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Question One

What’s the stupidest thing someone has said to you in regards to infertility?

Our favourite:
After getting through a half-hour lip-quivering conversation about my infertility, a friend shnuzzled her child’s face against her cheek while she told me that she hoped we’d get through this ordeal and one day get to experience the wonders of motherhood. She then preceeded to tell me all of the joys she was experiencing to entice me to keep trying to conceive. We haven’t had coffee since…

In other words, tell us the most hurtful times, the most ridiculous comments, the worst advice that flew in the face of everything you knew to be true (e.g. “just relax!”). The more specific the better. Give us the bloody, gory details of that heart-ripping moment. No story considered “too long.”


1 Lynne { 06.25.06 at 8:16 pm }

After nearly a year of trying to conceive we were in our 5th month of fertility treatments. We had already gone through a few months of clomid and we had just started to begin our out of control swirl. I finally switched to a reproductive endocronologist, from my regular ob, and the RE found a polyp in my uterus. He scheduled my surgery on May 9, the Friday before the dreaded 2nd Mother’s Day TTC. My mother offered to come be with me in DC, she lived in Boston. Since she was coming down, my brother, who was well aware of my surgery and fertility situation, decided to drive up from Charlotte because it was a convenient way to be with our mom on Mother’s Day. I knew the weekend was going to be difficult enough but I never expected what followed. He and his wife came to MY HOUSE, the DAY I got out of the hospital having my first infertility surgery, to tell my parents that they were expecting a baby, my parent’s 1st grandchild. They were 3 months along. I was a prisoner in my own body. I couldn’t smile, I couldn’t cry in front of them. I just stared at the floor and never looked at anyone all day. I never felt so isolated in my own home. I spent a very long time that day in my master bathroom on the phone with my best friend trying to pull myself together. They just didn’t understand the depth of my pain. They didn’t understand how scary it can be to face the reality that you may never have children of your own.

I am so blessed to have twins, a boy and a girl, who are almost 2 now. I see my children through a different lens, and I am thankful every day for their health and our happiness.

2 The Town Criers { 06.26.06 at 7:10 am }

Our first comment! Thank you so much for your story. This is exactly the kind of story that would fit perfectly in our “how to be helpful” section (or what not to do)…

If you would like to be included in the book, we would need you to write us directly as well so we can ask follow-up questions if necessary. We don’t need to use your real name in the book, but we need a way to contact you.

You can send an email to thetowncriers@gmail.com.

3 Mel { 06.26.06 at 1:12 pm }

My absolute worst moment was my first IUI cycle. I took Clomid and responded very poorly (one follicle). I get to the office the morning of the procedure and the embyrologist comes out into the waiting room and says to me regarding my husband’s sperm, “the count is so low, this is has no chance of working today. Do you want to go home and try again next month?” I just remember sitting in the chair in the waiting room with my eyes welling up and brimming with tears. I said, “I am here, we may as well just do it.” I lay there on the table during the procedure wondering why I was doing this to myself.

4 Anonymous { 06.26.06 at 1:16 pm }

I have not personally experienced IF, but my heart goes out to all of you who are going through it. I have a couple of friends who have experienced IF. I always try to be sensitive – and I don’t think I’ve ever said anything terrible – but a lot of times I know I probably haven’t said the right thing or sometimes I just don’t know what to say at all. Maybe this was the case with your friend (?) too?

5 Anonymous { 06.26.06 at 1:23 pm }

After first experiencing primary infertility and a miscarriage, then going through secondary infertility and finally conceiving only to lose our child in a miscarriage, my mother had a few “helpful” things to say to me: 1st comment: ‘this is God’s way of telling you not to have another baby, you probably can’t afford it” and then comment 2: “Well, there was probably something worng with the baby anyway.” This from a woman who went through 10 years of infertility herself and ended up adopting me and my sister! You’d think you’d get some sympathy from someone who’d been through the same thing. I guess it shows that the bitterness of infertility can still cloud your mind even 35 years later….Good luck with your book.

6 Tina { 06.26.06 at 2:05 pm }

Not much is more infuriating than “just relax” — I heard that bit of advice over and over throughout our 19-month struggle with infertility.

Once, I described to a friend in painstaking detail all the steps we’d gone through for our latest IUI — the attempts to find the right Clomid dosage, the discovery that I’d need estrogen suppositories because the Clomid had thinned out my uterine lining and made implantation impossible, having to learn how to inject HCG into my own belly — not to mention the ignominy of the daily blood draws and vaginal sonograms to monitor the development of my eggs. I told her about my diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome and about how this meant my hormonal levels were so out of whack that my last cycle ran 90 days. I could not ovulate on my own without the assistance of drugs — a fact that I described to her as an enormous affront to my womanhood. After all that, all my friend could say (while contentedly nursing her newborn baby, no less) was that I was only getting myself worked up, and if I could just relax, she was sure I’d get pregnant, just like she did.

7 Anonymous { 06.26.06 at 2:40 pm }

Its not what someone said to me but how they treated me……recently I found out one of my best friends was pregnant again. Not from her but from many of the others she had told. She told my brother that she just didn’t know how to tell me because she didn’t know how I would react. I have never “reacted” to any of anyone’s announcements and have only been “publicly” happy for them. I deal with the devastating news in private and then move on. I am not sure whatever gave her the impression or the right to think that of me. It can’t be explained or understood by anyone else who hasn’t experience IF to know how this made me feel – its bad enough not to be a member of the fertile club but even worse to be treated by people you trust as someone unable to deal with the news. The short ending to this story is that she finally told me at 19weeks when I called to tell her I was 3 months pregnant. Suddenly, I was entitled to know her info…….I must say for me it has ruined the friendship because friendship isn’t based on being a member of the can get pregnant club.

8 Anonymous { 06.26.06 at 7:37 pm }

My DH and I have been ttc for 1 1/2 years. After m/c in Feb 2006 I started the grueling process of IF diagnosis. During my initial lab visit for the multitude of tests I needed I encountered three lab techs that needed to be re-eduacated on patient care.
The first tech ranted on and on about how many labels he had to print for my blood work (I think it was something like 17 vials)out loud for the whole waiting room to hear. When I was finally called in(after an hour of waiting) he asked me what all this was for, when I told him it was IF testing he said “Wow, maybe you should stop trying!” I was speechless and VERY upset. He then began to argue with the next lab tech on who got to stay late to draw ALL of my blood. Remember I had been there an hour already so it clearly wasn’t my fault someone had to stay. The second lab tech “lost” the argument and began prepping for the b/w. She also asked me what it was for and when I told her, she said “you are a baby what are you worrying about this now for?” My response was (cause now I was MAD)”How long should I wait 2, 3 miscarriages, ttc for a few more years” . It doesn’t end there!! The third tech that got involved, all she had to do was label my blood, she proceeded to say, with me in the room, “I hate when we get these OB patients at this time” Well I lost it, went on and on about how they need to be a little compassionate about the patients they take care of, might have mentioned something about them being lowly techs and they need to keep their mouths shut and just draw blood. I also said I wasn’t an OB patient and that sorry my IF was an inconvenience for their day.
So that just goes to show ya, even trained professionals dont know what to say, to me it is all about educating the ignorant.

9 Anonymous { 06.27.06 at 5:46 am }

My second IVF attempt ended in a chemical pregnancy. Two of my closest girlfriends asked to take me out to dinner the following week to cheer me up. Well, friend #1 has two children who were naturally conceived, and friend #2 had three children from her only two IVF attempts. Well, friend #2 was also 12 weeks pregnant with a “surprise” natural pregancy — her fourth child. While I would have thought that her experience with IVF would have made her the more sympathetic of the two, she sat there and told me how I should be careful about what I wished for because her vericose veins were now bulging and she felt like an alien in her own body. She literally spent the entire meal complaining about her swollen ankles, indigestion and vericose veins as a result of her pregnancy. I just stayed quiet, finished my meal and broke down in tears when I was in the privacy of my own car.

10 Priscilla { 06.27.06 at 6:40 am }

One of our really good friends just simply asked me “why was the whole IFV process so stressful?” I didn’t know where to begin with that statement. Do I start out by explaining to them how stressful it is to not be able to conceive when you want to(like they did)in the first place, or do I just skip all that and describe to them how stressful all the shots were when I went through the IFV process? I was a bit speechless because I didn’t know if they wanted a brief answer or if they really wanted me to sit down and explain it all to them how devastating it is when you find out you are not able to have kids “naturally”.

11 StampinMamma { 06.27.06 at 2:09 pm }

My mother was my worst support system once we announced we were seeking help with infertility. She bluntly said: “Well, I no problem getting pregnant with you!”

12 Anonymous { 06.27.06 at 2:33 pm }

I went through IF for 5 years after 4 cycles of ivf and 3 miscarriages after we were blessed with twins boy and a girl. I remember after my 1st miscarriage at 12 weeks a ex work friend of mine that i still kept in touch with sent me pamplet’s on the catholic views on IVF and that my miscarriage was a way of God telling me that what I was doing was wrong and that i should just adopt. Now I’m catholic myself. Needless to say I do not talk to her anymore

13 Anonymous { 06.27.06 at 4:22 pm }

When we broke it to my brother-in-law that we would be adopting and that we went through years of IF treatments with no luck… all my unemployed, single BIL could say to my husband was “so you were shooting blanks, huh bro?”. Nice. As a matter of fact, my DH was in a certain sense. Since he was a cystic fibrosis carrier one nasty side affect was a failed ‘delivery system’. Well the joke is on his BIL … since this is a genetic trait.


14 Abby { 06.28.06 at 8:33 am }

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for three and a half years. We have gone through three unsuccessful IUIs, and we have spent this year saving up for the $15,000 IVF cost. One of my friends knew we were saving up and getting ready for IVF (we’re going through IVF right now). Anyway, a few months ago, she asked where we were, what was going on, etc. I was answering her questions and got emotional. She told me that God wanted me to go through infertility because I needed to learn things before I became a parent. I was so hurt and upset. I do not agree with her opinion, but it still hurt. I have made peace with the fact that there is no justice in the fertility world.

15 Anonymous { 06.28.06 at 9:01 am }

At one of my initial IF work-ups through my OB/GYN on month 12 TTC, the lab tech who was taking my blood said to me, “sometimes when you stop thinking about it, that’s when it will happen.”

My very close friend told me around month 18 TTC that she saw a psychic and asked her about my situation. My friend said to me, “what the psychic told me, was that you just have to realize that you can’t control everything.”

I told a friend about our struggles when we were at around month 18 TTC (she wasn’t a very close friend, so we didn’t share it until then). She said “Oh, we had a really hard time too, it took us 4 whole months to get pregnant.”

A co-worker who I’m also friends with, and who knew of all of my struggles, including tests, procedures, surgeries, etc., got pregnant twice on the first month “trying.” When #3 didn’t happen so quickly for her (she had been trying unsuccessfully for 3 months at this point), she said to me, “well, I guess this is a pretty clear sign that it just isn’t meant to be.”

~ Lisa

16 Kirsten Anthony { 06.28.06 at 11:45 am }

Ok I guess my worse experience was with a medical professional. She looked at me, after having been ttc on our own for about 6 months and 3 of those with her, and said “I think you have PCOS go lose 100lbs and then call me.” I mean no explanation what so ever as to what PCOS was and how to treat it. No recommendations as to how I could go about losing 100lbs or if I should see a specialist. That is when I became a huge proactive patient in my own care.

I now have 3 children, an 8.5 year old boy and 5 year old boy/girl twins.

17 Piccinigirl { 06.29.06 at 9:53 am }

For me the most hurtful things I ever had said to me doesn’t seem that way to a lot of people. We had been TTC for about 2 years at Thanksgiving 2005, my SIL (who herself struggled with IF before having two girls and has said on many occasions that she “knows how I feel”) felt that at the Thanksgiving table was the place to let me know “OH we have great news, so and so is PG” . I truly wanted to hide under the table. I couldn’t look at anyone and crying in front of them just wasn’t an option to my pride. It just so happened that that wasn’t the end of it, I decided because so and so was going to be a party in March that I wouldn’t be going…and my SIL told my MIL that “K shouldn’t miss a party because of that, I mean there are always going to be PG ladies and babies everywhere she goes”.
In all honestly, through all of this, I never thought I would have to explain myself to someone who went through it too.


18 Ruta { 06.29.06 at 7:01 pm }

At about month 14 of TTC, an old friend from high school called me. She asked how I was doing and I said well — married, attorney in a law firm, etc. I didn’t mention the IF/TTC. She then proceeded to lecture me on how I should stop putting my career before kids and that if I waited too long, there may be “problems.” I gently tried to change the topic, told her we’d have kids hopefully “soon,” you name it. She refused to be dissuaded and kept going. Apparently she thought she was correcting the errors of my ways. Little did she know…

BTW, I was 29 at the time. So I hadn’t exactly waited too long, whatever that means.

19 Carrie { 07.03.06 at 9:37 pm }

I’ve had several experiences stick out in my mind.

1) I knew I would have issues TTC. having had irregular cycles my whole life and 5+years of chronic infections. I started Charting my cycles, and armed with my charts showing a clear luteal phase deficit, and my irregular cycle history, I asked my OB for advice on what to do. He took my charts, tossed them aside (LITERALLY) and said, “oh, you should just go on a vacation. This infertility stuff and workups can get really stressful. Just relax and enjoy your husband for awhile.”. Needless to say, I left the office in tears, and have never been back.

2) I was a patient for my first 2/6 IUI’s at a well-known IF clinic. My (now wonderful) OB had suggested I start progesterone right before I left her care for my RE. Well, I asked my RE about it, and he said sarcastically to me “Well, if it will help you sleep better at night on your pillow, then I’ll prescribe it for you, even though I don’t think you’ll need it. Because EVERYBODY has a sister who knows somebody who got PG with progesterone”. Again, left THAT RE’s care.

3) When IVF came up, we knew we may have to use donor eggs (but this was still new to us). (we are now using a donor a year later). Anyways, we visited 2 clinics to decide which clinic we wanted to go with for the actual IVF. We really liked the first clinic, so we visited the 2nd clinic. This was the clinic that the RE told me he’d prescribe me Progesterone to help me sleep better at night, but we were “trying” out another RE at the clinic, to see how he was. Well, when confronted with my history, etc, he put his hands behind his back, and said confidently, “we’d never accept you into our warranty program and my advice to you is to start looking for a donor for eggs”. Again, l eft in tears, and never went back.. We then went with the clinic we did like, where the RE actually did try with my own body to see how it went, and then after no response, it was clear that donor eggs would be my future. But at least he gave me a chance and didn’t blow me out the door. AND this clinic also accepted me into their warranty program, with donor cycles.

20 Natalie { 07.04.06 at 4:13 pm }

Shortly after coming to the realization that I wasn’t going to conceive without intervention, I spoke to a friend who referred me to an RE. That’s important to know because it answers the question, “Did she know?” 1.5 years, and too many invasive tests and negative pregnancy tests to count, later, she awkwardly told me she was pregnant with her third. I put on the obligatory happy face and congratulated her. As a reward for my dutiful response, she said, “So, get cracking,” and followed the devastating comment with a clap of her hands. Yes, because my inability to conceive was due to a lack of effort.

21 Richard { 07.06.06 at 6:13 am }

The most ridiculous thing anyone has said to me is my mother in law who, having been told I have zero sperm production, said that if we kept trying we’d get there in the end. After all her friends daughter was told that she’d never have kids and 10 years later she got pregnant.
Sometimes you really have to wonder about people.

22 Anonymous { 07.06.06 at 4:11 pm }

The situation or comment that bothered me the most was from a former friend. When she heard from me, that we were having infertility issues she told me how fertile she and her husband were. How easily they get pregnant. She asked me to be the godmother for her second child so I could have a close experience with a baby. I don’t believe she said this with malace but it was still very hurtful.

23 Aerk { 07.13.06 at 7:10 am }

This past Saturday was my son’s fifth birthday party. I had a miscarriage in November, so I am doing okay emotionally, but it’s still a hard thing. So, Saturday was a great day. My child’s birthday party!!! Lo and behold, my “friend” decides to tell me at his party that she is pregnant with child #3. Granted she has experienced infertility now for a few years as well, but she should have known better than to tell me that day. Needless to say we are not speaking right now. How could someone be so ridiculously clueless? I held it together for the rest of the party, but I cried on the way home as I told my husband and cried many times the next day. As someone else commented, let me deal with it privately (i.e. call me) so that I can put on a happy face the next time I see you. Don’t tell me in the MIDDLE of my child’s BIRTHDAY party for goodness sakes.

24 Anonymous { 07.14.06 at 8:04 pm }

Lots of stupid stuff was said, including “Just relax” from my mother in law. But the one that absolutely stunned me was from my stepmother. At Christmas, she said, “Make sure (insert name) gets some of those oysters. She needs them.” Thanks a bunch! No one said we had problems in the desire department! Plus I hate oysters, ugh.

25 Melissa { 07.15.06 at 12:14 pm }

You know, it’s hard to think of just one hurtful comment or conversation with a “would-be” friend. There have been so many comments, from family, friends, coworkers…everybody! Here’s just a couple that were especially stinging.

All my coworkers know about my IF issues. I was at a baby shower for one of these coworkers and we were playing the typical LAME babyshower games. This game inolved a doll, a blindfold, and a diaper. Whoever could change the diaper the fastest, while blindfolded, won the prize. It was my turn and I reluctantly placed the blindfold over my eyes. I was so nervous because I knew they would be extra critical of me, knowing my situation, and their complete ignorance towards the issue. So, I totally fumbled. I ended up completely tearing off the little velcroe sticky tab much to their delight. They all laughed and laughed… and then they all joined in in saying that I really shouldn’t have kids then. Ouch…that one hurt just a bit. At that point, I dropped off the gift, and left.

I also get frustrated when my friends and siblings who do have children tell me (amidst a temper tantrum by their two year old) that “See….you really don’t want kids…see what they are like? Trust me-you don’t want one.” Ugh…

There have been others, probably more humiliating and hurtful, but, just like your mind loses the exact details or a horrific car accident, I think my mind has forgotten some of the most awful things I’ve heard….Probably to protect myself.

26 Jessie { 08.31.06 at 9:56 pm }

My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 11 months and have been unsuccessful. One of my best friends started trying the same time I did and was pregnant her FIRST month trying. Throughout that month she agonized over her pg tests, which she began taking at 7 dpo!! And lamenting that if she wasn’t pg this month, she would go crazy!! Um, hello, it’s your FIRST month trying. Of course, she got a positive test at 12 dpo…DID I MENTION IT WAS HER FIRST MONTH TRYING. Well, now that I’m beginning my 11th two week wait, she has the nerve to say, “I know, that two week wait can be a real rollercoaster, can’t it?” I had to hold myself back from strangling her!!!!

27 Jessica { 10.17.06 at 8:38 pm }

After our bad amnio diagnosis (trisomy 18 which is incompatible with life) we ended up terminating our IVF pregnancy at 19 weeks.

My step sister said to me, “I hope you try again because it’s great to be a mom.”

28 Anonymous { 11.15.06 at 12:26 pm }

The usual I am sure all “Infertiles” have heard is relax and it will happen, try and not think about it and it will happen, go on vacation and it will happen, next month is your month, it only takes one. After 18 cycles and no BFP those suggestions have obviously not worked. I just wish people were a little more sensitive and not strut how fertile they are. Although I can say I can cope with it better now then I used too it is still painful to hear and it has taught me to be sensitive to others when it happens to me because you never know what people can be going through.

29 Jess { 01.13.07 at 4:50 pm }

A few weeks after losing my son to PPROM at 26 weeks gestation (10/26/06), my husband’s best friend’s wife called to see how I was feeling emotionally and physically while recovering from my c-section. I know that she had good intentions and wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to hurl myself out of a second story window. But when she said, “I just don’t know how one person can be so unlucky,” I had to end the conversation abruptly….and get back to my sob fest on the couch. This was my second loss in 16 months after years of failed infertility treatments. I’ve had many people say, “I just don’t know what to say”…that’s much better than something that comes across like, “you poor pathetic looser…I don’t know how anyone can be such a huge looser.” That’s what it felt like to be called unlucky.

30 Sophia { 02.09.07 at 3:35 pm }

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to pick a guy up at a bar and bring him home?”

“Maybe its God’s Will”

“Just relax”

“Lose some weight.”

31 Pretty Kitty { 05.07.07 at 5:00 pm }

I know it’s a long time since this was originally posted, but I must reply anyway. This is not anywhere near the worst thing said to me, but it hurt anyway beacuse of the timing.

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for awhile, but we didn’t tell anyone in our families because we wanted it to be a surprise. We found out my my SIL (9 years my jr.) started TTC not long after that, but still we told no one. My SIL got pregnant, and we were happy for her, but devastated too. My husband was particularly upset b/c his SE was low and he felt bad because He “could not get me pregnant.” As it turned out after follow-up SEs that he was well above normal and that the reason for the low count was that he had not ejaculated in a long time before the test. We didn’t know when we were to have or not have sex b/c the original SE was ordered by his GP and he didn’t tell us anything ahead of time. The first RE I visited in April 2006 told me that my Estradiol was high at 102, but at the time I wasn’t worried. Well, we went to a new RE and were shocked learn that my FSH was 16.9. We finally told our families. My SIL, now 6 weeks pregnant or so, was complaining about vomiting and stuff, which is okay as I hate to vomit, but then when I mention my sadness at having been unable to conceive, she tells me that I have to have a positive attitude. This stung because, A)she is pregnant, and B)a negative attitude is not the problem; it is a medical condition that a positive attitude will not correct. I must admit that my response was “A more positive attitude will not lower my day 3 FSH level.” another reason it hurt so much, was that we had JUST found out, just shared it with everyone, and had not yet recovered from the shock of my Dx.

My SIL has since been terrific; very loving, hopeful, and sweet and I love her to death. The worste comments have actually come from my mom, but I won’t get into that-too painful!

32 Baby Nurse { 05.25.07 at 7:58 pm }

This is my first time blogging. I am a 37yo Registered Nurse of Labor and Delivery. I have been married 11 years this July and have been trying to conceive 10 years this October. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis one month after coming off birth Control. I thought the Dr’s were crazy so I proceeded to get two more opinions, two of the three confirmed my diagnoses. One year later I came out of denial when I was doubled over on the floor thinking I was going to die right there on the floor while my husband layed there sleeping. Well anyway here I am after 1 1/2 years of fertility treatments and getting ready for IVF, I am very angry and bitter again. I am the only one in my family to have problems conceiving. I sometimes feel my life has no purpose if I cannot conceive and refuse to believe that God put me on this earth as a woman and not be able to conceive. I have heard some real ridiculous comments, or attempts at making me feel better sayings, like, “Don’t stress over, what you need is to go on vacation and have a few drinks” or how about this one right before my cycle is unknowingly going to start, “Do you feel pregnant”? In my head I say, well duh if I knew what that felt like I wouldn’t be in this perdicament (sp?). Thanks for letting me share.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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