Warning: Use of undefined constant headerfavicons - assumed 'headerfavicons' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/thetoryp/www/www/wp-content/plugins/easy-favicon/easy-favicon.php on line 6231

Warning: Use of undefined constant headerfavicons - assumed 'headerfavicons' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/thetoryp/www/www/wp-content/plugins/easy-favicon/easy-favicon.php on line 6279

Warning: Use of undefined constant headerfavicons - assumed 'headerfavicons' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/thetoryp/www/www/wp-content/plugins/easy-favicon/easy-favicon.php on line 6327
etiquette Archives - The Tory Party Skip to content

Dear Fertile People

Dear Fertile People published on 1 Comment on Dear Fertile People

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week! Count me in.

Been trying to have a kid for over three years, gotten treatment for two. Two HSGs, 4 IUIs, 3 failed IVFs, one hysteroscopy. Got pregnant once. Didn’t last. That was two years ago.

Not ready to quit, but close.

I’m infertile. Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after 1 year of trying (if you’re under 35) or after 6 months (if you’re over 35, as doctors advise against risking more fleeting fertile time), OR conceiving but being unable to carry to term. I’m in numerous company; about 10% of women will have trouble getting or staying pregnant. About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 will have fertility problems.

Chairs are for fertile people.
Chairs are for fertile people.

Haven’t been telling many people. Keeping it secret is wearing me out. “Do you want kids?” and “enjoy this [childless] time while you have it” are pissing me off. And I’m already worn out and pissed off. My injection sites are itchy and my patient demeanor sucks. Infertility treatment has been, as one forum-poster said, “the second job that takes my money.”

Hey, Doc, maybe this'll change your mind...
Hey, Doc, maybe this’ll change your mind…

But telling people is a grab bag. Some people are beautifully compassionate and kind and generous and loving. Other people say the first thing that pops in their head.

Dear fertile people, I’m all out of smile and nod.

So here’s what you can do for me, if you choose to speak to me on this subject:

1) Face your fears.

Suffering is frightening. I get it. We hear about someone else suffering from something beyond their control–disease, natural disaster, loss of a loved one–and we instinctively look for the reasons it won’t happen to us. It’s how we make sense of the world.

Sometimes the search for reasons makes us eager to blame the person it’s happening to. This can lead to thoughts like:

  • The person is doing sex wrong.
  • The person waited too long.
  • The person did something wrong that caused losing the pregnancy.
  • The person isn’t relaxing correctly.
  • This is all part of God’s mysterious plan.
God's plan involves a lot of needles.
God’s plan involves a lot of needles.

I get it. I do this basically every time I read the news. It’s how we as a thinking species help ourselves feel safe. I also get that it’s frightening to feel your deeply-held beliefs are being called into question. When we see someone do something other than what we think we’d do in that situation, we may feel threatened. This can lead to a desire to convert others to the belief that:

  • Adoption is a good idea.
  • Adoption is a bad idea.
  • Adoptable kids are behind every cabbage leaf.
  • Adoptable kids are damaged goods.
  • Donor eggs are a good idea.
  • Donor eggs are a bad idea.
  • Every possible infertility treatment option should be pursued.
  • Infertility treatment is pointless/unethical/against God’s will.
  • Multiple births are irresponsible.
  • Multiple births are a bargain.
  • Acupuncture is a good idea.
  • Acupuncture is a good idea but you have to take the herbs, too.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese herbs work if you use them multiple months.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese herbs work if you use them multiple months before doing IVF and also do yoga and eat pineapple.
This is because you didn't eat enough pineapple.
This is because you didn’t eat enough pineapple.

This is human nature and I have absolutely done both of these in the face of someone else’s suffering. I have also said Absolutely Nothing. Absolutely Nothing is not great, either, but I realize that’s a rock and a hard place if you don’t know what to say so if you really don’t know what to say then Nothing is cool.

Looking for reasons and looking for converts both come from a place of fear. They don’t come from a place of compassion. Compassion would help a lot.

But compassion ain’t cheap! Where does it come from?

2) Stretch your imagination.

Imagine this scenario:

  • You are a person.
  • You at least vaguely want a child.
  • You have a partner and have become somewhat attached to the idea of having a biological child with that person.
  • You also become somewhat attached to the idea of experiencing pregnancy, birth, and nursing.
  • You don’t expect it to be easy, but you do expect it to be possible.
  • You open the door to conceiving. But month by month, you fail to conceive.
  • Around you, many people announce pregnancies, births, and milestones of small children. (Many people suffer pregnancy losses and fertility struggles as well, but these, like your own, are kept quiet.)
  • If you’re already carrying baggage about feeling Not Good Enough, maybe baggage gets a lot heavier.

Then maybe…

  • You go to a party.
  • There are pregnant people and small children, which correlates to people asking you questions.
  • Someone asks, “Do you want kids?”
  • And you are tired, so you tell the truth: “Very much so, but it’s been hard for us.”
  • Now imagine what you’d want to hear.

    Is it…

    • “You should just relax. It’ll happen!”


    Until someone holds their child in their arms, they have to live with the reality that it might never happen.

    In the face of uncertainty, other people’s certainty is not comforting. It’s isolating. For me, it makes me feel unheard and unseen and it summons my Hate Librarian that carefully logs every hurtful moment and I really do not like the Hate Librarian and I wish she did not work here.

    The Tundra Hover Bed didn't work either.
    The Tundra Hover Bed didn’t work either.

    Advice in general is pretty isolating. Got enough. Really all stocked up on advice here. You could fill four sharps containers with all the advice I got. FWIW, I already secretly believe this is all my fault. Don’t need anyone else telling me what they think I’m doing wrong.

    I know people with advice are coming from a good place. People just want to make things OK. But when people try to put a happy face on me it just encourages me to keep hiding the sad one. And for me hiding is no bueno.

    "Maybe if I hold it sideways..."
    “Maybe if I hold it sideways…”

    3) Respect my right to hurt.

    I don’t compartmentalize emotions like I used to. I keep ’em close to the surface, and that’s actually better for me. So if I speak honestly, you might see tears (not a crying jag, but tears) or hear a raised voice (not attacking, but raised). Maybe not! Hard to say.

    But I’ve noticed, when people get surprised by other people’s strong emotions, sometimes they try to make those emotions go away with either a bright side (“you can always adopt”) or a hand-wave (“it’s not like it was a real baby.”)

    That feels bad.

    Let me be more specific.

    For me, getting dismissed or minimized is like setting a 24-hour rage timer. In the moment, I smile and think, “This is going to piss me off later.” And, lo, 24 hours hence I find myself in a deep black mood of raw-edged hate until I do the work to get rid of the resentment.

    I can’t take any more resentment homework. I am all booked up. I know a lot of that’s on me to be more vigilant about protecting my boundaries.

    But you can help.

    Please, if you can’t do the three items above…

    Even this woman is more pregnant than you.
    Even this woman is more pregnant than you.

    4) Give me a chance to protect myself.

    If you really, really want to tell me what your friend tried that worked, please give me a chance to decide whether I’m comfortable hearing it. Show me that you understand the words you speak stay with me after we part.

    Basic ways to do this:

    • “Are you looking for advice?”
    • “Can I tell you a story about a friend of mine?”
    • “Are you comfortable talking about what you’ve tried?”

    (If you want to tell me your personal infertility or loss story, I am all ears. I promise not to give advice.)

    If you need another infertile POV questions:


    Nobody’s perfect, and nobody knows the perfect thing to say. But knowing you care enough to try helps a lot.

    5) Get Involved

    Some states mandate health insurance covering infertility treatment. Some states don’t. It would be neat-O if infertile couples didn’t have to choose between their nest egg and an egg in their nest.

    There are lots of ways to volunteer and spread the word. Write. Tweet. Talk. Every little bit makes a difference.

    Hope this helps. It helps me, anyway. Hope that’s OK.

    Coming up:

    • (4/28) Dear Infertile People (This Is What Saved Me)
    • (4/29) Dear Self, One Year After IVF [the reason I’m writing this post, because without context it will be very confusing]

    5 Things to Do Before Addressing Formal Invitations

    5 Things to Do Before Addressing Formal Invitations published on

    There comes a time in life when you are called upon to send formal invitations, whether it is to a wedding or a marriage-equality fundraiser.

    What follows are steps to maximize mellowness while being afraid you’re doing it wrong and no one will want to be friends with you anymore.

    addressing formal invitations
    I can’t wait to learn how I’m doing it wrong
    (via Found in Mom’s Basement)

    1) Prioritize.

    Also! The invitation is primarily a vector of information! This is easy to lose sight of when anonymous persons on the Internet claim that by addressing a married woman as “Mrs. Woman Manly” you are calling her a divorcĂ©e of ill-repute.

    However more important than whether to spell out the number twenty is getting the invitation in the envelope and making the little mark on each RSVP indicating to whom it was sent, because I forgot to do that and it made me really mad.

    The only line anyone is really going to read on the invitation address is the names. Narrow target. Vital target. I have to redo a couple tonight because it dawned on me I spelled two people’s names wrong. PARP.

    So it’s worth reviewing your address list and asking :

    – Who moved recently or is about to?
    – Is Rob’s full first name Robert or Robin? Are you sure that’s how “Eleanor” spells her name?
    – Who probably has a doctorate, but you’re not 100% sure because you’re an inattentive jerkface?

    Make up for being a jerkface by cooking pot roast
    (Via Intimate Weddings)

    2) Give yourself plenty of resources.

    Get plenty of envelopes and give yourself plenty of time to work on them. Planning for more than one session to work on them is dandy. Decrease likelihood of rage-quitting.

    You may want

    – A widely-spaced document of all the addresses, formatted like they will be on the envelopes, so that’s one fewer part of your brain you’ll have to use.
    – pencil
    – straight-edge
    – eraser
    – nice pen
    – glue stick, in case you need to peel a stamp off one envelope and put it on another. THESE THINGS HAPPEN.

    addressing formal invitations
    This kind of straight-edge optional

    3) Check a few different opinions on the “appropriate” way to address people, and figure out what YOUR opinion is.

    Maybe you want to be extra-formal and extra-old-fashioned and call all the married couples “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly.” Go for it.

    Maybe you’re throwing a more casual event and “Woman and Man Manly” is appropriate. Beautiful.

    Maybe you want some formality but “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly” seems inappropriate for some of the people you’re inviting, and you want to see other common options. No problem!

    For all these, after much searching, mistake-making, raging, re-searching and re-doing, About.com has far and away the most detailed, practical and well-organized article on formal address that I found. They even have examples! Blessed, blessed examples. Whoooo.

    The upshot is that politeness is key, and the most polite thing to do is address people in the way they’re accustomed to being addressed. That way the grandparents can be “Mr. and Mrs. Man Manly” and your college friends can be “Mrs. Woman and Mr. Man Manly” and NO ONE DROPS FROM FRIGHT AT ALL.

    Whatever you do, don’t take the first Google search result you find and treat it as gospel. Nope. Only a very foolish person would do that. A foolish person with a huge grudge against Martha Stewart now.

    addressing formal invitations
    I didn’t have an opinion about Martha Stewart before, but now I do and it is rage

    4.a) If you’re using handwriting, pencil some guidelines on the envelope.

    Yeah, it took time and challenged my phobia of prep work, but it was worth it. Having guidelines to follow made the aesthetic difference between “invitation” and “threat from crazed fan.”

    4.b) If you’re using handwriting, practice a little.

    I know what cursive capital “J”s are supposed to look like. I’ve made my share of them in my day, though that day was twenty-six years ago. But holy cats my hand forgot how to make them. It took a few to learn, and I wish those few hadn’t been on pre-penciled, pre-return-address-labeled envelopes.

    addressing formal invitations
    I probably should have looked this up before

    5) Let it be.

    Of the wedding invitations I’ve received, alas I don’t remember how the couple chose to address the envelope. What I do remember are the contents — each individual approach — which always reflected the balance of sophisticated-charming-traditional-creative-formal-informal-serious-playful that was right for each couple.

    That’s the take-away.

    I hope the same is true for my recipients, and they forgive the many eccentricities and cursive “J”s about to appear in their mailbox.

    Primary Sidebar