This is a story of someone who meant very well, I do understand that. But it still hurt.
My husband and I have tried for years to have children, sadly without success. It’s a very painful subject that we don’t discuss with others. Sometimes we tell our immediate family where we are with it, but otherwise we keep it private. We get the odd intrusive question (‘so why don’t you have kids?’) or the odd comment that really is upsetting, but that’s life, we get over it. But this one really, really upset me.
Last week I got a letter in the post and didn’t recognize the handwriting. Thinking a friend might have written, I open it and out falls a cutting from a woman’s magazine. Then the headline hits me – in big letters, it says INFERTILE??? Shocked, I unfold it to see it saying, “Try X!!” complete with pictures of babies and pregnant women. I say here that ‘X’ is an alternative therapy. Yes, I wish that X would help us have a baby, but I already know it will not.
I’m just dumbfounded. Tears are starting to my eyes – I’m not infertile anyway, I’ve lost several babies, but I can’t believe someone would send that to me, without warning, without asking, and I can’t imagine who would do such a thing. Then I see a little note with the cutting. And it is from a relation of my husband – a woman we have NEVER discussed this with, let alone asked for advice. It says that she hopes I ‘don’t mind’ her sending me this, but that it could be ‘another avenue’ to explore.
Leaving aside the fact that we are several years into this whole heart-breaking process (we are now looking into adoption), and that I’d rather put my faith in the medical profession than a woman’s magazine, I still can’t believe she thought that was ok. I don’t expect the world to care that we don’t have children, I don’t expect people to watch what they say around us – I just cry on my own and get on with it, but to send me that was the most hideous intrusion into my privacy about the most painful subject there is. I never asked her for help. I never mentioned it. I never, ever gave her ANY cause to think I would welcome something like this. She doesn’t even know why we can’t have children.
I cried my heart out getting that. Then I texted her to say that while I appreciated her support, I would rather not be sent anything else because it was a very difficult subject, and I hoped she understood.
As I say, I do know that she meant it kindly. I do know that it’s hard for people, who don’t know what to say, but please, do not give out unsolicited advice to people struggling to have children. Do not say things like ‘well, some people just aren’t meant to have kids’, or ‘well, of course, I’m lucky’ (yes, you ARE). It is heart-breaking enough without things like this, and sometimes not talking about it is just the only way for us to cope. 0615-14
There are things people do that can be “shallow stupid”, “deep stupid” or just plain evil. Your friend was being well intentioned but was shallow stupid nonetheless. You handled it well and one hopes your friend won’t do this particular shallow stupidity again.