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.