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
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:
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.
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 frominfertility, and how hard it is to conceive and stay pregnant.
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.
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."
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.