I’m continually amazed by humanity. We can invent things like telephones and apps like Facetime that keep us connected with people from around the world. We can find cures for serious, life-threatening diseases. We can push our bodies to the limits for competitions like the Olympics or Ultra Marathons. We can create songs and artwork and novels and buildings. We know how to pilot or drive huge, massive machinery. We have compassion for the smallest of creatures that we can’t see with our bare eyes and for the largest creatures that span unimaginable distances.
With all that amazement that comes out of our lineage within the human race, people still say the most unthinkable, unimaginable things to each other.
This is my PSA on what not to say to someone dealing with infertility. And, since you may not know if someone is dealing with infertility, this is really about what not to say to anyone.
Recently I was minding my own business at work, filling up my water bottle because we have water bottle fillers and that was probably the #2 reason I took this job, someone passed by and said to me: Is that a maternity shirt? She motioned to her stomach, in a maternal sort of way, as she said this.
I looked down at my shirt and then up at her. Considering I don’t have much facial control when it comes to my emotions, I have no idea what she saw when I looked back at her.
Calmly (this is was only because the Gentle Spirit took over because there was nothing else calm in my entire body), I said: No.
I began to avoid her because she’s nice and I didn’t want to say something rude, you know, something like, Is that a maternity shirt?
A few days later she stops me: I think you may have heard me wrong. I was thinking “Did she hear me wrong?” I was asking if it was a maternity shirt, not if you were pregnant.
Spirit, take over. I am not in the mood.
How in the world is this any better? She clearly knew she messed up and she was trying to fix it, but her attempt was poor and my patience was fleeting.
No, it was not a maternity shirt. It’s called a tunic. I like long, flowy shirts.
Oh, that’s what it’s called?
I have found forgiveness deep within my heart and I no longer hold this against her. I’m working on letting go. Thank you, lady, for giving me another opportunity to learn and practice.
But, lord help me, if you do it again…
A friend of mine sent me a text this morning. After a meeting this woman (with no boundaries, obvi) came up to her and asked: Are you pregnant?
Again, I think the Gentle Spirit took over my friend, because instead of punching her in the face right there, she found a way to respond and get out.
She was at the gym once and a woman asked her the same question (At the gym?? Of all places in the entire world, this is NOT where you ask a woman if she is pregnant! Well, there are no places in the world to ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless she is on a hospital bed with a baby coming out of her body, and at that point, you really don’t need to be in the room.)
Anyway, the woman asked my friend this awful question and my friend was overcome by the Indignant Spirit which led her to tell the woman to never, ever ask that to another woman ever again. Apparently that was the last time the woman was seen at the gym. And that little bit of the story makes me so incredibly happy.
(I guess I do feel a little bad for the lady, as I’m inclined to do. But, it was probably in her best interest not to interact with my friend again, so changing gyms was a good decision — she is capable of good decisions!)
Don’t even get me started on the other person who touched my friend’s belly thinking she was expecting!!*
Okay, enough ranting. Time for some education.
Option A: How many kids do you have?
This question has put me in a difficult position as I have to figure out how to respond. Do I say “none” and change the subject? Do I say “we have two dogs” and let the person figure out what I really mean? Do I say “no, I’m not able to have children because my ovaries gave up too soon.” This question is so natural for all of us, but it’s not easy for those struggling with infertility.
Option B: Tell me about your family.
Yes! Now I have the option to say: I’m married to Brad and we have two dogs that are just so fun. We also have seven nieces and nephews that we love to visit as much as possible!
Option A: When are you going to have kids?
Since when is my sex life any of your business? Stay out.
Option B: What do you like to do to fill your days?
Yes! Now I can tell you all about running and yoga and quilting and our dogs and writing. Talking about all of those things makes me happy!
Option A: Have you thought about adoption?
Have you thought about minding your own business? Yes, I’ve thought about it. Some people are called to adopt, others are not. No matter what I choose, adoption is not a cure for infertility.
Option B: You’re a cool person.
Gee, thanks. 🙂
Option A: Are you pregnant?
No. Are you an ass?
Option B: …
That’s right. This is never a question to ask anyone. Ever.
*My friend graciously gave me permission to use these stories. Thanks, friend. Some day we’ll find a cure for this disease! lol