Health

Things Infertile Couples Are Tired of Hearing

February 18th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

Even though more than 10 percent of women have used fertility services at some point, there is a strong societal stigma surrounding infertility, and couples who have trouble conceiving know this taboo all too well.

Here's how blogger barrenbitch described the emotional trials faced by women who struggle to conceive in a 2013 post: 

My infertility makes me feel like less of a person.  How can I not be capable of doing the most natural thing in the world?  What does that make me?  Rationally, I realize this is an insane thought process, but I cannot help it.  My mind always goes there.  Struggling with infertility makes me feel like less of a woman.

Baby

It's challenging enough to face fertility issues when you desperately want to be a parent, so it doesn't help when others pose uncomfortable questions about your problems. Here are some things that people struggling to conceive are sick of hearing.

1. "When are you having kids?"

John Legend & Chrissy Teigen

Last fall, model Chrissy Teigen said on her show "FABLife" that it's generally impolite to ask couples when they're having kids, because they might be facing problems with infertility. Though she is currently expecting her first child, she has said that she and husband John Legend had fertility issues "for years," and that a lot of people are ashamed about struggling to conceive.

"Anytime somebody asks me if I'm going to have kids, I'm like, 'one day, you're going to ask that to the wrong girl who's really struggling, and it's going to be really hurtful to them,'" Teigen said. "And I hate that. So, I hate it. Stop asking me!"

2. "Why don't you just adopt?"

While there are nearly 400,000 children without permanent families in the U.S. foster care system, adopting children is not as simple as many assume. Not only can the process vary significantly by state, it can also cost thousands of dollars and take many years to complete. As writer Leah Campbell pointed out in a recent Babble article, many people don't take all of this into account and view adoption as "the simplest solution in the world" for those with fertility issues. Campbell wrote: 

"People seem to be so convinced that adoption is the perfect solution to infertility, but the truth is, one does not eradicate the other. There is no 'baby store' to wander into in the pursuit of your happy, healthy, perfect infant; and there is no magic eraser to wipe away the pain of not being able to carry that baby yourself."

3. "Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."

Some might think they are helping couples with fertility issues by suggesting that they simply weren't meant to be parents. While the intention behind this comment may not always be malicious, Vox writer Sarah Kogod noted in a 2015 article that not only is such advice unhelpful and insensitive, it also strips couples of their power. 

"Maybe it wasn't meant to be" means letting the universe, or God, or whatever higher being you may believe in decide your fate for you. It means giving up any power you feel you have, throwing yourself at the mercy of the court and forfeiting all control over your own destiny, which is the exact opposite of the very expensive scientific fertility process you've invested in.

Passive acceptance that "things always turn out like they're supposed to" isn't comforting. It's terrifying.

4. "When you adopt or stop trying, then you'll have a baby!"

In the first "Sex and the City" movie, the character Charlotte gets pregnant shortly after adopting a child from China. In the film, she says that many couples finally conceive after they stop trying to have kids or adopt, but the national infertility association Resolve claims that this notion is "one of the most painful myths for couples to hear."

"First it suggests that adoption is only a means to an end, not a happy and successful end in itself," Resolve states on its website. "Second, it is simply not true. Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as for those who do not adopt."

Baby feet

Late last year, Shelley Skuster wrote in a piece for Adoption.com that this idea also sends the message that adopted kids are merely stepping stones to one's "real" family. Having gotten pregnant after adopting two little girls, the "pregnant after adoption" myth frustrates her to no end. She wrote: 

While most people shared in our excitement with our surprise pregnancy, others deduced we got pregnant because we adopted.

And they voiced it.

Not only is this one of the most hurtful myths for adoptive families who have struggled with infertility to hear, but saying so implies our beautiful daughters who joined our family through adoption were simply a means to grow our family biologically.

That they’re somehow second-best until a biological child comes along.

And the worst part is their little ears are listening and hearing those words.

RELATED: Chrissy Teigen Says Never Ask a Woman When She's Having Kids