I realize that some of you may know next to nothing about infertility. You may have asked an acquaintance a question about their life which you felt was fairly innocuous, but for some reason offended them. “So, when are you going to have kids?” “Oh, really? You’ve been married that long and you still don’t have children?”
These questions may be followed with an explanation of the couple’s infertility struggles. Which are then followed by these statements or questions: “Oh, I’m sorry… Why don’t you just adopt?” “Well, everything happens for a reason.” “Well trust me, kids are a hassle. You’re lucky.” “Oh, just relax, you’ll have a kid soon.” “It must be nice to just be ‘the two of you’” etc, etc, etc.
Listen, I’m here to tell you that these are not appropriate responses. Now, here’s a disclaimer before you read any further. This is not my way of saying that everyone needs to walk on eggshells all the time. I understand that one chooses to be offended and that you should always assume there is no ill intentions underlying these questions. I get that.
Nonetheless, imagine yourselves in our shoes. (This is a collective ‘our’, including all of those who have dealt with infertility, pregnancy loss, etc.)
- You get married.
- You intend to have children someday, but for now you’re content to just be the two of you.
- Eventually, you decide to start trying to conceive.
- For a few months you may be nervous, but no big deal, right? We’ll get there eventually…
- A year later, you’re still not pregnant and you have no idea why.
- You consult a doctor and you are told you are infertile
Let’s stop and take a look at this scenario. Not only have you wanted children for a very long time, but then you find out that the longer you wait, the less chance you have. All those years on birth control, plus the year of trying were all a waste of time. Now you’re under a time crunch and you find out that the only way for you to ever have a child is after up to $20,000 worth of painful procedures and tests.
Okay, so after all this, try and answer one of these questions.
There is great pain and heartache here. This is a sensitive topic. No, you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, but can we try and at least be sensitive here? The studies show that one in every eight couples (or more, as this is a conservative statistic) have trouble with infertility. With this high of a rate, should we not be a little more sensitive with our personal questioning?
For those of you still don’t get it, let’s go through these questions and answer them.
- “When are you going to have kids?”
How about when we stop getting these questions? It’s been tempting to us at this point to answer, “Never! We hate kids! In fact, you’d better keep an eye on your own kids, lest we start feeling particularly violent.” Of course, we’d never say that, but it’s difficult to explain the pain and anger that accompany this question. Especially when you, as I, have wanted to be a father since you were a kid.
- “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Not to offend anyone, but there is a certain level of ignorance that just has to accompany a question like this. Because adoption is easier, less expensive and less time-consuming than trying to conceive, right? Because adoption is the answer to all of our fears, pain and questions? I realize that those who adopt find just as much love and satisfaction in their families as those who conceive their own children. That’s not my point. Adoption is another long, expensive and stressful process which, if needed, we will undergo. But can we cross that bridge when we come to it? To think, “Oh, it doesn’t matter that you can’t have kids, you can just adopt!” is severely insensitive.
- “Everything happens for a reason”
Really? As if we don’t know that…(See above meme) We are well aware there is a reasoning behind our trials. This doesn’t mean we have to stop trying and forget about the whole thing. Michael J. Fox, a personal hero, once said, “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.” Thanks Marty, for setting things in perspective.
- “Well, you’re lucky. Kids are a hassle. Just enjoy the time you two have together while you can.”
This is among one of the most insensitive things you could possibly say. Coupled with statements like, “Oh, here, take my kids! One day with them and you’ll change your mind.” and how can I forget whenever a pregnant woman complains and whines about how hard pregnancy is? Listen, I am well aware it is hard. No, I don’t really understand how difficult that must be… I’m sure it is painful and keeps you up at night and makes you feel tired and stressed and you feel like your body is betraying you and there’s nothing you can do about it… Nope, I don’t get that at all. (I realize there’s a difference, but until you’ve walked a mile…)
Anyway, my point here is that I don’t care how much of a hassle they are. I don’t care how much you pretend to hate your kids, we all know you love them more than anything else on this Earth. Shouldn’t we be able to also feel that?
- “Oh, just relax, you’ll have a kid soon enough.”
If only it was this simple. If only relaxing would reverse the irreversible conditions which lead to both male and/or female factor infertility… The truth is, relaxing is great, but it’s not the answer.
- “Why are you trying so hard? Are you sure you need to do this right now? Why don’t you wait?”
Yes. I am absolutely positive that this is the time for us to make this decision. Some of you may have lost a loved one at one point in your life. Try to remember how hard that was. Whether it’s a child or a parent or sibling or whatever, it hurts. I know it does. I won’t say this is the same thing, but try to imagine loving someone so much, only to be told you could never be with them. True, we’ve never had a child before, but that doesn’t mean I don’t already love them. Wouldn’t you do ANYTHING to be with your loved ones?
Secondly, the research shows that the longer you wait, the less chance there is that the IVF will even work. We are in a hurry to do this as quickly as possible because we’re ready. We’re not stupid. We’ve been ready for three years now, or we wouldn’t have started trying way back then. Asking why we’re in such a hurry is not a constructive question.
I know that there are a multitude of other people out there who are currently nodding their heads and going for the “re-post” button. Great! Thank you for helping us and others by sharing this post. But please know I am not angry or dissatisfied with my life. I am as happy as you can be. I am accepting of our situation and I am doing everything I can to move through it. I don’t want anyone to think I’m bitter or resentful toward anyone else. For the record, I have been asked every one of the questions above, but I hold no grudge toward those people. I know they only try to help. My main hope is that we all will be a little more sensitive to those around us who may be going through any number of trials or suffering.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any input.