What to say when You Don’t Know what to Say

Something bad has happened. Not to you but to a friend, family member, co-worker, or whomever. You want to reach out, but what do you say? What do you do? What can you do to let the person know you are there for them? It’s such a unnecessarily touchy subject. I think the best way to answer any and all of those questions is actually pretty easy: BE GENUINE.

Especially in this day and age, we make light of sad times unintentionally. When a friend’s loved one dies or whatever the situation may be, it’s so easy to reach to phrases such as “everything happens for a reason” or “they are in a better place.” It’s like a way of censoring yourself, those phrases have become “politically correct” because everyone has said them for a very long time. Please stop with those phrases. Those phrases help YOU think you are saying the right thing, but they do not necessarily helping the person you are saying them to.

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I have struggled to cope with my miscarriages. I knew I had two, and recently realized before I was ever treated for my pituitary tumor, I most likely had my first. In December, we announced we were finally pregnant and got so much support. When we announced we had lost the pregnancy in January, everyone fell off the map. I think, in our situation, although preparing to be a first time parent can be nerve wracking and all help can be good help, we could have used the support MORE when we found out we lost the pregnancy. It has been an extremely lonely time. For me, I felt rejected by friends and family (see my post: This was Written in Anger). I felt like they did not care about me. I felt like they dismissed my pain (both physical and emotional) like both my baby and I never mattered. Often, I still feel like this, even though in most cases, it’s not true. Something came to life and then died inside of me, both physically and emotionally. I’m led to believe that It would be better if I did not talk about it, just in case I might offend someone. If I do talk about it, it should probably just be to support groups of STRANGERS online who have been through the same thing, not to actual people I LOVE and know me personally. Twisted, isn’t it?

I’ve been on the other side many times. Miscarriage happens to 1 in 4 women, it would be pretty unusual to not know at least one person who has experienced it. A beautiful cousin of mine, who has since had some of the most polite, smart, and well-mannered children to ever be brought to the Earth, was the first person I knew to have a miscarriage. I was thirteen I think, or somewhere around there. It was a very happy family event and everyone was having a great time. I went to take a bathroom break, and inside the bathroom was my cousin and a few surrounding her, consoling her. She was in tears and I remember stopping cold, shocked not just because she is usually such a happy and positive person, but I also did not know what to say when they told me why she was so upset. I don’t know if I said anything at all. For that, I’m sorry.

If you do not know what to say, and do not want to say anything wrong, I hope these few suggestions help. This isn’t an exact science, this is not at all correct for all people or all situations. This is what I wish people had done for me.

A few quick and easy DON’Ts:

Everything happens for a reason – what reason do you think my baby had to die? Yes, the majority of miscarriages occur because of natural selection (your body knows something is wrong with the fetus and spontaneously aborts it). However, sometimes (like in my case) it’s something wrong with my body and the way it processes hormone imbalances that causes the miscarriage to occur. Either way, it’s not as comforting of a thing to hear as you may think.
God needed another Angel – an easy thing to say when God didn’t ask you for yours
Anything starting with “At least you didn’t-“ – lose it later in the pregnancy? Know the sex of the baby? Go the entire pregnancy to have a stillbirth? Yes, at least those things did not happen. Don’t bring them up. Even if those things had happened, I would probably still feel the same.
It is all in God’s plan – maybe this works for someone really religious, but I think it’s safe to say you should steer clear of it regardless. It’s like saying God wanted you to be in pain, learn some horrible life lesson, etc.
ANYTHING about how much you consider changing diapers/sleepless nights/etc a pain. We would gladly do it if given the chance, and you now look like an ungrateful asshole.
Here’s a great infertility/miscarriage article – I’m aware of my battle. I do a lot of my own research as well as see TRAINED PROFESSIONALS about my specific case regularly. I live it everyday. Please realize that you offering me an article like that would be the same as me sending you an article on how to be a better parent. It’s kind of insulting.
“If it makes you feel any better, I had to go through this bad thing” – 1. You are diminishing my situation & 2. Anyone who says, “Yes that does make me feel better that you had a horrible time” is a complete jerk. 3. Life is not a competition and certainly not a competition to see who can do worse.
“So & So suffered with infertility/miscarriage and now they have three healthy children” – Good for them, but just because So & So beat the battle, it does not mean that I will. Not everyone is so lucky.
You will have a baby one day – No, I might not. There is no guarantee my situation will be solved. Yes, “At least” I can get pregnant, but that does not mean that I can have a healthy baby.
There’s always IVF/Adoption/etc. Yes, there is and for a large price tag that you are probably unaware of. The average cost of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is $12,400 whether it works or not. The average cost of a domestic adoption in the United States ranges anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.

AND now for the GENUINE responses that I wish we had gotten; The please Do’s:

“I’m so sorry for your loss” – It’s simple and to the point. It lets me know you were thinking of us and our situation, and that means a lot.

“I’m coming over. I’m bringing food. I will sit with you if you want me to, if not I understand” – There were a lot of times that I did not want to talk, but having a friend or family member there to just sit with, would have been nice. When I lost my “first” pregnancy, the initial day was the worst day of my life, going through labor at only 11 weeks pregnant is not at all pleasant – both physically and emotionally. It took me a little over a week to recover physically from it. Emotionally, I may never recover completely. Depression is no different than being sick, you do not have the strength or energy to do anything. A little help would’ve been amazing, and definitely never forgotten.

“Talk to me about it” & MEAN IT. & then, most importantly, LISTEN.
There were few that actually cared to listen to me when I needed to talk about our miscarriages. I get it, it makes people uncomfortable. BUT at the same time, I’m unconformable. I’m depressed. I’m broken. My child and my hopes and dreams for them DIED. I talked a lot and then it was met with a “oh, that’s terrible” and then the subject was changed. Or I talked and and my situation was compared to something else not the same. I need to talk about what happened to me and my baby to help me heal, to help me find peace. Belittling the situation is not helpful and it really hinders the process.

“I was going to do this today, would you like to come along?” We might talk about it, we might not. But letting me know you want to be around me even though I am having a hard time, or even that I might decline, still means so much.

Still don’t know what to say? They hire people to make cards that do.

When we felt it was time to announce our loss, we did so on Facebook (minus our parents) instead of calling everyone individually (hopefully, for obvious reasons). That’s how the majority of people found out, I’m sure. We got a few responses here and there, and those meant a lot to us. A lot of people sent their condolences to my parents, not to me directly. I was not even made aware of this either, until telling my parents I felt like I was alone and no one cared MONTHS later. I do not know who said what, how they felt, etc, I wish they had told me. It didn’t happen to my parents. It happened to us.

In February, maybe a whole month after our first known miscarriage, we ran into one of Steven’s friends and co-workers. I had met the guy once before and only briefly. Although it was kind of awkward, not going to lie, he gave me the “I’m so sorry” look and gave my shoulder a squeeze. It meant a lot to me.

We received one card after our first known miscarriage. It was from the head of Steven’s company’s FRG, she was new, and we had never met her in person. The card said a lot of touching and prevalent things that were extremely comforting and thoughtful. It’s the only card we have received throughout the entire time about the matter.

I was told I was a bad friend for not wanting to know about friends’ pregnancies. However, those friends were not bad friends because they did not want to know what I was going through because of my miscarriage? (See my post, Words Begging with G) First, that’s completely unfair. It’s not that I did not want to know, it’s that knowing was a reminder of what was taken from me. There are milestones they got to have and will continue to have, that I never will with my baby. I did not know if any of my babies were going to be a boy or a girl, no baby shower for them, no celebration of my baby’s upcoming arrival and certainly not of their BIRTH. They were too busy being happy to be bothered with my sadness, and vice versa, I was too depressed to have the reminder of a happy, healthy pregnancy. Neither is wrong necessarily. I do beg to anyone who is pregnant, and your friend loses their pregnancy, DO NOT say “If your baby had lived, what were you going to name it because I don’t want to take your name.” I was asked that. In all honesty, I’m jealous of my pregnant friends and those who just gave birth to healthy babies. I think my reasoning is totally understandable. So pregnant ladies, please just be mindful of how you say or ask things. You’re experiencing something I was denied.

I really hope this does not come off as me trying to being cruel. I’m just being truthful. I’ve been on both sides of not knowing what to say and also wishing someone would say SOMETHING at all. I realize there can be a lot of miscommunication and bad interpretations of what people say and what they mean. I get it. I’m just trying to say that tough times can be painfully lonely.

I’m trying to bring awareness.

I’m trying to support SYMPATHY & EMPATHY alike.

Loss is never easy, no matter how long or short the person was known.

It’s not always easy knowing what to say, but as much as the thought counts, it’s important that you tell or show the person there is a thought there at all. Don’t just pray for somebody, tell them you are praying for them. Don’t discuss your sadness with people outside of the situation, discuss it TO the person it happened to. Where words fail, touch can speak for you. When all else fails, there are many locations to buy cards.

If you are a loved one who has spoken to me about our situation, I appreciate it more than you will ever know, and I am so thankful for your support. I think it’s also important for me to say that if you are a loved one of mine who didn’t say anything to me, I understand why, I just wish you would. In times of happiness, support is nice. In times of sadness, support is what gets us through it.

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EDIT: I WAS pregnant but I had a miscarriage.

I HAVE LOST THIS PREGNANCY. I had a horrible miscarriage experience and I have lost three pregnancies since this. I’ve lost our rainbow baby time and time again. Our hearts are broken.
IF you see this post anywhere else, whether it be my words or my images, it was used WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.

I am pregnant!

I have not been able to express my excitement yet. I am very much a worry wort, but I feel entirely justified being concerned about the health of the fetus inside me. Back in October I wrote about our battle with infertility (if interested, you can read it here). Infertility is something you are MEDICALLY described as after trying for over a year. So we do fit into that category, but “infertile” may be the wrong word technically for us and our situation. A lot of what was causing my husband and I not being able to conceive had to do with my pituitary tumor and what it was doing to my body. My pituitary tumor was releasing a hormone that made my body think it was already pregnant, thus preventing me from becoming pregnant. I was also diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) but I think that’s a far fetched misdiagnosis. I started taking medication for my tumor, which controlled it from releasing hormones as well as shrunk it (for now). It’s not gone, but now that I am pregnant, it should not interfere with my pregnancy.

On December 19th (last month) I took a pregnancy test at four o’clock in the morning. The previous week I had been getting waves of nauseousness, feeling tired, and some of those other stereotypical first signs. I’d been down that road before and it ended up being all in my head, false pregnancy. I felt the same way when I thought I was pregnant back in August. But that particular morning I woke up from a very bizarre dream. I had dreamed that Steven and I had seven room mates that had just come back from a long trip. Some of them had brought us back gifts. One of those gifts included a grilled hot dog, no bun or condiments involved. Yes, dream ME took a bite. As soon as I did, dream Steven told me said hot dog was not what I thought it was and pulled out a partly bitten $20 bill from the uneaten part of the hot dog. I immediately woke up and was totally confused. I had heard you can get really vivid, strange dreams when pregnant. So, I had to take the test then. When I saw the positive sign I cried, jumped up and down, and squealed quietly in the bathroom. I let Steven sleep because he had to work that day. I didn’t even tell him before he left for work. He did ask me why I was acting weird though.

Steven was on holiday half-days, so I had a few hours to make myself presentable as well as come up with a quick, but cute way to tell him. I set up TWO cameras in my living room, made my set up, and when he got home I presented him with “an early Christmas gift.”

He was excited to say the least. It’s hard to grasp something so wonderful when you feel like it took a lot to get to that point. There are people out there who have gone through much more than what we have to get pregnant, and some have yet to hear that good news. We got BEYOND lucky.

We told our parents that night. I told my best friends a few days after. We told my family on Christmas day over Skype.

Yesterday we journeyed out to Kansas City to visit our fertility specialist for our first ultrasound. I was terrified to begin with, but when my doctor had a hard time finding anything, he questioned me. He asked why I thought I was eight weeks as of yesterday (because all the calculators say so). We knew I was pregnant, I had normal HCG levels in my blood. The guy is a wonderful doctor but he knows exactly what to say to get me completely frazzled. He said something along the lines of “if you’re still pregnant” before searching again. It took everything out of me to not burst into tears right then. After completely breaking my heart, he found the baby. He smiled at me and excitedly told me he saw the heartbeat. He tried, but it’s just too soon to hear the heartbeat. Great doctor, bad word choice.

Some of my hormone levels are still completely out of whack, and I will soon begin taking more medication to get them regulated. We are not in the clear and my pregnancy is considered risky. There is a very tiny little baby in me and it does have a heartbeat! (For all the whovians, I’m kind of like a Time Lord right now! TWO hearts!)

I’m pregnant, I’m excited, but my fear has yet to escape me. I may not relax until I have a healthy baby in my arms. Since it is a product of my husband and me, I may never relax. We are very accident prone people. We are lucky people though, and we have a seemingly healthy fetus to prove it.

They say you are not supposed to tell EVERYONE until the end of the first trimester due to the likelihood of miscarriage significantly lowering then. BUT news travels fast in our families and we wanted to be the one to deliver the news. IT is OUR news to deliver anyway. So here it is! WE ARE PREGNANT!

As of today I am six weeks, two days along (not eight weeks, one day). Our baby is due August 31st 2014 (not August 18th). WE are SO EXCITED to meet our baby and love it so much already!

What I’ve Learned About Infertility

It’s really time for me to explain what’s going on with me because it really is messing with every aspect of my life. I haven’t been myself for the past few months, I’ve been trying really hard, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’ve wanted to make blog posts, YouTube videos, and just be myself, but I’ve been dealing with a few things.

In August my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. That alone was pretty hard to adjust to. Shortly before he left we went to a few doctors trying to get some answers for what was going on with me and my health, reproductively speaking. I was pretty sure we had been successful in the whole making a baby process, but when I kept having symptoms but all negative pregnancy tests, I went to the doctor again.

No one seems to understand what a slap in the face it is to think you are pregnant, to really want to be pregnant, and instead you are told that you may have a tumor in your head. Maybe I’ve experienced the lack of understanding because it is a weird connection between the two things.

I always just assumed I would be a mom one day. No big deal. I did not realize HOW BAD I wanted to be a mother until I was told I may never be able to. Typical woman, right? Always wanting what she can’t have.

SO LET’S GET PERSONAL for a minute. I have a pituitary tumor. It is benign. HOWEVER, it is releasing a hormone called Prolactin. The release of this hormone causes my body to think that it is already pregnant (and thus, it is preventing me from becoming pregnant also).

I drove two hours to see a specialist a few weeks back. He also preceded to tell me I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This specialist, whom I’d driven two hours to see, told me to GOOGLE it to learn more about it (sad thing is, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard about someone being told to GOOGLE PCOS after being told they had it). So I spent all day stewing on the fact that because of my tumor AND because of PCOS I would more than likely not be able to ever have kids. I think I was so angry about it by the time I got home and was able to GOOGLE it, it didn’t even matter to me that I did not think for one second I had PCOS. I think the doctor was completely wrong. AND it says a lot when I GOOGLE something and think that I DON’T have it. Yes, I am a hypochondriac.

Said specialist… doctor… go Google it man, prescribed me medication for my pituitary tumor in attempts to control it, possibly shrink it, possibly get my hormone levels in check. This particular medication is given ALSO as an alternative to chemotherapy for cancer patients. It is ALSO given to patients with Parkinson’s disease. AMONGST other things. That scares me. My pituitary tumor is no where near being as severe as those ailments, but it terrifies me to be grouped together with it. Not to mention said medication has a lot of debilitating side effects. I get weak. I get nauseous. I get headaches. I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. I have absolutely no appetite whatsoever. I’ve lost eight pounds in two weeks. In another few weeks I will be tested again to see if I’m evening reacting to this medication. I do not want to discuss or think about what happens if I am not reacting to this medication.

I see this specialist guy again in December. I don’t even want to talk about PCOS with this man until (if/when) my tumor is under control. I think he couldn’t be more wrong with his diagnosis. You don’t have a completely normal ultra sound one month and get told you have PCOS the next. You just don’t.

I have cried a lot in the last few months. I have been angry and bitter and downright spiteful the last few months. I hope I have the strength to keep my mouth shut the next person who says “We are so blessed! We are pregnant and we weren’t even trying!”

I know people are trying to be optimistic for me. Telling me it will be okay. Telling me just relax, in time. If you are doing this to your friend/family member/whomever – STOP. Optimism is normally great and I’m a huge advocate of it! BUT when you are told by a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL that you may indeed NEVER be able to conceive, OPTIMISM pisses you off. AND DO NOT get me started on the “Well if it’s meant to be it will be” or the “There’s always adoption” comments. Please, feel free to just stab me instead of saying those things. Those things hurt. Those things make me feel like an absolute failure. I am a woman and a woman’s body is designed to be able to produce little humans. BUT not mine. Oh yes, and it is really great that you know someone who knows someone who had the exact same issue as me (weird!) and has had five children since, but they were probably wrongly diagnosed and/or miracles happen. I WILL LET YOU KNOW when I think a miracle can and has happened. Until then, please STOP.

This is all very personal. I did not intend on this getting out further than my really good friends and close family. BUT you tell someone who tells someone who tells someone who tells someone. It’s really a weird situation being upset about yourself, but instead having to comfort someone over the phone about it because they thought you were going to die (people hear pituitary tumor, think brain tumor, think you’re going to die). I needed to be comforted but instead I’m having to say, “No, no. I will be fine.” AND I will be fine. I may never be able to have children but I will live. I will be fine.

This is my personal struggle. I am outing myself.

Infertility is not uncommon. It’s upsetting how many women and couples have to deal with it and are lead to believe that they are alone. People keep this a secret because it is personal, it is absolutely heartbreaking, but they ARE NOT alone. So here’s my situation, if it helps someone feel some sense of comradely, great!

My husband and I have only been “trying” for a year. That’s not even a realistic measurement because he is in the Army and the Army has had him away longer than I got to be near him. I understand that there are couples out there who have tried MUCH MUCH longer than I hope we ever have to. I know some women out there who don’t have a exact reason why they can’t get their hormones in order. I at least have a few things to blame, that may or may not be fixable.

I just need to put this out there, for whatever reason. Take from it what you will.

I hope one day I will be able to give my husband babies that have super blonde hair like him and that are awkwardly tall like me. Realistically, I may never get to. I’m trying not to be angry at myself. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. I’m trying not to unfollow every pregnant friend posting belly pictures and (GOOD GOD) videos of their bellies 89390287 times a day.

One day at a time. That is all I have. That is all WE ALL have. Life is a funny thing and I am constantly learning from it. I may not always be happy with the lesson, but hey, I’m told it builds character.