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5 Ways to Respond to the Nosiest Question Ever

You're innocently having lunch with your family or walking down the street and bump into a friend when it happens: "Are you guys planning to have kids?" your old friend asks. Or, "So when are we going to see a little one?" your brazen Aunt Bertha shouts across the room.

It's only been a year or two since you got married, but everyone knows you're not a spring chicken anymore. What they don't know is that you and your husband are trying to conceive. What you do know is that you don't feel like sharing it with the entire world— especially not random strangers or extended family who are poking their noses where they don't belong. So, how to respond? Here are five ways:

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1. Evasively

I think you have to be a certain type of person to pull off an evasive answer. I'm pretty straightforward and honest in life, so if I dodge a question, it's pretty obvious I'm hiding something, which my lack of poker face shows. But one of my good friends who was doing IVF has a knack for changing the subject and just not answering any questions. One of her best tactics is turning the conversation around to the questioner. "Oh forget about me; I want to hear how your weekend was!" she'd say. Of course that won't work for Aunt Bertha, but to her she might say, "This turkey is delicious, how did you cook it?" No one can resist talking about themselves, so just steer the convo their way.

2. Humorously

My Israeli husband likes to say a term in Hebrew, which roughly means, "We are patiently screwing." The humor does not translate well to English, but worked on his large, rambunctious family. You can also use gentle humor playing on old wives' tales, like, "We're waiting for the stork to drop one on our doorstep," or, "I keep sitting on a toilet after my husband, but that's not working." Or say something bizarre like, "When my therapist deems me sane enough," or "When I'm named as an heir in your will, Auntie." Although, that last one might fall into the next category.

The thing you have to remember—which I could not always do—is to remember that people don't know. They don't know how many couples suffer from infertility, and how hard it is to conceive and stay pregnant.

3. Aggressively

Dealing with fertility is hard enough without people asking you about it, and it's really hard not to lose your patience after the 50th time. You might be tempted to respond snarkily, like Bridget Jones to questions of her singlehood, "How's your sex life going?" The implication being, "I don't ask you about your private matters, so don't ask me about mine." Other rude replies can include, "What, and give up our lazy Sundays and fabulous quarterly vacations for a drippy-nosed kid?"—which would be fine if you were planning on being childless by choice, but is disingenuous to your true intentions. The thing you have to remember—which I could not always do—is to remember that people don't know. They don't know how many couples suffer from infertility, and how hard it is to conceive and stay pregnant. Their questions are innocent. Which is why you might be tempted to respond this next way.

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4. Educationally

After four years of going through the fertility system—from natural pregnancies ending in miscarriage, to IUI to IVF—I know more than I ever wanted to about women's bodies and cycles and hormones and trying to get and stay pregnant. I often like to share that information. So although this is bordering on the aggressive approach, I might tell someone, "I know you mean well, but these days, it's impolite to ask about one's fertility." Or to quote a comedy bit I once heard, "The only time you should ask a woman if she's pregnant is if you actually see a baby coming out of her body."

5. Truthfully

They say honesty is the best policy. Sometimes a simple "We're trying" is enough to put an end to the conversation. Maybe for everyone except Aunt Bertha—but then you just bring up her inheritance and that will do the trick.

Image via Twenty20/annagerl

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