Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Responding to "The Question"

So, today I encountered a couple of old work friends I haven't seen in a year or so. We were happily chatting, talking about work, work politics, etc. After about 10 minutes, one of these friends shot the inadvertent dagger, the knife in the heart, the question all of us love to hate:
"So...when are we going to see you pregnant
with your first little one?
I just can't wait to see you with a belly!"
My mind began racing, my heart beating too fast, as I scrambled to formulate the perfect answer. I ultimately stammered out something about L.'s work schedule and the fact that he's just working so much, we haven't had a chance to get around to all of that "kid stuff" yet. However, at that moment (and all afternoon long) I fantasized about what I would have liked to have said:

Looking them both straight in the eye:

1. "Well, actually, I'm going to be shooting myself in the ass with massive needles starting next month. Wanna help?"

2. "Actually, we've been trying to have a child but have just learned that I have no female parts - I'm actually a man." (Okay, this one is actually compliments of a very good friend of mine who suggested that perhaps I should have just told them I'm a hermaphrodite. Thanks, Cheese - I'm still laughing!)

3. "As a matter of fact, we've decided it would be much more fun to watch our baby be conceived in a petrie dish than just plain old sex in the privacy of our own home, so we're starting IVF next month. I'm particularly looking forward to being inspected by my fertility specialist as she tries to figure out how the hell to get me knocked up!"

Of course, I didn't give any of these responses, but I was left wondering why it is that this question is always so difficult to answer. In some ways, I see it as my golden opportunity to educate someone on how painful it is to be asked such an invasive question, but for some reason, I am not remotely confrontive. Honestly, I actually feel a sense of embarrassment that I'm not pregnant yet. I mean, let's get real, I'm 34 years old and have been happily married for 2 years. People are probably thinking that we need to get on with it if we're going to do this.

I'm still working on formulating the perfect response for these sorts of questions from people we don't plan to tell about our IVF experience. However, I'm once again pondering the prospect of putting it out there, just saying - this is what we're doing. Deal with it.

I mean after all, why should I hide the fact that I'm being treated for a medical issue? And, frankly, the fertile people of the world need to take a look at the fact that asking a woman in her 30's when she's going to have a "big belly" is outrageously insensitive. Yes, I realize people think this is a natural subject of small talk, particularly when they have no experience with IF.

But that doesn't mean I have to accept it.


Hope2morrow said...

Ugh! Sometimes I wonder why we can't just be out with it.... Part of me wants to just blurt it out so badly, part of me doesn't want anyone's opinions, and part of me wants to hide the shame and embarrassment of IF. But why do we have all those feelings? Ugh!

I'm sorry people are so insensitive sometimes.

I Believe in Miracles said...

My parents didn't have infertility issues - my dad just didn't want kids - so they were married for 11 years before they had me. When he got asked the question, he said, "We like practicing for now" and that shut them up pretty quick.

There are so many times I just want to be open, but I'm not. Grr!

I'm so proud of you for handling it well. Let it all out here though.


Alex and Jill said...

If I have been asked that question once, I've been asked a thousand times. It is insensitive and of course hurts even more once you start trying and are unable to. That's why we finally told everyone what we're doing, so they will just keep the stupid questions to themselves.

When you come up with the perfect answer though, let me know. :)


womb for improvement said...

I can really identify with this. I want the perfect answer too. IVF certainly shouldn't be embarrasing to admitt to but the problem with telling these insensitive people about the IVF is likely as not they'll see it as a green light to a) ask even more personal questions and b) start telling you about a friend of a friend who thought she'd never be able to have children but went away on holiday/ relaxed/ had sex on the top of a sacred volcano and bingo - triplets.

Maybe, "Actually that's quite a painful subject and I'd rather not talk about it" would shut them up and make them think twice next time they want to ask anyone.

Penny said...

Ugh. I always wish I could be witty when I get questions along those lines, but I have fallen into a default "I don't know" when asked anything second kid related.

Responses #1 or #2 would crack me up if I heard them out loud, I think.

mommy of girls said...

Doll, so sorry. I know that question always brings out the every growing hurt. Though I would like to be a fly on the wall if you did give some of those anwers you typed here. :-) Since my own experience, I try never to ask anymore. It's very similar to the "so when is your baby due?" question after you've just delievered. Then you want to scream "I'm just fat damn you! And my kid is at home." I think unless you struggle with IF you can NEVER get it...I mean REALLY get it. I'm sorry people aren't more sensitive. But doll, I am praying every day...several times a day. I know God will answer. I just can't wait to see what birthday He will choose! :-)

Emma's Mommy said...

I hate that question!!! When we were trying to have the first one, we came up with several responses including the one about practicing (that was his favorite to use), I finally just started telling people that I had had my husband fixed! They never asked again. Now that our daughter is 3.5 we are getting the question again. I used to give the nice polite answers, but I have stopped doing that. Now I just tell them that it took us 8 years to have the first one, so it obviously isn't just going to happen overnight. They usually quit asking.

I understand why people ask, put it is such a personal thing and you never know what is going on in their lives. But girl, if you start using any of those responses, please take pictures of their faces. It is just something I have got to see :-0

Cindy Nguyen said...

I can so relate to that uncomfortable silence when someone asks me that inevitable question.

When an older distant male relative asks about it, I swear I'm going to say, "not this month, I'm on my period right now, but thanks for asking Uncle Bob"

If only I could get my nerve up.

Petunia said...

I'm pretty open about it now, and just say we cant. You can see people actually willing the ground to open beneath their feet.

But I would love to put on a really confused face, and say 'how do you do that, then?' Or something really rude, and watch them squirm.

It's tantamount to asking someone about their 'personal' life, which unless its a reaaaally good friend, is just not acceptable!

Thank you for your comment btw:)