Here’s part two of the 10 most challenging comments article!
Here you’ll find the 5 top voted most challenging/annoying/frustrating comments couples trying to conceive DONT want to hear! To recap #6-#10, click here.
What Not To Say #5: “We had a friend who tried X (where X equals adoption, IVF, having sex at precisely 3.48pm every afternoon for a week), and they got pregnant straight away!”
People are often just trying to be positive when they give you examples of success stories. Unfortunately you’ll hear them almost every day. They’re meant to lift your spirits and help you feel more positive about your chances of conceiving. But what it does is make you feel like you’ve missed the boat once again. And if you’ve ever been on fertility treatment, it’s not easy in any way, shape or form. When they’re trying to be helpful, people don’t remember the bad things. They will tell you about the child who was miraculously cured from a strange disease but they won’t remember the hundreds of children who will die of the same condition. Another problem with anecdotes and individual stories is that they can often be adopted as gospel. For each person who adopted and fell pregnant, there are 19 others who didn’t. The pregnancy rate for adoptive mothers is 5% – the same base pregnancy rate as for the general infertile population. Once again, one-off examples may be given to help or to provide you with an option that the person may think you had not already considered, but the inference there is that if you try it, it’s guaranteed to work for you. Most of these sorts of examples and suggestions perpetuate myths about fertility, how it works and what can go wrong with it.
What Not To Say #4: “Don’t you want children?”
Sometimes people just want to know what you’re up to. They’re just trying to work out why such a lovely couple would not want to be parents. It’s a social expectation that people have and want children and the grand assumption is that if you wanted children you’d have them by now. It’s also a reflection of the instant society we live in. If you want something, go and get it. People assume having children is just as easy as that.
What Not To Say #3: “What’s the matter mate? Shooting blanks?”
Yes, people equate fertility with sexual capacity. It’s the James Bond argument. You score, therefore you are fertile. When men are talking about fertility problems, this comment can be quite common. There are several elements to it. Firstly, most guys don’t know how to handle anything to do with fertility, so they can try to brush off the subject with humour. Secondly, this comment exudes competition. The expectation is that you are shooting blanks and they aren’t. You remember back in school days when kids would be so cruel with their comments because they didn’t understand your situation? If you had glasses, you were four-eyes. If you had a severe acne problem, you were pizza-face. Those kids have grown up but the comments can still be just as hurtful and shaming. Your response to this comment will really depend on your situation. If you’ve been diagnosed with male factor infertility, your answers will vary from someone whose partner has a medical condition or a couple with unexplained infertility. But, regardless of your situation, this comment is pretty demeaning and thoughtless.
What Not To Say #2: “So when are you two going to have children?”
This old chestnut comes in at number two. Usually people are just curious. These comments can often happen when announcements of babies or pregnancies are made and the social secretary and general gossip of the group you’re with starts to beeline in on the next couple. The people we mix with, as part of our community, are interested in where we sit in the area of planning a family. After all, they have children wanting playmates. It’s another question that highlights life transitions. After being with your partner for a while, people start asking the question ‘when are you two getting engaged?’ When you’re engaged, it is ‘when are you two getting married?’ When you’re married, it is ‘when are you two having kids?’ When you’ve had one child, it is ‘how many will you have?’ And so the cycle goes.
Drum roll please! The number one comment that is given to couples having trouble conceiving is…
(wait for it)
h3. What Not To Say #1: “Just relax and I’m sure it will happen.”
If couples having fertility problems had a dollar for each time they’d heard this suggestion, they could afford to buy their own fertility clinic. So why do we hear this comment almost universally?
People are just responding to a popular myth that relaxing in some way helps your fertility. The myth is that somehow there is a connection between sperm, eggs and relaxation. The reality is that if you needed relaxation to conceive, there would be no conception during war, hardships or other unpleasant situations, for example, sexual abuse. But it does happen in these cases. Just think of it, it’s not just the relaxed people in the world who become parents and the cranky tense ones who don’t. People who provide this comment are just trying to help and are reflecting a social myth. And unfortunately, many people have anecdotes of how people relaxed and all of a sudden became pregnant. You’ll hear them. Each and every one of them. The little brother of this comment is “Why don’t you just take a holiday and relax? A friend of mine went away and got pregnant straight away.” While this may be true, sometimes the only reason that people conceived while they were away is that in an exotic location, they had more sex than if they were stuck at home.
So that’s the Top 10. But how do you respond to these comments? How can you manage the situation or conversation without just seething away quietly? We’ll look at that in our next article, and offer some tips on things you can say in particular situations.