07 December 2011

"So when are YOU GUYS going to have kids?"

(From Danny...)

The comments on today's post have been really wonderful.   Mara and I are delighted to hear the lessons many of you have learned as you've dealt with infertility either now or in the past.   There is a lot of wisdom in what you've all said, so thank you very much.   I suppose some of what I will say only echoes many of your words.

I write primarily in response to Molly, who asked...

Q:  How do you deal with all of the awkward questions related to having kids? 

I don't know how often we get asked those awkward questions.  That's either because 1) many people already know our situation because we are very open about wanting kids and the nature of our struggles (hence a blog), or 2) I don't feel like the questions they do ask are awkward to us any more.  Although 1) is largely true, I think 2) has a lot more to do with it.

So why aren't the questions we still get awkward to us?  Well, I think it's because Mara and I won't let them be.  We both more or less refuse to be offended (being offended, like many other things we've talked about on this blog...is a choice). 

I choose to believe that most people have genuinely good motives behind even the dumbest/most insensitive things they say (just because they have good motives doesn't make it right, but it sure frees me from being angry or upset about it).  So if someone were to say to me "Now we just need to get you two a baby!"... I'm usually totally upfront and say, "I know, wouldn't that be great!"  Maybe add a little humor with "I'll tell you one thing, it's not for lack of trying", or "I know, do you know where we can get one?" 

The truth is, if your friends or family or coworkers knew that what they said offended you (or if they knew you were struggling with infertility), most people would never say it.  And if that's the case, then why do we walk around being offended and hurt?  They didn't even know...or if they did know they themselves are so awkward they don't even know how to properly express anything...in which case they are the ones who need pity, not me :)

Maybe that person just really really loves kids and all the joy kids bring into their lives...so they wonder "why on earth don't you have them yet, don't you know how wonderful it is to be a parent?"  They probably love kids just as much as you love them.  Most people aren't out to get us! If anything, they're trying to spread around a little of what makes them happy, assuming that what they say will indeed make you happy.  Or when they say something like "trust me, you're lucky you don't have one of these poop machines"...that's their way of envying YOU without realizing you'd trade the freedom of no kids for an exploded poopy diaper any day!  And the truth is, so would they, but complaining is part of normal social interaction, strange as that may sound.

What I'm trying to say is that even if you know someone who is really annoyingly tactless, they probably have your best interest at heart (or like I said, they're just as guilty of envying your freedom as you are of their parenthood), and just don't have a clue how to express it.  The more I choose to see others in that way, the less I'm offended and the more I love.  The more I love, the happier I am.

I hope no one was offended :)


P.S. Although I haven't felt any awkwardness surrounding infertility, I did feel that way a little regarding my divorce, especially when what was happening was known only by me.  Even after my wife moved out I hardly told a soul for months...mostly because if she decided to come back, I didn't want her to feel weird at future social gatherings.  I wasn't necessarily offended by what people said, but I was always anxious about avoiding the subject of wife / family / etc, mostly because I felt like I was lying to them.  When I realized divorce was inevitable and became more open about it, things got a lot easier.  In fact, I was often touched by how much people tried to lift me up now that they DID know.  Funny thing was, by then I was doing just fine.  Sometimes I wished I'd just opened up sooner so I didn't have to pretend my home life was perfectly fine, it would have allowed people to extend a little extra needed love in my direction.  Is it possible too many of us decide to keep infertility a secret?



  1. Your blog is truly magnificent.

    My SIL and her husband struggled for 8 years to have kids; so when my husband and I told them we were expecting, it was really hard on them. It was so tough talking to them about my pregnancy and kids. They had a hard time being ok with it.
    But, IVF has finally worked for them, and are now expecting. I wish I could have showed them this post a year ago. I believe it would have helped them so much.

    Thank you for being so honest and open about this!

  2. When I helped someone move in to the ward, he asked "So, you have any kids?"

    "Nope. We have fertility issues and graduate degrees instead."


  3. AMEN about not being offended. I also think it's important to be open because like you said, if people knew (most anyway), they would NEVER say those things. I do like the comebacks though because it will help clueless people who say things that could come across insensitive to think twice..."Of course we would love to have kids, we've been working on it for a while!" It works like a charm.

  4. Love your great "come backs" if you can call them that. They are fun and sweet. I just think we all need to bring the humor back to life, it's too short! Being offended is a waste of everyone's time.

  5. Thank you Danny!! I wasn't expecting a whole post just for my questions! :) And once again thank you for your blog! It warms my soul!!
    Thank you for the reminder that I really need to refuse to be offended, I really do!
    I'm good with people who I don't know very well. I'm sure I've said some things unknowingly to other people struggling with infertility before, (ugh, if I had only known!) and yes they mean well, I'm not really offended by the innocent inquiries.
    My problems at taking offence have been with family members and people who 100% know our struggles. I've tried going the blunt rout, especially with family members, but there are still a couple who keep pressing the issue. I'm a fairly private person, so I loathe the idea of discussing in any amount of detail what the hubs and I have or haven't done to try and have children.
    When the blunt approach only brought more questions, I withdrew and stopped going to family functions, not the best way to deal with it, so that's when the sarcastic and mean responses started...
    I feel so at odds with myself about it. When it boils right down to it with my husband and I, we're really okay with whatever happens, the Lords hand is still in our lives. We absolutely know that everything will work out for us, with or without kids, and that knowledge allows us to be at peace and be happy with our lives now.
    It's just so hard trying to explain this to others...
    Thank you for this post! I'm going to work on just not being offended. Give me a few weeks and I'll report on my progress! :)
    Oh and Ben, I may just adopt your response! That's awesome!!

  6. MEREDITH - Thx for your voice here. I think SO many loving family members of infertile couples end up walking on eggshells because of their kids or pregnancies - and it's just silly & unnecessary! I feel bad for everyone involved - cause there is just a better way :)

    BEN: LOVED your comment! Made me laugh out loud. Love your perspective on all of that stuff.

    BRII: Glad you support the being open part...I think it's way too common for people to suffer silently and work so hard to hide it...it's just a breeding ground getting offended easily cause no one knows the situation.

    CREOLE WISDOM: I just have to say that I love you. :) Thanks for being such a fan!

    MOLLY: GOOD LUCK on the next few weeks of not taking offense!! You are AWESOME and you have me smiling. I'm so glad you're up for it - - it is SO freeing!!! And actually kind of FUN even to see what you're capable of.

    XO - M

  7. I somewhat wrote about this on my blog today, but... growing up, having a baby seemed like such a natural thing, just like going to college, finding a boyfriend, and getting married. Most people didn't have a hard time, and people who did would rather not talk about it... so people like me had no idea it could be difficult. Maybe that's why I struggled hard with infertility. And maybe it's also why people don't know any better, and ask "questions", just like people who ask, "when are you getting married?" People tend to prefer sharing good news instead of bad news, but I think it's better to share the bad instead of good. I'd much rather people feel concerned for me than jealous ;)

  8. I agree that it's hard going through something difficult when you feel like you can't talk about it, it's very lonely. I married later, and the desire to have a family, and husband was so strong, I would just cry thinking it might not happen for me...but it all did! You seem like such nice, loving people, and you have such blessings, I'm sure all your dreams will (continue to) come true!

    Now, if you DO get pregnant...just wait for all the new comments! And, you won't get offended, you'll laugh! My funniest one was, "Do they make maternity clothes for women your age?" Ha!

  9. Mara and Danny...I just love your blog so much. I've been married for eight years, I'm 33 with PCOS, and struggling to get healthy...and I teach first grade. And I am now officially the oldest childless teacher at our school (this was pointed out to me). So I get asked about having children all the time...and just today, forced myself to be excited and congratulate another (younger) pregnant co-worker. I struggle all the time with the shame of not being "normal." Your positive attitude and faith is totally helping me re-frame my situation.

    Anyway, my two favorite responses when I get asked when/why having kids:

    "Well, when we get our third cat through college, we're going to think about it." Deadpan.

    "I believe the children are our future.
    So I just want to teach them well, and let them lead the way.
    You know--show them all the beauty they possess inside.
    I mean, it's the greatest love of all...so...."

    I have said this with a completely serious face to several people and it takes them a minute...but we all usually end up laughing, and I get away with not directly answering the question.

    Keep up the amazingly honest posts.

    PS...I am going to be visiting my sister-in-law's in Brooklyn for Christmas, and I just showed my husband the Dyker lights, so we may go see them. Thanks for the heads-up!

  10. Brilliant post. You guys are great.

  11. I just thought I'd add....for me, being really open with people about the fact that we want to have kids is not just to satisfy people's curiosity...I do it because personally I LIKE sending the message that I very much value the idea of having a family...& this IS important to me...& that I am not intentionally putting it off, etc. Otherwise people may get the wrong idea about my priorities or about who I am when year after year I keep working and keep traveling the world and going to brunch. I guess it doesn't matter what people think...But I jump at the opportunity to be genuine and let people know that yes - this is important to me...it just hasn't happened yet...

  12. From Molly (she reported back on a separate post)

    Mara and Danny,
    Once again thank you, thank you, thank you for your blog! I promised you an update a couple months ago about not getting offended when people ask me questions about my fertility issues. I can't say I'm 100% cured, but last week I got asked while holding my new baby niece, "Don't you ever get baby hungry?" Instead of lashing out and saying something like, "No I have a heart of stone and hate all children as a general rule." I just simply said, "Yes."
    And the miracle of it all, good Danny and Mara, is that I didn't feel the need to lash out or become upset about it, the thought never crossed my mind. I didn't even dwell upon it negatively later or loose one minute of sleep over it!
    Thanks for the advice, and thanks for your blog, I know I'm one of many people you have already helped through sharing your experiences! Thank you!


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