Sunday, September 5, 2010

So, when are YOU going to have a baby? Why that question should be illegal.

I am not sure how the question, “When are you guys going to have kids?” or “When are you guys going to have another baby?” became a casual, innocent question to ask. If I knew, I would turn back time to that moment and thwart any attempts to make those questions socially acceptable. As with many things in life, what appears innocent and friendly to some, is actually painful and hurtful to others. It is never okay to ask anyone those two questions or questions like those.

While my husband and I were desperately trying to conceive our little one, people would ask us all the time the dreaded question, “So, when are you guys having kids?” We had been married for four years before we got pregnant with our little one, unbeknownst to most, almost half of that time was spent trying to conceive. I suppose to the outside world it seemed odd that we hadn’t started a family yet. Simply hearing the question always brought me pain and heartache. There were certain times when hearing it was especially excruciating, like after my surgery for endometriosis or after my first failed IUI (see “Our Journey” post).

I never knew how to handle that question. Was I really supposed to tell cousin Frankie that I see once a year my whole sordid tale of infertility? Did my husband’s co-worker’s wife really want to know about my ovarian cysts at the annual office holiday party? Probably not. These people thought they were just making simple conversation. Then there were those closer relatives and friends who felt like they were doing me a favor by asking. They went on to explain how my husband and I would make amazing parents. They sometimes went further by saying how they could not wait to see what our kids would look like. (just put a knife in my already broken heart and twist it some more)

Once my husband and I had our daughter, I thought the days of awkward questions were over. Then after my daughter turned six months, coincidentally when we started trying to conceive again unsuccessfully, the awkward questions returned and still haunt me today. Most of our closer relatives and friends now know of our difficulties in trying to conceive and have stopped asking. But the people in our lives who are not aware of our struggles say things like, “So isn‘t it time for another one? Your daughter needs a sibling you know. She can’t be an only child.” I find that after all of the miscarriages I have had since my daughter‘s birth, I have a lot less patience for these questions. These questions do not make me sad anymore. They now make me angry. How dare these people ask such questions? Don’t they know how inappropriate these questions are?

What I eventually remind myself is that these people truly do not know inappropriate these questions are. A recent article in Self magazine reported that, “One in eight American couples will experience infertility, and 1.1 million women will undergo treatment this year. That most won’t talk about it makes it that much more painful: A recent survey of infertility patients reveals that 61 percent hide the struggle to get pregnant from friends and family.” Most of the time, I do not feel like educating people about how horrible their questions make me feel. It never seems like the time nor the place. I also hold back from responding to these questions with something equally inappropriate such as, “Yeah, we had hoped that our last four pregnancies had not ended in miscarriage, so we could in fact provide a sibling for our daughter. Thanks for asking”

My husband always has a knack for taking the “high road” in most situations. When he is asked about our intentions of having more children he always replies longingly, “I sure hope so.” Not the answer a person expects mind you, but it is enough to drop the topic of future family building and make the interrogator think a little.


  1. I agree that people just don't understand how inappropriate the questions are. In my head, I choose to be inappropriate right back, but I never have the guts to actually say it. One of these days...

  2. It is so true. No one knows how they are saying the wrong thing unless they have lived in your shoes. I was getting looks at the Aquarium today from an idiotic woman because my twins were on leashes. I wanted so badly just to hit her! And I'm SO sorry my post upset you today. I probably should have prefaced it by saying that I was surrounded by a swarm of fabulous looking women in skinny jeans, perfect makeup and beautiful hair. Who all seemed to only have one child to look after. And none of whom ever seemed to have seen even remotely active children before. Thank you for the different perspective. And I am very sorry to have made you sad in any way.

  3. These questions are so tough to deal with, and I agree, how did we reach a point in society where these became socially acceptable!?!? I hadn't even considered that those types of questions might continue AFTER having one child...goodness gracious, people, don't butt into other's business!

    But the root of those questions is simply: assumptions.

    People assume that a childless couple who's been married for a few years (or 6+ in my case) either do not want children or are just sitting idly by waiting for this brilliant interrogator to suggest the idea of having children. "Oh, brilliant! Why didn't we think about having kids before!"

    I usually fall somewhere in the middle between your hubby's response and what I secretly want to say in my head. I usually respond with, "Actually, yes, we've been trying to conceive for almost 3 years, but it's not always as simple as making a decision to have kids. It's an extremely painful and emotional journey and only God can create a life."

    But the danger of that response is that you will usually receive the type of unsolicited advice or unhelpful comments like you previously blogged about ("Just relax!") Still, I feel better being direct and I hope that somehow my response might teach them to not ask those questions anymore.