Photo 6: Sommelier =-.

  7. Thank you. You’re right, I never know what to say to my friends that are going through this. I always try, because to not try seems worse than saying nothing. I know I have said some of the things on the BAD list, but I will be saying different things to my friends who are going through this next time.
    .-= BM´s last blog ..Strike negotiations =-.

  8. I feel for you in this. My dad has cancer (and I know yours does too, so you probably get similar comments to these in that case!), and many of these sentiments echo how I feel about what people say during ANY hard time. I know that intentions are good during any difficult situation, but often times people don’t realize how hurtful things can be. That being said, I am thinking of you and hoping for you. Take good care.

  9. Aw Erin, this is so good to have out there. People just get so awkward and say the wrong things. For what it’s worth:

    #2, and #6. You guys are so brave. #5, and while in reality #7.


  10. Definitely not offended! And just so you know I will continue to think, pray and hope for you. 🙂
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Release… =-.

  11. Ah, the best of intentions.. making us feel like crap, 99% of the time. Hugs to you!
    .-= alyndabear´s last blog ..Round Here. =-.

  12. AMEN! This is a great post. My least favorite is “You’re still young.” Um, yeah, did you know that every year that passes, my eggs get older and shittier and my chances of having a baby go way down? Oh, you didn’t know that. Well, thanks for reminding me! 🙂

    For the record, I’m here if you want to talk. And this sucks!!!
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..taking a break =-.

  13. I’m glad you wrote this! I would always rather KNOW what not to say than to write something and go ummm I hope this isn’t taken the wrong way. Plus I’m sure writing this out made you feel a ton better as well
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..What is a date with Cale or Stephanie like? =-.

  14. I’ve been hesitant to leave a comment specifically because I DON’T know how your feeling, or really what to say in this situation, so I’m really glad that you vocalized this post.

    This situation must really suck for you and your husband, but I hope you know you’re in the thoughts and prayers of many (myself included!!).
    .-= Jennifer – Somewhere In Between´s last blog ..A Case of the Herp, and Why Everyone Should Own a Pet Carrier =-.

  15. I’m also glad that you wrote this post. I know I said one of the things on the bad list, and I had no idea how it made you feel until you emailed me about it. And I’m really thankful that you did. I felt terrible about it, but it made me realize that sometimes the things we say to try to cheer people up are the exact wrong things to say. So thank you for emailing me a few months ago, and thank you for writing this post to let everyone else know, too.

    Just know that we’re all here to support you!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Tricky Little Buggers =-.

  16. I’m thinking of you! I really admire you for writing this post. How are you feeling now?

    Seriously, if a girl in NC can help in any way, just holler!
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

  17. PERFECT post. All those things are seriously on par with when someone dies and someone inevitably says “They’ve gone to a better place…” No. A better place would be with everyone that loves them… I hate when people say things like all of those just to fill the dead air when they can’t think of anything else to say…

    I prefer to go with the supportive “here for you” or make someone laugh… haha
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Ummm… =-.

  18. I’m so grateful that I never knew anyone who was infertile before I started struggling with it myself. Both of my sisters-in-law either just had a baby or are currently pregnant. Now, of course, it’s “my turn.” They just keep saying, “Don’t worry, it’ll happen!” Easy for them to say.
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Burning Questions =-.

  19. I haven’t left comments on most of the post because I truly don’t know what to say … I know I wouldn’t be able to say anything that would make you feel 100% better, and I have no idea what you’re feeling. I am, however, always an email away if you need anything (even though I just started reading)!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..It’s Okay Friday =-.

  20. It’s really hard to know what to say in situations like yours, because everyone reacts differently. In my case, I find laughter is the best medicine and when people shower me with sympathy it makes me MORE sad. Sometimes, I’d rather watch an episode of the Office, laugh my butt off, and think about something else for a change, even if it’s just for 23 minutes + commercial breaks.

    I’m proud of you for writing this blog. It’s gutsy, and it will definitely help the people who read it know what to say to make you feel better, not worse!

    P.S. Something about getting turkey basted on (or around) Thanksgiving seems like GOOD LUCK to me!
    .-= Leahchristine´s last blog ..Exceptionally Exceptional! =-.

  21. I’m so glad that you posted this… those posts that you hem and haw over posting are usually the best ones. xo
    .-= Shop Girl*´s last blog ..Merry Christmas! …wait, too soon? =-.

  22. Erin, I know I don’t comment here often, but I always, always read. The reason I haven’t commented is, quite simply, I don’t know what to say. I know you’re grieving and I’m one of those people that suck at saying the right thing at the right time.

    It’s totally UNFAIR that I’ve managed to fall pregnant and you haven’t and I just don’t know what to tell you. I wish, very hard, that there was something I could say to you, to help you through, but I’m at a loss. I’ve refrained from commenting because I didn’t want to be another mom, saying “I know how you feel.” Because I don’t. Even though I don’t comment, I do read every post and say a prayer for you and your husband all the time. It’s obvious that you two will make exceptionally wonderful parents and any child of yours will be immensely blessed.

    You are a very, very strong woman, who is coping much better than I would be in your shoes. And I mean it when I say, if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I’m always here.
    .-= barbetti´s last blog ..Happy Weekend! =-.

  23. I definitely can’t understand what you’re going through, but I understand your frustration with the things people say. I think the same thing goes when people say similar things about other bad things that happen in someone’s life. People mean well, but I guess it’s difficult.

    Thinking of you! Hugs!
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..I Wish Taylor Swift Was My BFF =-.

  24. I can only add to what everyone is saying by saying that I think it’s great that you posted this. There are probably only a small percent of people out there who know what you are going through to the extent you are going through it.

    I’ve thought before that since you are blogging about everything it does open you up to comments from other people…good comments and annoying comments. I remember being pregnant with Jordan and people asking me all sorts of questions and giving me all sorts of advice (it doesn’t stop after you get pregnant) but I can’t imagine going through the trying process with everyone knowing all about it. When we were trying it was hard that only Chad and I knew how hard it was when I’d get my period. I ended up telling a couple of my closest friends but I knew if I told my mom she’d be worrying like crazy for me and I’d be letting her down not getting pregnant.

    I think it’s awesome that you are sharing through your blog but I do feel bad for the not-so-great comments you get because of it. I’m sure it helps to know that so many people do follow and read and know-care-love you. 🙂
    .-= Jen V.´s last blog ..Craft Social (Yet Again!)!!!!!!! =-.

  25. Great post. I’m thinking of you. 🙂 I don’t *know* how you feel, but as someone who’s been married for almost 9 years and who has been trying to get pregnant for at least 5 of those years, I can relate.

    We finally have health insurance that will pay for infertility treatments (if it comes to that) so now it’s a matter of dealing with the other factors that could be contributing to the problem. It’s overwhelming and terrifying. It will be another 2 years, if we’re extremely lucky (and I’m not that lucky).

    I finally leveled with my husband how much the “oh, you must be pregnant” comments made by friends upset me. He truly didn’t realize. Plus, his cousins are having kids left and right, and now he realizes why I don’t want to go to family events. So many babies…and for whatever reason, it’s just not in the cards for us.

    I guess what I’m saying is, if you ever need to talk – I’m around. Good luck!
    .-= Erin, too´s last blog ..Basking =-.

  26. I think it’s really great that you posted this. When I went through this myself I felt the exact same way about people’s comments. I know they probably never meant to hurt you but it still does hurt, very very much.
    I am thinking of you guys and I am keeping my fingers crossed. I know you don’t actually know me, but if you ever need to talk, you can just e-mail me. Sometimes it helps talking to somebody you don’t really know.

  27. I’m right with you there with the adoption line. I hear that ALL the time from the Greeks, then seem to view having one child as being the same as having no kids. I’m a failure in the church.
    “You could always adopt”
    Sure I’ll spend thousands and thousands of dollars on the hopes of getting another child. During all of this I’ll tell Diana, “Sorry X-mas/your birthday/etc is so small. After all YOU aren’t enough for us, Daddy and I want MORE.”
    While I know that’s not what it really is, it is how my 5 year old will take it.

  28. This is awesome, thanks for sharing. Those of us who haven’t even come close to going through this sort of thing really don’t know what to say, so it’s helpful to hear what will and won’t be good to say. It was the same way when Mom had cancer – people said things with the best intentions, but really what they said wasn’t at all helpful.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Unfair =-.

  29. Love this post! You already know that I just went through a bad break-up and people constantly use the “everything happens for a reason” line with me. They also say things like “you’re so young” and “being single is great”.
    Yeah, my ass.

    I cannot even begin to imagine the stress and emotions you must go through daily. As always, I will continue to pray for you two!

    Kudos to you for being honest and amazing! 🙂
    .-= Classroom Confessions´s last blog ..Pan Am and Sushi That Floats =-.

  30. People who say “just relax” and “everything happens for a reason” are assholes. They may just be trying to make conversation or don’t know what to say, but both those phrases completely disregard your feelings… for any situation, especially one as emotionally loaded as infertility.

    There were so many comments that drove me nuts before we got engaged (“so when are you two going to get married already?”), when we we weding planning (“what do you MEAN you haven’t booked a honeymoon yet? What are you waiting for?”), and now we’ve moved onto “when are you two going to have kids already?” There are a lot of well-intentioned people out there, and then there are also all the nosy, insensitive jerks who can’t mind their own business. I’m sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else.
    .-= Operation Pink Herring´s last blog ..Four posts in one =-.

  31. Totally hear you on these (except for one). There’s definitely nothing to say, and I think the best thing to say is “I’m sorry, I hope things work out.” I try not to go past that.

    About what I don’t hear you on, it’s the “everything always happens for a reason” bit. I used to be easily stressed until someone gave me something with that saying on it and over the months it sat on my dresser, it kind of sank in.

    Unlike the people you may be thinking about, though, I abscribe this refrain to both good and bad. I don’t save it just for the bad experiences — it’s also responsible for the good.

    I’m not like super-religions or into the saying as I feel you can control your own destiny and your decisions and work ethic will determine a big part of your path but for things that I can’t, I’m willing to give up that control now and submit to the cosmos.

  32. Sing it, girl. You know the whole point of maintaining a blog is so that you have an arena in which to air the things you need to get off your chest. Which you did. And hopefully will continue to do. I know things royally suck for you right now. I really don’t know how you feel. But I do love you. Just the way you are.

  33. Really appreciate you sharing this sweetie. And I adore you.
    .-= Doniree´s last blog ..Public Nuisance =-.

  34. i bet this felt good to write. 🙂 LOVE YOU.

  35. I don’t comment often because I’m never sure what to say.

    I admire your strength and your courage to go through this. I was told that it would be very difficult for me to get pregnant without some serious help; I don’t think I could handle it and I haven’t wanted to even try for fear of the unkown.

    I’m always here if you need anything.

  36. what i say when i dont know what to say to a very close friend: *hugs*

    internet hugs dont substitute for real ones, but i hope it helps in some small way… i’ll keep reading and hoping for you 🙂

    [ps youve essentially done for baby making what i’d love to do with my dating life – tell my friends/loved ones to stop saying things just bc it sounds good in their heads. it doesnt help/makes me feel like an idiot]
    .-= michelle´s last blog soundtrack? =-.

  37. Just wanted to let you know, even though we’ve never met/talked or what have you, I’ve been hoping and praying for you.
    .-= Emily Jane´s last blog ..Who really likes being stuck in traffic anyway? =-.

  38. I just wanted to say, WORD.

    We don’t have the same problem – I get pregnant easily (three times this year) and miscarry just as easily (three times this year). But the outcome is still the same, right?

    I would add to the bad list:
    – “It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.” HURL.

    And to the good list:
    – “This isn’t your fault, and you’re making the best decisions you can with the information you have. I have faith that it will work out for you.”
    .-= marty´s last blog ..Somebody alert the FCC =-.

  39. All I can ever think to say in time like this, when I have never been in a similar situation and can’t imagine even trying to relate, is OH, SH*T. That’s just all that comes out. I’m glad you chose to put this post out there, to help people understand what we couldn’t even guess without being in your spot. Love you, dear, and sending you hugs :o)

  40. I’m much more hurt of the remarks other people make than my wife. I can’t believe how people can be insensitive and nosy. My wife can’t conceive and I hate it when people say “encouraging” words.

    Most of the time, silence is more eloquent than speech. 🙂

  41. I had to think for a while before commenting because I honestly wasn’t very sure what to say. I have a really awful feeling I may have said one of these things to you, really with the best of intentions, so now i feel like an asshole. But the one thing that doesn’t change is how much I do love you.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Weekend recap: Beer, football and blue eyes =-.

  42. I’m probably guilty of this… as I never really know what to say. I’m just really grateful we are all here for you and part of your support system.
    .-= steph anne´s last blog ..Protected: Moving On & Trying Not To Look Back… =-.

  43. LOVE YOU!! 🙂 And want a wine shot? 🙂 That should be on your list of favorite things people say to you. Just putting it out there.
    .-= Lacey Bean´s last blog .."That thong th thong thong thong!" =-.

  44. People have seriously said “it’s not the end of the world”? That’s so mean! How can anyone not see that?

    I certainly hope I’m not guilty, or even close (but I might be, sorry…) to any of those. And I’ll be honest, I have only one friend who has dealt with infertility, but her issue is something completely different (her eggs don’t drop). Yet I know how it bugs her when people say things like these without thinking, or even with the best intentions. I’m glad you wrote this though. I’m sure it educated many of us on things we didn’t even realize we might be doing.
    .-= MinD´s last blog ..He’s heeeeeeere! =-.

  45. I think judging other people’s decisions/issues in regards to having children is pretty much the ultimate no no. Totally different situation, but I have a BIG situation where people feel inclined to chime in with well-meaning, but soul-crushing wisdom and statements and it’s so hard to take it as them being nice when it just makes me feel more alone and misunderstood. I won’t pretend to know what you’re going through, but I’m thinking lots of good thoughts for you and Ted.
    .-= Allie´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – November =-.

  46. I’m sorry you’ve heard these things, but I’m glad you spoke up about it.

    It’s not the same category of suckiness, but I related because I’m told the same types of things after every break-up, when I didn’t get the job I wanted, when my car breaks down, etc.

    You were brave and said something. I just grit my teeth and try to ignore. Maybe one day soon I’ll have the gumption to speak up, too.

  47. It doesn’t end when you do get PG after ART. Then you better forget all about the misery that came before and believe two pink lines/12 week milestone means take-home-baby-guaranteed.

    I landed here from the crème de la crème list by the way.
    .-= Lut C.´s last blog ..Opening doors =-.

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