For Research: What’s the Most Hurtful Thing Someone Has Said To You About Infertility or Loss?

Straight-up survey, yo.

I discovered today a “new” way people who are infertile are marginalized and/or left out of social discussions. I had never heard this discussion before. And it was painful.

It was: where did you conceive your child? Answers were varied, but mostly of the planned romantic trip variety: Oh, Paris! Egypt! The Plaza! The Carribean! After our home team won a big game!

I stayed silent. Because, yeah. I didn’t get to do that. Not the bottom of the barrel of things I’ve ever heard. But a subtle reminder: I’m different.

What is the worst thing anyone has said to you, deliberately or “on accident” or just in a conversation that made you feel really badly as someone who is infertile/gone through loss? Please respond in the comments section.




Filed under Infertility, Miscarriage

40 responses to “For Research: What’s the Most Hurtful Thing Someone Has Said To You About Infertility or Loss?

  1. From @werelaxed: “oh god, how long have you got lol. My grandmother mentioned my cousins having normal babies, cos apparently ivf babies aren’t”

  2. From @werelaxed: “and a workmate made a comment about not just taking the hint about IF and using ivf as an ‘easy way to get what we want.’ cow!

  3. “Just think it was good for the baby”

    Condolence (really?) after the death of my daughter, by a visitor.

  4. St. Elsewhere

    And oh, “Is the baby natural?”

    Translated as, was it conceived on its own or through those treatments?

    – That was when I was five months pregnant with Lol@.

  5. “You’re not a real mom until you have two kids!”

  6. “At least you know now that you can get pregnant”

  7. Kir

    I know it’s cliche but I still hate “everything happens for a reason.” And of course the one thing I can never really forgive one of my friends for “maybe you just weren’t meant to be a mom…”

    God, it still hurts to even write that.

  8. Donna A

    “God answers all prayers, sometimes the answer is NO” & the old standby “Maybe if you lost weight….”.

  9. I like to think that if I had been in the conversation that you were describing, I would have said “in a petri dish!” in a bright shiny tone, but I probably would have been quiet too.

    “When you’re a mom, you’ll understand.”
    “If you’re impatient, you can use IVF.”
    “You’d better get pregnant quickly, ’cause I’m in Grandma mode!” (from my mother, regarding my sister’s pregnancy)
    and many more. Sigh.

  10. MJ

    Ugh, like everyone else there are too many to list.

    The one that stands out to me the most, is a conversation I had with a close friend/family member; she told me she COMPLETELY understood how I was feeling about not getting/staying pregnant, when everyone else was having babies … it was “just like when I was single, and all my friends were in couples; I just had to wait it out though, and then the hubs just was smack in my life.” Seriously???? Comparing IF and pregnancy losses to being SINGLE and not getting a date?? WTF?!!

  11. Post-miscarriage: “You wouldn’t have wanted that baby, anyway.”

  12. “have you thought about the fact that maybe God doesn’t want you to have kids?’–said to me by my counselor (and, yes, that was my last meeting with her).
    “can you please not talk about ivf in my house? I don’t want to have to explain to my daughter why if God wants a couple to have children they would need to use that science.”–said by a woman who easily achieved 4 pregnancies and live births.

    People can be so hurtful. It’s just ridiculous. And pretty much everyone we know is aware of how Piper was created. Heck, sometimes we refer to her as Piper petri dish!!! I have a DISEASE!!!! And I am thankful there is treatment out there for it!!!

  13. SRB

    I got the usual suspects regarding IF (“just relax” etc.) but the worst, from my OB/GYN no less was: “We just give you drugs, it’s no big deal.”

    The most hurtful thing of all, even after all this time, was how I was treated during my second pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage by a family member struggling to get pregnant (but not yet diagnosed with IF). I was told in no uncertain terms (while physically miscarrying mind you) that obviously it was much harder for HER, because “at least I COULD get pregnant” and maybe *now* I might understand how hard not getting pregnant was, so boo-fucking-hoo for me. She refused to speak to us or even acknowledge our 3rd pregnancy until I was about 34 weeks. Family basically told *me* to get over it. It still bothers me enormously, every single day.

    Finally, all the off-hand remarks by friends and family who know our situation about “the next one”, since obviously my IF and RPL are now magically cured because I was lucky enough to have my son. Good times!

    Basically, any comment that contains “just” or “at least” can get bent.

    • SRB

      Ugh. A few more now swirling around. While in the emergency room during my ectopic, the Dr. told me that “it wasn’t a real baby anyway” and that “the other tube should still be okay.” Awesome! Thanks doc.

  14. My two coworkers telling me that they “feel so sorry for people without kids! How empty their lives must be.” I wanted to throw something at them, instead I slipped into the bathroom and cried.

  15. Hmm…this is a tough one because there’s so many. I’d have to say that the one that continually gets under my skin is “Now that you’ve adopted you’ll get pregnant! It happens all the time youknow.” A close second was when a colleague said “well at least you don’t have to deal with stretch marks and hemmrhoids” yeah, like that’s a huge worry after trying to get knocked up for two years and failing miserably.

    P.s. because 8mna snarky bitch I probably would have said all cheery-like, “I conceived lying on a table with my feet in stirrups and a super full bladder! It was soooo romantic. ‘Course it would be a convo-killer…

  16. I remember getting a lot of “when you have kids you’ll understand”. The hardest for me was my so-called BFF, who knew what I was going through, asking me if she could call me when her son was born, and I could call all our other friends and tell them. her son who was conceived on the first try, after I’d been trying 7 months, and was still trying when her son was born.

    And I do not have twins, but I am a twin (identical) and my sister once said to me, “those twins conceived by IVF, they’re not REAL twins like we are!”

  17. My sister told me she was pregnant with #2 when I was in the 2ww with IVF #1. That was mean and cold in and of itself. Why tell me while I’m waiting to see if my treatment worked???? Anyway… She was on her way to giving birth to two kids before I’d conceived one. I simply told my mom that her pregnancy was hard on me and she then sent an email to me saying that I needed to stop focusing on my sister and think positively about my own pregnancy. All id said was that it was hard for me, and she had to send me an email scolding me. I failed my beta the next day.

    My mom also still LOVES to say that she never imagined that IVF wouldn’t work for us. That was the first thing she said after the BFN.

    My mom is toxic and we completely excluded her from the next two cycles. We told her we were pregnant when we were 6 weeks along. Everyone knew right away but her and my dad. And it will be that way again next time. She’s poison.

  18. This may not seem like much but “Just Relax” really does it for me. My mom said to this after my laparoscopy (when she visited) last year and I cried all the way home from dropping her off. If she only really KNEW how much I did try to “relax” and it still did not work! And she is a doctor and doesn’t acknowledge that there was a medical problem here! Fortunately we have made up and continue to drive each other crazy.. but that’s par for the course…

  19. the adoption comment always pisses me off, because i’m not there yet. i want to exhaust our options and i’m not there yet. a family friend keeps trying to force it on me (she also has connections… so she’s super pushy)

    and then there’s the “do you have kids?” and the judgement. it’s horrible. no we don’t have kids. no, we don’t use birth control. yes we are infertile. no we won’t “just adopt”

    or my mother. “it will happen in it’s own time.” um, sorry. this is now a financial issue, not a matter of whether it’ll just happen.


  20. This wasn’t said to me personally but it keeps coming up in a discussion on a German “citizens’ dialog with the government” website regarding better financial assistance for couples seeking medical help assisted reproduction:

    – you’re all just old, career-hungry, embittered women who purposefully put off having kids for the sakes of your great careers and nice life, and now suddenly realized that it’s too late for you to have babies naturally. It’s you’re own fault you can’t have kids
    – if you can’t reproduce on your own, that obviously nature’s way of making sure that inferior genetical material isn’t passed along.

  21. While I was upset about another friend’s pregnancy announcement my cousin said to me “Don’t worry your time will come. I know you are jealous and it’s just like me wanting a house. You have a house and lots of our cousins do or are getting one. What I would give to have my own house right now.” So I asked her “Are you seriously comparing a baby to a house? Would you give up your baby for a house? I would gladly give you my house if it meant I would have a baby!” It still pisses me off to no end when I think about that conversation. I know she was trying to be helpful and try and relate, but she is the kind of person who always needs to say something and try and fix things and usually makes things worse.

  22. Either I’m lucky or senile, but I have none in my memory.

    But. I am able to say, truthfully, during conversations like this, “We were in Spain when my daughter was conceived.”


  23. Two of the worst unintentional ones: One, while I was still miscarrying baby #2, an aunt loudly announced at dinner that my mom was making eyes at a baby to convince me to have one. Two, the office administrator suggested that the projects of my pregnant co-worker were going to fall on me when she went on leave, so she said, “I guess you just need to get pregnant too!” The co-worker and I had been only three weeks apart, but of course I wouldn’t be needing leave because I was no longer pregnant.
    The worst intentional ones were people (and there were many) who said now that I was adopting, I’d get pregnant – even though they knew very well that I’d been pregnant three times. And then the people who acted like I miscarried because I did something wrong… horrifying.

  24. I was sitting with a friend talking about things- just the two of us- and she said “well, at least you’ll really appreciate your baby once you have one”
    I was stung by that because how dare she feel like she could measure the appreciation of a child based on the fact that we’re going through IVF and she had hers the first try.

  25. Jennifer

    My SIL who knew we were devastated about not being able to having children looked at us with her newborn in her arms and said “You can’t imagine what it’s like to feel this kind of love.” N

  26. One night we were dressing our daughter because the other woman was picking her up for the weekend, and when she knocked on the door, our daughter looked up. My MIL happily cheered, ‘yup, mama’s here!’ Because to her, I’m always ‘April,’ never ‘mom.’ I don’t think it will make one bit of difference once I adopt her. I’m nobody, because I didn’t give birth.

  27. “Don’t have kids.”


    “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids.”

  28. * “Well, you know, Lori, you’ve had a pretty easy life up until now.” (friend calling me post-loss to find out why I wasn’t at work — the kindest explanation I can think of is that she was taken aback by my reason)
    * “You want to take her?” (this from friends we met through our pg loss support group, who struggled with infertility, lost two babies & then adopted, whose rambunctious daughter was acting up at an event we were at)

  29. Sarah

    Ugh, it was a comment, not directed at ME necessarily, but it still felt like a punch in the gut regardless. You can find the whole story here
    but the gist of it is: Our friend/coworker was recounting his weekend at a wedding in upstate NY. There were quite a few of his old college friends and their wives there, and he found it funny that a lot of them had gained weight over the years and generally looked a little worse for wear. Or according to him, a LOT worse. Anyway, he was explaining how it made him feel a little bit better about himself and how he and his wife were looking around the room at different people and laughing and pointing out: You’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re bald, you can’t make babies, you’re a loser…

    We were on our way to lunch and I had to sit next to this jerk for an hour, trying to avoid eye contact, with obviously red-rimmed eyes from bawling my eyes out in the bathroom, and Hubby trying to console me by patting my leg under the table. That was just awful. Awful. All I could think about was that he and his wife made fun of Hubby and I when we weren’t around because we “couldn’t make babies”. Ugh.

  30. I hope I would have said: “We’re not sure, either in a doctor’s office on 2nd Avenue or in our bed later that night. Fun story, right?”

    As far as crappy things people said to me:
    By my mom: “Maybe God’s trying to teach you something through this” (okay for me to think, NOT OKAY for someone to say to me– like I’m such an awful person God had to take away my baby to teach me a lesson).

    By a friend 1 week after I miscarried my first pregnancy: “I know what it’s like to be disappointed in how things turn out. I was so upset when they told me I needed a c-section I wasn’t even happy about meeting the baby.”

    By my (former) therapist: “That was a defective baby and you wouldn’t have wanted it.” and “This is nature’s way. If you have six miscarriages you should feel thankful every time that you’re body is doing what it’s supposed to.”

    Those are the ones that stick out.

  31. Chon

    We have been very open about using IVF to get pregnant. When my hubby told his younger brother he said to him “have you been having much sex lately” because he is young and handsome! When he replied “yes!” DH said to him “I haven’t but chon is pregnant” seriously it made me really laugh. So they can take their romantic cruises and cities and I will take my IVF miracle baby and even after three years of IF we can still laugh together and fine silliness in the small things. I realize this doesn’t answer your question though but it still makes me smile. Take that fertiles, I had an immaculate conception 😉

  32. How to choose?
    After our first loss: “Maybe this is God’s way of telling you it wasn’t meant to be.”
    After our dx of POF: “Oh, your ovaries are drying up!” (From my MIL)
    After our adoption countless people inquired about our son’s “real” mom.
    Also after our adoption: “You’re so lucky–you got to have a kid without morning sickness, or stretch marks!”

    Ugh. I could go on and on.

  33. Anonymous

    Not a blogger, but love reading yours, and feel like I had to offer up two for you (both after the first of three miscarriages):

    From a work colleague: “There was probably something wrong with it anyway.” Thankfully he had enough sense not to offer up anything else after the next two.

    And to my husband from his mother about me: “Well, now she has something in common with your sister-in-law that they can talk about because she (the sister-in-law) had an abortion when she was in high school.”

    NO JOKE.

  34. April

    After being married for and trying for a year, the nurse practitioner we first saw asked if “we were doing it correctly.” Lovely.

    Another year later, after I had peed on my ovulation stick and found out I had ovulated, I called the OB/GYN we were seeing at the time (there were no RE’s in our area) to schedule the appt to come in ASAP for my IUI. We already had the the receptionist told me there were no available appointments for that day, and I needed to call in advance and set these up and not expect an appointment to be available. I calmly told her that was not possible in this case, as I didn’t know until the day of ovulation whether or not I was coming in, and the doctor told me this is what I should do. She rudely sighed and said there was nothing available but for me to hold on and she’d ask the nurse. Well, she got back on the phone and said they had made an appointment available. I didn’t go back there after that.

  35. Pingback: The Secret Life of the American Infertile | Too Many Fish to Fry

  36. Chicken coiunter

    “here’s a picture of my beautiful baby.. I hope you’re “having fun” trying for yours” …. I was floored with grief for an entire day

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