Note: *this post is for you, but will also be shared in for them*
This one pains me to the core, because I realize that whoever is telling you about so-and-so who went through such-and-such is trying to relate. Trying to be helpful. Trying to make you feel better and not alone. But if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of these “Oh, my friend and her husband did IVF…” tales, then you know just how NOT helpful it is to be compared to a stranger. To waste time talking about THEM, these people you don’t know, when you could be sharing what YOU’RE going through.
Just today, I met with my broker, who in all fairness, is an incredibly kind-hearted woman. She asked if I had kids (kind-hearted but also forgetful), I reminded her that I didn’t (but that we hoped to soon) and therefore, needed a two-bedroom apartment. Without skipping a beat, she launched into her version of a lets-get-you-pregnant pep talk.
When you stop trying it happens. I’m sure everyone’s told you that, but it’s true.
Is it true? Because we have been told that there are biological obstacles in our way that no amount of RELAXING will cure. So thanks, but no thanks. If you aren’t a doctor, kindly keep your medical advice to yourself.
My cousin had trouble too, and once she started fertility treatments and stopped worrying so much, BAM. It just happened.
Try and relax. You’re too sweet for it not to work.
Kind without logic. Unfortunately personality traits don’t seem to make a difference here.
The stories are endless and similar to cancer in the sense that everyone knows “someone” who’s been through some form of infertility. But also, like an illness, no case is the same. No person’s story is alike and being told “she had three miscarriages before conceiving their beautiful baby girl” does not make you feel better. In fact, it may make things worse. Does that mean I have two more to go before having a full-term pregnancy?
It’s not that you don’t want to be polite to whomever is giving you this horrible pep-talk, it’s just that you don’t need to. Not in THIS moment. Not while you are hurting and in need of a friend. A friend who listens, not talks. To listen is to love. The most important attribute any one person can possess.
So what do you do when someone you care about leaps into a lengthy comparison about Becky’s daughter who also had trouble having children?
First, you take a deep breath and remember that they are telling you this out of love. Out of our human instinct to relate, to be useful, to be heard.
Second, you say something polite like, I know you’re telling me this to help, but I’m going to stop you right there Aunt Carol. I appreciate you sharing, but I’d love to keep this conversation focused on what me (and your significant other) are going through. It really helps me most when I can talk through my own struggles.
Then lastly, thank her for listening. Reiterate the importance of her lending an ear, how it made you feel, and how nice it was to talk-it-out. That kind of positive reinforcement is what helps prevent the he said/she said stories in the future.
Can I guarantee that she won’t be telling you about Darla’s daughter tomorrow? No. But I can guarantee that after being cut-off a couple of times, she will second guess if it’s appropriate to do so.
Here is a recent conversation I had with my ninety year old Grandmother on the phone (whom I love dearly and know without a doubt, her heart is ALWAYS in the right place).
“I have something I wanted to tell you.” – grandma
“Oh yeah? What is it Grams?” – me
“Well, do you know the Smith’s?” – grandma
“Hm, I’m not sure. I went to school with some, but I don’t know if they’re the one’s you’re referring to. Why?” – me
“Because I was talking to Anne Smith who had nine kids. Anyway, one of them adopted three kids of her own, and then, when she was in her thirties she got pregnant! Isn’t that something?” – grandma
“Wow, that really is something.” – me
“They didn’t think it was possible, and then just like that! When she stopped thinking about it, it happened. And you know, I hear about these things happening all the time. Do you think maybe you could try not thinking about it?” – grandma
“Well, I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop thinking about it Grams, but I’m happy it worked for her.” – me
“And in her thirties! Much older than you.” – grandma
“Grams, I am in my thirties.” – me
“No, that can’t be true! I can’t imagine that you’re THAT old.” – grandma
Mic drop – grandma