FAQ 2: What’s Appropriate?

I have received some response to my previous post and I wanted to address that if possible.

A few people have asked, “Well, if those questions are offensive, then what should I say instead?”

Let’s think about this logically for a moment. What kinds of things can I say/ask someone that I don’t know well enough to ask/say something personal about them? How about non-personal questions? 

Now, now, only kidding. Though it does remind me of an interesting post I found recently.

I understand the dangers behind being overly politically correct. However, I do think we should be more sensitive to those struggling with issues or problems of any kind. Instead of trying to come up with an answer for their problems, how about just being there for them? I think most people, when faced with a serious problem, are going to do everything they can to find a solution. I realize that you may just be wanting to help and your insistence on them trying this new diet, or just relaxing, or whatever it may be, may be out of real concern and care for this person. To this person however, it comes off as, “I know the answer to the problem! Even though you’ve searched and searched for a solution, the answer is simple and a no-brainer. Just drink 23 glasses of cranberry juice a day and you’ll get pregnant in no time!” For one, if this really worked, do you think we wouldn’t have tried that by now? Secondly, and not to sound rude here, but did we ask for your help?

I have been told by my wife and numerous women that, when a woman is complaining about something, they don’t want you to try and fix it. They just want to be heard. Am I right? Well, treat this the same way. Unless somebody asks for your opinion, or ideas or solutions, or unless you are actually really close to them and you have an intimate enough relationship to actually suggest it, just stop for a second. Think about how what you say might come off to that person.

Okay, I’m rambling. In reality, if someone comes to you with the sad news that they are struggling with infertility, simply do the following:

  • Let them know you care about them.
  • Tell them you are sorry to hear that.
  • Act interested, at the very least.
  • Don’t tell them everything is okay, because it’s not (especially if the news is recent.)
  • If you want to do some research, please do. It is always helpful to have someone who understands the real problem.
  • Ask them what they need or how you can best help. Do they need a shoulder to cry on? Cookie dough ice cream? A punching bag?
  • Don’t be afraid to let them know about the joy of your pregnancy. But consider delivering this news by email or another method where they can receive the news in private. Deep down, know that your friends are truly happy for you. Sometimes however, they may need a moment to react for themselves and be human. They will reach out in love and joy for your wonderful news when they are ready.
  • Don’t treat us with kid gloves. Yeah, we’re hurting, but we don’t need your sympathy or patronizing. Empathy is different and is always welcomed.
  • Respect their privacy. It’s a very personal issue. If they came to you with this news, its because they trust you to be there for them and not to gossip about it with others. Be supportive and listen, but don’t pry.

Thank you for those of you who have been supportive. We are so very lucky to have so many close friends and family who we know care about us.

For those of who who may be going through this awful trial, know that you are loved. Know that we’re always here if you want to chat. Also know that, as difficult as it is to talk about this, it can really help to do so. We were very nervous about making this decision, but we don’t regret it at all.