Advice about questioning plans to have kids, from someone who has been there

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to accuse or call out any of my specific friends or family members in any way, but rather to provide general advice to anyone interested in hearing it from my unique perspective.

Thanksgiving is a few short days away, and before we know it Christmas will be here! This season is truly my favorite time of year. I love all the celebrations, decorations, traditions, good food, and, most importantly, quality time with friends and family, some of whom I often don’t see the rest of the year. However, the holidays can also be hard for a number of different reasons.

If you are married without kids, you are probably asked on a somewhat regular basis by friends, family members, co-workers, creepy dudes in the grocery store and other complete strangers when you are planning on starting your family. I know I probably got asked that question from one person or another at least once a month. The holiday season, with all its extended family time, is often filled with these kinds of proverbial land mines.

This time last year, David and I had been trying to conceive for about two months and even though we were still early in the process we already had an inkling something was wrong. Very few people knew we were trying, and I had told hardly anyone that my body just wasn’t working right after stopping birth control.

In years past, handling questions about our family plans wasn’t hard. However, there is something about trying to conceive, even if you have only been trying a short time, that makes those questions incredibly painful and intrusive.

The purpose of this post is not to speak to the women who may be struggling to get pregnant this holiday season. You are brave and strong, and I know you have your own ways of dealing with this very personal issue. Every woman copes in her own way.

Instead, I would like to take a moment to address well-meaning family members who plan on asking their niece/sister/cousin/aunt/daughter/relation of any sort when they plan on having a baby: With all due love and respect, please don’t.

“You guys have been married for what, three years now? Are kids in your future anytime soon?”

“I heard about your husband’s new job, so excited for you! I guess now you guys can get started on popping out some kids! Just kidding. Sort of. When can we expect some babies?”

“I was surprised to hear your cousin was expecting, I thought for sure you would be the next one in the family making a pregnancy announcement.”

“You look great holding that baby, I think it’s time for some kids of your own!”

I know these statements and questions are well meaning and said with the best of intentions. But, the truth is, they are practically impossible to answer if you are trying to conceive and only serve as a reminder of what you want more than anything, but for some reason aren’t capable of at the moment.

While David and I were trying, I voluntarily reached out to those I was comfortable telling. When those individuals asked me how things were going in that department, I felt loved and was happy to answer their questions honestly. When individuals who were not in the know made statements like the above in front of a large Thanksgiving crowd, I laughed nervously at the time and cried to David later.

So, a word of unsolicited advice this holiday season from my humble point of view: if you don’t already know the status of someone’s family plans, it is best to not ask or comment, especially in a public setting. You never know what kind of battles someone else is fighting.

Blown Away

To say I am blown away by the response to my first venture into the blogging world is an understatement.

It has been such a blessing to read everyone’s responses, and I have especially enjoyed the conversations it has spurred with other women who have either beat infertility themselves, or are in the middle of their journey. I’ve also heard from many men and women who didn’t realize infertility was such a common issue but were intrigued by our story. Thank you for taking the time to read what I had to say. The hope of having these conversations is exactly why I decided to open up. I am humbled, and honestly could not ask for anything more.

I’m still not 100% sure what I am going to use this little blog for. I started it because, due to some current and upcoming life changes, I know I will need a new outlet for my writing. I also hope to use it as a way to keep loved ones who live far away updated on our life and family in a more in-depth way than Facebook and Instagram. However, I am also open to using it for a lot more, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

I am by no means an expert on fertility issues, and there are many aspects of infertility my husband and I did not have to face. But, I found the conversations that came out of my initial post so encouraging that I am considering writing a few posts that delve into the specifics of what we experienced.

So, if anyone out there is interested in the type of testing we went through, hearing more about things like the dreaded HSG, or even laughing at awkward moments in our treatment, please let me know!

There were many times throughout our process that I turned to Google and the blogs of women I sometimes didn’t even know for information, and they brought me a lot of comfort and real-world knowledge. I would love the opportunity to provide that reassurance to others.

What you don’t see in the Cute Pregnancy Announcement

Two pink lines. One much fainter than the other, but there were undeniably two lines.

I will never forget that moment standing in our tiny bathroom. I held the home pregnancy test up to my husband and we stared at each other in disbelief. Over the next couple of days four more home pregnancy tests (what can I say? I was excited!) and two blood tests would confirm it: we were pregnant!

We excitedly began brainstorming creative ways to tell our family and, of course, how to share it on Social Media. Even more important than the cute announcement picture, I knew we needed to open up about our journey to pregnancy.

From what we see in the media and on Facebook, getting pregnant seems simple, fun, and easy; but one in eight couples struggle with infertility. We learned we were part of that one in eight shortly after we began trying to conceive.

I always had an inkling in the back of my mind that getting pregnant might be more difficult than I wanted it to be, but nothing quite prepares you for the rush of emotions that hit when a doctor tells you there is something wrong and you won’t be able to do it on your own.

As a woman, I felt completely betrayed by my body. We are told that God created us with the amazing, unique ability to grow and create life; it’s something to be proud of and something to cherish. Then one day you find out that your body has a hard time with that God-given purpose. Modern medicine, miracles, and “God’s perfect timing” aside, I just wanted my body to work.

As a couple, we not only had to face the reality that our dream of a family would take longer to accomplish, we had to prepare for a litany of medical appointments and tests. We had to answer difficult questions and be open about a very private, intimate part of our relationship; often to doctors we had just met.

The Lord redeems all things for good, and I would not change a single thing about our story. David and I saw our relationship stretch and grow in incredible ways, and we felt bolstered by a wonderful support system of family and friends. There are blessings in every circumstance. I don’t share our story to complain or make anyone feel sorry for us, but to try to bring awareness to an issue that is very common but often not discussed.

I want to give hope to the woman scrolling through Facebook who cries at yet another pregnancy announcement, or comfort to the couple who want children more than anything, but it’s just not happening how they envisioned. I understand you, I feel your pain, I will never tell you that your current struggle will make your future kids “that much more precious,” and I hope by sharing our story, I can make your journey a little less taboo.

The road to pregnancy looks different for everyone. Our road included eight months of trying, a litany of blood tests and invasive exams, countless doctors’ appointments, a lot of money spent, an initial diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and a re-diagnosis of Chronic Anovulation which culminated in a round of Clomid and ultimately getting pregnant with our current little love.

We need to respect the differences in our stories; one size does not fit all and that’s beautiful. It is my hope that we can talk more freely about the story behind the cute announcement picture and celebrate those stories with genuine joy.