EP 3: How to Answer Stupid Fertility Suggestions

“Once you have clarity and guidance, all of the questions and comments are not as triggering.” Episode 3 (11:37)

Everyone’s an expert, particularly when they find out you’re undergoing IVF treatments. A lot of women on their own fertility journey know what it’s like to have a well-meaning but misguided individual ask, “Well, have you considered adoption or surrogacy?”  

“When you get triggered by insensitive comments, allow yourself to feel compassion and understanding. Give love back to that person for wanting to help you.” - Episode 3 (9:30)

In the face of those inappropriate questions, you have the challenge to respond in an appropriate way. There are a lot of methods at your disposal. But first, a note to you if you are that well-meaning person.

The best thing you can do for a mom-to-be on a tough fertility journey is shut up. Unless you have been through exactly what they’re going through - not just IVF, not a failed transfer, but the exact same thing - do not offer advice unless explicitly asked for it. If you must say something, tell the mom-to-be how incredibly brave she is, what a hard journey she is on, and how lucky her future baby is to have a mom who loves and wants him/her so much. I guarantee, she knows all the alternatives. She has chosen IVF.

Now, if you are a woman on a fertility journey who is facing this question before you answer, there are two questions to consider.

First, why did the person ask you that? Ultimately, that person is doing the best they can with the knowledge and consciousness they are working with right then. It is not your job to educate them or elevate their consciousness. The best you can do is be compassionate. Know that they mean well and want to help, and give love to those intentions.

Second, why is the question of alternatives so triggering? Easy. It echoes the shame, self-doubt, and questions of worthiness that come with a difficult fertility journey. Even more than that, it reflects the lack of clarity you may already be experiencing. Clarity is a godsend when dealing with this issue. When you have clarity on your journey, it will boost your confidence and allow you to move forward without getting triggered as often.

Having a clear, confident mindset about your fertility journey will help you to respond with wisdom and grace - or just have some fun with it.

So, what can you say to ignorant people who really shouldn’t be giving fertility advice? You have a range of options.

  • The Graceful - You can simply say, “Thank you, your concern means a lot. We are considering all options.” This lets the other person know that you appreciate their intentions, but you've got it handled.

  • The Educational - Something like, “There are a lot of things I can't control on this journey. Timing is one of them, but I'm good with that.” You're at peace with your journey, and using this approach lets people know that it's ultimately an issue of timing, not your ability to conceive.

  • The Game - Rude questions about a woman's fertility come up far too often. Instead of dreading it, make it into a game. If you're going to a party or family gathering where you know you'll be confronted, place bets with a friend or your partner as to how long it'll take someone to ask a dumb question or how many times it happens and then set a prize. Now you might even look forward to a conversation that was formerly awkward and hurtful. Taking the pressure off of you and shifting negative energy to positive is so important on your journey.

  • The Sassy - Sometimes enough is just enough, and you're ready to flip the script on the next person who asks you about adopting/surrogacy. If you've got the brass to do it, use one of the following, “Gee, I thought about those options, but I might rather do it the old-fashioned way. Maybe you could give me some advice! What position did you use to conceive your kid?” Or, “I would love to adopt, but I've been to prison. You knew that, right?” You get the picture. Get creative with it. They're being invasive, and two can play at that game. Bonus points - answer the dumb questions with, “Thank you for the advice. How's your marriage?”

“If you tell people, 'This is ugly and frustrating. But it's mine, and I accept it, and I'm going to get through it,’ they will understand.”

- Episode 3 (15:00)

No matter what approach you choose, the important thing to remember is that your fertility journey is your own. All you really need to do is focus on you and your future baby.