As a person who went through fertility struggles, I have literally heard it all when it comes to others’ opinions on why my husband and I didn’t have children yet. The minute you put the ring on your finger and have your first dance, it is apparently the unwritten law to allow people to start asking about your sex life and when you plan on popping out the first baby. At that time, it is a joke, and you blow it off with a common response about “We just want to enjoy being married first.” Then years go by the questions and comments come more frequently. These are things you should not be saying to women. Period.
“When are you going to start having babies?” seems to be a private question that people seem they have a right to know. I just don’t get it.
My husband and I lucked out a little, as we lived in England for part of the time we were trying to conceive, which meant we weren’t around family, friends, or coworkers to be asked the question as often. But the minute we came back, the prodding into our personal life began. Little did all the Nosey Nellys know that when we had come back, we had already been trying for 8 months.
As my husband and I proceeded to start the infertility process with numerous tests and oral pills, I still received the questions and concerns about why we were not starting a family yet. Although we chose to keep our infertility struggles private until further into the process, we still hoped that people would just leave us alone about the baby questions. Because every time someone asked me about babies, it was a like a dagger to my heart. I already had a constant and monthly reminder that I wasn’t having children anytime soon (if at all), but people still felt the need to remind me of my lack of a family.
Time went on, as so did my daily life. It was finally time, about a year into trying and oral pills, that we were to meet with a fertility specialist and start the next phase in our journey. At this time, I knew I would have daily appointments for blood work and ultrasounds, which meant I needed to talk to my boss at the time about coming in a little later, as you have 3-4+ morning appointments each week when beginning injections. As a teacher, it was a bit more of a nuisance, as I had to find someone to cover my class. I couldn’t just sneak in a little late or change my schedule around for the day. I had to go tell my boss the reasons I would need so much coverage for a few weeks or even months.
When I went to speak with my [now former] boss, she was trying to understand it all, as I could tell she had never dealt with this from one of her employees before. She first said “Well women are just waiting so late to have babies and this happens,” as she says it to my 28-year-old self, sitting in front of her, crushed. The conversation continued which meant the comments continued “Well, you’ll just be an even better teacher when you become a mom,” again, not something you should say to someone who may never have children. And to think about all the amazing teachers I know that do not have children of their own, it is a complete insult. You’d think the conversation would be close to an end at this point, but she continued on saying that she was disappointed as I would have to take time off now, and if I were to get pregnant, I would have to take more time off.
And my ultimate favorite comment she had the nerve to say, “I don’t understand why you can’t do this over summer break.”, as if I was having an elective boob job or something. Come on people, where is your filter? Needless to say, I did not stay at this job for long as I needed to find a supportive environment where people could help ease stress instead of add to it.
Now, we were one of the lucky ones that were able to get pregnant with lots and lots of help from science, but there are many people in your life that you don’t realize might be going through some fertility issues, currently crying because they just got their period again, just had a miscarriage, or even the fact that they are choosing not to have children.
The bottom line is, you have no idea what situation in life people are going through, chances are people are keeping something private to themselves for a reason. Some of us don’t want the whole world to know our business, especially when there might be heartache involved. Others just don’t want the comments and questions on a topic that is already on their mind 24/7 and is incredibly sensitive.
Helpful Etiquette Tips:
- Do not ask people when they are having babies, even if you are close to them.
- If someone feels comfortable to talk about it, let them guide the conversation.
- Do not assume people want or plan to have children.
- Do not make comments about how their biological clock is ticking.
- If someone tells you they do not want children, respect it and do not probe with more questioning.
- Do not brag or even complain about how easy it was for you to get pregnant.
- Do not say comments that lead to them being a mom one day, because it may never happen.
- If questioning a comment, don’t say it. It’s not worth the risk.
- Do not make comments like, “Stop trying, and it will just happen”.
- Remember the golden rule, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.