Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Friends Who Said the Right Thing August 2, 2010

“Just ride your husband like the stallion he is, then flip over like a dead bug.”

“Oh, get IVF. Just do it.”

“My friends just adopted from Guatemala; I’ll have them call you.”

There never seems to be a shortage of people with “helpful,” and usually unsolicited, advice that can send us reeling off with our backs up and our feelings hurt. The above quotes are taken directly from my own experience as I was dealing with infertility. All were from people who cared and wanted to help, and every single one hurt. But what about people who say the right thing?

For every person that said something hurtful, the were two more who said something kind (or sometimes just said nothing at all.) One friend who stands out is the woman who quietly confided that she and her husband had experienced similar issues and come to a decision. “We decided that we were already a family,” she told me. “We were just a family of two.” Her words really made me think about what it was I was questing for and eventually I came to the same conclusion that I was also happy with the family I already had—my husband and my cat.

Who are the people who said exactly the right thing at the right time to you?

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11 Responses to “Friends Who Said the Right Thing”

  1. Emily Says:

    That’s a good question. When I first shared that we were suffering from IF, my true friends said..well, whatever you decide to do, good luck with it:) That was enough, and we really don’t discuss it. If something new comes up..I’ll share, but otherwise it just doesn’t fit into conversations, lol.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    I’m coming back to read, ’cause i need to hear some of the good things folks have said. Beyond silence (& feeling very invisible) about all that has been said to us is, “Are you still trying?”

    I think my MIL thinks we should at least adopt, tho she’s not said much, but she doesn’t understand all that is behind the adoption process & other issues around it.

  3. Katie Gentile Says:

    Good/helpful responses: just mirroring how hard it was, how confusing it was, how overwhelming it was then pointing out the very obvious but always necessary to hear point that a meaningful fun life does not require children.

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Hmmm…at the time, I felt like very few people ever said the right thing. I’d have to say my Mom. She was the best support a girl could ask for. So was my twin-sister.
    Great post!

  5. K Says:

    the most helpful thing anyone said actually happened before the question of children even occurred to me. my friend (who is a mother of three) said “Not everyone is meant to have children. If I had it to do over, I don’t think I would.”

    she’s the only person I ever heard say motherhood is optional. it opened my mind.

  6. happynenes Says:

    My mother-in-law has been great about the whole thing. Then, my husband’s sister is childless by choice – and having a great life (brilliant environmental chemist and athlete). So, it is just no big deal in that family. I don’t think it was so much one thing she said, she just seemed to kind of accept the whole thing without judging it. I don’t even feel like the topic is off limits with her, like I do with some of my other friends. We just have other things to talk about. It’s funny. I’m not sure why it is so easy with some people, and not with others.

  7. Susan Says:

    Oh how I wish more people would say the right thing. So many people say so many wrong things.

    A friend told me one something once that brought me some peace. She said that before she and her husband decided to have a child she felt like they were already complete and they didn’t need a child to be a family because they already were. She said she knew that my husband and I had that completeness and not matter what we decided (to continue to try or not) she knew we would be happy with or without a child.

    My husband never knew about that conversation and after our third loss we decided we had experienced enough heartache. He told me that we will certainly have a happy and wonderful life together because we already are a family, a family of two.

    Those are my right things.

  8. lmanterfield Says:

    Thank goodness for those people who somehow manage to find the right thing to say. Let’s face it; it’s not easy. :-s

  9. CC Says:

    I had one friend who said, “Oh, I’m sorry, that must be so hard. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you.”
    I haven’t asked her if she learned that from someone else, because it’s practically verbatim from Resolve, but it made me totally trust her. I even got together with her when she was 9 mos. pregnant (I’m kind of proud of that).

    • lmanterfield Says:

      How did you respond to this? I think I would have been so shocked I would have stood there blinking at her. That really is the best thing anyone could say, no matter where it came from.

  10. Annie Says:

    Most of my friends kept telling me to “just adopt”. I got rid of those friends. I have now missed their birthdays without even sending a card, and don’t feel guilty about it.


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