How many times have you had to explain your “situation” to random and not so random people? Finding your answers to the age old questions of, “So, when are you having kids then,” or “Don’t wait too long!”, or even “Is that a bump there?” Oh yes, when we hear these comments and questions they send shivers down our spines and even though we know the intentions are well meant (well most of the time!) it doesn’t make them any easier to swallow.
Being comfortable and connecting yourself to a story that you can reel off at these moments can be really helpful so you don’t get caught out by not knowing how to respond. The story may well change over time as well, for example, when you first start trying to conceive, you might want to just fob people off with “oh there’s plenty of time for that” or “we want to do some travelling first” just to get people off your backs! Nothing wrong with that.
What I found for me and Lee is that I started with those replies, and now 4 years on I’m even telling the milkman about how many IVF cycles we’ve had and how long we’ve been trying! I don’t know what changed, I think it’s just that I became more comfortable with our actual real life story and that part of my life and I wanted to start sharing it with people, sometimes with the hope that it might encourage other people to open up about their struggles, but other times, just because I was happy being honest about it and didn’t really care if it made people feel awkward!
Even though most of the time it’s well intentioned, I’ve never understood the need for these questions – they really are so personal and really no one else’s business, essentially asking people how their sex lives are going and if they have well-functioning reproductive systems, which is hardly water cooler chat!
I’ve discovered though, that a lot of the time these questions come out as a way of finding out when you are going to be part of someone’s “child” tribe. From what we’ve all been told, parenting does turn your life upside down and while some people relish that, others find it incredibly difficult. When friends or work colleagues see that you’re still living the life they used to have (bar the old fertility treatment that they probably don’t know about!) they want to know that you’ll be joining their sleepless nights and no social life gang soon and you won’t be flaunting your child-free lifestyle to them anymore – little do they know! But you can kind of see where this thought process might come from. Other couples might have fallen pregnant without any planning or before they were ready and they are looking at you with starstruck eyes, hoping that you too will soon have to be changing dirty nappies on a Friday night!
All a bit psychologically warped but that’s humans for you! If you need some help working out your reaction and story to these inevitable questions, here are a few tips:
- One thing to try and avoid is becoming defensive as that doesn’t help anyone. Even though you might be raging inside, try and recognise that it’s just well- intentioned ignorance that are causing these questions to come up and a well worded sentence can set people straight and stop the conversation without being rude!
- Sit down and think about what you and your partner are comfortable sharing to anyone who asks. It may be nothing at all or everything (like me, now!) Or it could be that you devise certain responses for friends/family and others for work colleagues. However you go about it, it’s good if you can both be agreed on the approach to avoid even more awkward situations arising where you tell the same person different things!
- Be comfortable with your choice of story – don’t worry about how people will react, that’s for them to worry about. It doesn’t matter if you make people feel awkward, they asked you the question and so they should respect your answer 😊
How are you tackling these difficult questions? Have you got some well prepared answers up your sleeve? Wherever you are on your fertility journey, I’d love to hear from you!
This post is also available in: Arabic