I wrote this post the other day about the weird things people say when you’re childless and almost 30 or WORSE, they find out you are trying to conceive. Chantelle said, please, tell me what I can say, that would be helpful. Or something along those lines. I’m paraphrasing obviously. Chantelle said it all elegantly and stuff. And it got me thinking. What the heck CAN you say to someone who is trying to have a baby and isn’t.

So I thought long and hard. Delved the recall of my memory banks and tried with all my might the think of something that would work every time. I pondered and considered and weighed some options over in my mind. Nothing felt right. I was miles away from having a whole list. What CAN you say, I thought. What would I say now, knowing what I know of the general all time suckiness of trying TTC.

I’d say what some wise woman wrote in the comments on this post. That sucks. Big hugs. Glug glug. Or maybe I would say, are you ok? Do you need anything? Can I shout you a month of those freakin’ expensive pre-conception vitamins!? But really, it’s a tough one. There is no right answer all the time.

I think mostly it is to approach things from the curious, be interested. Without judgement or pressure. Be cool. Ask questions, but stop if you notice they become upset or just anxious to stop talking about it. Say, that sucks, a lot. Please don’t offer to give them your children. It’s not funny. Mostly just be yourself. And if you say something and see the flash cross their face, ask. Say, was that totally off or inappropriate? A real friend will say yeah {if it was} and you can move on from there. Wait. Uh huh! I’ve got it.

Say, I have no idea what you’re going through, but I want to and I love you. I wish it was different. And hug them like your life depends on it. But you know, don’t do it in the middle of a giant crowd. There will probably be tears. Big fat ones.

Problem solved. Probably.

  • Thanks for writing this. I think that last paragraph says it all. It’s better than saying nothing,”I don’t know what you’re going through… ”

    Thank you. x

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      You’re welcome. Not sure it says anything that people didn’t know already, but I feel better having thought it through and writing it. 

  • I like to say, “I am here if you need me for anything, if you need a chat over a coffee or need me to take care of something so you can have some down time. Please don’t hesitate, I am happy to help.”
    That is pretty much what anybody going through any struggle in their life needs, Just knowing some one is there for them, and not just talk, really there!.

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Sounds perfect Tony. I think you have hit the nail on the head. 

  • Calendarbrain

    I had a workmate say ‘ I don’t know what you are going through’ and it helped a lot.
    Also had someone ask me when we were going to have a baby and as soon as they said it, apologised and said ‘sorry that is a horrible thing to ask’
    I like the idea of buying me some vitamins. An aromatherapy massage voucher would be nice as well.

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      It really does help, the I have no idea thing. It’s funny, I’ve done that before {YES, recently, shame on me} and said the said thing. Oh sorry. Excuse me. How rude. The person laughed and told me not to be a goob. But I was lucky. 

      Mmmm, massage. Sounds great. 

  • Amy (MyLifeAsACake)

    Great post. 

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks Amy. xo

  • Danielle Melnyczenko

    Everyone’s TTC journey is different, emotionally and physically. Like most things in life, respect always wins in the end. 

    Sometimes I find it hard to talk about as I’ve been on the other side and come out with a darling little boy, there is still a small nagging guilt. I don’t even blog about those feelings anymore. 

    I want to say “I know how you feel…” or “Yeah this is what happened to me…” to be relatable and maybe even share useful info but I’ve learnt that people will ask if they need it, 99% of the time they just want you to listen or to distract them. 

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      So true! Always a different story, for every person. 

      Your position is such a tricky one. Because you DO get it. But people see you with your gorgeous little man and think, yeah right. You’re so on the money too, that people will ask for the info if they want it. 

  • lisa | renovating italy

    I know the list of things NOT to say could fill a book so perhaps say nothing and just listen….xxxx

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      And ever changing. The list of not to say is ever changing, always revolving minefield. 😉

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks for the link. Ah people can be hurtful without realising it. Maybe they would’ve been bad parents! WHAT, seriously!? So crazy. 

  • stinkb0mb

    do you know what i’d love MORE than ANYTHING else when it comes to ttc? i would love for people to be comfortable with MY decision and stop saying stuff that is so obviously said to make THEMSELVES feel at ease/more comfortable with my decision.

    we’ve decided to stop ttc, we’re coming to terms with that decision, so PLEASE do not feel the need to say “oh well you can always look into adoption” or “you still have plenty of time left if you change your mind” or “oh now you’ve stopped trying, you’ll definitely get pregnant” it does not help me and it just anchors me back in the past and prevents me from moving forward. your words are not giving me “hope” because do you honestly think we would have come to this decision lightly? do you think if there was still “hope” of carrying a pregnancy to term, that we would have made this decision?

    i’d also LOVE it if people didn’t treat me like a leper because we don’t [and won’t be having] children. or like i’m missing out on the most wondrous thing in the world by not having children – really? i know plenty of mothers who would disagree with you – it’s great if YOU think it’s the most wondrous thing in the world but please do not patronise me by insisting it would be for me and because i can’t have children, i will be somehow living a lesser life.

    ahh that feels better 🙂

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      I’m glad. Nothing to add. Onwards and upwards lovely. 

  • I’m glad you wrote this post, and if I could hug you thru the computer I would xxoo

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks Leanne. I’ll press myself against the screen, you do the same. It’ll be a virtual hug. 😉

  • We went through this – 5 years before Alexander and 2 before Sammy with a few losses in there.  There was a point we just decided we were done and that we could be happy without them.  Which was the point where everyone says “Oh, my friend’s sister in law’s workmate’s cousin’s boss stopped trying and they had sextuplets!” Or some such crap. 

    Mostly I just didn’t want those stories. Even if I became one of them (which I did, thanks to my diabetes medication before Alexander. Noone told me it was used to treat my PCOS too). I just wanted ‘I’m sorry that it’s not been easy for you’ or support when we said we were honestly (because we were) happy with our decision to stop, and to make a life outside of children. 

    Actually, I’m on entirely sure about the right things to say. I’m suddenly reminded about all of the wrong things that were said. Might come back to this later. 🙂 (Now I’m freaking out, wondering if I’ve ever posted any dumbass things to you).

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Oh so these stories are all YOUR fault, are they. Well. 😛 

      Don’t freak out, you’ve always been wonderful. xo

  • Katerina-83

    The nicest thing that has ever been said to me has often gone by the lines of: I’m sorry this journey has been an unsuccessful one. I wish I could make it all ok for you.

    My advice would be to treat a person who’s TTC just as you would treat anyone who was grieving the death of a loved one. 
    While it may seem the two situations are completely different from one another often the measure of suffering is completely the same.
    Well for me it has been but maybe I’m just a bigger sook than most 😉

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      This is perfect. Thanks for sharing. Sook. 😉

  • Craftea Chic

    Yeah not in the middle of a crowd…definitely tears…shouldn’t read these posts at work either for the same reason! Everything you’ve said (and all the variations of them) seem to be what work, someone close to me lost their baby at 23wk5d, and she says she’d prefer someone to say “I don’t know the right thing to say but I’m here for you” than for them to ignore the situation. Sometimes its good to say “it sucks” or “if I had a magic wand I’d be waving it for you”, but sometimes you’ve already said that, and there are not words left, so I’ve just said “i’ve got no words for you today, but I’m thinking of you”. Just what ever you do don’t tell some to relax, or ‘it must be meant to be’! xo

    • I’m sorry to hear of your friends loss. So terrible. Full stop. Thank you for adding to the post with this comment. xo