news item: “12 Things You Should Never Ask a Woman”

This news item brought to you once again by “Things SRB Sees on Twitter, Somehow!” Meaning, I don’t follow Huffington Post*, but someone retweeted it. I clicked on it. I read it. I laughed. I nodded. And now, I report!

When I first found the ALI community on the, I found a lot of “Top Ten Things to NEVER Say to Someone Struggling with IF!” Some were funny, and some were…harsh. Depends on the author, depends on the reader. And while I can totally relate to some of the more strongly worded lists, I have always gotten a kick out of IF humour. It is important to laugh, you know, so that you don’t cry. You dig?

I haven’t read a list like that in a while. Reading this list brought up those old memories, and served as a reminder of how far I’ve come (and how far I have to go) about the degree to which some of these questions bother me. Right now, I am in the extremely fortunate position to be pissy when someone says to “Congratulations! Was it planned?” Um, gross.

In her list/article, Erica Berman describes the “12 Things You Should Never Ask a Woman” and why. Here are some of personal “favourites” that I have encountered over the years:

3. Never tell a woman that she miscarried because it wasn’t meant to be.

4. Never tell a woman who has miscarried not to worry, she’ll get pregnant again. Instead, try I’m sorry for your loss, or I’m sorry, please let me know what I can do to help.

5. Never tell a woman who has miscarried that next time she’ll just have to: drink less coffee, worry less, exercise less, eat better, etc. etc. Miscarriages are rarely caused by controllable factors, and making her feel like it’s her fault is a disgraceful thing to do.

Yeah. I think these go without saying. See also: “AT LEAST YOU CAN GET PREGNANT!!!” or “It wasn’t a real baby anyway” or “There was probably something wrong with it”

7. Never ask a woman with one child when she plans to have another child. Same as above. None of your business. Just because she has a child does not mean she is not struggling to get pregnant again. Secondary infertility is extremely common and just as devastating. This also means that it is not helpful to tell someone facing secondary infertility that she should be grateful that she already has a child or children. Most people have an idea in their head of what they want their family to look like, and if they are not able to create this family, they experience significant distress, even if they already have a child or children.

There is nothing in this statement that I do not agree with 100%. I wrote about this myself recently.

And finally:

10. Never assume what a woman dealing with miscarriage or infertility wants or needs. Come out and ask her if she wants to talk about it. Avoiding the issue may make some women feel worse while others may not feel like discussing it. Just ask!

Yes. Just ask. And keep asking. And might I add, never assume that you know what another IFer is feeling or needs. You can understand, but you can never assume you know. Just ask. And keep asking.

So, I just blew half the list for you, but I am curious to know what you think.

This list has a focus on fertility/infertility/miscarriage. Did Berman miss any? Did she miss the mark?

What is your experience with one or more of these statements? How did you handle it?

What about non-IF issues? What should you NEVER ask a woman?

*I am not a regular reader of the site, nor do I know much about the author and how she covers infertility issues. This is quite likely my first exposure to her, but I will be poking around the archives to get a better sense of the type of coverage she produces. Call it a mix of personal and professional interest.

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