What NOT to say to the woman with an empty womb…


In my journey to parenthood, I have heard it all–every suggestion, opinion, and comment on how I should get pregnant and have a family. I know the intentions of every word hopefully came out of love.  However when walking this agonizing journey, there are some things better left unsaid.  The words spoken over me have sometimes been incredibly painful to hear and have left me completely broken and deflated from the faith and hope that exists so firmly in me. This journey is hard–And unless you have walked it, it is not always easy to understand the excruciating heartache that comes with an empty womb. It is not just about the fact that you are not pregnant or struggling to bare a child, it is the social settings we are put in that sometimes force the pain of infertility deeply tucked in our hearts to come out.

For myself, I have blogging my journey for awhile now, so perhaps I opened the doors for some of these hurtful words of “advice.” However, if I have learned anything from this journey and from what people have so openly expressed to me, it is that it is important to always let love come out of you. Sometimes letting love come out of you is sitting in silence so your friend can have a shoulder to cry on (which is not the time for you to offer tips of what worked for you or your friend-just to be there and listen). Sometimes showering a person in hope and faith-writing them a card or just telling them you are thinking of them is love. It is the little things that really make a difference in this journey. I have had a lot of support, praise Jesus, on my walk to Motherhood. Although, I have still heard everything. The following are some of my own personal experiences of opinions, advice, and comments that were expressed to me on my journey to parenthood that I would recommend steering clear from…

“You just aren’t ready to be a Mother. God needs more time on you.” 

Wow. I was dumbfounded when I heard these words. “Did she really just tell me that?” I didn’t even know how to respond, it caught me off guard. What I did know was that I was deeply hurt by these words spoken so casually over me. How dare she say that to me? At that point we had been struggling with infertility for over 2 years…and God needed more time? God didn’t need more time. I have always known I would make a great Mother.  It is a special part of me that I know God made in me. However, my journey to Motherhood has been long and tiring, and yet so beautiful. God has used me in my walk and revealed Himself to me in ways I never knew. I have a better understanding of His love and His perfect timing because of all the intricate details He laid before me in my story.  Perhaps that’s why it took so long.

“Are you sure you you’re having enough sex.”

Really? First off, is it any of your business?

When you are actively trying to have a baby, you have sex. A lot of it!  The fact that I don’t ovulate on my own has never made it easy for me to “know” exactly when to have sex.  Even though I knew we were doing everything we could to make a baby on our own, this question made me feel like we were falling short of “doing everything we could” as often as possible to make a baby.

“The reason you aren’t pregnant is because of all of the sin in your life. I really feel like you need to ask God for forgiveness.”

It still makes me angry when I think back to this manipulating and hurtful conversation. We all sin…every single day. Why anyone would actually speak these words to someone trying to conceive, I don’t know… I only wish in that moment, I stood up for myself and what I know God says about me. Instead, I was mortified and actually believed that that my empty womb was my punishment because my sins.

“At least you can just have fun and enjoy each other while you’re trying”

Timing sex so we could make a baby is not glamorous or fun.  In fact it takes more work and can be stressful if anything else. There were countless times where we had sex because just maybe I was ovulating. I never really knew when I was ovulating, but I knew it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have sex.   There wasn’t anything romantic about it. I am sure Ryan felt used, especially when I walked into the room saying “Honey, we need to have sex tonight,” as if it was a chore. God made sex to be beautiful and intimate-and fun. However,  when the months go by and you are trying to continue to “enjoy each other,” things sometimes change.  When we finally accepted that the chances of us actually getting pregnant in the most common natural way were not on our side, sex became so much better. The pressure was off and we could truly enjoy the moment instead worrying about if we were going to make a baby.

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

To be honest, adoption is a very sensitive topic for a woman struggling with infertility! Adoption has never been something that God put on our hearts. If adoption was something we were considering, I would have said so.  There is nothing wrong with adoption.  However, for us we did not feel called to adoption (And that is okay). It is wonderful that there are avenues like adoption for couples to take to build their family. However, for us this was not something we desired.  Adoption and IVF, in my eyes, are so similar. They both cost a large chunk of money, are incredibly emotional, and don’t always guarantee a baby/child in the long run.  So whatever avenue a couple chooses in their journey to parenthood it should, ultimately, always be respected and supported.

“Just relax and try not to stess.”

There was this one night where I lived “just relax and try not to stress” to it’s fullest! Ry and I went out to dinner and had a great night with some of our dearest friends. It was a night full of fun and laughter. After dinner, we were driving down the road and spontaneously pulled over and had sex in the car. It was fun, unplanned, and incredibly stress-free. Did I get pregnant? No. I just had a fun night with my husband. However, I remember thinking “we have to be pregnant because that was definitely no stress sex.” Seriously. Telling someone who is struggling to get pregnant, “just relax and it will happen,” may be true for some, but not for everyone. Trying to get pregnant can be incredibly stressful, especially when the months and years pass and everyone around you is having babies.  I am sure there is some truth to relaxation and actually getting pregnant… However, for me, I knew because of PCOS the odds were majorly against me. Without ovulation, it would have been a pure miracle for me to fall pregnant naturally.

“I didn’t know if I should tell you I was pregnant because I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”

I know everyone is different. And maybe for your infertile friend, she may not even want to know you are pregnant. So, keep in mind that everyone is different. In the last few years, A LOT of my friends have gotten pregnant. At times, it was torture.  I have some horror stories about people who told me they were pregnant and how I responded.  However, for me, deep down in my heart, I never wanted someone to feel bad for sharing their special news with me.  This comment just makes me feel like  they were walking on egg shells around me and I never wanted the people in my life to feel that way. Usually, I was able to celebrate and embrace that special moment with my friend. Yet, immediately after I would need my own time to process the news, which usually consisted of me balling my eyes out like a baby. I learned to have grace for my unwanted feelings and to feel what I needed to feel-even if it meant grieving my own babies or the jealousy that fumed within me because she was pregnant and I was not.

“I totally know what you’re feeling. It took us 6 months to get pregnant.” 

I understand that for any woman trying to conceive each month that passes that you are not pregnant can be really hard, even if it is just a couple months. I, however, have experienced several months of not being pregnant. The thing is, 6 months is nothing. Some people wait 10 years before they finally become pregnant.

“I don’t know why you couldn’t just be open with us about when your IUI was.” 

When Ryan and I starting seeking fertility treatment, we started off with 2 IUI’s. Neither were successful for us, which is why our next step was IVF. After our first failed IUI attempt, I was absolutely beside myself. My heart grieved my unborn babies for days. I had so much hope and faith that it would work for us and instead it was entirely heartbreaking. Ryan and I made the decision to not tell our family and friends when our insemination date was because if we got pregnant, we wanted to be able to do something special to tell them we were pregnant, instead of a phone call.  Sadly, it didn’t work in our favor and instead we made phone calls that we were not pregnant (even though no one even knew we had already had the insemination).  Most people responded in love and empathy and even came over to love on us, as they knew we needed the support of our friends and family. However, we did not please everyone by choosing to keep our IUI date between us. We actually received some criticism for making that decision.  All I can say is this: whether you choose to fully expose every single step of your journey to parenthood or only keep it between you and your husband, it doesn’t matter. Both choices are completely right. In the midst of my grief, I found myself consoling this person and actually apologizing for keeping it a secret. Seriously, in the midst of my grief… Looking back, I find it completely unacceptable. We handled the steps in this journey the best that we could.  Things changed for us when we moved forward to Invitro. Talk about an open book-I shared everything and even posted pictures via Facebook on our retrieval and transfer days. Exposed. Again, our choice, and not for everyone.

The insensitive opinions of our parents, friends, and strangers can aid in making this journey so hard. I know you may mean well, but really be intentional about your words when speaking to the woman who so desperately wants to be a Mother. Have empathy for your friend, sister, or wife who is struggling to get pregnant. Sometimes she can’t be around your kids because it is just too hard. Sometimes going to baby showers or first birthday parties are too difficult to bare and truly might be a terrible idea. Sometimes spending Mother’s Day at home watching movies is better than being in public or at church because it is only a reminder that her womb is in fact empty. Be sensitive to conversations and to social settings.  Your infertile friend doesn’t always want to talk about your kids the whole time. The best thing you can do is be there. Listen when she needs to vent or be her shoulder to cry on.  Be encouraging and hopeful! Pray for them and their unborn children.   Try and learn what it means to walk through infertility so you can understand to the best of your ability how hard this journey must be for her.  Let love come out of you because love brings hope to people.


29 thoughts on “What NOT to say to the woman with an empty womb…

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart and ministering to so many others through your willingness to be transparent about your journey! Praying for God’s abundant blessings over you and your husband!!

    • Amber,
      I am so sorry for the late response. Somehow I missed all these comments!
      Thank you for your sweet message. blogging our journey and being able to express my honest emotions has been so therapeutic for me. As well, has allowed me to connect with many other women who are walking through the same struggle.s It is nice to know you are not alone. God is so good and I am so blessed by His abundance of blessings and love. Thank you for showering our hearts in love.

  2. Pingback: What NOT to say to the woman with an empty womb… | countrygirlinla

  3. I have PCOS and have not conceived in the nearly 12 years I have been married. It is hard on me. I thank you so much for sharing your journey! I will be praying for you and your family.
    The comments people left were so hurtful. I am sorry you ever had to read such horrible things!

    With love,

    • Hi Jackie,
      I apologize it has taken me so long to respond..
      I am sorry that you have walked such a hard journey as well. I am just going to say-PCOS sucks! I can imagine how hard this is for you. I will be praying for you and am sending so much love and hugs your way.
      Thank you for the love. The journey was hard and people certainly said some things that hurt me… but it made me stronger and taught me a lot in the process. However, no one should have to hear such things on this journey.
      Sending love and prayers xoxo

      • You are an amazing woman of God! Only He could give anyone the heart of love and kindness that you have. I keep you and your now family of 5 in my prayers. Maybe one day I will be blessed enough to meet you. Love and hugs and prayers to you and your lovely family ❤ xoxo

  4. Shared this on my Facebook! I absolutely know how this is because I’m going through this right now!! It is pure torture, especially when someone brings it up on my face how my mom was able to have 7 kids and my younger 17 year old sister is pregnant but I can’t even concieve one. It really hurts. I always feel like a failure to my husband. Especially when I’m late for my period but all the test are negative. At one time I was 2 in a half month late for my period and all test we negative. Doctor said I’m just stressing myself out so much that I cause my body to not menstruate 😦

    • Mary,
      I am so sorry I am just now responding to my comments. Ayayay
      Thank you for sharing your heart. I am sorry you have been in a similar situation too. It is so hard and sometimes unbelievable the things people say. It can be incredibly hurtful and doesn’t make the journey an easier. I am praying for you so much and just declaring peace and love over your heart. That God would shower you in hope and give you strength–especially when people say things without thinking.
      Let me know if you want to talk more- my periods were incredibly abnormal. I have PCOS which is why…but if and when I got a period it was the lightest of all spotting..it was so frustrating.
      Sending all my love and prayers your way!!!

    • I am so sorry for the delay Kiera.

      I am sorry you have been in similar situations… I feel like I have heard it all. I will be praying for you and that you will be reminded that you are strong and not alone in this walk and may your family and friends think more about what they say before they actually do. Sending lots of love your way,

  5. Oh you beautiful beautiful woman. Your heart comforts mine, and I know the pain of having the most unsupportive people around me, especially my in laws.

    Triplets. Just wow. 😀 I keep praying for twins for myself, but my husband jokes that we will have quintuplets someday.

    God is so very awesome and faithful.

    • Aw thank you so much Maeghan.

      I am sorry that you have experienced a lack of support. It is so hard. I will be praying for you!!! God is so faithful. Keep your eyes on Him. He is Hope and He will see you through this journey. I am here for you if you ever need to talk. Sending so much love your way!!

      ps. bahah My husband and I too prayed for twins-we are both twins and have always wanted two…God definitely showed us up. haha so you never know girl!! haha

  6. I’m so glad I found your blog! My husband and I also conceived our baby through IVF after a long struggle with infertility and loss. This post rings so true for me. So many of these things were said to me too. It’s amazing how insensitive people can be. Glad to be a new follower!

    The Mrs. & Co.

    • Aww thank you Ashley. So glad you found my blog too:) It has been an amazing journey and wonderful sharing our story. CONGRATS on your baby!!!
      It is true–sadly, I think so many things are expressed from others and they don’t always understand how difficult the journey can be. So happy to hear you conquered infertility!!! sending hugs!!!

    • Ashley,
      yeayyy Thank you!!! Congrats on your baby:) So thankful for other options, such as IVF.
      Walking through infertility is such a struggle and sadly so many things are said that are hurtful when struggling to conceive. It is such a journey. So glad you conquered infertility!! What a blessing!!! Thank you for sharing!!! xo

  7. Married the love of my life at nineteen. Yes, I know we were just babies. We have been trying for 17 years. In October 2011, I gave birth to a 21 week old precious, perfect, baby boy. The grief of that loss after 14 years of trying was inconceivable. We have gone the fertility route more than once. A little over a year ago, we completely stopped trying….completely and totally turned it over to the Lord. Did I still take pregnancy tests every month…yes…just because I still wanted to know…immediately…just in case. I was truly past numb every time it came back negative. Adoption was never placed on mine or my wonderful hubby’s heart…even though at times, we both begged for Him to place it there. We had family come in over the Christmas/New Years holiday. I took my monthly pregnancy test in private, with my amazing family, all under the same roof. After getting out of the shower….I checked it. I was pregnant! We are expecting a precious baby girl late August. I’m just over the time frame where we lost our son.
    I’m elated for you and your precious triplets! What a blessing! We will be praying for you!

    • Abigail-WOW!!! What a journey you have been on. I am so sorry for the heartache and loss you have faced over the years. My heart breaks with you. Your faith is so inspiring. God is good even when we don’t always understand. My heart rejoices over your pregnancy! CONGRATS!!!! on your baby girl!! Sounds like our babies will both come at the same time. We are hoping ours will make their debut late August as well. I hope you are having an amazing pregnancy!praying for you and a wonderful delivery!
      THANK YOU for sharing in the joy with us!!! and THANK YOU for your prayers!

  8. I’m so glad I found your blog. Thanks for sharing your journey. It is so nice to read about other couples with infertility. My husband and I have been trying for almost 5 years. We had our first IUI this Feb. I was so sad when we didn’t get pregnant. I’m currently saving money to try again. Not sure what we will do if the IUI doesn’t work. There is no way we can come up with the money for IVF. We are both 36. Our problem is my eggs aren’t the quality or numbers they should be for my age and my husband has low sperm count and low mobility.

    • Hillary,
      Thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with infertility, as well. Truly-it is such a hard journey and my heart goes out to you. For myself, I too, found support by connecting with other women (through blogs,support groups,etc) that understood my aching heart. This journey comes with many emotions and sometimes they are confusing and misunderstood.
      I am so sorry your IUI was unsuccessful. I remember how incredibly painful it was when our IUI’s failed. I grieved and grieved. We will be praying for you. I know it is overwhelming and there is so much to think about, but stand firm to hope. Know that you are not alone! I am sending so much love and prayers your way! If you ever want to talk or have any questions feel free to email me desfortin@gmail.com In the mean time, we are standing in hope with you and praying for your miracle family~!! all my love

  9. I saw your triplet gender reveal on FB & LOVED IT!! But it popped up in my feed today & somehow i saw that you have a blog! 🙂 🙂 I’ve read 3 posts so far, and they are so good & everything you say about infertility is so true!! I have had many of these same comments made to me & they are horrible! Extremely hurtful. I just wish people would think about what they say before they say it. For the one about “i know exactly how you feel, we’ve been trying for 6 months” – that kills me when people say that. 6 months isn’t infertility. It’s just a drop in the bucket! It takes many women one year, and that is totally normal!

    My husband and I have been trying for 4 years. 3 IUIs. The third was successful but i miscarried. Seems like God gave you the word Hope. He gave me the word Believe! And i am BELIEVING Him for a baby (or babies). 😉 I am truly happy for you & your husband!!

    • Melissa,
      THANK YOU so much!!! We couldn’t be happier and are so thankful for God and His precious blessings. I am so glad you found my blog. Sharing my story has been such a blessing to my heart. This journey is heart and sometimes I think others need to be aware of how difficult it can be. Let alone-it has been a joy for me to connect with so many other women struggling with infertility and share a special connection with!!!
      I couldn’t agree more with you–I am sorry you too have had your share of comments made. I couldn’t believe some of the things that have been said to me…hurtful!
      I will be praying for you and that God would cover your heart in His love and rest as you wait on His precious timing! And stand firm to the word He has given you, Believe!!! i am believing with you!!! Hope was my word He gave me. it became the anthem to my heart and I am so blessed by my hope babies. I will be praying so much for you beautiful!!! You are so strong and brave and God will see you through this!!!

  10. This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. My Husband and I have been trying for over 2 years and have completed 4 IUIs. We hope to someday soon have wonderful news to share as well. Your story gives me so much hope that it can happen and will happen one day (soon). Best wishes to you both.

    • thank you so much!!!
      I will be praying for you. I am sorry you have had to face so much struggle on your journey too. It is so hard. You are so courageous and this journey is not easy! Stand strong and have hope!! May your heart be surrounded by love and stir with hope! Sending you so much love and prayers xoxoxo

  11. Love your blog, your heart and your story. 🙂 this blog entry rings so close to home. We tried 10 years had our son then triplets, both via IVF. So happy for you!!

  12. Reblogged this on christina faith and commented:
    I have been following Desiree’s blog for a while now and this is the very first post I read from her. She is such an awesome woman of God and her transparency is admirable. I hope you enjoy this and check out her blog afterwards 🙂

  13. Desiree,

    I happened to stumble upon this site tonight, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. My husband and I have gone through five IUI treatments and after only one resulting in a pregnancy, it was ectopic.
    We decided to not try it anymore.

    After a change in jobs, my stress level dropped and we ended up pregnant twice on our own. Both of these resulted in ectopic pregnancies as well.
    Keep in mind this all happened within an 8 year time span.

    I went to a fertility expert in Houston last year and he cleaned my (only) tube out, however we haven’t gotten pregnant. This past week I had surgery to remove an ovarian cyst and endometriosis. The doctor confirmed my tube is blocked, and I could not get pregnant.

    The exhaustion of this all has played a toll.
    The comments and advise that I have received have never given me comfort, some are just down right insensitive.

    Reading your article has helped me not feel as bad as I did about what people say, and what I’ve though in response to their advise.
    I thought that maybe I was being too sensitive. But I don’t think I am. In a way I feel a little stronger knowing it’s ok to feel like I do.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Many blessings to you and your beautiful family.


    • Girl!! YOU ARE BRAVE!! and so STRONG!!! have grace for yourself and know that you are not alone in your journey! I am so sorry for what you have endured and continue to face but I am sending so much hope and love your way!! God has a plan and I am praying most of all right now your heart would be comforted and thatyou would know how much you are loved!!

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