Thursday, July 19, 2018

Insensitive Sister

I have a new nomination for most insensitive social media post. It used to be one of my best friends from high school announcing her pregnancy with "Never Give Up". But now it is my sister. She posted a picture of her daughter (my niece) saying, "This is my daughter... Wish you were all SO lucky!"

I cannot even make this stuff up.

She wishes we all were so lucky??
Well, we wish so too. At least there's one thing we can agree on.

This sister is not known for her sensitivity. Nope. Not at all. But she was the one I was closest to while growing up. We had a really special relationship. And I believe we will always love each other. But it is not my fault, nor is it my responsibility to deal with, the fact that she is insensitive and, quite frankly, MEAN.

The years that I was trying to conceive were the hardest of my life. I don't want to tempt fate, but it is difficult for me to imagine anything harder than not becoming a mother when it was my lifelong dream to be one. Conception, adoption, I really didn't care about the method or process. I just wanted to raise children. But nothing worked out for me and my husband.

And whether or not it was a healthy practice, I wrote down all of the terribly insensitive things people said to me throughout the years. In one way, it was a way to show myself that I wasn't crazy. That not only was I going through something traumatic but I also had absolutely no support.

Now, for the first time in over three years, I am going to revisit those comments. I saved them in an electronic document and threw that document into a folder that I haven't opened since June 2015. I do not want to overwhelm you or me so I will not copy everything that was said to me. But in light of my sister's most recent "Wish you were all so lucky" post, here is is what she told me during the darkest years of my life:

  • "You waited too long."
  • "Your eggs are too old."
  • "If you weren't so uptight, you'd be pregnant by now."
  • "Just stop trying. Everyone I know who is trying doesn't get pregnant."
  • "Are you sure you want kids?"
  • "You won't understand until you have kids."
  • "I don't think you could handle having children."
  • (And when I confided in her that I was trying IVF) "First world problems." (What does that even mean?? Wait. Don't answer that. Don't even spend your energy thinking about that.)

Look, I'm not going to begin to understand her psychology or what her problems are. I can read all of those comments now and know that they don't come from a healthy person. But when I was in the thick of it, when I was in the middle of trauma and devastation and facing my worst nightmare, every single thing anyone said to me stung. Every single thing a loved one said to me cut me even worse.

Pay no attention to what my sister said to me. She obviously has her own problems. I love my niece very much. And I am also very sad that I didn't get to raise my own children. 

But I share with you what my insensitive sister said to me so that, no matter what hurtful things a loved one has said to you, you know that are not alone.

I stand with you. I stand beside you as your friend. I stand behind you as a support. And I stand in front of you to guide the way, showing you that life is worth living again.


  1. dear Phoenix,
    your today's post is so powerful. For the ones in the darkest years of infertility it is priceless to know that they are not alone.

    My list of the cruelest comments:
    - Mother nature knows best. (comment coming from a dear coworker of mine, mother of two. What does this comment actually mean??).
    - You make drama out of your childless life. I know what I am talking about, I also had thought I wouldn't be able to have children. (=when she was saying this, she had already had 2kids, now she has 3. Btw, she divorced infertile first husband).
    - You wouldn't know since you don't have children.
    - You don't understand since you don't have children.
    - Only a parent can truely understand...

    I could actually make the list much longer. But I guess my list of "Best of" will do.

    sending you lots of love from sLOVEnia,


    1. Mother nature knows best?? You make drama out of your childless life??? HOW AWFUL. I am sorry people can be so insensitive and stupid.

      I am happy for both of us that we now have less time and energy for hateful people and happy new homes to be excited about. Lots of love to you! <3 <3 <3

  2. I love this post. Not for the insensitivity of your sister, who doesn't seem to have learned anything from your experience. She clearly has no idea what you've been through emotionally, and a lack of willingness or ability to put herself in your shoes for even a moment. I'm sorry, and I send hugs!

    But back to why I love this post. The last part of your post is wonderful, because it shows healing, compassion, and love. It lets others know that they too will heal and survive. And most importantly, as you said, that they are not alone.

    1. You are exactly right: my sister has no idea what I've been through emotionally. She hasn't even tried to understand.

      Yes! Healing is possible. Even if someone reading this right now doesn't think healing is possible, I understand because I didn't think it was. And it wasn't. Until it was. Eventually healing came one moment at a time.

      None of us are alone. <3

  3. Dear Phoenix, I wish relatives and friends of infertile people were able to develop more compassion! The most painful remark I had until now came from somebody who told me: "If you wait any longer to have kids, you will be an old mother!". I am grateful to be able to connect with people who have the same sensitivity as me :) <3

    1. Seriously!! What is so hard to understand about the fact that we have been through devastating losses? And I hear you. My own mother told me I was going to have a geriatric pregnancy. Hahaha joke's on you mom, I didn't even have a pregnancy at all! (insert eye roll)

      It is such a blessing to be able to connect with women around the world knowing that we all share the same sensitivities. <3

  4. These never cease to amaze me. No matter what stage I'm at, the insensitive comments continue to come.

    I think my biggest one was from my mother-in-law who went through infertility, pregnancy and infant loss - of 8 pregnancies, she has 3 living children. Surprisingly, I assumed she might understand how painful infertility is...

    - About two years ago she posted on my Facebook page an article about how dogs need to grow up with kids and her caption was "I hope your dogs don't die waiting to grow up with kids...for that matter, I hope I don't die waiting to be a grandma...(times ticking!)"
    - Just last summer she asked me where we were at...we're pretty quiet about our struggle even with our parents. When I explained we weren't sure what we were going to do she said to me "Well, NOTHING would stop me from becoming a mother. Anything less means you don't truly want it."

    Things that don't kill us, make us stronger? Maybe that applies here?? Ugh, awful people.

    1. What?? Your mother-in-law is incredible. And that's a nice way of putting it... I am so sorry for her dumb, hurtful comments. <3

      Yes, we all have an amazing strength that we never asked for... <3

  5. Oh, ouch. She surely is insensitive, and I love how you reframe it as these comments can't possibly come from a healthy person, which allows you to not let them poison you quite so deeply. But they are poison barbs, for sure. First world problems? That one makes me furious. As does the "you couldn't handle children." Ugh. It's amazing what people feel that they can say to you at this vulnerable, painful time where nothing is going right and you slowly realize nothing ever will, in this arena. I never had one person say such a lot of things, but a lot of people said some real zingers. I love that you have put this out there so that people don't feel alone, or crazy, as they deal with people who clearly lack empathy. For me, I hate the whole "we are so blessed" and "I'm so grateful you CHOSE me to be your momma" on kids' birthdays. The idea that babies choose who they go to to parent is just so devastating for those who never get "chosen" or who are constantly admonished for not having stayed in the game long enough to get "chosen." Blechhhh. Thank you for being a voice for those who feel these feels too! And again, I'm sorry your sister is so insensitive.

    1. I just felt so alone when it was happening to me. And every time my sister said something to me, I could barely believe it. Sometimes I thought I was going crazy... But no, what she said was her choice to say. Those things she said weren't helpful and they were beyond hurtful; they were cruel. Now that I am in a better place (emotionally, physically, spiritually, existentially), I cannot even give her comments any worth. They are just so terrible. But her social media post brought it all to the surface again and I thought, you know what, I bet I'm not the only one who has been on the receiving end of such insensitive comments. Now that I'm feeling better about my life I was in a decent enough place to write about what she said. Really, I am writing to my past self, trying to encourage her to keep living until she found meaning again.

  6. Your sister and my sister should get together to trade barbs. Because what I’ve also found from people who make comments like this is they are the fastest to be vocally hurt or offended when someone gives them a taste of their own medicine.
    Make list includes:
    - Maybe it’s not God’s plan?
    - are you sure it’s not a sign?
    - you need to get over this whole infertile thing.
    - I know you think it’s hard, but I’m pregnant and going to be a mother. That’s harder.

    Of course, being on the other side the comments haven’t stopped.
    - Sad that I didn’t get a natural healthy pregnancy
    - are you sure those two are your’s?
    - you know, I heard IVF damages children
    - you’re not a real woman unless you can get pregnant without help.

    I agree with you that your sister isn’t well. Mine is naracissitic and needs to be the center of attention and affection. It’s not a good life and it’s hard to be around. You’re not alone.

    1. I'm sorry about your sister. I agree, I think our sisters should get together and hang out.

      People say the dumbest things. And some people say the rudest things! I'm thankful I'm not in the place where a hurtful comment knocks me down for days or even weeks, but I was in that place for a very long time. It just sucks. What is so hard about thinking about what you're saying and who you are saying it to?? I will never understand...

  7. Ouch. Just... ouch. I am so sorry you've had to deal with these awful comments from the people closest to you. You deserve better. We all do!

  8. I am very happy to share that I have written a follow-up post on this topic.<3