What should you not say to parents who conceived via Fertility treatment

I am p_ssed. I mean really really really mad and hurt. I was tooling around on the Creating a Family [Facebook] group and it struck me that you’d understand. I am a 43 year old mom of 10 month old twins through donor egg/ICSI IVF. (Which is why I’m not posting this myself.) A used-to-be friend asked me this weekend: “Are they yours?” I couldn’t believe it! I really couldn’t believe she would ask me this! I was for once speechless and finally just walked away and will never speak to her again. A long time ago I read your blog on Stupid Things People Say to Adoptive Parents, so I thought you’d understand. How about a blog on stupid things people say to moms through infertility treatment? Please.

OK, your request is my demand. Below are the top ten stupid things parents hear and some possible responses you can make. Or, you can just start and walk off like you did with your ex-friend. That’s pretty effective as well.

Ten Stupid Things People Should Never Say to Parents through Infertility Treatment

1. Are They Yours?

  • Well, um since I’m the one diapering, carrying, burping, and worrying over them, I sure hope they are mine? Oh, wait, surely you are not fishing to find out if we used donor eggs to help us conceive them since clearly that would be rude, and clearly none of your business?
  • Duh, of course they are mine? Honestly, sometimes I worry about you. Great dress by the way. Makes you look 10 pounds lighter (and heaven only knows, you could use the help.)
  • Why would you ask a question like that??? (And if the other person responds that they wondered if you used donor eggs…) Why would you ask such a personal question to anyone? Is this Suspend Common Courtesy Day?? Surely your mother taught you better than that.

2. I would never do that (use infertility treatment to conceive). I don’t believe in playing God.

  • Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I’m so glad I didn’t have to play God and could let Him shine in all His Glory by orchestrating the thousands, probably millions, of things that went into the conception of this child. Think of all the tiny medical discoveries, all those years of study, all those research dollars landing in exactly the right hands. You are so right that this child is one of His greatest miracles. Do you know that there are actually people who don’t get that?!?
  • I don’t believe in playing God either, but I sure don’t mind being the beneficiary of God’s blessings in developing this treatment.
  • Boy, I sure hope no one you love ever gets cancer and you have to make the decision of using medical science to save their life!

3. Are they real-(referring to twins and triplets)?

  • {Touching the nearest child} Well, they sure feel real to me. Hey, great weather we’re having isn’t it (you dufus).
  • When they are tired or hungry, they sure sound real.

4. Did you use drugs to get them (referring to twins and triplets)?

  • I don’t know about you, but the details of how you conceived your kids feels a little too personal to share in this setting.
  • Boundaries, anyone?!?!?!

5. Is he a test tube baby?

  • The term “test tube baby” was coined in 1978 and went out of common usage in 1980. Did you mean to ask if we used in vitro fertilization? (Then choose one of the following.)
    1. Yes, we were fortunate to benefit from the wonderful advances in medical science that allowed treatment of the devastating disease of infertility.
    2. As a general rule, I find it uncomfortable to discuss conception specifics with people I don’t know well. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to share the details of how you conceived with me either. Crab dip anyone?

6. If God had wanted you to have kids, you would have them naturally.

  • Well, I’m not blessed with the ability to see exactly what God had in mind, but I am absolutely sure He had a hand in the creation of this beautiful child.
  • Did you ever think that maybe God helped develop the techniques used to treat my disease?

7. All that technology stuff feels too risky to me. Aren’t you worried about the long term health risks for you and the baby? Or the possibility that there could be a mix up and it is really someone else’s child?

  • a.In vitro fertilization has been around in humans for over 30 years and in animals since 1934. So far, so good.
  • Why yes, of course, I worry about that. But the real question is why you would be so cruel to bring it up?
  • Since you know me pretty well, you already know that I am a worrier, so you already know that I do worry about stuff like this. It’s so good to have friends like you to remind me of what I need to worry about.

8. Oh man, you could have been the next Octomom!

  • No actually, I couldn’t since we did not transfer eight embryos.
  • Not likely since I am not mentally unstable, and I used an ethical doctor.

9. Why would you pay to have a baby?

  • Unless you stiffed your doctor and the hospital, you also paid to have a baby. You were just lucky enough to have insurance cover the cost.
  • Because that’s the only way I could have this precious human in my life.

10. Well, you got what you asked for so stop complaining. [Said when a parent is fried because of the demands of parenting.]

  • Thanks so much for your support. It means the world to me.
  • No matter how we get to be a parent, we are real parents and real parents get frustrated.
  • Even when I want to pull my hair out, I still recognize the blessing I’ve been given, just like I recognize the blessing of friendship (or family) even when they are being unsupportive. I have faith in the temporariness of both frustrations.

Of course, there is the perennial favorite — Why Not Just Adopt — which I’ve answered before. And in case you’re having trouble believing that someone would say any of the above comments, keep in mind that most of these came from our Facebook and Twitter community of real life parents through infertility treatment. Feel free to add your own responses or comments that you’ve received.

Have we missed any?

Image credit: Mateus Lunardi Dutra
First published in 2012. Updated in 2015.