Adoption Archives | Sarah Philpott

What Question Should We Stop Asking Couples?

What Question Should We Stop Asking Couples?

              So, when are you going to have a kid?

miscarriage, infertillity, pregnancy loss, Sarah Philpott

Do you want more kids?

Are you finished having kids? 

Why don’t you have any kids?

When we reach a certain age, these questions come directed at us with sniper-like speed, don’t they? They are asked by the sweetest, most well-meaning people ever: the little old lady who sits at the end of our church row, the older-widowed gentleman who is behind us in line at the grocery store, and the man at the party who doesn’t know a follow-up question to “what do you think of the weather.”

But, these questions are also asked in a taunting and teasing manner. You know the ones: “So, when you are you and Vanessa going to get that baby making started? Do you need me to tell you how it works?” ( wink, wink) says your husband’s business colleague in the middle of the company party.

Tisk, tsk, tsk. Neither Emily Post nor Amy Vanderbilt would approve of such banter as appropriate. I’m sure it is mentioned in their etiquette books between the chapters of “how to address a wedding invitation” and “how to fold a napkin.” To put it simply, “baby makin’ ain’t a topic for small-talk.”

IT’S JUST A SIMPLE QUESTION. WHY DO YOU HAVE TEARS IN YOUR EYES?

The reason questions related to procreation can be uncomfortable is because a large percentage of couples face the reality of infertility or pregnancy loss. For these couples, their heart’s desire and the timing of God fail to intersect at the same point. It can bring with it angst, sadness, and confusion. These couples have learned that creating a child isn’t as easy as making a dinner reservation, and they don’t necessarily want to share their personal details with the man standing behind them at the grocery line. It’s not that they want to keep this a secret; it’s just that they don’t really want to unleash real, raw emotions in the middle of Publix.

WHAT ARE WOMEN REALLY THINKING?

Let’s examine the thoughts of ten women when they are asked the innocuous question: “Are you going to have kids?” You can read how emotionally laden such a simple question might be:

???SO, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE KIDS???

Woman THINKS
Woman SAYS
Oh, how I wish I could have more babies! But you know what- I didn’t choose to have that emergency hysterectomy that stole my uterus from my body.  
No, I think we are finished.
We’ve been trying for two years & have lost four babies due to miscarriage. Yes, we want more babies, but it’s not working out.  
We will see.
I check my temperature every day, my husband is on-call for when I ovulate, and I have seen 36 negative pregnancy tests. We would have a house-full if it weren’t for infertility. 
We will see.  
I delivered a precious still-born child last year. I’m too afraid to start trying again. I’m not over that loss.

 

We will see.
Yes, sir we do want kids. We have visited every fertility specialist on the east coast and right now I’m on my third round of IVF.  
We will see.
Can you not see the dark circles under my eyes? I’ve been up all night for 13 months! I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired! My husband doesn’t help at all. I barely have time for a shower, much less time to make another baby.  
We will see.
You are going to call me selfish if I tell you the truth. You are going to argue with me. But the truth of the matter is, my husband and I just don’t want children. I’m not less of a woman if I choose to be childless.  
No, I don’t think so, but we will see.
We are researching adoption options. Just want to keep it quiet while my husband and I prayerfully consider the options.

 

We will see.
I can’t just snap my fingers and get pregnant! We’ve been “trying” for a year. Nobody told me if might be hard. I’ve got an appointment with the doctor next week to find out the details of my husbands “sperm count.”

 

We will see.
I’m eight-weeks now! But, waiting to announce until we tell my family. I’m so excited!!!
We will see.

As you can read, this simple question can trigger a variance of emotional responses for many women and couples.  Fertility issues are invisible burdens that many couples bear; we should acknowledge that possibility before asking such a personal inquiry.

I say, “Enough already!”

Questioning in the middle of the grocery store- not okay. Questioning over a cup of coffee during an intimate conversation- okay. Questioning in the middle of church “hand-shaking” time- not okay. Questioning in the middle of a private conversation at church-maybe okay.

We should definitely give grace and forgiveness to acquaintances whom inquire about such personal matters. Many have a motive of pure kindness and are not privy to inner struggles. Also, opening up to other people about struggles and fears can be extremely helpful; it is through conversation and vulnerability that we find out that others might have faced similar circumstances and might be able to offer us hope, wisdom, and kinship.

Those of us with fertility issues might also consider responding with the truth-  even if the question-asker is put in an awkward position.  Responding by saying, “Actually we do WANT children, but we have complications with fertility.  Do you mind praying for us?” Answering this way can be powerful, freeing, and makes a social statement that infertility and pregnancy loss are not topics of shame.

But as a society we should all stop using the question of children as small-talk. Only ask if you are prepared for a real answer and ready to provide a listening ear (or a slap in the face).  Likewise, let’s all  (men, I’m mainly talking to you) make a concerted effort to stop teasing people (mainly your fellow guy friends) about having or not having kids.

Readers, repeat after me, “I will stop teasing people about whether or not they have children. I will stop asking acquaintances if they want more or any children. Instead, I will ask about the weather or summer vacation plans.”

And we all say, “Amen”.

So, what’s your favorite small-talk question to ask someone? And, what’s your favorite way to answer the “Do you want to have kids?” question?

 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

FERTILITY FACTS:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infertility.htm

Fertility problems are quite common. According the CDC, about 11% of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.

Men are not immune: based on a 2002 survey by the CDC, 7.5% of all sexually experienced men younger than age 45 reported seeing a fertility doctor during their lifetime—this equals 3.3–4.7 million men. Of men who sought help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%).