Before our own infertility struggle, I would never have given it a second thought about asking someone if they wanted children or when they would start a family. I think those are common curiosities people have. But being on the other side for 4 years now, it stings every single time we get a question about the one thing we've longed so long for. I know intentions aren't vicious, but it's just one more reminder that we have zero control in the timing of starting our family. I know God has a plan for our lives, but we would all be lying if we said it didn't make us happy when things happened on our good timing. And what sort of response do you give back to someone who's curious? Do you open that can of worms and say " we're struggling with infertility" and leave that person feeling awkward and guilty for asking? Or do you simply say "someday"? I often find myself saying the second. Is it a lie? Quite possibly. How am I to know where this infertility journey will take us? Maybe God's got bigger plans for us than to be parents. But it's the least alarming answer for the recipient.
I can remember at a recent Christmas, a relative came up to me while I was holding a baby and said "are your ovaries burning?" I can remember feeling my heart sink into my stomach. I knew they weren't being cruel, but it felt like pouring salt in a wound. How do you even respond to that? I didn't. I sat there holding this little person in pure and utter shock. Words didn't come out and I forced a smirk after what felt like an eternity of awkwardly sitting there.
I feel like the awareness for people who've never struggled with or known anyone to struggle with infertility doesn't exist. Sure, some people will never have a filter even if they knew someone was struggling, but I like to believe most people would be more sensitive if they knew. I find that being asked "do you WANT children?" is a totally valid question. It's a yes or no question. If someone says "yes", leave the question alone. They will tell you more if there is more to tell.
When do you want to start a family?
Your clock is ticking!
You and *insert name* better get busy!
Don't you know how babies are made?
It will happen when it's supposed to.
Quit trying and it will happen!
Just don't think about it.
You have too much time on your hands. You need kids.
I have heard all the above statement and believe me, they cut like a knife. Smiling and simply saying "I'll be praying" and "God knows the desires of your heart" are perfect ways to handle awkward infertility statements someone might throw at you if they're open about their struggle. So to those struggling, have compassion for someone who might seem insensitive to your situation, they likely don't understand your struggle. I often found myself feeling bitter towards people when they said or did things early on in this journey because I was overly sensitive, which I think is a normal response to dealing with something so painful. But before you react, take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Likely, they want what's best for you and if they knew their words were hurting you, they wouldn't have said them. Maybe, also, it's time to start filling people in on what's going on in your life. It's not easy. It took several years for me to admit the small detail that I hadn't been on birth control to close relatives, let alone spill that we've had every testing imaginable and undergone two failed IUI's. It takes time, but once the cats out of the bag, a weight almost feels lifted and you don't feel so alone.
Moral of the story, be kind. Everyone has a struggle. And don't be so quick to let things hurt you, you're stronger than that.