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What Do I Say to My Friend Who's Having a Hard Time Having a Baby?

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a blog by Liz

This isn’t really a post for you, that is, for you, if, like the rest of us, you're having difficulty conceiving. It is a post for those people who use search terms like, What do I say to my friend who can’t have a baby? and end up here.

First, let me say, well done for even thinking about it. Thanks for trying to be sensitive.

Secondly, think about these statements:

My friend’s sister has blue eyes and she has perfect eyesight. So I’m sure you will be fine.

I don’t know why you're dying your hair. There is a woman at work who didn’t even start going grey until she was at least 55.

You are so lucky to be unemployed, I’d love a lie in.

You’ll be fine. My hairdresser’s cousin went to seven job interviews and didn’t get any. Then one day when she thought she’d be unemployed forever she was just walking down the street and this guy offered her a job on the spot.

Hey, I heard you wanted to bake a birthday cake for your husband’s birthday but you just can’t get it to rise. Well, you know, you can always go out and buy a cake.

You put all that weight you lost back on? Well at least you now know that you can lose 40 pounds so you just have to do it again.

I know these are random, nonsensical and, in some cases, downright hurtful things to say, but they are the equivalent of saying the following to your barren buddy:

My friend’s sister has polycystic ovaries and she had no problem getting pregnant.

• I don’t know why you are worrying about your biological clock at 35, there is a woman at work who had a baby in her late 40s.

• Be thankful you don’t have babies, I was up half the night with this one.

• Don’t worry if this IVF doesn’t work. My hairdresser’s cousin had seven rounds of IVF. Then, when she had given up, she got pregnant naturally.

• Hey, I’ve heard you keep having miscarriages. You know you can always adopt?

• You miscarried again? Well at least you know you can get pregnant.

Sound far fetched? Well, the wording may be a little softer, but I have read countless blogs of women who have been told these very things. Yes, even the last one about the miscarriage.

We know that fertile friends think their comments are innocuous, or encouraging, or hopeful. But trust me they aren’t. Hearing about someone else who has succeeded where we haven’t makes it sound like you don’t believe that we are really having problems. It belittles the pain and stress of what we are going through.

So what do you say? How about simply, "I’m so sorry to hear that. I wish you the best of luck."

What classics have you come across? And what would you have rather they said?

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Comments (3)

i can almost relate to your story. i have endomitriosis and im 18 years old i was dignosed with endomirtiosis when i was seventeen. i got married october 3 of this year and i havnt had a period since 12th of september. and it is now november the 20th and i am 3 months late and i took 2 at home pregnacy test that was really chep and came to be negitive and then i went to a wemens clinic and took a pee test and came out to be negitve. and today i took a blood test and want get the results back until monday. and thats a negitve i dont know what to do because i have all the symptoms of being pregant. im just really worried. and dont know what to do. so if you have any advice please emil me at thanks for listening kelsi

Thanks for writing this. I have been going through treatments now for 3 years. 6 ivfs, 3 iui's, 1m/c. It just keeps going. I feel like I am living with a disease.. though it's not fatal.

People say the dumbest things. One friend who had a 2 year old... complained to me about peeing on a stick while trying to conceive her 2nd child.
Another friend said "I was almost where you are!" because she had a 19 FSH... and had 1 appt. with an RE. She now has a 10 month old.

And... if another person tells me to just relax... I just might explode! Relax... ok... thanks for that advice. I will do that right now. How the heck do they know that I'm not relaxed?

Anyway, it sucks to be here... but it's just the way it is.

Love it. What I don't get is my friend who is a breast cancer survivor who told me, "I really think you're overreacting here" and "just relax, by getting so worked up about this you're ruining your mind/body connection."

Um. Hello. What if when she got THE cancer, I had said, "Stop over-reacting, it's just need to relax, getting so worked up about this is only going to make the cancer worse."

I would have much preferred she said to me what I said to her. "I'm really sorry you're going through this. Let me know if you need anything at all. I'm here for you."

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