When are you going to have children, or when are you going to have more children? These are very common questions that couples often have to cope with. If you have not been asked yet, chances are that you may be asked one day.
If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to have a baby or another baby, it’s an uncomfortable question. It’s even harder to respond when you’re trying to have children unsuccessfully, or if you are unable to have children due to an underlying medical condition.
So how do you answer, or do you even have to answer? Many people don’t mean anything sinister by the question—they are just trying to make conversation. They see it as small-talk.
They don’t quite realize what a personal and painful question it can be. When family members ask, though, they may be asking for purely self-centered reasons. Your parents, for example, may want to be grandparents. Your sister may be waiting to become an aunt, although it’s not your responsibility to “give” them these life milestones.
If you’re feeling defensive or uncomfortable when people ask, consider yourself perfectly normal. Even if someone asks in a completely innocent way, or is just being nosy, the question implies that when and whether you have children is someone else’s business…and it’s not.
For a couple who chooses not to have children, or who those are intentionally delaying having children, it’s a personal question, but probably not a painful one.
But when you’re coping with infertility, being asked a question like this reminds you of your pain and loss. With infertility, wanting to have children, and trying as hard as you can to have them, comes with no guarantee of success. This kind of question can remind you of your lack of control.
You may be asking yourself, when are we going to have children? When someone asks you a question that implies,you’re choosing not to have children, it hurts. It can also be painful if you want to have a baby but can’t due to medical reasons.
You may not be disposed to answering the question but it often helps to be candid and to give an answer that explains your situation while at the same time educating the inquirer. The majority of people will ask this question innocently, unaware of the consequences it may bring to you.
If you know that someone is well-meaning, well-intentioned, or just doesn’t know better, it may be easier to be prepared to deal with such questions. You do not have to be caught off guard and left feeling like you need to explain yourself.
Try taking a deep breath, and then keep the answer simple and switch the topic.
If you have already decided to start telling people about your struggles, it could be worthwhile to share the information.
Keep in mind that deciding whether to tell someone about your infertility is tricky. You may not want to make that decision on the spot, when you’re under pressure or without thinking things through first.
You can choose to not answer at all and it would be completely okay.
One approach that some individuals utilize is to pretend they didn’t hear the question. Most people will take the hint.
If you find yourself dealing with someone who is relentless, you may need to repeat yourself. You have every right to walk away, especially if someone gives unwanted advice, makes blaming comments, or otherwise responds negatively.
If you’re having a hard time dealing with this question, and or are struggling mentally and emotionally with infertility or an inability to have children, reach out to the experts.
The inability to get pregnant if you’ve been trying for some time can be heartbreaking but sometimes the cause of infertility is easy to diagnose and can be treated.
If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, or if you’re over 35 and have been trying for six months, it’s time to get help. If you’ve had two or more miscarriages back-to-back, you should see a professional.
The same goes if you’re having any worrisome symptoms or have risk factors for infertility, even if you haven’t been trying for a baby for an entire year.
Your first stop should be at your regular gynecologist. A referral from your primary gynecologist or physician is often preferred. Go with your partner.
Fertility testing includes blood work for the woman and a semen analysis for the man. Your doctor will also likely perform a basic pelvic examination and Pap smear, and some test for certain sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried as you go through fertility testing. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Based on the results of your fertility tests, your doctor may advise you to go ahead with some form of fertility treatment.
If testing reveals you have structural abnormalities (of your uterus, for example), or endometriosis, your doctor may refer you directly to a fertility specialist or reproductive surgeon.
If basic fertility treatment isn’t successful, or if your test results suggest treatments that go beyond your gynecologist’s purview, they may refer you to a fertility specialist or fertility clinic.
Often (but not always), your fertility clinic will want to do more testing or even rerun some tests you’ve already done. After you get the results of any second-round or repeated tests, your fertility doctor will go over a recommended treatment plan.
You also may sit down with the clinic’s financial advisor to discuss payment fees and options. Your doctor should give you and your partner time to consider the proposed treatments and figure out what you can afford.
Infertility treatments range from relatively simple to complicated and involved. For example, if you have endometriosis, your doctor may sometimes need to perform surgery to remove endometrial deposits first. Then, after you have time to recover, you may start in vitro fertilization treatments or even try on your own for a while.
Depending on the cause of your infertility, and whether you conceive multiples, you may need closer monitoring during your pregnancy. Pregnancy after infertility is not the same as an “easily conceived” pregnancy.
Even deciding when to tell people you’re expecting can be stressful. If you have infertile friends, you may experience survivor’s guilt or feel like you’re leaving them behind.
MD/CEO Nordica Fertility