Last year I went to lunch with some old girlfriends I hadn't seen in years. Catching up, I asked one about her sister. Turns out that sister was finally pregnant due to a successful round of IVF. Something in my friend's tone hinted at her annoyance with her sister so I asked her if they were getting along. The friend said "my sister is so negative she is hard to be around. I thought she would finally be excited about getting pregnant but she is being so wierd. She tried to keep the whole IVF thing secret, then she didn't even tell us she was pregnant until she was over four months along, she hasn't bought a single thing for the baby yet even though she is due in six weeks and she refused to even think of baby names." This stuck me as completely normal, and probably exactly how I would act in the situation and I said so. My friend went on to say that her sister even had extra frozen embryos leftover from this IVF that she will be able to use for the next round, but when the friend had said something about how great that was, her sister snapped back at her and said "There are only a few embryos and they are the worst ones, so don't get your hopes up." My friends response to her sister was a lecture on how stress affects every aspect of our systems and it is very likely that stress was largely affecting her ability to get pregnant. (Bet that went over well, I thought to myself while stifling an eye-roll). Everyone at lunch that day got to hear the entire replay of this fabulous lecture on stress and negativity as the underlying cause of infertility. I tried to block out the lecture, as it was only making me angry, and tried instead to focus on how to respond kindly, yet decisively to all the bull crap she was shoveling. This crazy lecture was coming from a friend who had suffered at least two miscarriages before having her first baby. I genuinely wanted to know if she thought her own negativity had caused her to lose two babies, but I decided not to stoop so low.
At the end of her diatribe I said, "You know, it is really hurtful when people tell me to relax and then I will get pregnant because it is a complete dismissal that I have an underlying medical problem. Most people would never tell a diabetic to relax and then they will start producing their own insulin. You are correct that stress does have strong effects on our bodies, and certainly isn't healthy, but telling someone going through infertility to 'not be so stressed' out is like telling Kermit the Frog to not be so green. I would imagine that rape and incest are about the worst, most stressful things that can happen to a woman, and yet they sometimes result in pregnancies. Women in war torn countries still continue to have babies, and I would also imagine that being poor is very stressful, and yet women on wellfare continue to have babies. I can't speak for your sister, but for me, it really hurts when someone gives me advice about controlling my stress, because what I hear is 'it is your fault that you haven't gotten pregnant'."
My lecture kicked the crap out of her lecture, and I did remain calm and composed throughout, so I felt great. I was also happy to speak up for a fellow infertile, because man, if anyone in my own family were that insensitive I would have crumbled and died by now. You know, from all the stress.