Why Can’t We Talk About This?

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

A former coworker, who upon meeting for the first time, asked both my age and if I had children. I was 35, and no, “not yet.” She then pressed her hand into mine, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Well, don’t you worry. Older women have babies all the time.”

It was in that moment I began to despise her. This dislike would grow like cancerous mold during the next few years. She saw what I didn’t want to discuss, my most vulnerable spot, and poked at it.

I saw her again just last week. We no longer work together. The first words out of her unpolished mouth were, “Oh, no baby bump yet? Well, keep trying!”  No longer bound to the rules of the workplace, I replied, “I don’t miss that.” I swallowed the less kind words that also came to mind.

My close friends and family know I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while. There have been doctor appointments, one minor but very expensive surgery, and countless ovulation tests. There is still no baby. My mother, girlfriends, and anyone else who sees the exhausted anguish on my face, regularly reassure me, “Don’t worry. It will happen.”

Will it? Can we for a moment talk about the fact that it might not, and that this reality will have to be okay, too? My husband has adult children, and one turning 16 next week. He is not interested in adoption or fostering, even though I’ve long wanted to go this route. Either this pregnancy thing happens, or we move on as a married couple without children together.

And that will have to be okay.

The reason I’m sharing my frustration is multifaceted. I’m tired of having people pat my hand, especially friends with children. Sure, tell me again how it will happen because it happened for you. That isn’t the way biology works. I’m also tired of having relative strangers say things like, “Oh, so you didn’t want children?” or worse, “Well, you’d better hurry!” when they hear I’m married and don’t have kids. I’m certain I said these sorts of stupid comments when I was younger and without understanding of how terrible they were.

I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was given my first baby doll. I have no regrets that this didn’t come to be before I met my husband. I love my stepchildren, and yes—I am fortunate to have them in my lives, but again: do not reassure me that “at least I have them.” They have a mother who they adore. I do not fill that role. And also, they aren’t ever to be put in the “at least” category.

My advice is this: if you have a woman in your life who is trying to get pregnant, ask her if she wants to talk about it. Let her vent, if she wants to. And if she doesn’t, let her be. Try your hardest not to put your story on her if she doesn’t ask for advice. If she doesn’t want to attend your baby shower, or hold your baby, understand it has nothing to do with you.

There is also the superstition that a woman trying to get pregnant, or newly pregnant, shouldn’t talk about it. That’s crap. Her words aren’t going to make it be anything other than it is, but the chance to speak about what she is feeling very well may be her saving grace.

I’ve never felt more emotionally fragile, or wanted something more. Thank you for handling me, and others in my spot, with care.






25 Replies to “Why Can’t We Talk About This?”

  1. Hugs to you my friend! I know having a child is very important to you. Know you are loved and I’m always available fro in person and virtual hugs.

    As for that former co-worker B%tch comes to mind on your behalf.

  2. I love you, so much. Your bravery, honesty, and transparency about something that causes you so much sadness and pain (and hope) makes me love you even more. You are supported, held close in my heart and thoughts, and will ALWAYS have a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on in my part of the world. The Universe sure knows you were there for me.

    And you’re right…”At least” should be taken out of people’s mouths forever, just as “it will happen”, “keep trying”, and “everything happens for a reason”.

    I’m here for you, always, Wifey.

  3. Everything you said, so true. There are no wise words. Nothing that eases the not-knowing. Being honest about how you feel, and crying a bit, and raging a bit is all that one can do. Holding you in love.

  4. This is such a complicated subject. Everyone carries their own baggage into the conversation, and as well meaning as they may be, it doesn’t make their words sting any less. Hugs, friend.

  5. I feel ya sister… as I am the one who tried and lost our one and only baby at 12 weeks (another taboo subject). Finding our life partners later in this life game… it makes it a rough go. We spend years trying NOT to pregnant and then… this…
    Now at the age of 46, people still ask if I’m going to try… um no… no I’m not. The likelyhood of downs and other health issues just present a risk I’m not willing to commit to at this age.
    Try – don’t try… I’ll still support you no matter what and listen if you want to lament about the latest test or procedure.
    And those step kids are lucky to have you in their lives that’s for sure!

  6. I hear you!!! Anytime you want to talk, please reach out. Our journey is not exactly the same, but similar in some ways. We should all talk more about this and other issues that affect us. Silence is not golden.

  7. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about!!!! I’m here if you ever need a listening ear. People can be so insensitive – both on purpose and not on purpose. I know I’ve probably said some really insensitive things in my life but hopefully I’ve never said any of those stupid things with the intention to hurt someone – and if I did I pray for forgiveness. Not really sure where I’m going with this comment…..so just know that you are loved!!!!!!

  8. As an older mom who wanted six children and was finally able to have one, you are in my thoughts through this time. If you want to see a specialist I highly recommend, I am happy to share, but no pressure.

  9. hugs! thank you for sharing, that was an intense post. I didn’t want kids for a long time. And hated all the comments thrown my way about it. We decided to try and it didn’t happen quickly for us either. Always here to listen!

  10. I’m sorry you have to deal with this!

    I never understood people who have strict timelines with required milestones that everyone must meet. They have made it their life’s mission to wrangle in those of us who are non-compliant. But the funny thing is, these people exist on the periphery of our lives. They aren’t close friends or even favorite acquaintances.

    I figure it’s their obsession. And I tell them not to worry about it, we’re happy.

  11. Dear Kelli, I understand your post all too well. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as always.

    Here is a snippet of my journey meant to only show you that you are not alone:

    When I got married at 19 people thought I must have been pregnant. Not the case. Seven years later they stopped thinking that and kept asking me yearly when I was going to have a baby. I struggled for years with non cycles, medication to get cycles, infertility etc. After many many years of trying everything, I was finally blessed with a healthy pregnancy to which people including a co-worker told me not to be so thrilled about and to keep to myself because it might all be in vain and I might lose it. I do not understand people. Once my daughter was born and I knew that she was my miracle, people would still ask when I was having another. One family member who knew my struggles actually told my two year old daughter to “tell Mommy to have a brother or a sister for her to play with”!!! Thanks, but I CAN’T. Ugh. The moral of my story is no one truly knows your journey except for you. Do not let the ignorance of some people get to you. Hold tight to those who open up their hearts and listen to you and support you. Life is tough enough.

  12. This really struck a chord with me, Kelli (I have secondary infertility). I’m actually in the middle of writing an article about the OTHER happy ending to an infertility journey – which is that nothing happens, and you live your life and still have joy and worth and value. The narrative seems to always be that you have success with infertility when you finally get all the science and magic right, the stars align, and you have a miracle baby. That’s just not the reality for many people, and (obviously) it’s very possible to love the life you’re living even when it doesn’t look like you planned. But dang, people sure like to tell you what your life should look like, don’t they? Hugs to you!

  13. First of all, I’m glad to see you are still blogging!

    2nd, I don’t think it’s my business to say anything like that to anyone. If they want to talk to me about it I’m all ears and hugs 🙂

  14. Oh friend!I’m so sorry to hear that this is something you are having to hear as you are in this season! Hugs & prayers to you in this journey.

  15. I am sorry this happened to you. Those words make me cringe.

    People say horrible things about topics that are completely inappropriate. You’re a heck of a lot nicer than I could ever hope to be. That colleague would have gotten a reply more along the lines of “How dare you speak so rudely about something that is none of your business? You are an awful person who needs to &$#%*+~.” from me.

  16. Hi Friend,

    I read your post then got distracted by a million and one other things. First, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing. Second, wow that’s a rough road to travel. If I can do anything, please ask. Prayers for you and I really, really pray that a baby is in the future. Hugs, fertile thoughts, angry outbursts that it isn’t happening easily.


  17. If you ever need to chat you have my e-mail. Had a similar experience in my early 30s. It is hard.

  18. Getting all caught up here! This is such a tough situation, Kelli — my heart goes out to you. It continues to amaze me that we, as women, continue to think that casual conversation should include anything more than possibly the passing “are you married, do you have kids?” We owe it to ourselves to come up with better topics of discussion!! (And I say this as a perpetually awkward person who’s terrible at making conversation. But also as someone who spent her entire dateless 20s fielding marriage questions. “Why aren’t you? What’s wrong with you? Do you even like men?” Nosy Lady from Accounting, please stop yourself!!)

    And can we please strike “at least” from our comforting phrase choices. Because, personally, when I hear that, all I hear is, “Quit complaining until you have a REAL problem.” A person can be grateful and blessed AND sad and frustrated all at the same time. I think it’s usually meant well, but when you’re already feeling vulnerable, it can feel like a slap in the face.

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