Infertility Etiquette (or Assvice as we IFer’s refer to it)

by Rumour Miller on October 17, 2006

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There are different versions of this post out there in the Infertility Community in the blogosphere. It is basically our way of letting our friends/family members know how they can be friends with an Infertile. Granted you may not even know if you have an infertile friend/family
member unless they have decided to “come out” about their situation. Many people that I know IRL (in real life) read my blog so I am pretty well “out” about our infertility. We have also told most, if not all, our friends and family members.

Unless you are specifically asked, do not give your infertile friends
or family members any assvice. Also known as “insensitive advice
and or comments”.

We totally get that most people really do not know what to say to their infertile friends/family members. But we also totally get that most times they end up saying the wrong thing. This only makes our reality that is infertility that much harder for us to bear.

Knowing what NOT to say and what NOT to do is half of the battle of providing support to your infertile friends/family members. I am going to post some of the things that bother me the most but you can also find a wonderful article written about the same thing at the link (and I totally encourage you to read it). Infertility Etiquette By Vita Alligood It is also a very good read for Infertiles. It gave me some peace in knowing that I am not alone when I feel/think the things that I do. Infertility is fucking hard and it is fucking unfair.

Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment there is no guarantee that a pregnancy or a healthy baby will be the end result. Although we are very fortunate and were blessed with Piper, we are still an infertile couple. Our infertility did not magically disappear when I became pregnant with Piper nor did it magically disappear when we delivered her. It did not disappear the day she came home from the
hospital and it still lurks even when I am happily enjoying everything that is good, bad and ugly about parenthood. We were treated successfully but we are still very much infertile. We live in constant fear that further treatments will not be successful and our desire to build a bigger family will be denied. The pain of infertility is still very real for us and it may continue to be very real for us for the rest of our lives.

DO NOT Play Doctor to us. We are under a doctor’s care and have undergone numerous tests to determine why we were not/are not able to conceive. Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article, a book or an internet site does not make you a Doctor. Although we fully appreciate that you are learning more about infertility, it does not help us when you repeat to us what you have read. Chances are that we have already read almost everything
that is out there and then some.

DO NOT tell us to Relax. Couples who “relax” and get pregnant are not infertile. A couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. We know that you are just trying to find something comforting to say but believe me when I tell
you that this is not it. Relaxing will not change our medical diagnosis just as it would not change our medical diagnosis if we had cancer or diabetes. So telling us to relax is infuriating and it effing hurts.

DO NOT tell us that you know “lots of people our age who have had trouble conceiving and now have X, Y and Z so you will have children too”. How do you know? You do not. Having “trouble” and being infertile are not the same thing. Although we know that you are only trying to give us some positive hope, it only reminds us of what we do not have and what we might not have. ever.

One thing you can do is let your infertile friends/family members know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Let them know that you are there if they need you and want to talk to you about their infertility. You can even let them know that you would like to learn more about it. But just because your infertile friend/family member is open with you, this does not negate all of the other “Infertility Etiquette” so please continue to keep all of that in mind.

If your infertile friend/family member has been fortunate to have a child DO NOT keep asking if they are going to have any more children. We do not know that answer. We are certainly hoping that we will be able to have as many children as we want, just like fertile people, but our reality is that we may not be the ones to make that decision. So please do not ask us that question. It hurts. us. very. much.

DO NOT send us information on how to track our fertility signs. We have been there and done that, probably longer than we care to even think about. Not to mention that we are infertile and (most of us) do not have the “typical fertility signs” that a fertile person would.

When announcing pregnancies, baby showers or births please trust that we know what we can and cannot handle. Do not withold these announcements from us but please allow us our space if we cannot celebrate with you. It is not that we are not happy for you but we are grieving for ourselves. As selfish as this may appear to you we just do not have any control over these feelings.

It is not easy being a friend to an infertile and many of us lose our fertile friends somewhere along the way. Sometimes the loss is because of the reasons mentioned above and sometimes it is the fertile friend who “decides” s/he cannot handle our infertility and everything that goes with it. So if you are a friend to an infertile, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship, understanding and your compassion.

Infertility. Sucks. Ass.

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Kitkat October 17, 2006 at 5:13 pm

Well… you “delurked” on my blog, so thought I’d come check you out. And now I’m seriously thinking of copying this post and keeping around for when I need it.

In particular, the part about NOT asking when we’re having another. I was just griping at the hubby the other day that after “when are you due?” the question I’m most asked is “when are you going to have another?” Hello!?! It took two years to conceive this one and he’s still baking and not safely in my arms yet. So I have no clue if or when we’ll have another. Let me celebrate this one, first. Geez.

Anyways… I’ll certainly be back. You’ve been added to my bookmarks. 😉

soralis October 18, 2006 at 8:40 am

What a great post! To this day I still have issues with what I am… IF/Not IF after having a successful IVF PG. You are right I am still IF. Thanks for helping me put more pieces of my IF into perspective.

Take care!

Vita Alligood October 22, 2006 at 1:17 pm

Hi!! I am the author of “Infertility Etiquette.” I periodically do a Google search to see what reactions people have had to my article. I have been overwhelmed (in a wonderful way) by how many people have benefitted from it.

I wrote the article because I was sick to death of having people say such STUPID things to me. I thought that someone needs to write an article about what NOT to say. One day, it occurred to me that if I wanted it written, I was going to have to write it myself. You have seen the end result.

I don’t usually leave replies on message boards about my article, but I had to in this case because I about died laughing when I read your addition to the title: “(or Assvice as we IFer’s refer to it).” So true, so true. Perhaps I’ll have to quote you if I ever write a second edition. :0)

I have tossed around writing an “Adoption Etiquette” article as well. My husband and I haven’t used birth control in 10 years. We went through 4-1/2 years of infertility and adoption to become parents to our son. Yet, I **still** have people telling me, “Now that you have adopted, you are going to become pregnant.” I tell them, “My son was not a means to end.” :0P

I am sorry that you are in infertility hell. I hope that you will know the joys of parenthood at the end of this journey. I can tell you with certainty — every tear is worth it when you hold your child in your arms for the first time.

Take care,

– Vita Alligood

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