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Don't Ask Me When I'm Going to Have Kids

Can I confess something?

Before I do, let me just say that I have spent the last five years answering to countless people on the subject of children. As in, “When are you two going to have children?” or “Do you have kids?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked one of those questions—well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have any trouble right now paying my IVF bills.

The question of, “When are you two going to have kids?” usually was always asked by some friend or family member, and always with some crying, leaking baby held in their arms. Not a single one of my childless friends or family ever asked me this. And I get it. You have this little bundle of joy and you feel the need to ask anyone without one why they don’t have one too.

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The “Do you have kids?” question always came from a stranger or acquaintance. Again, I get it. Most people think this is a pretty innocent question. It’s the less personal equivalent of “What do you do for a living?” But for someone who cringes at the thought of ever having kids or someone trying desperately for a baby, this is a question that can be either royally obnoxious or intensely hurtful.

A few years ago, when we were preparing for our first IVF cycle, we were visiting a friend of my husband who had two kids of his own. The kids were racing around the house, squealing and slipping around on the wood floors and generally making me grind my teeth together.

Which brings me to my confession. Please don’t judge me. I just get tired of my infertility.

“So!” our friend remarked to my husband and I, swiping one of the kids spectacularly out of the air as they came tearing past us, “When are you guys going to have some of your own?” By “your own” I assumed he meant the precious little girl dangling from his arm with ketchup smeared across her face.

“Er,” I started, shifting uncomfortably and almost stepping on a headless Barbie under my feet.

“We’re trying,” my husband said cheerfully, “Hopefully soon.”

His friend laughed and looked at me, a huge grin on his face. “You guys sure you’re doing it right?”

Whoa now.

I clamped down my jaw, biting my tongue and feeling my breaths come a little faster. I was torn between wanting to burst into tears or rip his head off and hide it wherever one of his daughters hid their Barbies. I wish I could have said something cool like, “I’m hoping so!” or something jabbing like, “I don’t know, why don’t you take my husband into the bathroom and show him?” But all I was able to do was stare at him speechless as he already moved on to grabbing his beer and taking a giant swig.

“Get me the fuck out of here before I lose it,” I hissed in my husband’s ear.

So I’ve had a lot of years coming up with explanations that make both parties cringe.

“Oh, we’re trying,” I’d say in a wavering voice, “It’s just taking a bit longer.”

“Actually,” *cough* “I’m, uh, going through IVF treatments.”

“Oh no, no, we don’t have kids. We want them, but we’ve been going through infertility.”

Yes, I try to take these opportunities to educate people. I try to normalize infertility. Unfortunately, many times it just leads to looks of pity or extreme discomfort. I’m left feeling like a total loser.

Which brings me to my confession. Please don’t judge me. I just get tired of my infertility.

I take opportunities when I can to spread awareness that infertility is a disease. Most of the time, it’s awkward.

On our last vacation, my husband and I were taking a road trip to Colorado and on our way, we stopped at a gas station and my husband went to use the bathroom. I was wandering the aisles and eventually came up to the cash register where this hippie guy and girl were bickering to each other about which cell phone carrier was best. We started making small talk and I told them we were going to stay in the mountains at a resort. They asked me how long we’ve been married and I told them six years. And then it happened.

“Do you have kids?”

And I swear, I was all ready to give my spiel and make them feel sorry they ever asked. I was about to tell them, “No. We don’t. We’re trying though.”

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But I didn’t. Instead, my face broke out into a smile, I tossed my head back a bit and chuckled, “Kids?” I flicked my wrist, “Ha! No, no we don’t want kids. We want to travel, see the world and all.” The guy and girl laughed right along with me.

“That’s cool, girl,” the guy nodded, “I respect that.” He then asked me where else we’ve traveled.

And I felt normal, you guys. I felt confident. I felt liberated. And yes, I felt guilty.

It’s tiring, all this infertility. I take opportunities when I can to spread awareness that infertility is a disease. Most of the time, it’s awkward. People suddenly clam up and don’t know what to say.

Every once in awhile, I will tell someone that, hell no, we don’t want kids. I’ve said that maybe someday we’ll think about kids, but right now we’re enjoying our freedom. For just a moment, I can let go of the stresses of trying to have a baby. There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow.

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