By Michelle Valiukenas
In the eleven or so months since losing my daughter Colette, I have begun to come up with a list of words and phrases we should just eliminate from our lexicon. Today, I am focusing on the word just. In the last few years, after months and months of trying, four rounds of IVF, two pregnancies, one miscarriage, one three week hospital admission, one c section, and then losing Colette, there are so many situations where just is used as the instruction. I am detailing out some of these examples.
Just relax. These pearls of wisdom are given anytime that you may talk about the difficulty of getting pregnant. Oh, sure, like just relax has ever worked for any situation. Most heterosexual men would say that telling their girlfriend or wife to relax or calm down has done quite the opposite, so why do we spout these useless words.
Just take a vacation. I counted and after our honeymoon a little more than two and half years ago, my husband Mark and I have taken nine vacations together. Trust me, if taking a vacation worked even a quarter of the time, we would have easily gotten pregnant and Expedia or Orbitz or some other travel company would have cornered the market on couples trying to conceive. Yes, I know that you have one story to tell me about the couple who tried for years and nothing and then took a vacation and came back pregnant, but this does not mean that this will work universally.
Just stop thinking about it. Ha! These words of wisdom often come from the same people who ask when you are having kids. Speaking from experience, this is not helpful at all because the moment you plan to start trying for kids, it is pretty much all you can think about. Also, typically when you are trying, a lot of your friends are also having kids and so you have a lot of Facebook posts with baby pictures and awkward events like baby showers where you get all the questions and pressure.
Just eat this or take this supplement or use this essential oil and so on and so on. All of these different things are usually well intentioned and yes, I am sure that some of these things worked for you or others you know. But, if there was one magic cure for getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or having a healthy pregnancy, then one in eight couples would not be dealing with fertility issues. Yes, sure, there are many things that can help and that are worth a try, but anyone who has struggled with getting pregnant knows every little secret and then some and has probably tried most, if not all, of them. Stop sharing all of these miracle cures as if they are the only thing standing between the person and a healthy pregnancy is some simple move.
Just pray. You name it, I have probably used it in prayer. St. Gerard is the patron saint of pregnant women, yup, I carried a charm of his for years. If prayer was enough, I would have been pregnant a long time ago. Then, when it came to Colette, if prayer had translated into health for her, she would be the healthiest child in the world because trust me, the amount of prayers that were going up for Colette was overwhelming. Yes, prayer is helpful, but it alone is not going to result in good news every time.
This just happens. These are some of the most terrible words that people can say when talking about failed pregnancy cycles, miscarriage, and loss. Yes, I know that one in four pregnancies results in loss, but just merely accepting this as a fact of life is largely the reason why this statistic will not improve. Plus, saying that minimizes the loss and make it seem like the loss of a child and the loss of what could be is just inevitable.
Just stop worrying. When I was admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia, during the first ultrasound of Colette, they could not find the heartbeat. During this, my blood pressure kept rising and the nurse told me that I had to stop worrying. Oh, okay, sure, not a problem, you cannot find the heartbeat of my unborn child and yes, I will just stop worrying. Instructing people to stop worrying is about as effective as telling your boss, just give me a raise and not following it up with anything else.
At the end of the day, we know that when you give advice, you have good intentions, but sometimes your good advice falls short and becomes hurtful. Anytime you start saying something with the word just, think twice as to whether you really need to say what you are about to say.