"So when are you going to have kids?"

Baby Blues brought up the issue of what to do with that hurt that was unacknowledged or unintended or unknown by the person who inflicted it – when do you confront, when do you make yourself vulnerable to the possibility of being hurt even more, but also to the possibility of potential healing of self and relationship, by bringing it up?

What it made me think of immediately was a brief conversation at a Memorial Day BBQ last year; we were 5 months into diagnosis for IF, trying to schedule an HSG, and of course there were lots of little kids at the picnic. I was feeling particularly unsociable that day, so when the kids wanted to play in the house I went in with them to be the “grownup” supervisor. The parents were quite grateful. I’d been around these kids regularly since before ttc so it didn’t really bother me; it was the newborns outside that I wanted to avoid.

So one of the dads comes in to change his daughter’s diaper and looks at me knitting while I arbitrate disputes over toys. “You should get yourself one of these,” he says, indicating his child.

Slightly stunned, I say “Uh, looks like a lot of work,” which OF COURSE doesn’t reflect AT ALL my actual feeling about the prospect, but it was the first thing I could think of to just deflect the comment. Pretend I don’t want one.

“Oh, but it’s totally worth it,” he continues. “You don’t mind the work at all.”

I grunt noncommitally and that’s the end of the conversation.

I fumed over this for MONTHS. I thought about calling him up, e-mailing, something, just to say, “Look, you just need to think before you say something like that to someone. You have no idea whether they may be trying or not. You have no business making blanket recommendations about whether and when someone should have children. Besides, it’s NONE OF YOUR F****ING BUSINESS!!!” But I never did. I just avoided that particular social group for about five or six months.

Funny thing, after I started interacting with them again, I found out that 2 other women in the group are struggling with IF, one primary and the other secondary. We have a little IF support group now among the 3 of us. Neither is the wife of the guy who made that inappropriately personal comment (she went on to have another baby last fall). It’s just frustrating. I do wish I were more like Mands and others who are out of the IF closet. It takes a lot of courage, but perhaps it would help make people think before they speak.

On the other hand, I’ve read so many posts about That Friend who just never, ever, seems to catch on, no matter how much one tries.


5 Responses to “"So when are you going to have kids?"”

  1. Samantha Says:

    It’s so hard when people say these innocent (in their mind) sounding things that end up being so hurtful to you. I think it’s hard “coming out” about IF too, because a lot of people either don’t get it (just relax), pass judgment on you (you must be doing something wrong), or then end up wanting to know personal details when you might not want to share them. It ends up being a no-win situation.

    I’m glad you’ve found a group of friends locally where you can share some information.

  2. Mands Says:

    Thanks for the mention. I decided to come out, so to speak, for that very reason. I was tired of getting thoughtless questions and comments from people. It is a very personal decision though, and sometimes I wish people didn’t know! 🙂 It’s amazing when you find out how many other people are struggling or have struggled, and a lot of the time they are the ones who speak out of turn!

  3. Baby Blues Says:

    Such a heartfelt post Elizabeth. My hurts come from those “unintentional” remarks. I guess even when it hurts, I should always remind myself that’s just what it is… unintentional.

    Some people just don’t get it and sometimes coming out doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be more sensitive. It could be uncomfortable to be in a group who knows and tries not to mention children or babies. It’s impossible.

    So although my in-laws know, I don’t expect that they won’t show their extreme joy in seeing their only granddaughter, even if it breaks my heart. And I don’t expect the family not to go goo-goo over the newborn twins. I don’t want others to act differently just because I’m around, so I’d rather just keep my distance. I try to avoid the awkwardness by staying away. We just have to find a way around it.

  4. SaraS-P Says:

    Even when you are an open book, there are still people who don’t get that their comments hurt. And there are always people who can’t keep their mouths shut, even on sensitive topics.

  5. Geohde Says:

    I hate, hate, hate that question.

    These days I just answer honestly.

    We’ve been trying for some time (cue ‘Oh’)

    Our baby that we did conceive was misssing a large part of it’s head and brain (cue ‘change of subject, as quickly as they can’).

    Works a treat.

    I figure that if I’m going to be made uncomfortable by thoughtless questions, the question-ee should get that it’s not the best thing to randomly ask people.

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