Sunday, July 13, 2008

Help Me List What Not To Say (To Be Distributed to My RE’s Staff)

Have I mentioned how much I love my RE’s office? On Friday, two days after my over-the-top reaction to not getting a call-back from New Nurse, I received a call from the office manager (who oversees all staff). She’s the same woman that I worked with to revamp the shared-risk contract, and I really like her. She told me that my RE had told her about the problem, and she wanted to check in and see if I was okay.

At this point, I’m of two minds about the issue. On the one hand, I feel vindicated in my vehement reaction. I have now heard apologies from Favorite Nurse (the head nurse), my RE, and the office manager. Clearly, I wasn’t totally nuts to freak out over a nurse’s failure to return my call (a call seeking instructions on my cycle). All agreed that this was a huge trust issue, and I was right to be upset.

On the other hand, poor New Nurse has had plenty of grief now for this. (And she really is nice, though occasionally misguided.) I know that Favorite Nurse talked to her about it, and the RE probably talked to her, this after I talked to her about it. And I was kind of … well … forceful (I didn’t yell or anything, but I did insist that it was unacceptable not to return a call for instructions, even if she had no new information). So now I feel kind of bad. I mentioned this to the office manager––told her that I probably scared New Nurse myself, and that I didn’t want to get her in trouble. I was assured that she was not in trouble, but that there was another patient this week that had had the same problem, and that New Nurse was very good and they wanted to make sure everything worked out for her.

At this point, due in large part to my comfort with the office manger, I decided to tell her what New Nurse had said to me the first time I met her. I made sure she understood that I wasn’t lodging a complaint, but I wanted her to know what had happened in case anyone else had a problem with this.

For those of you just joining us, New Nurse joined my RE’s office in May (coming straight from being a maternity nurse). The first time I met her was my first day starting an FET cycle after a failed IVF cycle, and I was feeling really low. In an effort to comfort me, while she was drawing my blood, she said, “Did you ever think that maybe this is just God’s way of giving you a break? Kids are a lot of work, you know, and maybe He just thinks you need some rest.”

If I hadn’t been so fucking depressed that day, I would have read her the riot act. Rest from what? Rest from not having kids? Not only was it offensive as hell, it made no sense! Not believing in God, this remark actually didn’t do too much damage. But I know that a lot of infertile women worry that it might be God’s will, that maybe they are being punished. Even being reminded of that thought––or hearing someone else voice it out loud––can be very hurtful. Frankly, I was appalled. But I didn’t want to come out of my shell and set her straight that day. I just didn’t have the energy.

So I told the office manager about this. She was shocked. Of course, her first comment (and I could not agree more) was that it was inappropriate to bring God up in any kind of professional medical setting. But she also agreed with my adamant position: never suggest to an infertile woman that God has anything to do with it!

This leads me to the point of my post today. I told the office manager that, a few months ago, I had come across an incredible post that listed all of the things not to say to an infertile couple, and that if I could find it, I would send it to her. She seemed really excited about this, and said she would make such a list required reading for her entire staff.

I have tried in vain to find the blog, but I didn’t save it and I don’t know where it is. I’ve found a lot of articles (and blogs quoting articles) that list such things, but each one has different items on the list. While I might use those to compile a master list, I thought it would be better if we made our own list.

Comments, please? I want to include stuff that you would tell your friends and family, but I’m also looking for stuff specific to the medical profession. This is our chance to EDUCATE those fertile assholes, and maybe save another poor woman from sitting there with a needle in her arm hearing how she’s lost three years of her life because God is simply taking pity on her.

14 comments:

Mrs.X said...

It is totally shocking (and just a tad depressing) that you have to actually educate your OWN RE'S STAFF on what not to say to an infertile couple. I would have hoped that sensititivity 101 would have been required before they even saw patients.

Tertia at So Close has an excellent post about it, which I think she has bookmarked on her site. Here is a link from resolve that might also help:
http://www.resolve.org/site/PageServer?pagename=lrn_ffaf_ie
Here's one from an actual RE:
http://www.dreamababy.com/do-not-say.htm

Good luck!

Carrie said...

I'm glad that they seem to understand that they are lacking in certain aspects of emotional care, but it is sad that you have to explain this to an RE's staff.

http://www.resolve.org/site/PageServer?pagename=lrn_ffaf_ie

http://www.resolve.org/site/PageServer?pagename=lrn_ffaf_moi

Also, my counselor explained it in a way I had never heard and think fertiles may be able to understand a bit more. She said it's like buying a house. (I know, strange, but keep reading: http://welayinrepose.livejournal.com.)

kate said...

Hmm. Aside from all that awesome advice on Resolve, I would say one thing for me stands out above all others:

NEVER EVER EVER think that you have some sort of special insight into getting pregnant, unless you are the RE. PERIOD. Even if you were infertile for 10 years and you were finally able to get knocked up by howling at the moon during the 8th yearly lunar phase (or whatever), please don't presume that your path is like ANYONE else's, or that whatever worked for you will work for me. And for the love of Pete, if it WAS exceptionally easy for you, then just SHUT THE HELL UP altogether.


Um, yeah. And maybe some advice about learning to DUCK QUICKLY if you do forget any of those things would be good, since I hear we IFers have a wicked right hook. And we're known for the whole 'hormonally imbalanced' thing (medically induced or not). We put menopausal women to shame with our antics.

Io said...

Don't talk about how your own kid was the accidental result of your slutty drunken ways one Christmas. I don't want to hear about your whoops, bitch, when I have just spent five grand for you to cut my husband's ball open.

Um, is that too specific?

Meghan said...

•“Everything is going to be okay.”
• “You’ll get pregnant again.”
• “You can always adopt.”
• “My friend adopted and got pregnant right away.”
• “This is probably for the best; something was probably really wrong with this baby.”
•“This happens to a lot of women and they are okay.”
• “You’ll get over it.”
• “I’ve had it with my kids! You can have one of mine.”
• “You’ll be a parent by this time next year. I just know it!”
• “I had a friend, sister, etc. who had the same thing (or worse) happen.” (Immediately after a loss, people do not want to hear other stories.)
• “You shouldn’t be so unhappy. You have a lot to be thankful for.”
• “I wish I had your freedom—the freedom you have without children in your life.”
• “You should be over this by now and just move on.”
• “Just relax.”
• “Go on vacation and you’ll get pregnant.”
• Teasing by saying “You just don’t seem to know how to do it right.”
• “Why don’t you just get a pet?”
•"When are you two going to have baby?"
• "It's high time you two had a baby."
• “Jane has just given birth to a beautiful child."
•Do not offer unsolicited advice, cheap comfort, glib reassurance, or fact of any one who had a worse case. All these hurt.

Ms Heathen said...

You would think that anyone working at an infertility clinic would have had some training in how to deal with those struggling to conceive....

The Resolve pages are very good - I've been quite tempted to print them out for the benefit of some of my friends/family - and I also thought that Meghan's list was pretty comprehensive.

One of the worst bits of assvice I've received was from a trainee acupuncturist, who asked me whether I was sure that I wanted children, and who went on to point out that, "they can be a lot of work."

Malloryn said...

It still shocks me to hear how insensitive people can be. I'm glad that your RE office is talking your concerns seriously. New Nurse needs to understand that she's dealing with a different demographic than at her former place of employment. She needs to learn how to deal with IF patients properly.

Besides the link on Resolve already mentioned above, I like this article by Amy Hubbard on what to say to a childless couple:

http://bp1.blogger.com/_IymDC6TZgHA/Rj8nwHpQUAI/AAAAAAAAAEs/QulUWZgWPvY/s1600-h/5-6-2007+G12.jpg

Ms. J said...

I am so glad you spoke up, and so glad the people you spoke with took it seriously.

I always feel conflicted when someone says something insensitive or inappropriate, but they are otherwise okay people -- you want to b*tch them out, but on the other hand . . . .

The thing I keep getting the most lately? "Do you know anything about her parents?" I want to scream "YES, HER MOM HAS RED HAIR AND HER DAD IS A CHIROPRACTOR!!!" (meaning US). Sheesh, I know they mean "birth or biological parents," but kee-rist WHY must they ask this, and if they hafta, can't they get the damn language right?!

Lisa said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog!

I am horrified that a nurse said this to you! Good for you for saying something and going the next step of sending them a list of what's not appropriate!!

Shinejil said...

Though it's hard to follow up on any of these very thorough suggestions (go Meghan!), I'd say anything like, "Do you have unresolved issues about motherhood/parenting/your sexuality?" You know, the body-mind pop psychology that implies that you have some deep mental inner blockage that prevents conception.

Thank you for your excellent advice about bloat and comfort food! It was just what I needed to hear.

Ms. J said...

The most annoying thing said to me in a doctor's office (granted, my OB, not RE's) was by one of the nurses, after learning I had 3 m/c's . . . "My sister had 4 miscarriages, but then she went on to have one boy."

GREAT, b*tch! So are you telling me that I should look forward to having one more DIE inside me before I get a LOVE one?! WTF?!?!?

Barb said...

I've had to do this same thing my RE's office. So sad and frustrating. I hope things go well for you from here on out.

La La said...

I would have FREAKED if someone would have said something like that to me during a cycle. That is just NOT appropriate to say to someone in a freaking FERTILITY CLINIC!!! Geez, you'd think they would have to have some sort of sense of the delicate state of IFers to even GET a job in a place like that to begin with. Sheesh.

Rebeccah said...

Maybe add something specifically for older patients (i.e., over 40). It is not helpful to be at your RE's office and have the phlebotomist (who is 42-ish) griping about her grandkids ... And my OB actually told me that people often get pregnant with triplets on an off-cycle after having been through unsuccessful IVFs. (No, sweetheart, they don't!!!)