Navigating infertility is difficult. Having to deal with insensitive comments from family members, friends, or even strangers, can make it feel even more overwhelming.
Often these comments are well-intentioned, or come from someone who really wants to help. Even when someone means well, their comment or question can be unhelpful, irritating, or hurtful.
With the holidays approaching, you may find yourself getting anxious or stressed, anticipating the questions or comments that may come up when you gather with your family or friends.
It’s important to remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation or justification for when, why, how, if, or with who you are having children. You get to decide if and when you share what you are going through with others.
“When are you having kids?”
First of all, no one is entitled to know your timeline.
Sometimes this question is just nosy. Other times, if you have been trying to conceive or have recently experienced a loss, this question can be insensitive and upsetting.
You may feel like telling the question’s asker about what you are going through, or you might feel like shutting down the line of questioning entirely.
Whichever direction you choose is entirely valid.
Here’s what you can say:
- “I don’t know the answer to that yet, and when we do decide we will most likely keep it private.”
- “Well, not for at least another nine months!”
- “That’s a really great question. I wish I had an answer.”
- “We’re hopeful it will happen in the near future, but we’re also wanting this to be a private topic.”
- “Sometimes things can take longer than expected, but we’re hoping one day soon.”
- That isn't an appropriate question to ask right now.
“Well why aren’t you pregnant yet?”
This is a similar but different question from the last. Beyond coming from a place of curiosity, being asked this sort of question can make you feel like you’ve done something wrong (reminder: you haven’t.)
Someone may ask this if they know that you want to have children or that you have been trying to conceive. Still, even if you have confided that information with a loved one in the past, you don’t owe it to them to provide updates.
Regardless of where you are in your trying-to-conceive journey, chances are you don’t actually have an answer to this question. And, if you do, you have no obligation to share this information with anyone you don’t feel comfortable telling.
Try saying this:
- “That’s something we’re still trying to figure out.”
- “We’re confident that when the timing is right, it will happen.”
- “Why do you ask?"
- “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
- “That is a really personal question, and I’m not ready to talk about it yet.”
Just relax! It’ll happen.
Sometimes comments like this come up after you tell someone you are actively trying to conceive. It’s possible that the person is saying it to try to make you feel better but it often does the opposite.
Stress can play a role in your hormone cycles and trying to conceive but it is so far from the whole picture. Being told to “relax” when you are sharing a deeply personal, emotional experience can make you feel like someone is minimizing or invalidating what you are going through.
Plus, this sort of comment, in nearly every situation, never actually helps someone relax.
Here are some ideas for how to respond:
- “This is something I feel strongly about, and we’re taking concrete steps in our journey to conceive.”
- “You’re right, managing stress levels is important, but there are so many other factors that can impact fertility.”
- “That comment feels invalidating because it minimizes what I’m going through right now.”
- “I’m working on trusting the process, and right now I really just need support.”
- “I know you mean well, but that comment places the blame on me and my stress levels, rather than the other factors involved.”
“Have you tried…?”
As well intentioned as this may be, it can be incredibly frustrating to be asked if you have tried XYZ “cure” for infertility.
What works for one person navigating infertility doesn’t necessarily work for another. Trust that you are doing what you need to be doing.
Try responding like this:
- “Thank you for the suggestion! I’m working with a whole team of experts on finding the right solution for our situation.”
- “There are so many tips and tricks out there. I’m working on finding the methods that work best for me.”
- “I did try that! Unfortunately, it didn't work for me.”
- “That’s something to consider! I’ll mention it to my doctor to see if they feel it would be helpful for me on my journey.”
- Thank you for trying to help. I'd rather not talk about this right now.
Your fertility journey is just that – yours. You get to decide who you share your experiences with and when you disclose any information.
It can feel awkward when these comments are coming from people you love and care about. Try to remind yourself as we head into the holidays that you know your body best (even when it feels completely unknown).
Trust your instincts and remember that it is always OK to politely shut down an insensitive or disrespectful comment.
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