Hannah's Heart
Catholic Infertility
Support Group
Jacksonville, FL

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Be Careful What You Say

Every infertile couple, at one time or another, has been hurt by something people with big hearts and good intentions have said to them.  Couples, especially women, struggling with infertility are very sensitive and it can be very difficult to know what to say or do to support them in their struggle. 

Following is a list of things that are commonly said by well-intentioned people, but that are often painful for infertile couples to hear.

  • “I just know you’ll get pregnant eventually.”  This is probably the one that bothers me the most.  The fact is, no one but God knows if a couple will ever conceive.  And while a couple will likely know that you mean well and really hope that they will conceive one day, they have to prepare themselves for the very real possibility that that may never happen. 
  • “I know this couple who tried for ten years before they got pregnant.  Now they have two kids!”  It’s great that other people have conceived after experiencing infertility.  However, that doesn’t mean that we will and, as hopeful as they may sound, stories about people we don’t know are not at all relevant or helpful to us on our journey. 
  • “Maybe you should try…”  Advice about things to try or doctors to see is also not warranted, unless the couple asks for it.  Chances are very high that the couple has already done exhaustive research and spent a lot of time thinking and praying about all the options for the treatment of their condition.  
  • “You are emotional/nauseous…you must be pregnant!”  Infertility is both emotional and nauseating.  Please do not ever suggest that a woman struggling to conceive may be pregnant.  She will surely let you know if she is. 
  • “Are you pregnant yet?”  Unless you are very close friends, it’s probably not appropriate to ask how things are going with the infertility.  Instead, you may ask how the couple is doing, which allows them the opportunity to talk about it if they chose. 
  • “I am super fertile!  I get pregnant if my husband just looks at me!”  This seems obviously insensitive, but people say this all the time!  If you are blessed with fertility, that is wonderful!  But it is painful for an infertile couple to hear about, as it illuminates their loss.  Please keep stories of your abundant fertility to yourself.
  • “Why don’t you just adopt?”  While adoption is a wonderful option for growing a family and one that many infertile couples consider at some point, it is certainly not a cure for infertility.  Adoption should not be offered as a solution that magically erases all the pain of infertility.
  • “Just relax, then you’ll get pregnant!”  It is very difficult to relax after struggling for a long time with infertility.  Hearing this only causes more stress!  In addition, there is almost certainly an actual disease, and not stress, causing of a couple’s infertility. 
  •  “How many kids do you want?”  This one comes up frequently for some reason.  If there’s anything an infertile couple learns on this journey it is that how many children one wants is completely irrelevant.  On most days, the idea of even one seems absolutely unfathomable.  So asking how many children a couple struggling to conceive wants is both insulting and ridiculous. 
  • “Something is obviously not right between you and God.  You really need to have more faith and spend more time in prayer.”  I’m not joking.  Someone actually said this to me once.  Did they mean to say that if Jesus had prayed harder he could have avoided the passion?  Or that John the Baptist could have avoided his be-heading had he been closer to God?  Or that God promises only good days to his most faithful followers?