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"Just relax" is, of course, the best advice for someone having trouble getting pregnant. It's right up there with "You know, there are only a couple days a month when you can get pregnant. There's something called ovulation..." and "Have you tried putting your legs up after sex?"

People say the stupidest things when there's nothing to say but "I'm sorry things are so tough for you right now. Can I do anything to help?" Why is it so hard to just say that, rather than spewing forth with lines like "It just wasn't meant to be"?

But more importantly, how wonderful, Tertia, that you now have a handy place to store your boobs! No more carrying them around awkwardly when you can just park them on the kids instead. Awwww, it's Kate and Adam's first little job to help Mom around the house!

My personal favorite, from a coworker, whilst I awaited a miscarriage:

"Isn't it spooky, having a dead baby inside you?"

I wanted to award her a ribbon of some sort.

And I agree, the words "Just" and "be grateful" should *never* be uttered to anyone who is in any kind of pain. (When I told my dad that, he got mad and yelled. Some people really value their "be grateful.")

Thank you for including us secondary IF ladies. We usually seem to get lost in the shuffle.

That is one of the worst. I get it often. I even got it at an IF seminar -- gee thanks for your sensitivity. Another I hate is "Well I wouldn't worry. If it worked right once, it will work again." Then why did I lose two babies after having a healthy one you moron.

Oh, can I also add please do not complain about getting up all night long with your baby to someone who right now should be doing the same with theirs but it's dead. You have a right to complain, but please pick a better audience.

You know what really pisses me off is when you bump into someone you have not seen in a while.. such as a colleague at work or the janitor or something (who has no clue about your personal life), and the first thing they ALWAYS ask is:

"Do you have any kids yet?"

And they do not do it once, but every fucken time they see you.

I've gotten to the point where I don't even conclude the conversation - I just turn around and walk away as though the person does not exist. But only because I do not have the time to sit through a murder trial.

P.S. My wife and I had the same family doctor for a while. That cow (the doctor) told both of us the "Just be positive, I am sure it will be fine" bullshit for two years. The sad thing is that we believed her.

I had a child who was stillborn, and the day after his funeral my asshat aunt called up, to talk to my mother about a fictional family emergency, and her "helpful comment" to me was "Well, these things happen for a reason."

Yes it did. The "reason" was my son had a congenital GI abnormality which doesn't kill 98% of babies but it did kill him, and 33 hours of induced labor to deliver a child who is dead sucks, and being told "Well, these things happen for a reason" just wasn't what I needed to hear. Idiots are everywhere.

In nursing school almost the 1st thing that we were taught is NEVER to say "Don't worry." Enough said!

Thank you so much. I really needed this entry today.

My father's entry (as of this morning) "You know, something like 50% of women have miscarriages."

Why yes, that makes me feel so much better. Nice to know that my tomb-like uterus has company. Of course, not all of them have miscarriages every single time they get pregnant, but who's counting? Grrrrr.

As for the God comment. As my uncle, the minister, said after my cousin's son died at birth - It is never God's will for children to die or for their parents to experience such pain. God is not that cruel.

Really, though, thanks.

Oh dear.

I think my E-crush on you just intensified.

If that is even possible.

Well at least you won't have to be hearing any of this crap anymore. I'm sure you're grateful for that.

(sorry, I couldn't resist; tried to find a way to work a "just" in there too but am lame this late at night)

Anyway, how mad are you gonna be if we call Kate Katie?

Have you named your boobs yet? You'd think with as prominent as they become we would do that. But no, only men name their body parts I think. Of course, our boobs don't take over and make rational thought possible.

Lord, I'm full of shite tonight.

okay, meant to say make rational though impossible.

I suck.

Which is a good thing as I have few other skills apparently.

V V well said! Please write a book! :)
The only problem is it would take all of us buying the book for all the ignorant people out there that make these kind of stupid comments! Got to love you .....

THOUGHT - make rational thought impossible.

ARRRGGH! I'm going to bed. Sorry Tertia.

Standing from the rafters whistling and cheering loudly...YES!


I had to tell you my funny story. I gave birth to my son Timothy at 16 weeks. I know a little Korean grandmother who I love and adore - unfortunatly she had only just found out I was pg. I saw her just after I lost my boy, she met me with open arms saying "ah baby, baby" and started to rub my tummy. Unfortunatly she had only a few words of English. I said to her "no baby gone, baby GONE", "yes" said she "baby good is good, baby is good" I love this women so I couldn't slap her. I gave her a big hug agreed that a baby would be good and left quickly.

It took us 14 months to fall pf again and I did slap the last person who told me we were trying too hard and just relax :-)

Thank you thank you thank you for this.

I have a few to add...

Do not tell someone suffering from secondary infertility "You shouldn't be so desperate to have another one."

Do not tell someone suffering through yet another miscarriage "You just get to excited too early."

I did my own (much less eloquent) commentary on this... http://thefertileinfertile.blogspot.com/2004/10/asshat-comments-from-good-people.html

As always you have hit the nail on the head. We did six cycles before we were successful in bringing home a live baby, and I'm now on my fourth try for her sibling. We haven't told a soul - I can't bear the 'just be grateful for what you have' comments - it makes me want to scream that one has NOTHING to do with the other. People, no matter how much they love you, for the most part just do not get it.

Thanks for so eloquently telling it like it is, Tertia~!

Idiots abound and around everywhere. This sort of stupidity and hurtfulness is usually not ill-intentioned but really really despicable. They make my head explode with anger.

Unfortunately it doesn't just happen in the IF world. When I had cancer 4 years ago, some of those same phrases were said to me, in the context of cancer instead of IF. I just blogged about it last month.

I don't like it either T.

At this point I'm not sure who I hate more IF or the world of cretins on your doorstep. Freaky thing is I could guess most of who said what - f'ck'rs.

After a miscarriage: "You miscarried so early it was only a mass of cells - it never got past the cell division stage." Direct quote from an un-friend.

To a pregnant woman: There's no way you still have 8 weeks to go! You're too big!

When I tell people about my miscarriage last month, those kind, understanding people--many of whom have suffered through miscarriages of their own, all say some variation on, "it's very common," or "they say it happens in one in five pregnancies..." (as if I wasn't already worried about the odds for trying again...)

I know they are trying to reach out and tell me that there are so many who understand what I'm going through. and I appreciate that...but when you learn someone's parent or grandparent died, do you say, "it's very common?"

Oh I have one... A very recent one... I just experienced miscarriage #6 (on Christmas Eve... Merry Christmas to me). We had known that things weren't looking good, so we hadn't announced the pregnancy, but I had asked a few Christian friends/family to pray. When I sent the Email out that we had lost the baby, I got a reply (from my pastor!) "God in His sovernty (sp?) knows best, praise the Lord!"....

Now, I am a Christian, and I believe that God knows best, but you DO NOT SAY "Praise the Lord" to someone who's just lost a child. I went from being devestated, to being bitter as well... The next Sunday I didn't even want to go to church, except that I had obligations there with a Sunday school class.... But haven't spoken to Pastor since...

And, what not to say to a pregnant person... When I was 3 months pregnant with my third (live) baby, I was telling someone at church that I was due in October. Then someone I didn't even know said, "October?!? What are you having, quintuplets?!?"... I cried all the way home. *sighs*


I hope your next post is what TO say to be supportive to your IF/PG/grieving/etc. friend/neighbor/co-worker/relative!

Hopefully, once the sting of some of these comments isn't so fresh, the (unintended) victim can take some comfort (<- or something akin to that) in knowing that the (unintended) asshat probably meant well but wasn't very good with words.

IMHO, people often don't know what to say when someone near them experiences something tragic. I think that (most) people who offer these attempted condolences are really just trying to make the person feel less isolated and alone. (At least I like to think that's what most people are doing.)

I don't have experience with these kinds of comments in the IF way, but I think many of us have experienced some sort of tragedy. On one hand, we want others to acknowledge our experience because it's important to us, but on the other, we don't want the experience dismissed or trivialized.

I guess the best thing to say is a simple, "I'm truly sorry for your loss." Maybe just take cues from the person as to what more they need/want from you...?

P.S. I don't intend to be critical of you, Tertia, or anyone's posts at all... I hope I didn't come across that way.

Eve :)

The main thing I've learned is that it's almost never wrong in any situation to say "I'm so sorry." and/or "I'm here for you if you want to talk.".

someone once told me that because Kiera was on oxygen 24/7 and had been in hospital for the first 3.5 mnths of her life, it was "just as well" that she died.

JUST AS WELL????!!!!

fuck. off.

Oh my freaking God, Sheena, are you freaking kidding me? I thought the comment when Quinn died (from a relative, no less) that we were still young, we can have more children, was effed up. Yours takes the asshat cake. In fact, I think that I can see your first reaction of initially being way too stunned to say something, and then later, when you come to from the SLAP in the face of that commment, going to find the person so you can PUNCH THEM IN THE EFFING FACE. Gods, I cannot even believe that one.

What was I going to say before I read that? I don't even remamber now, I am so blown away by that comment. Oh, right. That list is right on, Tertia.

I'll never forget a comment made to me by more than one person right after I suffered my 1st of 2, back to back, ectopics on my wedding night. Right in the middle of my reception, I buckled over in pain and had to be rushed off to the hospital where after 10 hours of lying on a gurnie (sp?) learned of the ectopic (9wks pg) and would need emergency surgery to remove my right tube (and the baby), these people said "well, good thing this didn't happen right before the wedding ceremony!" HUH?? Yeah, that made me feel a whole lot better. NOT!

I agree with the the previous "eve"'s post. You should do a blog entry on 'what to say' for the well-intentional, but totally stupid amongst us.

another classic comment to women who have undergone IVF is:

that's what you get for &%^#$ with mother nature.

a classic.

How about to the pregnant infertile:

"Too bad you can't just relax and enjoy this pregnancy. You should feel lucky and blessed that you were able to at least get pg"

Along with just = bad, also should = bad.

Well it wasn't a real baby [oh just a figment of my imagination then].

People are so sentimental about miscarriage - at 6 weeks you're not even really pregnant [okay and BTW fuck off].

Are you sure you're having enough sex/doing it right? [oh I don't know - where is it supposed to go? Do you want to give me some tips?]

What do doctors know anyway - have you tried homeopathy? [fuck off you bitch it won't reconstruct my uterus]

I absolutely agree that people have the right to complain about the discomforts and inconveniences of a normally achieved, uncomplicated pregnancy but DON'T COMPLAIN TO ME.

Equally, I know you're disappointed you didn't get your candle & whale music water birth but DON'T COMPLAIN TO ME.

Oh and please don't expect me to hold your newborn.

Tertia, firstly can I say - ALL THE BEST with Adam and Kate, so glad they and you are well and healthy. I am so glad to see things are going well for you.

Secondly - please can you publish this post as a pamphlet? ONe I can hand out to people as they make their ass-hat comments. "Tertia's Words Of Wisdom" or somesuch. You rock..

(I'm sitting here waiting three effing WEEKS for a scan post potential-miscarriage (don't you love the UK's FREE 'health' *ahem* "Service"?!), with my mother saying "well if it's meant to be.."! Guh.)

I just don't get why it is so hard to say "I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It really is just horrible". Just that, no extenders or add-ons. Just that.

My boss, of whom I did not exepect much, rang me and left a message when I miscarried last time, and said "Lucy, I'm so sorry has happened. I know that being at work right now with all the other women (4 pg women at work) will be really, really tough. Take as much time as you need - and you can work from home if you want. We can work out whatever you want or need to do right now. Love to you and Paul."

This guy deserved a fucking medal.

Oh, I just had to add a comment by my fuckwit aunt, who told me after my third miscarriage that the "bad thing about miscarriages are that they take away your options."

Right. Because, you know, I might have been considering having a termination after years of TTC. Okay.

Comments that shouldn't he heard when you're infertile:

- Just relax/ go on a holiday/ adopt/ get a dog/ see this guru in Hawaii and you'll get pg. (I know we all know these, but worth repeating again)

Comments that shouldn't be heard when you've miscarried:

- Maybe you're just not meant to be a mother.

- Maybe it was something YOU did 7 years ago. (Seriously, my SIL said that to me. And worse still, it came via some health guru she was seeing at the time who did not know me at all.)

- Maybe you shouldn't have had that bath/ walked that morning, had those Chinese herbs supposed to promote fertility, etc etc. (Like I'm not blaming myself enough.)

Comments that shouldn't be heard when you're pregnant:

- Are you sure it's just ONE? Are you sure it's NOT TWINS? (Oh, gee, no, I'm NOT sure! I think my doctor must have missed that in the last thirty-five ultrasounds!)

Comments that shouldn't be heard when you're carrying around a crying baby:

- Maybe he's just hungry? (Ya think? That never occurred to me. I was planning on just letting him gulp oxygen for the next 24 hours as I heard that can be a real tummy filler.)

Amazing, some of the things people say - generally quite unintentionally, just trying to make one feel "better". I think people try to "protect" you from the harsh reality - and it has the opposite effect, of course.


As a secondary infertile myself, I must say "be grateful you already have one" is my personnal favorite and I get it alot, lucky me.
Also, I love it when my friends say something like "enjoy it while you can, it's sooo much harder with two". Just what I needed.

From my MIL, when I asked her not to tell anyone about a very early pregnancy because we were worried about having to un-tell them if things went wrong:
"Why? Because you've had one or two miscarriages?"
Yeah. One devastating event, or twice that many, but why bother to keep track, really. (But if you are, you twit, it's three.)

Here are two for a catagory not yet mentioned - for those currently pregnant but on bedrest in order to stay that way long enough:

"At least you knew it was going to happen" (I'm sorry, what? I'm now psychic? Just because there was a decent chance due to past history does NOT mean I wasn't hoping this pregnancy would go smoothly!)

"Just relax and enjoy it, because once the baby's here you'll wish you could just lie around all day." (Yeah, I'll really miss all those long, dull hours of wondering if the baby is still ok, why she hasn't moved in a while, will I make it one more week into the pregnancy before delivering, how mature are her lungs, etc....)

"Don't worry, it was fine with your last one, I'm sure this one will be too" (Because, of course, all pregnancies and deliveries and babies are EXACTLY the same! Besides which, delivering 3 weeks early, having a knot in the cord and almost bleeding out myself are all symptoms of 'fine' doncha know.)

And my personal favorite, after telling a friend of mine that my doctor wants me to try to make it to at least 37 weeks with this baby before being induced due to preeclampsia (said friend having had a baby three months ago after her second completely uncomplicated pregnancy and FIVE HOUR labor):

"Well, that's not bad at all - you'll have to let me know what it's like to lie around on the couch for three weeks. I'll live vicariously through you." (Yeah, bitch, cause there's nothing I like more than not leaving the house for weeks on end, having to have other people take care of my son all day so I don't get to see him much at all, and have plenty of time to think all the awful thoughts I've already listed above. How bout you tell me again all about your perfect Suzie Creamcheese pregnancies, or brag again about how you didn't take so much as a Tylenol through either of your 5 hour labors, and I'll live vicariously through your ass. For that matter, why don't you just go ahead and tell me again why I'm a failure as a woman for having an epidural during my 24 hours labor with my son, due to the hospital's policy for administering epidurals to preeclamptic women to help keep my blood pressure from going any higher and, oh, KILLING me. Or tell me again how you told your friend that if she had a shot of Nubain after 60 hours of labor that she 'didn't do it naturally.')

But I'm not bitter. No, not bitter at all.

Tertia, you're awesome.

I **just** had to jump in to share the best of the worst comments I've gotten.

Right after the loss of my first child and the 3-day induced labor to deliver him, my best friend from college said, "you know, this reminds me a lot of when I had an abortion." I ended the friendship over that one. Nearly 3 years later, I'm more open to the idea that a deliberate abortion is a loss, and that those who choose to abort are part of the loss sisterhood, but for fuck's sake DO NOT compare your decision to terminate a healthy pregnancy to the miscarriage of a much-loved, much-wanted, much-planned baby. At least not when the mother is in the worst stages of grief. Get a fucking clue.

And then when I was six months pregnant with my son, my great-aunt, who hadn't seen me in a while, looked at my huge belly and loudly announced "I hope you get to keep this one!" It was said in a nasty tone of voice, too, much like you'd use to say something like "nice car! I hope you don't get pissed and crash this one, too!"

Of course, I also got a lot of those idiotic but well-meaning comments like "these things happen for a reason" and "at least you know you can get pregnant", but since I know I've uttered my fair share of well-intentioned assholio comments, those people I instantly forgave and still love.

Seconding the motion that Tertia is awesome....

After 3 month old twin daughter died from SIDS:

From old boyfriend--"I know exactly how you feel, my puppy Max died earlier this year and we still don't know why." Yup, really, he did say it.

From neighbor--"At least you didn't get to know her very well." Huh?

From "friend" with four healthy older children: "It's better that it happened at 3 months." Oh, I don't know, pick an age you'd prefer one of your children to die at, bitch.

Also, the range of deeds that people perform range from mind-blowingly kind to head-scratchinly clueless:

The morning after we awoke to find a beautiful single pram on our front porch. A friend thought it might be a bit easier for us to take our son out and not deal with the double stroller. Still makes me tear up.

A neighbor (I thought friend) that I called from the hospital an hour after our daughter was pronounded dead and asked if she would go over to our house to field the barrage of phone calls that would be coming in: "Oh, sorry, I've got a house to show, but if I can do anything, let me know."

Yes, I've heard all of those and more. Not to mention my co-workers who all tell me "Oh, I just *know* you're going to have a baby". Gee, thanks and where do I sign up for the psychic lessons again?

The "best" one though, was not a week and a half after my m/c/d&c when a coworker pulled me aside and told me seriously that I should get anti-depressants because I just wasn't myself.
I mean really, how dare I grieve? Why didn't I just snap out of it, damnit? After all, nearly 10 days had past since I lost my baby, why wasn't I all kicks and giggles again?
Thank you very much for this post, Tertia. It meant a lot to me.

Good luck to you :) Your babies are nearly here!!!

I actually heard the comment "at least we know you can get PG" from my RE as I was waiting to get wheeled in for my d&c during my m/c. She, of all people, should have known better.

Great post, as usual T.

Thank you so much for writing this. I'm not going through infertility myself, but I'm drawn into it due to a SIL & best friend who are (and I'm a donor because of them.)

But your comments on depression really hit home. Thank you for that.

speechless....utterly speechless. I have been in nearly everyone of these situations. You couldn't have said it better!

To add to the "boob resting" comment... my husband was kind enough to point out the other day that even though my "barely a b-cup's" have grown to an overflowing c-cup, you really can't notice now because they are so dwarfed by my belly... geeeeee thanks. I feel pretty.

Add this...

PG person #1: I'm glad I finally got pregnant. It took us x (more than 1, less than a million) months to get pregnant. I'm so thankful.

PG person #2: It only took us one month. I guess our baby was just meant to be.


Tertia - you have every right to complain. In fact, I think you've been downright incredible. Considering your high-risk pregnancy, irritable uterus, confined to bedrest etc., I often think how amazingly LITTLE you complain.

Just wanted to share a little anecdote regarding assvice: My adorable SIL is undergoing IVF # 2 (holding thumbs, crossing legs, sending out prayers into the universe). Members of our husbands' family (hubbies included :-) all have a tendency to impart their often breathtakingly uninformed opinions on the whole world with great confidence and forcefulness. The other day I sent my SIL an email saying that I can't wait to find out if their kiddies get that know-it-all gene. That night she told me that she'd just had a conversation with our MIL. My SIL told her they were planning on going away for a couple of days and maybe visiting a spa. To be safe she wouldn't enter a jacuzzi, even though her doctor told her that he has never found a justifying reason why pregnant (or hopefully pregnant) women shouldn't enter jacuzzis (anyone?). My MIL then proceeded to explain that she thinks it's because the water pressure in a jacuzzi IS DIFFERENT to that of the body, thereby causing some sort of internal disturbance - apparently the doctor doesn't know this because he's just a doctor and his area of expertise is limited. Ahhh.

Personal favorite I heard the second day my baby was in the NICU, after learning he was on a high-frequency ventilator, had developed pnuemonia, sepsis, couldn't maintain his blood pressure, had a heartbeat in the 230's, and he had a hole in his heart:

"It's out of your control, so try not to stress."


On my way to an induction, from my family doctor upon learning the baby was dead in utero, "At least you can have fun trying again."

On the other hand, my OB held me while I cried.

Thanks for speaking for all of us T.

Oooooh, I've got a few for you.

When I first got pregnant, a very jealous friend (jealous of everything, not being PG) said, "Well, don't get your hopes up. Because the majority of pregnancy's end in the first trimester." WTF???

Here's some from my wonderful parents who are in major DENIAL that I have had major depression for over 12 years. "You just need to learn to deal with things. You have nothing to be upset about. Everyone has bad days. I just don't believe in this mumbo jumbo that it's a medical condition. Depression doesn't exist." This contradicts what they said when I was in high school (undiagnosed), "What in the hell is wrong with you? You must have some sort of chemical imbalance." (Fucking idiots-depression??Maybe??) Here's how the rest of it went...

"Mom, Dad, please let me get some help."
"No, you don't have a problem. Just a chemical imbalance."

Still bitter? Hell yeah I am. At least I have it under control now.

"You're young, you can try again." You're right, but it still hurts.

"Probably just mother nature's way of correcting a mistake." You just called my baby a mistake. A MISTAKE????

"See? Told you all that worrying was for nothing!"
"See what happened when you just relaxed!"
"Why must you worry? You got pregnant, NOW what's the issue?"

After a few years of fertility treatments, multiple failed cycles, and two miscarriages (family only knew about the second one), we decided to adopt. At my youngest nephews first birthday party, my sister's friend was there and about 4 months pregnant. She was talking about what horrible morning sickness she had had up to that point, and a few other details, and my BIL looked at me and said "Boy, I bet your really glad you didn't have to go through all that. You're getting your kids the easy way." I was totally speechless, mouth hanging open, and my mother was kind enough to fill in for me with a "I'm sure she would have loved to go through every bit of it if she could have."

Of course, this is the same woman who said "Well, sometimes things just happen", without any real emotion, when I had the second miscarriage.

I was going to post something relatively lighthearted, along the lines of a list I'd seen of things not to say to a pregnant woman that ended with "You don't have the guts to shoot that gun," but I am so sad, truly, about the stupid, stupid, STOOPID things people have said to you and the posters here (I had a couple of asshat comments said to me when we were TTC and when I had my first m/c, but nothing as breathtaking as these examples). People are just so blinkered/self-absorbed sometimes. I'm so sorry. May all our children's memories by blessings.

Absolutely loving this. My best friend (previously mentioned during the Where Have All the Good Men Gone? post) and I love to sarcastically throw the "meant to be" comment back and forth to keep each other laughing - after every breakup she hears that comment and after every m/c I do to. And the thing I find even more annoying is now that I'm almost 13 weeks with a very amazing miracle that I never thought would make it, my MOTHER keeps saying, "Well this one was meant to be you know."

Have to add in my own personal favorite:
"You're so lucky" - because all five of the people who have said that to me on separate occassions all got pregnant before the last birth control pill hit the trash can. And all of those people either had more kids than they wanted (and said this IN FRONT OF SAID KIDS!) or were bemoaning the fact that they'd have to take medicine or have surgery to avoid having more kids instead of living hte carefree life I have!

My favorite "inappropriate" but totally hilarious comment was made by a six year old patient of mine (who's perfect mother was due the same day as I was, who barely looked pg and who delivered down the hall from me and left the hospital in her regular prepg clothes). This little girl came in for her checkup and looked at me and said, "I know I'm not supposed to be rude. But, you're huge!". So funny.

Great list. Can't believe you're so close to your c/s date.


You know what I hate most about most of these comments (at least those pertaining to IF and M/C, I've never been through any of the other situations)? After my m/c, I uttered most of them about myself. Especially the "if it happened once, it will happen again" one. WTF?? I can't imagine why I felt the need to make other people feel better about my loss! I can't believe I gave asshat advice to myself. And apparently, I need new psychic lessons, because not only was it "bad" advice, it was wrong advice, too.

So glad you are almost there, Tertia. You rock!

Dale Ann

There is a learning curve, which is why I come to sites like this. First is your rant, Tertia, which helpfully advises me of the 'do nots'. But second are the general comments, which are usually good, heartfelt ways to express sympathy. Take the response to your post about Ben.

When I'm at a loss for words with a friend who is suffering in a way that I can never understand, I am inspired by some of the wonderful things people have posted on blogs like this. Cheers!

Awesome comments from everyone!

My worst pregnancy comment needs a little set-up. My uncle's MIL was one of those older broads who dyed her hair sort of a trashy cotton-candy peach color. She was always quite heavy, and had diabetes and other health problems as a result. During all the years of family parties at my uncle's house, she had scarcely ever uttered a word to her son-in-law's relatives. I saw her a few months into my pregnancy. She opted to end the years of silence with the classic line, "You're gettin' fat!" No gentle smile, no "when is the baby due," no "congratulations." Thirty years of no communication, followed by "You're gettin' fat," period.

Within a few more years, she died. As you know, that death thing is quite common in the old-and-sick crowd. She just wasn't meant to live any longer. And at least her grandchildren still had other grandparents to fill in the gap...

Oh! I had to come back with one more I'm sure we've all heard:

"You can have one of mine!" along with the complaining about how tired said fertile-myrtle is after caring for her 3-5 children who she never thinks to limit to just one extracurricular activity apiece instead of doing everything for all of them and then being so unhappy with them all that she's willing to give them away. I have called at least one person on that and asked which kid they least liked and were interested in giving up.

I'm always in awe when someone in IF land acknowledges secondary IF. Our need is real, but not at nearly the level it was once when it was primary.

I always got how it would be so much easier the second time. Like birth woke up my body as to how to get pregnant, or maybe they imagined my cervix getting stretched to 10 so now the sperm could swim past.

This is so ridiculous as with male factor my husband's body had no idea we gave birth. His count was just as low and still oddly shaped.

Yet everyone was so certain that we would get pregnant so easily the second time. It would give me a good laugh when the doctors/nurses would ask what kind of birth control I'd be using after birth. I'd say nothing and they'd start to warn me about getting pregnant while breastfeeding. Hey! Sounds Great! Sign me up! A baby for free, can you imagine?

Love your blog and am looking forward to the 17th.

What not to say to an infertile who will never have children and is slightly overweight with a poochy belly (me)

"Oh, when's the baby due"?

Here are a few gems imparted to me when I was expecting:

"Oh, that's JUST morning sickness. Most women just put up with it."

"...and don't be disappointed if you miscarry. Lots of people do with their first pregnancy."

And right after the baby was born:

"(GASP) SHE'S NOT BREATHING!!!!" (Um, yes she is. She's just asleep).

My favorite lines were 'you're so young' and 'you have plenty of time.'

It seems to be with my friends and family (and, by the way, a certain nurse at the testing center where I had my HSG) that they get to decide who has the right to be infertile. Since I have not yet reached my 30th birthday, I obviously have no right to be infertile, even though, hello! I cant get pregnant!!!

I will never ever forget when I was having my first miscarriage, before I had any idea that I would have another, and then need to do three IVF's to become a mother, my "friend" bursting into tears and saying "well, at least you know you can get pregnant." She was single, and wanted kids desperately. Now, I understand that being single when you want kids is its own kind of infertility, of course, but it is not the same as having a baby die. I ended up comforting her. And of course, she ended up meeting someone a few months later, getting engaged almost immediately, and getting pregnant on her honeymoon. I found out I was having my second miscarriage after my first IVF, at the same time I found out that she had gotten pregnant on her honeymoon. I had to give myself shots at her wedding. "Getting pregnant" is not the goal. The goal is having a baby.

I agree with all your other comments, too, although I'm sure that in my pre-IF days, I probably said some of them.

I guess if they haven't been through it, they don't know the right thing to say. They should still think about what they're saying before opening their big mouths!

Hi there,

This is the second or third time I've read on a site what not to say to someone going through any of the issues you mentioned.

Why not tell us what TO say? When a person with no experience with any of those issues (eg: me) hears something like you wrote, we're put in an awkward situation with the other person waiting for us to say something.

So tell us.

Great post as usual Tertia!

Timely as well...

I'm quickly approaching the two year mark of my daughter's death and I'm really having a hard time. Really struggling..

But nobody wants to hear it. I should be "better" now. I should be over it.

I've been told that if Marrissa had not died that day it would have been another day. I've been told that I am not letting go of my pain that I am being selfish.. blah blah blah..

Some of the worst things have been said to me by a man who is a LCSW. He does counseling for his profession. And he is by far, the worst offender of stupid things to say to a grieving person.

The worst thing he said? "Interesting that you had twins right after Marrissa died and that your car only seats 8 people. I wonder where you would have put the extra baby if she had lived?"

WHAT THE FUCK? So Marrissa died so I would not have to strap one of the twins onto the hood of the suburban. Now that explains everything. Thank you very much!

And people PAY him for advice!

If in doubt of what to say, how about just saying nothing? Or as mentioned, just say "I'm sorry" and leave it at that.

Better to remain silent and have people think you are an asshole than to speak up and remove all doubt.

To a pregnant woman: aren't you rather small for x number of months? (thereby instilling fear that something is wrong with the fetus)

To someone trying to have their second child & dealing with miscarriage & secondary fertility: denying that there is something even called secondary fertility, and getting pregnant the second time around is easier.

how about this one...

"maybe you not being able to get pregnant is God's way of telling you that you shouldn't have children"...

oh yeah, true comment... but get this... it was from my husband... so after i came to from that slap in the face... i turned around and said to him...

"maybe it's God's way of telling me that i shouldn't have YOUR children"

and yeah, the big "D" is most likely in our near future...

As someone who is going through not being able to conceive, I think I have heard most of those. I am creating a list to say to all the assholes that have said something stupid to me. Great post!

To a mother who doesn't have custody of her son:

"But think what a wonderful, free life you've been able to live without the responsbility of having a child with you all the time."

That came from my mother and several other people in my life, and the only person in that group that's left in my life is my mother, and only because I have to keep her.

To a woman who is 41, never married and hasn't had a date for 16 years and would like to be married. Not in a desparate sort of way, but thought having someone to share a life with might not be a bad idea:

"You are not marriage material."

Yup, from my mother and those same group of former friends.

Sorry people have said any of those things to you, Tertia.

And I agree, it's not God's will. It annoys me to no end when people say that God takes children to heaven. What is that?!!!!

So true!! "What will be will be." Well, yeah, and the sky is generally blue, but how is that supposed to help??

Long ago I reserved my right to bitch about any aspect of pregnancy I feel like. (Someday when I get PG with a keeper) And that is even if I am not PG with twins and on bedrest like you.

Well, I tried to post this earlier, and it has since disappeared...

The thing I hate most about these types of comments is that I said them myself, ABOUT MYSELF, after my m/c. Especially the one that goes "The good news is that I was able to get pregnant and if it happended once it will happen again." I have no idea why i felt the need to make other people feel better about my loss. WTF?? By the way, I must need new psychic lessons too, because not only was I giving myself asshat advice, I was giving wrong advice too.

Lots of love to you and your family, Tertia. You're almost there!

Dale Ann

Cracking up at the "boobs resting on belly" statement. LOL What was Marko THINKING?! Oh. I get it. He WASN'T.

You know what's even worse? When your boobs rest on your belly and you're NOT pg. Yep, I'm lookin' at that right now. Isn't that the BEST? Gah. Must. Start. Exercising!

hello doll!
wish I had MUCH more time to address this, but my 'best' comeback for the "there must have been something wrong with it..." is...

Well, darling, there's something wrong with ALL of us!
Well, there's something wrong with YOU and YOU got to live!

Harumph...more when I have time. And I honestly wish we could all put our heads together and write a book suggesting things that SHOULD be said when one is suffering any of the above...and in it have 100 blank pages. As in: NOTHING. If you don't know what to say, keep your mouth SHUT.
Harumph again. Fools.


All the ones from you T were so true as were all the ones in the comments.

My most hated one now is:

"But wasn't it all worth it."

I mean don't get me wrong, my son is worth anything...but I don't think it makes anything any better to say that. its not like you get a pain bill pay it and then get a baby for sure. I blogged about this a few months ago here http://journal.3inthefamily.com/archives/000168.html

I also hate "Well at least you got to be pregnant and have one"

Oh yes and what a thrilling pregnancy it was...after 18 cycles of fertility treatments a termination, two miscarriages, and still born daughter I have a pregnancy that was terrifying. I suffered from hyperemissis had surgery at 8 weeks pregnant to insert a PIC Line...took massicve medication from day one. Shot my self up with heparin, spent weeks and weeks in the hospital, then when everything seemed a little better I had an abrupted placenta.

Yeah that chance to be pregnant was so great. Nearly killing me and the baby. Then to know at the end there was no way I could do this again knowing my chances for another AP were quadrupled and my chance for hyperemisis rose with every pregnancy.

Just because something is the right choice doesn't make it easier to deal with. It just means that you are a person who can evaluate your place and figure out what is right for your family. There is no set timeframe to heal.

In general I find I just hate people and don't discuss it with them.

And I also apparently lost my ability to spell and proofread as well!

Oh Janis! I am so ashamed that an LCSW would say that to you.

The only bad thing that was said to me (mainly because I didn't tell anyone besides this person) was that I didn't seem very excited about the pgcy so I must not be very upset. Ah, how comforting.

Thank your for including those who suffer from Secondary IF. Also the NICU comment. Now for the comments about having a special needs child.
"what did you do wrong to have such a deformed child?

"Who sinned? You or your hubby?"

"At least you have 3 other healthy children"

"You can't be serious about having more children. What if they end up like your other child?'

Best one yet,from my in-laws, who are the ones who passed along this abnormal gene:

"It must of came from your side of the family since we are all too perfect of people."

I need to stop before my anger gets the best of me.
Thanks for caring all the bases!

Wonderful post, Tertia, and all the best to you as 1/17 draws nearer.

Although not as crushing as many of the comments listed above, my favorite inappropriate statement was received by my mom from her psychotic MIL when she miscarried about 6 months after she and my dad got married: "How could you do this to me?! What will people think?! I haven't given you permission to have sex yet!!"

Yeah, we're trying to weed out those genes with each successive generation...

Taking more space - I'm so sorry, usually have better manners than this.

For the people who keep asking what DO you say? My best advice (and I feel certain that Tertia and others probably have better, more eloquent answers) - stop a second and ask yourself if it's comforting to them or if it's something you're saying to make yourself feel better. My best comments come from my SIL who simply would email and ask how I was and say that although she had no idea what I was going through, she was more than happy to listen if I needed to talk. For people I've been around who've m/c, I generally send a card or flowers and just write a note in there saying I'm here if they want to talk and leave it there.

The nicest thing anyone said to me after my second miscarriage was, "I'm sure people have told you it happened for a reason, but any child of yours would have been wonderful so you can just forget that." I'm not sure I'd have the nerve to say that to anyone else, but it actually made me laugh when I wasn't much up for laughing.

Worst was, two weeks after my first miscarriage, when my mother started wailing, "All my friends have grandchildren!" For fuck's sake. She had never expressed a desire for grandchildren before - not once - and she picks now?

But sadly, the dumbass comments do not end - I finally have a wonderful, gorgeous baby, who I do not complain about. However, I do answer questions - like, when people ask if he cries a lot, I say yes. And when they ask if he sleeps through the night, I say no. And five - FIVE - people have followed this up with a smug, "Well, you wanted a baby!" Um, yes. Yes I did. And now I have one, and what's your point exactly?

I'm sorry that everyone here has had to deal with such insensitive comments.

Something that's always appropriate to say to a grieving person:
"I'm so very sorry."

If your relationship with the person warrants it:
"I'm here for you if you need me"
"What can I do for you right now?"

And if you're really close, there's always picking up Chinese takeout, throwing in a load of laundry, making sure there's enough kleenex in the house, filling the fridge with soda, beer, wine, and snacks, screening phone calls and visitors, making sure that older kids have been picked up from school and taken to piano lessons. And of course, there's always sitting quietly with them.

A few lines from one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, *Lament for a Son* by Nicholas Wolterstorff (whose son was killed in a climbing accident). I'll end there, because I can say nothing that approaches his eloquence.

"Your words don't have to be wise. The heart that speaks is more than the words spoken. And if you can't think of anything to say, just say, 'I can't think of anything to say. But I want you to know we are with you in your grief.' But please: Don't say it's not really so bad. Because it is. Death is awful. Demonic. If you think your task as a comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it's not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place youself off in the distance from me. Over there you are of no help. I need to hear you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench. I know: People do sometimes think things are more awful then they really are. Such people need to be corrected - gently, eventually. But no one thinks death is more awful then it is. It is those who think it is not so bad that need correcting."

I am new to blogs, but came across yours. So very happy for you btw.
I do not suffer from infertility, but have friends that do. What would you prefer us,
that don't know what it is like, to say?
All things you mentioned are things I know I have said, honestly trying to comfort my friends.

Somehow, I have been able to shrug off a lot of the stupid, hurtful things people can say to you when you've had a miscarriage (or three). For example, my dad has *always* been clueless and has *never* known the right thing to say, so when he said "Well, I guess that's just nature correcting a mistake," I was able not to take it personally and give him points for trying. Same with a lot of the others ("It happens to a lot of people," "At least it was early" blah, blah, blah)--usually I can find the sympathetic intent and focus on that.


I did hear one unforgiveable, friendship-ending comment from someone I was once very close to:

"You know, you *did* tell me way too early."

Um. What? I miscarried because I told you? The aggrieved party here is YOU because I insensitively admitted the real reason I wasn't drinking at your party? It made me realize what a selfish person she really was, and that was it. And I'm way better off for it.


You can never go wrong with the following:

"I'm so sorry."
"Oh, that just sucks."
"Can I do anything to help?"
"Here is some chocolate."
"Wanna go get drunk?"
"Take care of yourself."
"I am thinking about you."
"I'm here if you want to talk."
"I'm here if you don't want to talk."
"I love you."

Worst line from someone in real life, someone who knew exactly what we'd gone through to get pregnant, about a month before my due date: "Your life is going to change SO much." And the way she said it, it was clear she meant "And not in a good way." Thanks, bitch... I'm going to miss the fun-filled world of infertility treatment, but I guess I'll put up with motherhood somehow.

Worst line from someone on the internet, before I conceived: "Well, if you think getting pregnant is hard, just wait until you have to try to find a babysitter." Yeah, I'm sure it pales in comparison. Nice thing to say on an infertility board.

A friend of mine who recently miscarried said, and honestly seemed to believe, half of the platitudes that are so annoying. "It was God's will, it wasn't meant to be, probably something wrong with the baby, etc." It was all I could do to stop myself from arguing with her. "No, it's not God's will! God doesn't do this to people!" I just told her how very sorry I was.

But, on a happier note... babies in January, babies in January... :-D

My personal favorite, especially given that it came from my own mother: "It's not the worst thing in the world, you know, not being able to have a baby."

Just (;-)) a note to let you know that you all changed someone who once made asshat comments...

I am a medical student. A little over a year ago, my Fiance's best friend's wife miscarried. I had just taken embryology, and I was pretty amazed at all the little things that have to go right during development for a healthy, perfect baby to be born. When my boyfriend told me with much sadness that she'd miscarried, I said something like, "That happens all the time...blah blah blah...boring scientific stuff...etc" He was mad at me for days and I didn't get it AT ALL (note: fortunately, I never said this to the woman, who just recently delivered a perfect baby boy).

Then I started reading Tertia and Julie's blogs. I felt like an asshat, because I had been an asshat. For a standardized patient interview a few months ago, I took the medical history of a 40-something woman, and when I asked her if she had any children she mentioned that she'd had a miscarriage some 15 years ago. I said something like, "I'm sorry, I've heard that's very hard." She was kind of surprised that I even acknowledged it and was grateful; the m/c still hurt her, all these years later. I never would have said that if I hadn't read about what you all have been through.

Thank you all for sharing your stories.

Tertia--You're brilliant! And you deserve an award for this post alone.

Just a mere hour or so after I'd seen the ultrasound of my two dead identical twins at 10 weeks gestation that I'd finally conceived after 4 years of trying, I returned to my office to collect my things. A co-worker saw my puffy tear-filled eyes and consoled me. I only remember that she said

"Well, at least your body knows how to get pregnant"

It had to learn?

My girlfriend had a child who died the day after being born from complications which did not show up during prenatal testing. Before the funeral, a fellow parishoner told her "we're so honored that your baby will be the first funeral in the new church." Yikes. She's still pissed off four years later.

I can't believe I'm finally delurking after reading for almost a year, but yeah - two years ago, during my last miscarriage, a friend stopped by unannounced to see how I was doing. I was not prepared for company, and acted the part of the hostess, smiling and offering a drink. She made a comment that she couldn't believe that I wasn't showing any emotion, that I was in an awfully good mood for someone miscarrying. I was so astonished I couldn't speak for a second or two. I brushed it off, but it took me months before I was comfortable around her again. What was I supposed to do? Sob and cry in front of her?

Tertia, here's to you and your healthy, beautiful babies in January. :)

When I told my grandmother I was pregnant again after my miscarriage, she told me to "just forget that I had ever been pregnant before." Silly me. I didn't realize it was so simple!

Thank you so much for that, Tertia. I have had one person say to me when I vaguley mentioned that we have fertility issues. "maybe you're just not meant to be parents." I really really hate that one. But I can totally relate to the stupid comments about depression. Had family members tell me that crap until I explained in detail the chemistry of depression and then they saw for themselves that the meds really did work. Or maybe they just kept their opinions to themselves after that. Whatever.

I have found that the best thing to say to a greiving loved one is "I am so sorry. If there's anything you need me for, wether it's someone to talk to, a hug, or help with groceries, just let me know. You can call me any time night or day."

I wish I could give you some kind of award.
My contribution:
1. What not to say to someone who is doing the last IVF they can afford, after years of trying, and miscarriage: "you'll see, now the next one will be natural and you'll have it right after this one" (MIL when we told her of this pregnancy.
2. What not to say when someone explains that they will almost in all certainty be adopting child #2: "but then you will only have one REAL child." (and the other one will be what? inflatable?) Said by friend I will not be talking to for a while.
3. What not to say when that person then says that they are sort of considering donor egg but may not because of the expense, and after this journey they just want a child already: "But that's so weird, kind of like Frankestein, right? Isn't there a higher risk it will be deformed? And if you don't have good eggs, won't you still be at a greater risk of miscarriage with the donor?" (same friend. yep, going to be a loooong time before she gets my call).

1) Thanks for the secondary infertility thing

2) Many people find it difficult to be truly empathetic with others, so they trivialise, generalise or dismiss even very deep and violent emotions with glib comments

3) Many older women received little sympathy for miscarriages etc they had in their child-bearing days, and may have become hardened to their own feelings- hence cutting/hurtful/insensitive remarks from aunts, gradmothers, mothers etc...

4) Nobody can ever know what a person's loss is like. Nobody should be expected to know first-hand what that other person is feeling, even if they have a close relationship with them. I think we are all basically alone with our pain, whatever it may be. Is it reasonable to expect sympathy from your nearest and dearest? Yes, but not to an unreasonable extent.

5) Motherhood, in whatever form, is a time of extreme sensitivity, and we all take things the wrong way sometimes. I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone to be aware that one is particularly vulnerable, unless it's glaringly obvious.

6) Good luck, Tertia, for the hatching of your pigeon-pair.

Maybe I'm strange, but I think I would have been deliriously happy if someone had said, "Oh my, aren't you huge?" when I was carrying my daughter. All I got was, "You can't be 8 months pregnant - your bump is so small!" and similar comments. As a result, I worried the whole time that I wasn't eating enough or that my baby had some kind of growth retardation problem. So I guess it's just better not to make any comment at all about a pregnant woman's weight.
By the way, I've heard most of those comments too (years of ttc, miscarriage, ectopic, IUI's, IVF). The one that upset me the most was "Are you still going on about that?" when I told my m-i-l why I was still upset about the ectopic 6 weeks post op. Like there is a time limit to one's grief...

Tertia, you hit the nail on the head with the "whatever is meant to be, will be" commentary. For some reason I literally spin out of control in a rage when I hear this. Like you said, perhaps it's the grain of truth which evokes a philosophy I have great difficult in accepting: that we have little-no control over our destiny.

To the SIFer:
Why are you doing that to your child, letting him be an only child? You are very selfish.

Why, I didn't know that anyone who got pregnant in the past couldn't get pregnant in the future!

Well, I know you have (loud hushed tones) FEMALE PROBLEMS. Does this mean you need a hysterectomy?

Be glad you just have one; you only have to feed/clothe/house/cart around one kid.

You're not infertile. You have a kid.

Your son is too old now for a new sibling.

You are too old now to have another kid. Just imagine how old you'll be if/when another kid graduates high school.

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