"Why don't you have kids?"
Being that I am in my early thirties and have a vagina, this question comes up. And it’s not just every so often - it is daily. One might think that the more reasonable question is, “Do you have kids?” and yes, it usually starts there. But why don’t I have kids? I could be at a neighborhood BBQ, buying a dress, traveling in another country, running a marathon, at the DMV. . . the dreaded question is literally asked every.single. day.
I have a variety of canned answers. I typically respond with, “hopefully one day” if I don’t really know the person, or if it’s the same moron that has already brought it up a few times I will say, “we are working on it, we have to go the IVF or adoption route,” to which people either ask very personal questions, share unnecessary advice and unwanted opinions, or if I’m really lucky the previously inquisitive mind will have no idea what I’m talking about and we can fortunately change the conversation to work, sports, or weather. I don’t want seem too negative. I have a lot of girlfriends and family members who are very supportive and I value their love and support more than they will ever know. It’s just, unfortunately, that the bad conversations seem to outweigh the good.
I like to classify people as cats or dogs. I’ve only mentioned this to a handful of friends, but as a rule after meeting someone, I always decide if they are a “dog” or a “cat,” and I typically do not change my designation once I’ve secretly labeled said person. It is important to clarify that not everyone is all dog or all cat. I do *sometimes* classify people as hybrid dog/cat, but I often find that my initial label tends to hold true. I used to go a little further than just a general “D” or “C” label: for example “she’s a real Labrador” or “he’s a Garfield” - but that is nonsense. Now I just stick to a simple D or C. It’s also important to note that not all cat lovers are “cats” and not all dog lovers are “dogs.” I have quite a few cat-loving friends who are certifiable “dogs” per my scale. My neighbor Christy is a wonderful example of a CLD, or Cat-Loving Dog (she’s an amazing person, btw).
It is of vital importance for me to announce my awareness of the fact that I am obviously (way) more sensitive to this topic than the people who are asking the questions. Wanting a baby is something that my husband and myself talk about almost constantly at home. It has gone so far as to define our life together as we have been forced to become consumed by the fact that we cannot have children. I would not change this at all, because I now know my husband better than I ever would have if we didn’t have this to overcome. I know what he’s willing to do for us (get his nuts cut open, drink bee pollen smoothies, eat broccoli) and it regularly brings me to tears thinking of what he has endured. I do the same for him (get my uterus scratched, drink pig’s blood, eat spinach). This is obviously a very short list of all the things we do and continue to do for a baby, as I’m sure you all know.
(JK about the pig’s blood . . . . . . UNLESS you’ve heard that helps with IVF success.)
Which brings me back to the original topic: “Why don’t you have children?”
What I should say when people ask is that my breath is likely still fresh with the terrible stench of the DONG QUIA tea I drink (recommendation of a phenomenal acupuncurist). I’m not sure how I could word that response without being too dramatic. "OH YOU DIDN'T CATCH THE SCENT OF THE DONG TEA I DRANK THIS MORNING TO TRY AND MIRACULOUSLY CURE ME OF MY GIRL PART PROBLEMS". I also don’t think I really even have to describe what DONG tea tastes like, I've grown to like the taste, but brutal honesty may be a more effective response to these repeat offenders. I could also say, we don’t have children because I have a tennis ball sized polyp lodged in my uterus that keeps growing and my husband has what we like to call “hot nuts” - it’s like a hot tub down there (more on this from him later).
Over the years and through all of the misguided conversations kicked off with, "Why don't you have children?" that we have endured one thing remains the same, there are the people that get it and people that don't. The people that get it are your people, they're the people that you can confide in who won't let you down. The people that don't get it, a very small part of the reason I started writing, are the reason we endure and band together. Much like the C or D designation, very early on in your fertility struggles it is important to identify your people who get it and maybe even more important to know who never will. I need to clarify that I am still friends with the people who don't get it (unless it's the mouth-breathing-Cartman-esque-creep that called me a "kidless idiot" at a neighborhood function when prior to this interaction we had never really spoken, mostly because he just stares mouth agape at people with a strange look at all times while drinking a liter of Dr. Pepper, I'll understandably loathe him for eternity . . . but he doesn't count because we obviously weren't friends before that event).
MAY THE BARREN BETTY'S OF THE WORLD UNITE (maybe a tad overdramatic- I could blame it on my fertility meds, but I know they aren't currently responsible).
To the other Barren Betty's (henceforth known as BB's) out there: Who are your people that you count on while going through all of this? What do you say when someone makes you uncomfortable about fertility struggles? What keeps you grounded?