How to offer words of comfort

I have been uplifted by everyone’s support and kind comments after my last post on my failed IUI – not just here but on my other blog. You all certainly knew just the right thing to say to me to make me feel better. It is wonderful to know that there is a place where you are understood and your feelings are validated. I think this is so important as Dr Robert Leahy points out in a recent article in the Huffington Post

 The most important thing in talking to someone who is upset is to communicate that 1) you understand they are upset, 2) you care about how they feel, and 3) you respect their right to have their feelings.

Leahy then goes on to break down into categories what not to say to someone who is upset.

  1. Minimizing. This is the style where you treat your partner’s concerns as trivial: “It’s nothing. Why are you making a big deal out of it?” You are trying to tell them that their feelings are not related to anything real or important. So, the message they get is, “My feelings don’t matter to you.”
  2. Rationalizing. You treat your partner’s concerns as evidence of their irrational and distorted thinking. You try to argue away their concerns. This is a specific kind of minimization, and it sends the same negative message: “Your feelings are based on nothing real. Get over it.” 
  3. Competitive complaining. In this little game you don’t want your partner to “win” by being the one with the biggest complaints. So you start bringing up your own: “You think that’s bad? I think I might lose my job!” Again, your partner feels there is no room for her feelings. You matter more. 
  4. Fixing. If your partner has unpleasant feelings, you jump in to try to solve all the problems. Laying out your well-thought-out plan, you get frustrated when she doesn’t buy into your solutions. This makes her feel less understood and she thinks, at times, that you are patronizing. 
  5. Defending. In this scenario you treat your partner’s emotions as a personal attack on you. If he is upset, you feel that you are to blame, so you turn it into a trial and start defending yourself. This goes nowhere; you get more angry and dismiss his feelings. 
  6. Stonewalling. In this case, you just withdraw. Feeling frustrated listening to her feelings, you withdraw, become silent and sullen and may leave the room. Now she is all alone, feeling abandoned.

 What To Say

Consider some of the following. Would you like to hear any of this when you are upset?

  • “I know it must be hard for you feeling this way.”
  • “I can see that it makes sense that you would feel down, given the way that you are seeing things.”
  • “A lot of times you may feel that people don’t understand how hard it is for you.”
  • “You must be thinking that this really down feeling is going to last a long time. It must be hard to feel that way.”
  • “I want you to know that I am always here for you.”
  • “I don’t want to sound like I don’t want to hear about your feelings. I do. But if there is anything that I can do to help you feel better, please let me know. Your feelings are really important to me.”


Maybe we should send this guide out to our friends and family as a handy reference guide next time we are struggling with our feelings and emotions around our treatment!


2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 48 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 124 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was August 14th with 136 views. The most popular post that day was Home again.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for saint anne, wurn technique, up movie, st anne, and st. anne.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Home again August 2010


St Anne, patroness of childless couples July 2009
1 comment


What is the Wurn Technique? June 2009


The cartoon that made me cry October 2009


The 2 week wait August 2009

New early detection test for ectopic pregnancies

Women who suffer an ectopic pregnancy could receive an earlier diagnosis and be more likely to have their fertility saved thanks to a new test developed by scientists.

The new type of blood screening could detect whether a baby is growing outside of the womb with higher accuracy than the conventional test.

Some 11,000 women in the UK have an ectopic pregnancy each year, which is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, most often in the fallopian tube. If the tube is ruptured it can cause massive internal bleeding and death in rare cases.

The new test, developed by scientists in the US, checks for four key proteins in the blood.

It is not foolproof and can result in no confirmed answer, but is highly effective at distinguishing between ectopic and normal pregnancy in confirmed cases.

Experts based in Pennsylvania carried out a trial on 100 women with ectopic pregnancy and 100 women with normally developing pregnancy.

Overall, a confirmed result was given in 42pc of cases.

Of these, the test was able to distinguish between ectopic and normal pregnancy with 99pc accuracy.

Irish Independent 30-10-2010

Ah if only it were that easy!

Trusting in life’s everyday miracles

The loveliest thing happened to me this week. The postman knocked on the door with a package in his hand. These days, we mostly seem to get bills and circulars in the mail, so to get an old fashioned card or package is a real delight.

I opened the package to find this angel figurine and a note from Michele, a Facebook friend in the States. On the card attached to the figure were the words “trusting in life’s everyday miracles”. I was so touched by Michele’s thoughtfulness.  I find it so amazing and so wonderful how kind people can be..and to strangers. We’ve never met but she has reached out to me at this time with a gesture of hope and love which has lifted me up out of the doldrums in which I’ve been sinking these past few weeks.

And Debbie, a very dear friend, also in the States and another whom I’ve not met (yet) sent me the loveliest card last week full of loving advice and care, another joyfilled surprise in the mail.  Luann who lends me her strong faith and storms heaven for me. Lily, Paula, Jane and Lorna who check in with me and help me feel less alone. All of these kind, thoughtful, special friends are everyday miracles. And there are those of you who take the time to comment here regularly – I may not always leave a reply if I am feeling very down – but I treasure your comments always. Never underestimate the power of even the simplest kind gesture or word – they have the power to heal the deepest wounds and light the darkest days.

The legacy we leave behind

Last Monday, I attended the funeral of a friend and colleague, Christine, who died from cancer after a short illness. It was understandably a sad occasion, but also a celebration of her life and the legacy she leaves behind, chief among them her three handsome sons. I listened as two of her sons stood up to speak about their mother and their upbringing. They paid testimony to the love and guidance they got from Christine and how they were the young men they are today because of her. They spoke about all that she had taught them by her example and her teaching. Christine was a remarkable person, who achieved much in her professional life, but her true legacy is those boys, and all she achieved lives on in them.

Of course, this got me thinking about my own death and what legacy I will leave behind. I felt grief all over again at the thought that if I don’t ever have a child, how will I live on? Perhaps that is a selfish thought after all, but it is a very human one, I think. After we die ,we live on in the memories of our children. Albert Einstein said that our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and I couldn’t help but think of this while listening to Christine’s sons.

Another day, another attempt to appear normal

So another day, and another attempt to appear normal. Supplies were running low and a trip to the bigger supermarket in the next town was in order.  But first, we stopped off for a bite of lunch and a browse around the bookstore. I was feeling tired, so I gratefully plopped into the nearest chair in front of me, while DH took himself off to the nerdy section. I turned to my right and there at eye level I stared into pictures of beautiful babies and mothers caressing pregnancy bumps. I had managed to sit right beside the pregnancy section – your week by week guide, happy, healthy pregnancy, your pregnancy journal (short journal in my case). Thought of DH’s words to me the day before – the world isn’t designed to torture you – even though it feels to me like there are booby traps waiting to get me around every turn. Did you know that if you want to appear normal and do normal everyday things – go for a coffee, go shopping, go to the library, go well almost anywhere in this world, it is impossible to avoid seeing children and pregnant women everywhere?!  I thought I would be brave and instead of running away from the pregnancy books, I took one from the shelf, checked the index and looked up “m” for miscarriage. There were just 2 pages on miscarriage and it was the usual explanation you read everywhere – except for one statistic I hadn’t seen before – “if you see a heartbeat at your first scan, you have less than a 1% chance of miscarrying”.  I didn’t know what to make of this, so I rushed over to DH, book in hand, past the land mines of buggies and bumps, and thrust the book in his face, jabbing at the sentence. For some reason, this statistic seemed to reassure him that we had “almost made it” – what good is “almost” making it??? Does “almost” give you a baby to hold?? Mmmh! not sure what I make of the 1% statistic – does that mean that we were just really unlucky? Or is that statistic a valid one at all?

While I was pondering this, I overheard a father speaking to his little girl, who was sitting on a chair in the childrens’ section. “Daddy is going to go get a coffee, so stay there until I come back”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – he was actually going to walk off and leave his little girl who looked to be about 4 or 5 years old, on her own, where anything could happen to her. My husband was standing right next to her, what if he was a paedophile and spotted his opportunity right there? All he had to do, was tell her that he was a friend of her Daddy and Daddy had asked him to fetch her and bring her back to him! I wanted to go right up to that man and ask him what the hell he was doing. Once again, DH had words with me and told me I was projecting my own feelings onto the situation. Whether I was or not, I still don’t think the father’s behaviour was correct. So, off he went for his coffee! And I wouldn’t leave the shop until he returned because I wanted to make sure the little girl was ok. I hovered close by, keeping an eye out for potential paedophiles.   After about 15 minutes – 15 MINUTES when anything could have happened, 15 MINUTES when she didn’t stay sitting, but wandered off around the store,15 MINUTES  when she could have wandered right out the wide open front door, looking for her Daddy and anything could have happened her –  her father finally returned and I could abandon my watch over her. DH had to stop me from going right up to the feckless father and asking him why he thought it was ok to leave a little girl on her own like that. Why is he being so careless with such a precious gift? Why are so many people in this world so careless with the precious gifts they’ve been given?

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