Warning: CROSS post about insensitive people being unkind and utterly misinformed about their friends and relatives with infertility, and as such have total infertility ignorance!
It’s not like me to write a ranty post…. well occasionally I do. Today is one of those days. I was literally shaking with anger and upset last night after hearing what one of my clients was going through.
So this is a post about all of those people who seem to lack basic empathy and compassion. The ignorance of these people has left me almost speechless.
To the couple who are pregnant, who know full well that my client (let’s call her Sara) has had recurrent loss. Thank you for gate crashing her special post fertility treatment holiday. Thank you for listening to the carefully prepared speech by her partner which asked you to to be mindful that his wife is feeling pretty raw and fragile. Thank you for discarding this and instead arriving to first of all announce “have you seen my bump?!!” before lifting up your top.
Thank you for asking if they had heard you were having a boy before punching the air with joy.
How could you not notice that she arrived for dinner looking pale and sad? How could you fail to spot that she said nothing through dinner and went to bed early? How you can you feel such joy about your pregnancy and not translate that to on some level know that to lose a pregnancy must be utterly devastating?
I know you are excited and I am pleased that you appreciate your little gift. I just can’t understand why having already been asked just to tone it down a little you remained insistent on sharing your pregnancy news and baby plans throughout the weekend. You didn’t even acknowledge Sara’s losses. You did not even mention it. I know it’s hard to know what to say, but you know what? You are supposed be their friends. It’s not ok to not even try.
There’s more too….
To the woman who works with Clare:
Clare has lost 3 babies. When you sat down and told her you were pregnant she smiled for you. She took everything she had to be pleased for you and ask the right questions. What did you do in return? You asked her to describe in detail what her miscarriages were like and the lead up to them so you ‘could be sure your pregnancy was definitely fine’. You listened to her emotional recount and instead of offering any kindness you simply announced “Phew! I am fine then. I don’t have any of that. I am ‘symptoms galore’ and not doing any of the stuff your body does!”
Yes. Really. She really said that.
One of my other ladies was invited to dinner with a group of friends. two of whom she already knew were pregnant. She and her husband sat waiting for everyone, and two of their female friends arrived. They said that first of all they were both also pregnant, and that seeing as this mean they would probably all want to talk about it, everyone else was actually waiting at a different restaurant. With this, they left my couple on their own at the table booked for 8 people and went off to have dinner without them.
That is just mean. Totally mean. Where is the support? Where is the tactful and careful sharing of your news followed by some loving understanding and some positive words for them about their situation?
To the friends and family of SO many of our clients who refuse to acknowledge their journey, have such difficulty saying anything at all and instead choose to avoid the subject and make small talk.
To the random acquaintances who know NOTHING about this subject yet feel happy to advise people that they clearly need counseling, or that they need to ‘let it go’ and ‘move on’. Do you have any medical training? Do you know anything about fertility? Would you be telling a friend having treatment for cancer that they need to just leave it and put down the fight?
To the people who ask “how long are you going to keep putting yourself through this?”
You don’t get what we get. You don’t know that this is a fight you have to do. That heart break and disappointment don’t automatically mean that there is no point. It doesn’t mean there can’t be a way forward. That way forward is for each individual couple to discover, and sometimes they have to go through serious trauma to get to the place of knowing what to do next.
Please don’t make people feel like they are crazy for sometimes having a down day because it’s the anniversary of their miscarriage. Please don’t assume that because IVF has failed 3 times it will never work and there is no point. Please don’t fail to recognise that even if you have never experienced infertility or loss you can still show compassion.
You can still smile warmly and acknowledge that what they are experiencing must be really bloody tough.
If you don’t know what to say, just say: I don’t know what to say but it must just hurt so much sometimes.
That’s it. You don’t have to be an expert or advise. You don’t have to have answers, Just don’t be ignorant and dismissive. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening and be aware that pregnancy is a sensitive subject so if you are announcing yours then just be gentle.