03 May 2011

You Shouldn't Say That to a TTCer...No, Really...

After Michael and I announced to the world that we are having a little girl, my fellow blogger and old childhood friend, A. Hab, sent me a lovely email containing many congratulations and words of reassurance that having a daughter wouldn't be as scary as we were anticipating.  Her message asked about how I was feeling and if the family was excited over the news.  Then she mentioned she had come across an article on www.thebump.com that focused on the worst things one could possibly say to someone TTC (Trying To Conceive).  As a concerned (yet curious) friend, she wanted to know if any of these things had been said to me.  In order to answer her inquiry, I opened the link and read through the list.

Yeah, my jaw hit the floor and bounced back into place.  The phrases in the article were so incredibly similar to what my TTC ears had heard for the 20 months it took us to get pregnant, I felt I had written the article.  So here is a list of my top 5 "favorite" TTC lines that I hope you'll think twice about before voicing them to those trying to become mommies.

1.  "I just know you will get pregnant one day. You just wait and see."
  • How I heard it: If I had a dime for each time someone said this to me...  Honestly, I believe friends and family say this because they're trying to be encouraging.  Yet, it gives false hope.  When you are TTC, you have to accept the possibility of NOT being able to get pregnant.  I was one of the fortunate TTCers who actually was finally able to incubate a future human while taking 2 types of fertility meds, but it didn't make it any easier to hear that line.  Think about how difficult it would be to hear this and never get pregnant.
  • Why it bothers those TTC: No one has a crystal ball or the ability to see into the future.  So unless you are God Himself, there's no way you could possibly know the fate of anyone's fertility.
  • What you can say instead: "It must be a difficult situation for you, so if you want someone to pray for you, just ask."  OR  "I went through the same thing when we were trying to have Baby Boy, so let me know if you need someone to talk to."
2. "Kick back, relax, and don't think about it!"
  • How I heard it: This is another one of those "if I had a dime" statements.  Asking me to relax when I'm so focused on a goal is like asking the Rainman to skip Judge Wapner at 4:00.
  • Why it bothers those TTC: There are so many things that factor into a TTCer's stress levels: job, bills, home and yard upkeep, family situations, friendships, (lack of) time off...and the list goes on.  So even when a TTCer is not immediately focused on FSH levels or getting that fertility prescription refilled, there is always something on her mind.  We'd like to be able to forget about it, but the longer we go without a fertilized egg, the more we obsess over it.
  • What you can say instead: "Let me take you out for sushi and a glass of wine!  A girls' night out just might be what the doctor ordered."
3. "When I was trying, we drank lots of green tea picked by Amazonian monkeys, only wore organic cotton underwear, and had lots of tantric sex.  We swear by our methods!"
  • How I heard it: OK, I admit, I didn't hear these exact words, but I did receive lots of unwarranted advice that made me downright uncomfortable--from both friends AND family.  I'll never be able to scrub certain images from my brain that so painfully penetrated my imagination through such conversations.
  • Why it bothers those TTC: Do you really think your best friend wants to picture you and your husband doing the dirty in some wild Kama Sutra pose?  Someone get me my shrink!
  • What you can say instead: "We did some pretty unconventional things that helped us get pregnant.  If you're ever interested in hearing about it, you have my number."
4.  "You've been trying for, what, 3 months now?  Just tell your doctor you've been trying for a year and get yourself on meds!  He won't know the difference."
  • How I heard it: From a friend who had no trouble getting pregnant when going off birth control.  Maybe she felt guilty, especially since after 6 months of trying, I still wasn't even ovulating normally.
  • Why it bothers those TTC: My reasons here are two-fold.
  1. I'm very uncomfortable with lying to a medical professional.  It might be because I'm married to one and it pisses him off when patients hide the truth.  Lying to your doc can come back to bite you in the ass.
  2. Women who think that 2-3 months of trying is a "long time" don't know what the emotional pain of wanting for a child actually is.  Going on meds that soon doesn't automatically put you into the infertile category, and it makes those who actually are very bitter.  It's practically cheating, and I can't see myself doing that to my fellow TTCers.
  • What you can say instead: "Ask your doctor what they think is best.  You can always get a second opinion if you aren't on the same page."
5.  "You don't have anything wrong with you."
  • How I heard it: Yes, this was actually said to me roughly a year ago, and it still makes me want to throw things.  It was from a friend whom I imagined going through the TTC process with side by side, but she was one who went on meds after only a couple of months of trying. When I voiced my opinion (see the two reasons from the previous quote), she defended it with answers that made her sound as if she were medically doomed to ever get pregnant.  And then when she said there was nothing wrong with me, it seemed her perception of my ovaries' capabilities matched those of Michelle Duggar.  I'm sorry, but what part of I didn't have a period for 130 days seemed "healthy"?
  • Why it bothers those TTC: Knife. Heart. Twist. Repeat.
  • What you can say instead: I don't really have an alternative for this one, but just because someone doesn't vocalize their medical hang-ups and bang-ups doesn't mean they don't have them.  Never assume someone has it easier than you.
I know there are other "favorite" TTC lines out there!  Send me your favorites by commenting below.  Have a happy Hump Day tomorrow.


MNicoleM said...

Yup - I've been hearing these for about 6 years now :-) My "favorite" ever was the "friend" who told me "Don't you think it's funny that in the time that you've been trying to get pregnant I've had two kids and you haven't had any? And we weren't even trying!" - Um, no, don't really find the humor there, thanks!

What I hear now is "As soon as you adopt a child you'll get pregnant!" or stories of their sister/friend/cousin/aunt who adopted a baby and subsequently got pregnant.

Andrea said...

Hey from the other end of the school building! I stumbled upon your blog through someone's Facebook wall recently... I hope you don't mind. :)

Anyhow, we have been TTC for 8 years and have had two ectopic losses. We are now pursuing adoption and what I hear more than anything now is "You'll get pregnant once you adopt, just wait and see!" Uh, yeah, that only happens to about 5% of people that adopt. So, fat chance of that.

A. Hab. said...

Thanks for posting these, Vik. I'm worried I might have said one of these to you (like...maybe the first one?). If I ever did, I'm so so sorry. I've had a couple friends go through what you and Michael have been. One of my friends, who's also pregnant right now, had a lot of trouble because she was underweight. As soon as she gained the weight her doctor wanted, she became pregnant. But she lost her baby. A couple of years later (present day), after a great deal of physical and emotional healing, she's about 25-weeks pregnant...and I personally feel like I'm still holding my breath for her. Another friend of mine suffered from PCOS, had surgery a few years ago in order to remove what her doctor called "bunches of grapes" from her uterus and ovaries, and she and her husband conceived once her recovery was finished. She also lost that baby. I don't know if she's trying any more...it's a very tender subject, and my policy is that she knows I'm here for her...so if she doesn't bring it up, I don't bring it up.

Speaking for myself here, bearing witness to the struggles my friends have had to conceive has made me a great deal more alert and (I hope) sensitive. I have my own fears about conceiving, but as I told you in my e-mail, I feel a little silly voicing those fears. Robert and I haven't ever tried to get pregnant before (either with each other or anyone else), so we don't have any idea how easy or difficult it might be to conceive. That said, I just really appreciate your candidness with sharing your journey. You've been a pioneer for me--I don't feel like I'd necessarily be walking around in the dark, regardless what my conception journey looks like. So, thank you for being so open and honest.

Now, all that said, I have to admit that if I were in your shoes (or yours MNicoleM and Andrea), I'm afraid my utter snark would shine through. 1. No. No it's not funny at all that other people have had no trouble conceiving while others have struggled. I think that actually qualifies for the "unfair" category. And 2. I just can't believe that anyone would tell adopting parents that they'll probably conceive once they finish signing the papers and paying the adoption fees. Are you serious??? People actually say that? I think my reaction would be to give them the nastiest smirk I could muster and say, "No. I'm pretty sure my fertility issues won't be solved by paperwork. We have decided to have our baby this way instead. Thanks so much for your support and encouragement. Bitch." (But that's just me.)

Manda said...

I just wanted to say that I really love reading your blog and I totally understand the strain of ttc. It took us 2 years after our first miscarriage to get pregnant and I am sure I heard many of these comments. Now friends and family all want to know when child #2 is on the way. It just amazes me how short peoples memory can be.
Oh by the way congrats on a girl!


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