Five things not to say to the barren lady.

So, last time I ran my mouth about not being able to have kids, sweet cookingwithgas asked about the folks on the sidelines of the battle to get knocked up:

Where do you feel the role is with other family members who love you greatly and hurt when you do?

The truth of the matter is that I just don’t know.

Be aware of the differences between folks who are actively participating in the Infertility Olympics versus folks like me who just know they can’t have kids. The landscape is different for the folks who are praying that this might be the month that nature takes her course, or the IVF sticks, or whatever. These dear people are always holding their breaths.

Me? I’m mourning and trying to figure out what’s next.

Either way, my best advice would be to acknowledge what is going on, and that you are supportive and willing to talk. Something like, “I know this is really challenging. I’m with you, and will support you however I can.” However, you only get to say this once. You don’t want to be the person who’s all, “Confide in meeeeeeee!” every other second. Ick.

Mostly, I think you have to be responsive instead of proactive. 

Because I always find the process of elimination helpful, here are comments that you really, really shouldn’t say to the barren lady:

1. “Just relax and it will happen.” – Oh. You mean I’m not supposed to clench everything all the time?
2. “I have a friend who (fill in the blank).” – Well, good for her. Dunno if you realize this, but your friend and I do not happen to share a uterus.
3. “It’s God’s will.” – Fuck you.
4. “So, when are you going to adopt?” – Because adoption is no big deal and super-easy. You just walk into Babies R Us and ask, “How much for zee little gurl?” I understand they also have layaway.
5. “There’s just nothing like having your own biological child.” – There’s also nothing like punching you in the face, because I have no other response to your lack of sensitivity. Hag.

And yes, some well-intentioned friend has said ALL OF THESE THINGS TO ME at 1 point or another.

My sweet mama has mentioned that it upsets her when I use the term “barren,” because it sounds like I, personally, have exactly zero to offer the world – a lifeless desert of a human. I respect her saying that, and must admit that there have been dark moments when I have felt like a giant loser and a freak for not having the ability to bear children.

But really? There’s not another word for it. It’s “barren” or “infertile,” and of the 2, I guess I prefer “barren.” I certainly don’t speak for everyone here. My personal preference is based solely on the fact that whenever I write “barren,” I mentally draw it out to be “baaaaaaaaaarren” and picture myself wrist-to-forehead, collapsing on a chaise lounge.

It’s a highly personalized journey … to wherever it is we’re going.

I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, because 99% of folks are coming from a place of kindness and love. But sometimes? Sometimes, I want to stomp my feet and carry on about how it isn’t fair, and oh, people are dumb.

How do you respond when someone says Not The Right Thing? How do you get over the fear of being that person?

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  • Reply cookingwithgas May 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Thank you first off for calling me sweet.
    I am working hard not to be a participant in what is a very personal journey for my son and his wife.
    Lately I have to tell my well meaning friends that. I don't want to talk about it.
    Your post have helped me be there when my kids need me, and tell others that kind thoughts are good, but keep your advice.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin May 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Well, the right response to the insensitive comment is to gasp and burst into tears–that should preempt further stupid remarks.
    But seriously, I like the sound of "barren." It's rather biblical.
    Bless you, Cha Cha. You are beyond kind to never punch anyone in the face.

  • Reply Patience_Crabstick May 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Oh dear. Those are awful things to say!

  • Reply itsjustme May 3, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    How do you manage to make something that is such a bummer laugh out loud funny?

    I just paused and felt guilt because you are clearly in pain but you are so damn funny.

    I'm sorry it is sucking, and I'm sorry that it's tied so closely to how you feel about yourself.

    I'm really not sorry that you cannot walk into babys r us and order a kid to go. That would be a disaster.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) May 6, 2013 at 12:07 am

    In the end, we can only know ourselves and not the true depths of another person. I know the pain I would be feeling in your proverbial shoes, and it would probably involve some face-punching and cursing.

    I am truly sorry. Whatever you write, Cha-Cha, we're here to read and not to judge.

    But is it okay if I tell you than when I see "baaaaaaaaaarren" written out like that, I imagine a bleating sheep? (not sure if I should duck and run now…)

  • Reply Banjo Unfabulousness May 6, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Why are you so nice to the people who say these things to you? Most times, they think they can say whatever they want and NOBODY calls them on it! Well, today is a NEW day. TELL THEM it hurts your feelings, or that you dont eant to talk about the state of your uterus with them. Period.

  • Reply Holly Grass May 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I was a participant in the Infertility Olympics. It sucks ass.

  • Reply Cha Cha May 7, 2013 at 4:11 am

    Actually, the sheep image strikes me as hilarious! Now I envision a sheep collapsing on a chaise lounge …

  • Reply Cha Cha May 7, 2013 at 4:12 am

    I'm not a saint – I'm usually so flabbergasted that I'm rendered speechless. The idea if effectively calling folks out is intreguing, though.

  • Reply Cha Cha May 7, 2013 at 4:14 am

    No guilt! The fact that it can be funny is what gets me through!

  • Reply Cha Cha May 7, 2013 at 4:14 am

    Hugs to you!

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