Instructions for Fertile Myrtle

Just erase the word "relax" from your vocabulary.

Fertile Myrtle: whether you know it or not, you likely have some friends who are reproductively challanged. Some of us may come right out of the closet and say so- but others may be quiet about it, hoping you don’t ask.  You may feel awkward around us. We may feel awkward around you, feeling awkward that you feel awkward for us. Let’s just skip all that messiness.  Here are some tips on how to deal with your infertile friends:

  1. Don’t treat us any differently. This is a tricky tip, because it may seem to go against some of the tips later on. But it’s most important if you don’t want to lapse into the previouly mentioned awkwardness.
  2. It’s all about the tone. Sorry to make it difficult for you, but all of us infertiles deal with our situations in very different ways. Some of us want to laugh about it, some of us want to cry with you, and some of us don’t want to talk about it at all. Try and take our cue and go with it, knowing that one day we may want to laugh, but the next day it’s no longer funny.
  3. Ask once, but not twice. “How are thing going?” Is always a friendly question. If we want to talk about our current infertility status, we will. If we don’t, please don’t try to ask us again in another way.
  4. Don’t pry, but be ready to listen: We may not want to discuss the timing and details of every cycle and what treatments we are doing. But if you ask and we do want to talk aobut it, be prepared for more information than you bargained for about the consistency of our cervical mucus, the shape of our uteri (plural of uterus), the production of our ovaries, our husbands’ sperm counts and more.
  5. Do not complain about your pregnancy symptoms to us. You may think you have it bad, but we’d gladly take all those symptoms plus a huge needle in the ass for 12 weeks just for the chance to be in your shoes.
  6. Never, ever, under any circumstance, ask if we are pregnant. We may not be drinking, we may look bloated, we may be moody, we may have every pregnancy symptom in the book- BUT DO NOT ASK. Belive me, as soon as we are pregnant and feel comfortable telling you, we will let you know.
  7. Don’t leave us out: We may or may not be able to attend your baby shower, or first baby’ birthday, or whatever- but we still want to be invited. Please don’t leave us out. Infertility is not contagious- we promise.
  8. Going to a baby shower with your infertile friend? Offer to pick out a joint baby shower gift. For some of us on extra hormones (or even if we aren’t on hormones), avoiding Babies-R-US means avoiding a melt-down. Also, you may think it will help to tell everyone at the shower beforehand that there will be an infertile among them, but we really don’t want the extra pained looks from strangers when they inevitably say something silly and look at us to see if we noticed.
  9. New moms aren’t the only ones who appreciate a little pampering. A home cooked meal ready for the freezer for friends going through fertility procedures would be a real treat. A good book to keep our minds occupied during the two week wait is another way to win your infertile friend’s heart.
  10. Don’t offer (jokingly or not) to give us your cranky children. We don’t want them either.
  11. Don’t ask us “Why don’t you just adopt?” Believe it or not, your suggestion is likely something we have thought of ourselves. Please understand that “just” adopting isn’t as easy as it sounds.
  12. Don’t tell us to “relax and it will happen.” Relaxing will not grow Mr. T’s tubes or solve infertility issues, any more than it would help someone with cancer.
  13. Go easy on the Facebook updates. I hate to break it to you, but even your fertile friends may soon tire of seeing a million photos and status updates that read: “My baby girl is so cute, she just did xx,” or “My baby boy is so smart, he just did xx..” Know when enough motherly pride is enough. Oh, and do not post updates like my friend: “TWO babies on the way! Twins are so special, especially because we didn’t do any fertility treatments.” We won’t appreciate the fact that you think your children are more special because they were concieved naturally.
  14. Educate your husbands not to boast about their “super sperm.” It may seem funny, but it’s not. Sperm does not make the man.
  15. Do not assume you understand what we are going through just because you’ve read about some celebrity’s IVF story. And same goes for the Octo-mom stories.
  16. Most of all, be our friend. You may be tempted to avoid us, worried about offending us after reading all these rules. But if your heart is in the right place and if you use a little common sense, we need you in our lives now more than ever.
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11 thoughts on “Instructions for Fertile Myrtle

  1. unfertilized March 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm Reply

    Great list! For each of your tips, I can think of at least one person in my life who needs to “get the memo”. And I think my friends and family are better than most. Thanks for passing on the love by the way, I was touched, just haven’t had a minute to myself the last few days to post anything new on my blog.

    • Jess March 10, 2011 at 4:44 am Reply

      Most of my friends and family are good too- but those who aren’t are the worst. Even well-meaning as they may be.
      I really enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to the next installment! Thanks for reading!

  2. missohkay March 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Oooh, I want to write my own list like this!
    17. Warn us. If you’re just dying for us to see your latest ultrasound photo or whatever, ask first. Let us wrap our head around it before we have to experience it.
    18. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen/isn’t happening.

    • Jess March 10, 2011 at 4:42 am Reply

      Great addition! We need people to hear this. Your #17 is very important. A week after my miscarriage, friends came over for dinner and not only sprang it on us that they were 8 weeks pregnant, but pressed all their ultrasound photos on us of their TWINS. Conceived naturally as she has made a huge point to tell everyone over Facebook. And then her husband bragged about his “super sperm”, knowing that Mr. T has 0, and oblivious to the fact that it’s the egg and not the sperm that create twins. They broke every rule in the book and are the main reason I decided to write this list!

  3. sunnymama March 11, 2011 at 12:03 am Reply

    Oh Jess, I just read your comment above and am stunned. I obviously don’t know all the details but reading what you’ve said about that dinner with your friends I know that there’s no way I could consider them friends again after that. So sorry that happened. xxx

  4. liberationtheory March 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm Reply

    This sums it up perfectly!

  5. myTTCstory March 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm Reply

    Love your list Jess!

    I would like to add to number 15 if I may – just because you know someone who has had fertility treatment of some sort it doesn’t mean you are an infertility expert, or know what we’re going through. One of my friends goes on about ICSI, laps & dyes, DPOs and it’s clear she doesn’t understand any of it. What’s more, her other friend got pregnant naturally in the end so she’s convinced that if we do exactly the same as she did then it’ll happen for us too. I know she means well but it’s very, very annoying!!!

  6. Moon March 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm Reply

    Hey Jess, I just read your comment above, I’m absolutely shocked that your friends put you through this and can totally understand why you have written this list. It’s a great list by the way, we are misunderstood sometimes and we just need our friends/family to put themselves in our shoes just for a moment and think before they speak. It’s funny as some friends are just great and I think it’s because they are open and honest and say if they don’t know what to say, sometimes there isn’t an answer.

    I like #18 from missohkay, this is definitely one that I come across a lot, unfortunately I think some take this easier option but often because they might think we don’t want to be reminded, it’s tough as it’s on our mind 24/7 but on the other hand is nice to go with the flow and let your mind ‘forget’ for a while.
    Great post 🙂
    Moon x

  7. Kristina Kent March 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm Reply

    Thank you for this. Very well written. 🙂

  8. Vicky March 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm Reply

    This is a wonderful post, why hadn’t I seen it sooner?!

    You offer some wonderful, though out advice. I wish I knew how to ask people for this! I think infertility has shown me, sadly, that people are nowhere near as sensitive as I used to think. I don’t blame them for not understanding, I just wish they did.

    The super sperm thing floors me…

  9. fateofthechocolatechipcookies March 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm Reply

    Wow, you have some obnoxious friends. But I love your list. I admit I still go through facebook to see who’s pregnant, who’s not. And then I hide posts of those who keep posting pictures of their happy family. Your post has made me laugh. 🙂 Whenver my girl friends say whether we are considering IVF we just switch subjects or play dumb. Whenever my girl friends tell me to relax, I’ll just suggest getting a cupcake. Hard to do but yeah, hard for them to understand at the same time.

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