Today I’ve been thinking about the things people say to you when you’re trying to conceive. Even the most well-meaning seem to put their 2 cents in where, frankly, it’s not wanted, needed, or even remotely helpful. And it’s not out of spite, or cruelty, or coming from any kind of bad place. It’s just that TTC is such a taboo subject that nobody really knows what to say, even people who’ve been through it.
What got the ball rolling on this idea for me was an article posted on Mamamia, about a woman who had just read about Beyonce + Zoe Foster-Blake’s stunningly beautiful, and very funny pregnancy announcements, after herself going through a miscarriage.
I read the comments underneath the post on Facebook, and there were so many offering advice or tips or things that had worked for them. And while that comes from such a good place, from people who are just trying to share hope and advice, it actually has the opposite effect (at least for me!)
The comment that hit me the hardest was a woman who said, and I’m very much paraphrasing this, ‘if you have PCOS, just try Metformin.’ As someone who’s got PCOS as has been on Metformin for longer than I’ve been TTC, that advice was incredibly, overwhelmingly, USELESS. All it did was serve to remind me that for other people out there, the fix is as simple as can be, and even though I’ve been doing everything I can exactly right from the very beginning, I’m still not pregnant. A reminder that I don’t need, as I think about it every second, of every day, as it is.
So, without further preamble, here’s my list of things that are super unhelpful to say, and because I don’t just want to neg out on people that are probably trying to be nice, some suggested alternatives.
- ‘Just try Metformin, it’s a miracle drug for anyone who has PCOS. I got pregnant after a month on Metformin.’ As I mentioned, this is really not helpful information. There is literally nothing worse you can say to someone who’s been trying to fall pregnant for a long time, than ‘all we did is X and after a few weeks BAM!’ Anyone who has been diagnosed with PCOS and is TTC, has probably had Metformin recommended to them by a doctor. I have maintained a healthy weight, been on Metformin, excercised regularly, and eaten a (relatively) low-sugar diet for years now, and guess what? I didn’t get instantly pregnant, or even not-instantly pregnant. Alternative suggestion? ‘Any ladies out there who have or think they might have PCOS, double check that you’re on the right dosage of Metformin. Studies show that at least 1.5g a day is required to have any impact on fertility, so make sure you check this with your Dr.’
- ‘Just relaxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx’ As cliched as it is, if I had a dollar for every time someone had said that to me or someone I know who’d been trying to conceive, I would literally have at least $1200. Ok, so it’s not like I’d be a millionaire, I don’t even know a million people, but this has to be the most frequently uttered piece of absolute garbage advice I’ve ever heard in my life. Firstly, because ‘just relax’ is not a thing that people are capable of doing. It’s not like you can say, of course! That’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I thought I was just supposed to stress out all the time and now that you’ve so kindly informed me otherwise, I’ll just switch my brain into relax mode, perfecto – instant baby! Secondly, because I guarantee you that every single person out there who is struggling to conceive started exactly the way you did, you smug, relaxed, mother/pregnant lady! (sorry, I promised no judgement against people for their ignorance but… this one really grinds my gears). We all started out hopeful, optimistic, picturing ourselves 9 months from then with a happy, healthy baby, picturing ourselves announcing it to our families, picturing something that was just not on the cards for us. And yes, we were relaxed. And you know why it didn’t work for us? Because we are the ones unlucky enough to be born with a genetic, medical reason for being unable to fall pregnant. Science, b*tch. Now, I know that stress is a huge factor in fertility, but unfortunately it’s just a vicious cycle where the longer it takes, the more stressed you will be, unless you’re one of those #blessed people who do yoga at sunset while drinking chamomile tea on a mountain by the beach every day. So, here’s my alternative: ‘I can’t possibly imagine how stressful this process must be. Here’s a massage voucher.’
- ‘Try pineapple core/soy isoflavin/the blood of a pregnant virgin.’ Alright, I admit I’ve never actually heard the last one, but I may as well have. People are ALWAYS suggesting ‘natural’ remedies. You know what’s not helpful about that? The people suggesting these are, oddly enough, never doctors. And do you know who I don’t trust? Strangers on the internet who ate pineapple core for 8 days and became pregnant. I trust my doctor. Now look, I’m not saying these remedies don’t help people. There’s a reason they exist. But all they serve to do (for me, at least) is make me spend a fortune on useless remedies as I get my hopes up time and time again and think, oh this is all I’ve been doing wrong! I just need to take some Maca root powder and my ovaries will start releasing eggs like there’s no tomorrow. Alternative suggestion? ‘Let’s all just listen to our doctors, ok? And then we can stop spending money on useless extras, and start saving up for the horribly expensive IVF we may one day need.’
So ladies, what do you think? Am I alone in being sick & tired of hearing these things? Am I just turning into a bitter shell of a woman? (Honestly, at this point it’s quite possible as I’m going a bit stir crazy waiting to start IUI/IVF). Or are there others like me out there? Does anyone have any other suggestions for the list – I had a million more but this post is already an essay.