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May 7th, 2007

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02:13 pm - Yeah that
What to say/not say to me

Wow. I really could see myself in this article. Thanks to Aaron and Malky for the link.

Dear everyone... What to say to a childless couple
First, consider saying nothing at all, says Amy Hibbard, of James City County. Your words of wisdom and comfort may be received as hurtful and insensitive. But if you want to talk about infertility, be prepared to listen, too.
Daily Press
May 6, 2007
Dear everyone,

Often, many of you feel the need to ask a childless couple, "When are you planning on having kids?" While that may seem like a harmless question and a natural progression for a married couple, it can also be an extremely painful topic for many people. You never know what someone may be going through.

Please don't make it your mission to ask or chastise childless couples about when and how to have kids. It's really not your business, and odds are they are dealing with emotional issues that you will never understand. It is shocking to discover that as many as 1-in-8 couples in the United States are dealing with infertility. That is a huge number, and chances are great that someone in your life is living with or has previously lived with the heartache that is infertility.

Many couples suffer in silence because it is somewhat of a taboo topic to discuss. If you ask when they plan on having kids, they will put on a smile and give an answer they think you want to hear. They are then likely to walk away and fight back tears. If you are bold enough to ask, you should be prepared for the answer. It may make you uncomfortable to hear about my struggles, but it helps me to get it out and hopefully it will make you -- if you are uncomfortable with the topic -- think before asking someone that very private question again.

This brings me to how to approach, help or treat someone who you know is experiencing infertility.

Please be supportive of your friend. Be there to listen if he or she wants to talk. Offer support if he or she is going through treatments, or help him or her get to and from appointments. If you disagree with the choices a couple has made, it is best to keep those opinions to yourself. There are many options for infertile couples, including medications, procedures, international and domestic adoption, foster care and living child-free. But it is the couple's personal decision.

The best thing to do is to let us determine how much we are comfortable talking about. Don't pry. If we want to open up, we will. But if we want to be left alone, sometimes we need that, too.

Probably the most-hated comment heard by people going through infertility is "Relax, you're too stressed." Many of us have diagnosed medical conditions that are the root cause of our infertility, and no amount of relaxing is going to change that.

Please try not to make comments like, "Maybe this is for the best," "Everything happens for a reason," or "God only gives us what we can handle." You may think comments like this are well meaning, but they are hurtful. Believe me, a person struggling with infertility is already doing enough internal questioning. Infertility and miscarriage can be a very lonely time for people. Everywhere you go, you see babies, children, pregnant women and happy families. There are always situations that remind us of what we don't have. Baby showers, holidays and birthday parties can be very hard for us to attend. Please be understanding if we decline invitations or excuse ourselves early. It is nothing personal against you, it is our way of dealing with our own pain.

What I would like to stress to people who don't have firsthand experience with these situations is: Be sensitive and use good judgment. The best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is to listen. You can't change their situation, but you can be there for them. Showing them you care during this difficult time means the world.

Amy Hibbard, James City County
Current Mood: pessimistictense

(7 Represent the voice of the people | Request an audience)


[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
This is a situation where if you have any meanness to your spirit you should let it SHINE! People need a wake up call!

I ganked the article and put it in my journal too with my own thoughts. :)
[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
Good advice from an infertility perspective -- and just in general. People should never assume that children are the natural result of marriage. Aside from infertility issues, there are other sensitive reasons a couple may not have children (even if they want them) - things happen...health issues abound, children die, couples fight over whether to have children. It's not safe to assume anything of anyone on such a sensitive topic.
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)


It gets really tiring when people who don't even know you from Adam are all "so when are you starting your family?"

For dog's sake people, SHUT UP.
[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
That is a very good article. I watch my neighbor (who just had her second miscarriage) take a big reaction to this kind of question.

I think it is something that people should be aware of more than they are. Just because some people can have kids does not mean that everyone can have them as easy. It took a while for the first one and the second was much faster, but it does not always happen that way.

It took my parents 6 years to get the first child and 5 years to get another after that one. They have great understanding for thoes that have a hard time or can't get pregnant.

*comfort* Wow longer comment than I intended.
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)

From somewhat the other side...

It's also annoying and very aggravating if you are childfree by choice and people ask. When you tell them you're not having kids and they give responses like "you'll change your mind" "you never know what can happen". Well, you know what, I won't, and I can, that's why I got snipped.
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)

Re: From somewhat the other side...

It is confusing because you'd think, on the surface, it's such a safe topic, and yet, underneath, it's like religion, where otherwise well-meaning and normal people feel compelled to force everyone to share their own view.

I have a lot of committed child-free friends, and they're not monsters who loathe humanity or villains who deprive the world of superior genetics, or anything like that. Childfree is a difficult choice, usually made after careful and reasoned consideration and reinforced by a conscience effort. My personal perspective on getting pregnant is different, but I don't think people recognize that making a decision to be childfree is in many cases a more conscience decision than having a baby.
[User Picture]
Date:May 9th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC)

Re: From somewhat the other side...

I think we'd all be better off if everyone just let everyone else make whatever decisions worked for them, and butted the heck out of it. Good grief.

Saying "maybe it is for the best" to an infertile couple is as much of a bingo as "oh, you'll change your mind" is to a childfree person/couple. It's complete and total crap, and I find it infuriating.

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