Sunday, 29 April 2012

How do YOU respond?

So, I'm looking for feedback and ideas.

Here is the background on my situation.  I'm heading off to Calgary for my uncle's memorial service on Thursday.  It is going to be a big reunion of sorts for my father's family.  They never get together, except for weddings and funerals and unfortunately, most of us are married now.  So, my uncle (I mentioned him before) passed away of cancer and pneumonia complications shortly after Easter, and the memorial is set for Friday.  So I get to spend Thursday evening and all day Friday with my father's uber-fertile family.

I call them uber-fertile because they all have many many children (I have one aunt who has 9 kids, and more grandchildren than she can count... seriously, if you ask her about them, she loses track of all of them before she's done talking about them).  My father has the small family in the family (with only two of us).

The last time that we saw most of these people was our wedding nearly three years ago.  Now, we're going to see them again, without a baby in tow.  To top it off, my uber-fertile cousin is due in June with her third in four years... and yes, they planned it that way.  sigh.

So my question is... how do you respond to the questions?  I know that they will be coming.  "when are you going to have kids?"  "Are you guys going to have kids?" "Why don't you have kids yet?"  and my favourite, every time I'm seen in the company of a small child "Oh, that looks so good on you, you should have some... what do you think?".  My brother and SIL are coming with their children too, so I know that I"m going to buried under my niece and nephew who idolize me and who I don't see often enough.  I can handle them around, I love them dearly and their presence doesn't make me sad ... it makes wish that I had one too, but it doesn't make sad.  Other people's babies... they make me sad.

So, I want to just say "well, hopefully soon", or "given that we've been trying for three years, I have no idea", or "well, we start fertility treatments this summer so we'll see".  But I don't know.  It probably depends on who asks, but honestly, I don't know how to respond...




First, I'm sorry about the passing of your uncle. Memorials are the worst types of family reunions. I wish you could see them on happier terms.

FWIW, I was shocked at how supportive my immediate and extended family has been. While I would not classify my family as uber fertile, they do all have children and OFTEN ask me when we are adding to the clan. I've slowly told my cousins about our journey and have been met with an outpouring of support and a respect for my boundaries. It is quite shocking, really.

If you do share your journey with them, I would recommend setting boundaries before you say the words "We are having a hard time." I always do this before I tell someone new who has the potential to harass or offer unsolicited advice. I also try to make sure they feel involved, in the know and make sure they see their personal benefit to giving you space on the issue.

Tell them that what you about to share is very personal, and you only ask that they respond with care and love, and please let you tell others on your own time.

Explain you have been trying for several years and are now working with a specialist. Ask your family for good thoughts and prayers (letting them be involved) and assure them that they will be among the first to know when you have good news (gives them a sense of pride by being "in the know").

Let them know infertility is a topic you will bring up at times when you are ready and ask they be sensitive and not ask you directly about the journey - you never know when you might be full of progesterone and bite their head off (make it for their benefit).

If they are super daft and tell you to take a vacation and relax, you can either laugh their stupidity off and change the topic to their children (daft people love a subject change to themselves) or you can take the opportunity to politely educate them on the No. 1 thing not to tell an infertile: Just relax.

So that was a terribly long comment, and probably way more than you wanted. :) Know I'm here if you have any questions about "coming out" or if you need to vent after someone says something incredibly stupid. For every 9 supportive comments, there is always one idiot. xoxo


I think Belle has said it all. If I don't feel like sharing I simply say 'That's the plan at some point'. They don't need to know that my plan and the universes are at odds. If I feel like sharing I do something similar to Belle, try to make sure they realise that I am sharing something sensitive and then I just prepare myself for some of the more obvious cliches.


I think Belle has covered most of it. Years ago when I was married I would laugh and say "hopefully soon." As I've gotten older, I don't laugh as much. Sometimes if it is someone I know well from work, I might (half-) jokingly say, "Why don't you give me this one and it'd save me all the work?" Of course I have received some strange looks. I am sorry for the loss of your uncle but I hope you are able to enjoy some times with the family and hopefully find some of the support you need. You will be in my thoughts.


I think Belle's advice is great. If you feel comfortable enough telling your family about your IF, I think that's the way to go.

Of course, if you're asked the baby question many times throughout the day, it might be difficult/tiresome to go into a long spiel about it every time it comes up. So you might want to decide on a shorter response, such as the one EmHart gave.


Belle has great suggestions if you are willing to come out to your family. If you would rather not talk about it when the time comes say some generic things. I will say, "we are talking about it", or "Hopefully in the near future" and then change subjects.
I'm sorry about your uncle and hope all goes well.


What Belle said :)

I've been pretty big on not beating around the bush lately when telling people that we're having problems, but Belle is spot on: you may get some "just relax" advice if you don't contextualize things very clearly for them first. I have been playing around with how to turn the tables on someone if they ask me, "So, when are you going to have a baby?" I might smile and say something like, "What makes you think I'm not trying?". It may throw them off their game a bit, and it is an answer that can be interpreted many different ways. If it's an old woman who asks, I might say, "Well, my body is essentially acting like it's in menopause right now-- so you may be able to relate?" Hehe. I also find it fun in theory to get really graphic when someone asks such a personal question. "Well, we've tested Hubs' sperm, my cervical fluids are flowing, and we;re timing our intercourse, so things should shape up in the next month or two, I'm sure!"


Generally I don't tell people I'm trying and they don't ask anymore because I'm both single and over 40. I did tell someone today and got a supportive response. It was still hard though; the entire journey makes me very emotional. I would hope that if you said something subtle like 'we're trying' that people would get it and not press you.


thanks everyone - knowing that others understand really does help.

I actually read a really funny response today on another site that I frequent. When asked if she and her husband were going to have a child (this was two years after they had started trying), the woman responded with "well, we've decided to start trying two years ago". She said that it took the other person a minute, but eventually got it.

My SIL is worried as well about the questions - their youngest is 3 now, and she knows that people are going to ask if they are having another... she just lost one in Feb, and had a chemical this month... obviously, a touchy subject for them. I think that maybe her and I will just hide out in a corner using her kids as a shield... Someone comes too close, we set their phasers to cute and stand back. lol

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