Please stop asking me when I’m going to have a baby
15th Dec 2021
“Have you any good news for us yet?” It is one of the most insensitive and irritating questions you may ever be unlucky enough to hear, but for many couples, this is a regular occurrence.
Do you choose your words carefully when speaking about pregnancy? Maybe it’s an exciting time and your friend is eager to share their own news or find out if a pal is going to join their “moms only” WhatsApp group anytime soon. But announcing a pregnancy happened “immediately” or asking what another person’s baby plans are might actually be hurtful.
While most people’s intentions are good, wanting to start a family is a private and sometimes painful matter. Being asked about it not only puts additional pressure on those experiencing fertility issues but it’s something people often deal with silently, hoping to only announce when they have good news.
After three years of marriage, Adele was still struggling to get pregnant so she decided to seek help. “For us, IVF has been the most time-consuming, invasive, expensive and emotionally painful roller coaster I have been on. You have so much invested in the process, financially and emotionally that it consumes your every thought. When you are having difficulty conceiving, it seems everyone around you is falling pregnant. It’s easy to be happy for them at first but that brave face wears thin after a while. I even started to decline going to certain get-togethers and attending baby birthdays were just painful. I became quite bitter, desperate and depressed.”
Adele says she was asked when she was going to have a baby repeatedly while going through IVF. “I’d answer with a forced smile ‘we are just enjoying being newly married’, we have some travelling we want to do first,’ or ‘I’m just focusing on my career right now’. I wasn’t always that pleasant. One day I responded with ‘it’s not that easy, you know.’ I had just gotten my period that morning… again. People would tell me that I’m not going to be young forever or that my maternal clock was ticking. And believe me, I knew it. I just didn’t need to hear it from everyone else.”
Adele is now a proud mum to two children but says she still can’t avoid the awkward questions. “We were one of the lucky ones. But many couples will be trying for years. And some may never succeed and my heart goes out to them.”
Even though we went through IVF and had such a struggle to have our son, soon after we were asked… ‘so when are you having number two?’ And now that I have two wonderful children and I feel our family is pretty complete, the question still comes.”
Sive is 36 and has just finished her sixth round of IVF. She says it has come to the stage where she has started distancing herself from friends to avoid the questions that inevitably come. “I know I’m hypersensitive to anything connected to babies and kids, but I find it too difficult to attend events where I know people are going to be asking me about my own baby plans. I don’t think people even realise how upsetting it is to have to be put on the spot like that. I’m always surprised that people aren’t more sensitive to what may be going on behind closed doors. I mean, what do they expect me to say?”
Sive is currently weighing up whether or not she and her partner will go for another cycle of IVF, but she says the experience has taken its toll. “The question for us now is if we will go for a donor egg or look into adopting. Either way, we have a long road ahead, but our desire to have a baby is still as strong as ever – I just wish I didn’t have to face other people’s questions when I’m not even sure which way is up at the moment.”
Psychologists have compared the emotions of failing to conceive similar to those associated with grief. Typical reactions include shock, grief, depression, anger, frustration as well as a loss of control and loss of self-confidence. Anyone going through a fertility cycle of hope and disappointment will tell you that well-meaning but misguided opinions and advice only add to the challenges of trying to get pregnant.
Many parents will know that it doesn’t even stop when you actually have a baby. Immediately the ‘when are you giving them a brother or sister?’ questions start, which can be equally infuriating. So no matter how burning your desire is to know when somebody else is going to reproduce (or if they are going to), think twice – your words have weight and you never know what’s really going on.
Tips for a resilient Christmas
Christmas can be a particularly tough time if you’re going through fertility issues. Seeing old friends and extended family members, seeing how much little ones have grown and the extended eye contact when you’re asked, “so, any news with you?”Even if they meant nothing by it, you can often feel so surrounded by the questions that it’s hard not to read too much into things.
Ahead of the festive season, here are a few tips from Waterstone Clinic on how to ensure you have a restful and restorative Christmas.
Know your limits
You and those close to you are the most important people to look after right now. Know your limits: you don’t have to accept every invitation (even family ones), let yourself say no – especially if you find them draining or difficult.
Share or prepare
Sharing the journey can be very helpful for some people, and their friends and family can be a huge source of support. Others prefer to keep their journey private, or private from some. Whatever you decide, knowing what you want to tell people and preparing a standard answer to probing questions can be helpful, and don’t be afraid to switch the topic of conversation to one you’re more comfortable with if you need to.
Your feelings are normal
All feelings are normal feelings. You will more than likely experience a range of them and often conflicting ones. All of them are valid. Name the emotions as they arise and notice where you feel them in your body. Take some slow breaths and acknowledge the feelings. Talking about them with someone you trust can be very helpful.
Find ways to laugh
Laughing significantly reduces stress hormones, it can boost your immune system and resilience. Look for ways to have fun: spend time with people you enjoy, watch some comedy films, read a funny book, try some dancing, be silly, have a bit of freedom. Smiling, even when you don’t feel happy, sets chemical changes off that relax you.
Treat yourself the way you treat others
Treat yourself gently and kindly, you are doing the best you can. A good friend wouldn’t force you to do things you would find too difficult, and a good friend won’t tell you that you “shouldn’t” feel the way you do. You deserve support. You deserve relaxation. You deserve a lovely Christmas.
Continue to follow us here to hear from Ireland’s leading experts in our IMAGE talks Fertility series in partnership with Waterstone Clinic