A few days ago on Twitter, I had a conversation with several people about how the phrase Don’t Give Up, though said with the best of intentions, can ultimately prove hurtful to many people in the infertility community. I tried to engage Resolve on Twitter but wasn’t having much luck until someone else chimed in. Then the person behind @resolveorg asked me to email them to explain more.
So I did.
Dear Ms. Beck,
This is Lauren aka @onfecundthought on Twitter. Thank you for asking me to email you to expand on my thoughts on the phrase “Don’t give up”– there is only so much that can be relayed in 140 characters ;)
I and many of my friends in the infertility community often discuss how the phrase “Don’t Give Up” is offensive to many of us.
Because it sends a very direct message to those who are childless despite their many infertility treatments that they didn’t try hard enough. This implication is both untrue and unfair. It is hurtful.
What about my friend whose endometriosis cost her her uterus and for whom surrogacy with her last two embryos didn’t work?
What about my friend whose multiple rounds of IVF, including donor egg IVF, didn’t work?
Or my friend who has azoospermia but whose wife isn’t comfortable with using donor sperm or pursuing adoption?
What about my friend whose two adoptions failed?
These are four examples of people I know for whom the phrase “Don’t give up” is a particularly big slap around the face. Whatever their reasons for learning to live childfree / exploring childfree living, I’m sure you’ll agree that they tried to build their families in a number of creative and expensive ways.
For them, the phrase “don’t give up” diminishes their efforts. Their lost years. Their lost income. Their lost dreams.
For me — now parenting after infertility — and others like me, “Don’t Give Up” is nothing more than a platitude. Platitudes are irritating and unhelpful. Platitudes grouped together form lists of X Number of Things Never to Say to Your Infertile Friend.
Also, from an inclusive perspective, it’s worth pointing out that “Don’t Give Up” phrase is very Christian-centric (it comes from the Bible — see Galatians 6:9) and therefore excludes people of a different or no faith.Whatever one’s personal faith is: Isn’t Resolve supposed to be more neutral?
I’m not berating anyone for having used this phrase in the past. It is, after all, meant to be a morale booster! But I know I’m not alone when I say I’d like to see Resolve encourage people to say something different. You have the power and the influence, why not wield it?
I know that childfree living is a terrifying prospect for anyone embarking on ART. It’s the biggest fear, isn’t it? What if this never works? But the reality is, as even your website says, some people must eventually make the incredibly difficult decision to stop their pursuit of parenthood. My heart goes out to the childfree-after-infertility group. We must not forget about these people — especially when we are trying to encourage others at the beginning of their journeys.
Why not poll people on Twitter to see why people think? I’m sure this wonderful community could find an inclusive phrase of encouragement that speaks to everyone, no matter stage of family building they’re at. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.
Don’t you agree?
Thanks for reading!
Lauren aka @OnFecundThought
Friends, what do you think? Can you think of a better phrase / hashtag that we could use instead?