We’re right in the middle of the holiday season, which means gatherings with friends and families. Living out of state, I love traveling back home to see my family and friends who we don’t get to visit that often. This also means being asked the infamous question.
Being a twenty something married couple means at every holiday gathering there’s always the, “So when are you going to have kids?” question. We get it every year. It comes from grandparents, aunts, cousins, friends, and of course, our parents.
We initially kept our plans on having kids to ourselves. We would coyly answer, “It will happen when it’s meant to happen.” It felt like a private matter between my husband and me. We also kept our struggles to ourselves. How do you tell your family and friends about a miscarriage? Or about infertility? So we kept the burden to ourselves because we knew the pain we felt and didn’t want to pass that onto others.
We did this for a year. And finally after being ask “the question” for the hundredth time, my husband snapped and it came out. He first told his mother about our struggles. And you know what? It felt good. She empathized. She told us her story of having my husband and his sister. I felt like I finally had someone I could talk to without being judged, pitied, or bullied.
So we told more people. I opened up to my mother. I told my sister. We told friends. The more people we told, I started to feel a weight lifting from my shoulder. I found friends who were also struggling with the same issues.
Looking back, I was ashamed of our struggle. I felt inferior as a woman that I lost a pregnancy and couldn’t get pregnant. It was so hard to take that first step to open up to someone, but once we did, the next few steps felt that much easier.
I can’t say that I no longer struggle with these feelings. Because I still do. Even though we opened up to friends and family, I still feel like infertility and loss is a hard subject to talk about. I find that people don’t know how to react. I find that most of the time I’m sensitive and emotional about the topic. I have broken down crying in my OB/GYN’s office and subsequently the parking lot!
Personally, all I’m looking for is someone to share my story with and listen. Someone that can listen to the ups and the downs. Someone who can listen to my feelings without judging. Someone who can be by my side during those invasive and sometimes painful infertility procedures. Someone I can lean on during those bad days and celebrate with on our little triumphs. I have that in my husband, but like I said he’s out of town for work a lot, so it helps to catch little glimpses from friends and family.
Back to the topic of this post: How do you answer “the question” from friends and family? The people we have clued in know enough to stop asking. Most of the time they only ask questions if we bring up having kids first. But our extended families, coworkers, and long distance friends still don’t know our story. So I’m prepping myself for the rounds of questions and comments this year.
Sometimes I want to say something snarky like, “We’ll have kids when my ovaries decided to get their shit together!” or “I guess using birth control all those years was pointless!” But I usually refrain from that. We still revert to the answer of, “When the time is right.” Maybe I’ll switch things up this year and say, “I would love children whenever that happens for us.”
How do you answer the big question?