The emotional pain of infertility can be almost unbearable. Being a strong, capable woman doesn’t make you invulnerable to that pain.
On top of all of the other reasons it's painful, you have to deal with people’s insensitive comments.
Most of the time, the comments are well-intentioned. In fact, they often come from your closest supporters, who think that they’re helping. Of course, that can make the rudeness feel even worse. After all, it’s easier to brush off ignorant comments from strangers than to face unkindness from the people who are supposed to know and love you most.
Despite all of this, though, you are not alone as you deal with your pain. And you can actually learn to cope with insensitive comments in ways that make them at least a little bit more bearable.
The Shockingly Rude Things People Might Say
Nosy people make your business theirs in so many small ways. For example, you buy a pregnancy test at the drugstore, and the cashier asks, “Is this your first?” Or they might say, “Good luck.”
Even simple little comments like this sting when you’re dealing with infertility.
Then there are the people who are truly rude. For example, you might get the question, “Do you wish you had tried to get pregnant when you were younger?” Of course, this implies that you’re too old to be having a baby and that your infertility problems are probably all your fault.
Sadly, questions like these tend to come from people who are close to you as well.
Plus, if you happen to be in any type of non-traditional family situation, people’s underlying prejudice can also start to show through. For example, lesbian couples may hear everything from “Which one of you is going to be the mom?” to “You wouldn’t be in this situation if you had just married a man.”
Last but not least, women who are choosing life as a single mom also face discrimination from others. When you’re already coping with the emotional pain of infertility, the last thing you need to hear is that you’re going about it all wrong.
Draw Close to Those Who Understand the Emotional Pain of Infertility
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to surround yourself with people who understand, love, and support you. These may not be the people who have long been your close friends.
Of course, that’s not to say that you have to cut those close friends out of your life. However, if they aren’t able to contain their insensitive comments—or they simply aren’t able to show sympathy for your situation—then you need to focus first on developing the support group that can be there for you now.
So, reach out to others who have been through this journey. Connect more often with the people in your life who have demonstrated great support, even if they were previously only acquaintances. Join support groups and meet people who can relate to you.
The emotional pain of infertility can make you feel very alone. However, you’re not alone at all. You just might need to look outside of your usual circles to find the right support at this time. These will be the people that you can go to during the most difficult parts of your family building journey.
Set Your Boundaries and Ask for What You Need
Of course, even if you develop the best support system, there are still going to be other people in your life. Chances are, there may be rude people.
In some cases, you might desire and be able to limit your exposure to them during this challenging time of your life. However, that’s not always an option.
On one hand, you may need to work things out with these individuals. Your spouse, your mother who lives nearby, and your co-workers aren’t people you can just slice out of your life as you deal with the emotional pain of infertility. On the other hand, you might not even want to create distance. For example, you may want to spend time with your best friend, even though she has made some insensitive comments.
Therefore, you need to be really clear with the people in your life. As hard as it may seem, you may need to set firm boundaries. Plus, you may need to be explicitly clear about what you need from them and be unashamed to ask for it.
Some of your boundaries and needs could include:
How often and how much you share about your infertility journey
The need for someone to listen to your experience without offering advice
What you share won’t be shared with others
Time to just be together without discussing the infertility issues
Someone to hold your hand while you cry
Practical help making appointments and finding answers
Consider the Source of Insensitive Comments
When it comes to boundary setting, you will want to make the most effort with those closest to you. If you value them, then it’s worth the effort to work through the challenge of showing them how to support you through this time in your life.
However, the less close you are to someone, the less you have to put up with their ignorant comments. It’s perfectly okay to let co-workers and casual acquaintances know that you’re not comfortable discussing your fertility issues with them. If a stranger on the bus is rude, give yourself permission to get off the bus. Or tell them that they’re being rude and you won’t answer their question, and put some great, feel-good music on through your headphones. Likewise, if people are rude on social media, unfollow or block them and turn your attention elsewhere.
This is your journey and you have the right to your own experience free of their comments.
The emotional pain of infertility can be heartbreaking. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to break you. If you would like to learn how therapy can help with family building and infertility, please click HERE.