Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Not to Say to someone who can't have children

This is what I wish my family wouldn't say to me:

1. "You haven't been trying for that long."  So that makes it better?  And is that what you told the medical student who miscarried?  Probably not.  Oh, but it was different because she was carrying the baby, right?  I was less of a mother to be.

2. "I wish you would adopt."  We have our reasons for choosing to pursue surrogacy first.
 - Judaism is matrilineal and I don't want my children to have trouble proving their religion when they want to get married.  (Assuming we have children.  Which is, of course, unlikely if not impossible.)
 - Husband has this (foolish and mistaken, but I'm stuck) idea that it's important to pass on his genetics and he "doesn't feel ready" to adopt.  I can't do this alone, so I have to try surrogacy for now
 - It's our decision, so please stop nudging us.
 - If you get to have biological children, can't we at least try?
 - it takes less time, is easier to arrange, and you can actually get a newborn.  It's virtually impossible to get a newborn through adoption these days.

3. It's just a miscarriage.
 - No, it is NOT just a miscarriage -- and a double-miscarriage at that!  There is no such thing as "just" a miscarriage.  Miscarriage hurts deep inside and never stops hurting.  Ever.
 - Unlike most women who miscarry, I can't just try to get pregnant again.
 - I am looking at the very real possibility of NEVER having children.  Most of these other women aren't.

4. "Of course everyone you know is getting pregnant.  It's the age."  If it's the age, why don't I deserve to have a baby too?  Just because I can't have a baby, does that mean I should have to be perpetually on the outside peering in through the window into a family life I don't get to have?

5. "You have to tell yourself, 'I'm next.'"  That would be nice, but I know I won't be next.  There is too much time and too much fertility out there for me to be next.  And so far my track record, even with a successful implantation, is 0/2.

6. "Be glad you didn't have to deal with the physical miscarriage."  That's right, I am just thrilled that I'm not allowed to carry a baby and that we have to go through the complexities of surrogacy.  When I was a little girl I used to say, "I wish I could struggle for years trying to make a baby!"  And do you really think the pain is less?  Because that's what you imply.  Baby B and Baby A may not have grown inside me but I loved those little ones and I was NO LESS of a mother-to-be just because I wasn't physically pregnant...or was I?  Because that's what your subtext is.  And I was an English major.  I know subtext.

7. "Be happy for your friends who are getting pregnant."  I wish I could, but it's a struggle.  I am envious and guilty about my envy and it doesn't help when you tell me to be happy for my friends.

Here is what I wish you would say:

1. It must be frustrating dealing with this,  especially since you want it that badly.
2. We will support however you decide to (try -- probably unsuccessfully) to build your family because whatever you choose was what's right for you.  And if/when you decide it has been too painful to continue unsuccessfully, we will support that decision too.
3.Miscarriage is hell, especially since there is no tangible loss, and especially since you worked hard for those babies.
4. It must be hard watching all your friends do so easily what you struggle to achieve, and to realize that your relationships will change so drastically when the babies come.
5. It stinks counting the fertile friends and knowing that even if by some strange miracle things go okay, there will certainly be more pain before there is happiness.  And since your success is unlikely, we understand that you think bitter thoughts each time someone says she's pregnant.
6. I know how much you wanted those babies and I know how much you loved those babies.  You are entitled to grieve.  You were just as much a mother-to-be as every other women who loses a pregnancy.
7. Of course you cry and mope and can't get out of bed when your friends keep telling you they are pregnant.  It is a natural reaction.  We are here to hug you.

If you are reading this and you know someone struggling with infertility, please take this into account.  Your barren buddies will thank you.

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