Let’s have a quick chat over a hot drink, shall we..? People say all kinds of things and most are not meant to be harmful. I’ve been having and seeing some conversations play out recently that made me think, it’s about that time for another installment of “the things you shouldn’t say to angel parents”. Check out my list below and let me know what you think in the comments.
Your little one is in a better place
I know, I know, this comment isn’t meant to offend and it’s supposed to actually offer some sense of peace. For many angel parents though, it usually doesn’t. For us, the best place for our children to be is with us. These kind of statements can feel offensive and make you feel like there’s something wrong with your home or your parenting. Yes, this is an irrational thought and it’s a huge leap to make but honestly, we’re already dealing with our own feelings of incompetence and statements like these only reinforce those negative thoughts. Please stop doing this to people. Take cues from the angel parent as to what may feel comforting FOR THEM rather than just offering what bring you comfort. Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about them.
You’re young, you’ll have more children
So, this too is meant to be helpful but guess what, it’s not. First, age does not always equal fertility. You never know what challenges a person had getting pregnant. You also don’t know whether the pregnancy they lost resulted in life altering changes to their reproductive system that may make having more children difficult or impossible. Second, you don’t always know how old or young someone is just by looking at them. Furthermore, some people are pre-menopausal earlier than others which can make people in their late 30’s unable to conceive. For others, they may be well into their 40’s and popping out babies. Again, let the angel parent lead because this isn’t about you, it’s about them. Allow people to teach you what comforts them rather than assuming you have all the answers for every situation.
Look at Janet Jackson or Clooney’s wife
These people have hella amounts of money for repeated tries and specialists and surrogates, etc. Also, related to the last item, you never know what someone’s individual circumstances are like. Maybe Janet was still super fertile at 50. Maybe Clooney’s wife had other circumstances too. You can’t compare everyone to people older than them and assume they should be just fine. It doesn’t acknowledge that folx are different in so many ways (financially, access to services, reproductive health, minority stress, etc.). These comments don’t bring solace or hope. They only amplify what those people have that angel parents may not.
Tyra got pregnant on her 7th round of IVF
So I started watching this season of ANTM. During one of the episodes Tyra had the contestants doing a Bohemian maternity shoot. Needless to say, some of the girls were triggered. One was told she may not be able to have children and another had a miscarriage as a result of intimate partner violence (IPV). Tyra went on to talk about her experience with doing multiple rounds of IVF and how she finally conceived her son on the 7th try. She encouraged one of the contestants not to accept what doctors say and basically to never give up. Tyra’s message is great and I think it’s wonderful that she was finally able to conceive the child she has been wanting. Having said that, everybody doesn’t have Tyra money. IVF is expensive af and only certain people quality for shared-risk or money-back guarantee programs. Check w/ your local fertility clinic to see what their rules are but usually there are age requirements (e.g. you can’t be over 38 or so), and reproductive health requirements, not to mention you can be dropped from a program if concerns arise during treatment like low ovarian response. So if you have to pay out of pocket per try, you’re talking five figures and the average person doesn’t have that kind of money. So yippee for Tyra but Tonya might not have the same privileges.
She’s a vision of womanhood
We’ve all had those moments prior to and after our little ones when we see a pregnant person who just seems to be glowing. Others refer to the person as a “perfect vision of womanhood” or something like that and it grinds your gears. Maybe you didn’t get to take any maternity photos with your little one. Maybe you won’t get to take any again and all you have is that snapshot of a baby no longer here. Does that mean you’re less than a woman? No, it doesn’t but this statement implies that womanhood is synonymous with pregnancy and that’s not true. Think about how you may be making your angel parent friends & loved one’s feel by inadvertently demoting their potential status as a woman by making this statement.
You can always just adopt
In case you didn’t know, adoption is super expensive too! It actually can cost more money than IVF. I’m speaking here about private adoption, not foster parenting with the intention of adoption. My point is that it isn’t as simple as it sounds and it isn’t accessible to everyone. Even along the foster parent-to-adoption path, you have to consider that folx have a much larger level of uncertainty related to being able to keep the child. That coupled with age variations, court visits, visits with bio family, challenges in coparenting, etc. make this particular path less desirable for a lot of folx. That level of uncertainty is only compounded by the fact that you’ve already suffered a loss and the thought of another one is almost unbearable.
Why don’t you try egg donation
Yet another expensive-ass choice that isn’t accessible to everyone. I think I’ve exhausted the financial concerns in the areas above so I won’t revisit that. I’ll focus here on something that many people feel guilty stating but can be a large part of making this option to parenthood, less appealing; Biological connection. Many people who want to conceive, not just parent, have an intense investment in having a biological connection with the child. I guess I more so mean genetic connection. Maybe it’s vanity and you can judge all you want around that but I’m just stating facts. People sometimes have a strong desire to see a little person in whom they can also see themselves (or their family members). Using egg donation can make some people feel like a surrogate to their own child which is an interesting place to be. Making the choice to go this route is not an easy one and you have to be aware that the angel parent is already dealing with the loss of their little one and now this may be perceived as another loss to an extent.
In all interactions w/ angel parents, just remember to be gentle with us. We know you mean well but sometimes your comments can be “not so helpful”. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong, it just means they’re not necessarily what we need at the time. Take time to think about what you say before you say it and take time to ask people how they’re feeling, what they want and what would be helpful for them. This goes for angel parents trying to support other angel parents too. It’s easy for us to try and help someone in pain find a solution to ending that pain BUT that isn’t really your journey. You have your own positions and beliefs and ideas and paths. That’s beautiful and it’s important to allow others to have theirs too. <3 <3 <3