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Your Fertility Privacy: 12 Ways To Cope With People’s Questions

Your Fertility Privacy: 12 Ways To Cope With People’s Questions

“So, when are you finally going to have kids?!”

“The clock is ticking.”

“You’re not getting any younger!”

Ugh. If you are trying to conceive, other people’s ‘small talk’ may feel like small daggers to your heart. Truly it’s nobody’s business but yours. But as any couple who has experienced fertility problems will testify, sooner or later someone is going to say something insensitive, or pry, perhaps in front of a room full of people. And when it happens, if you’re unprepared you’re likely to walk away wishing you’d said this or that, perhaps feeling even worse.

Knowledge is power. So here are a few tips to on how to defend yourself from other people’s cluelessness. Pick one, pick two, pick them all for a different day of the week…

1. Remember You Don’t Owe Anyone Any Explanations

Whatever your darling mother-in-law says, you aren’t obliged to provide grandchildren. Similarly other friends, family, or co-workers do not have a ‘right’ to know. Your body, your information, your choice – starting from this point will help you build a strategy for how to deal with questions.

2. Remember That Most People Mean Well

Yes we’ve all heard the horror stories of that wench in accounts who loves to brag of her ‘perfect family’ and then pointedly ask others when they’re going to ‘get on with it’. Thankfully these people tend to be rare. Most people’s queries just come from a desire to show care and an interest in other people’s lives, plus a dose of social conditioning. Remembering the innocence of their motivations can help if you feel the urge to give the inquisitor a clip round the ear – especially if your hormones are doing a dance!

3. If You Choose To Tell, Choose Wisely

Perhaps your sister will cry and it will make you cry. Perhaps your old school-friend got pregnant three times after merely looking at her husband and you will just feel awkward talking to her about it. Whatever your reasoning, there might be some people you love very dearly, yet do it not want to discuss it with – that’s fair enough.

4. But Remember That Total Isolation May Not Be Helpful

It’s tempting to ignore the phone, it’s tempting to cancel your social arrangements, it’s tempting to spend all your spare time at home with Ben & Jerry’s and Netflix, we get it. But the potential link between ‘stress relief’ and improved fertility still requires much more research, and it’s nothing as simplistic as ‘relax and it’ll happen’. But doing what you can to manage your stress and minimise isolation at this time, can only be good for you and your partner. The struggle to conceive can put a strain on a relationship and if you handle your emotions with self-care, you can emerge stronger as a couple than ever before.

Consider joining a fertility support group. Look for message boards and forums and information lines that can help. Fertility Network is a good place to start. Is there anyone in your social circle who’d be a good sounding board?

5. Tell Your Confidants That If You Want To Talk About It Again, You’ll Bring It Up

For most women anxiously monitoring ovulation kits, dreading any sign of their period, and perhaps experiencing the toil of taking hormones, the last thing they need is people chirruping: ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Are you there yet?’ Yes they care and want to show an interest in your life, but it can feel like still more pressure that you just don’t need. Consider letting your circle know that you’ll talk about it and report back as and when you want to – but please, no questions until then. Good friends will understand.

6. Use An Intermediary

Do you want your family to know so that you can avoid having to tell white lies when you’re going for appointments and the like, but would rather not have the uncomfortable conversation? If so, is there a sibling or a cousin you’re happy to talk to and have them carefully tell the others?

7. Be Humorous

This is not for everyone, but if you have a playful demeanour, you should be able to carry it off. You could try: ‘Not for lack of trying!’ or ‘Sooo busy, chance would be a fine thing!’ Then follow it up by quickly changing the subject. Most people won’t pry any further.

8. Prepare A Deflector Question

It could be anything from ‘why do you ask?’ to a ‘so how’s the job?’ Something to take the heat off you and get the questioner focused on something else.

9. ‘Stonewall’

This would tend to be for the ruder inquisitors – the ones who don’t accept your quick retorts. You could try a bit of eye contact and a pause. Most likely, they’ll feel the awkwardness, realise they are the cause of it, and zip their mouths shut.

10. Go Sassy, Like Chrissy Teigen

Supermodel, wife of John Legend, proud mother and now champion of women with fertility struggles, Chrissy Teigen knew how to burn ignorant trolls who questioned her brave choice to undergo IVF.

11. Pick Your Response To The Old Wives Tale Advice

My auntie had the same problem – she put onions in her socks and it worked a treat!’

In all likelihood, someone is going to offer up a trite old wives’ tale.

You might want to reply with a quip: ‘Oh have you submitted this to the British Medical Journal?’ Or you could just smile and say ‘thanks’. Either reply will usually shut it down.

12. Do You Want To Attend That Baby Shower?

Yes, all your friends are having babies and you are happy for them. But their baby grows and scan snaps remind you of the fact that you’re not there yet – and that can be heartbreaking. You worry about becoming upset, so you think it’s best not to go to these events – but then if you don’t go, will you feel judged? There isn’t really an easy answer for this one, except ‘migraines’ and being ‘out of town’. But one thing we will say: If you do the venting you need to do with people who’ve been handpicked, then it will give you renewed strength to either say yes or no to those invitations as you see fit.

So there you have it: Talk about it, don’t talk about it, which feels best for you. But have a plan! It sounds strange to say, but getting through daily life with fertility problems can be helped – just a little bit – by having a communication strategy. After all, you’ve got enough on your plate without worrying about questions.


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