I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy holding grudges against insensitive people. Many people who learn of our infertility (which we’ve started opening up about a little more lately) ask at least one or two questions that frankly hurt a lot. If they’re not asking hurtful questions, they’re probably substituting with a really dismissive, unempathetic comment or two.
In the previous week’s and months I’ve answered these (insensitive) questions calmly, but made a mental note that the person is not kind, empathetic, or someone I feel like talking to about infertility. “Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of adoption, and we have thought about it. However, we are not ready for that step yet, and still have other treatment options available to us before we decide to go down that road.”
Or, I’ve listened to their comments, while politely rebutting their claims, and gently trying to correct their views. “It’s wonderful that your sister’s husband’s cousin who was struggling with infertility became pregnant on her own without IVF. I understand the doctors told her it was impossible for that to happen, and you think perhaps this applies to our situation, too. Unfortunately, with my husband’s condition, the ‘good, old-fashioned way’ isn’t ever going to get us there.”
This morning, I faced my fears and met up with a pregnant friend I’ve been adamantly avoiding. When she asked how I was doing, instead of glossing over it, I decided to be transparent. I told her this has been the hardest year of my life. I would’ve loved a little empathy, but instead this prompted the adoption question. I felt myself hiding my anger as I gave her canned adoption response listed above. Side note: I feel like people offer up adoption without realizing it is not a solution for infertility, but a solution for being childless. This frustrates me to no end, but I digress…
This interaction with my friend led me to realize, I can’t be upset with people for being insensitive if I’m not going to TELL them their prodding is inappropriate. So, I’m setting a goal for myself. From now on, I intend to tell people when they’ve crossed the line. I’ll do this as politely as possible, but make it clear that the subject is not up for open discussion or input.
I also realized I’ve wasted a lot of energy being upset with people for saying the wrong things. I want to work on this because I know holding grudges isn’t good for me, or those I love. Most people don’t know how to be truly empathic. People love offering advice. Infertile people need empathy, not advice. I’ve been really let down by expecting too much from others. Going forward, I plan to have lower expectations, draw clearer boundaries, and have greater patience.