When are you going to have a baby?
Answering this question when we're struggling with fertility and/or when we've experienced pregnancy loss(es) can be a highly unpleasant experience.
In an ideal world, people will never ever ask you about your reproductive intentions unless they are someone extremely close to you. However, not everyone realizes the pain this question can cause pain (just as I didn't before I started trying to have children) and it's good to be prepared and find a way of answering that's the least awkward for you.
I tried multiple tactics to answering the question before finding one that worked right for me.
This is the process I went through:
Tactic 1: a seemingly disinterested and vague response about possibly having children at some point in the future.
The risk: the asker will feel it's their role to inform you how you should have one now before you are too old, before your other child/children are too old etc.
My experience: at an opening event of a local studio, a fellow yoga teacher asked me if I was planning to have more children. I was in the midst of my second miscarriage, and said 'maybe one day …' vaguely waving my hand around. She then went on to tell me I really should have another one, it was terrible for children to grow up as only children (it's not), how selfish it is of parents not to provide a sibling for their child (it's not) and how I was potentially damaging my child for life (I wasn't).
The result: I went out onto the street and cried.
Time for another approach.
Tactic 2: honesty.
The risk: Can cause extreme discomfort. Theirs, and therefore yours. I discovered this only works if you are extremely close friends / family.
My experience: The wife of a colleague asked me the same dreaded question, shortly after my experience with tactic 1 above. So, I went for honesty and told her we'd like another, but I'd had two losses and were taking a break for now for the sake of our mental health.
The result: She looked completely horrified and got up and walked away. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
The next time someone asked me, I was caught completely off guard and in came tactic 3 (not recommended).
Tactic 3: stare dumbly at the person without speaking
The risk: they might call an ambulance. Or at best, think you're somewhat 'special'.
My experience: a summer bbq at friends' of my husbands turned into them persuading us to sleep over. It was a carefree, warm summer evening with wine and good vibes. I felt wonderful. I was then caught completely off guard when the question came and the whole of the group turned to look at me, seemingly eagerly waiting for my answer. My mind raced, tactics 1 and 2 had already failed me. I didn't know what to say. So, I said … nothing. I sat there with an open mouth for what seemed an eternity before some kind soul determined that was not an appropriate question, and the conversation moved, somewhat awkwardly, onto something else.
The result: awkwardness, weirdness and me wishing we'd stayed home and basically never wanting to go to any kind of social activity again.
And so I realized I had to be prepared for this question and I discussed with close friends how they dealt with it. And I came up with a response that finally worked for me.
My go to tactic: a smile, say 'we're happy as we are for now' and a firm change of topic by asking them a question.
I used this a number of times and it worked for me every time. Mainly because after the experiences above, I was ready. I rehearsed the line and had it in my mental back pocket to use in case.
Now, you are sure to find your own response that works for you. But, above all, I advise you to be ready. Know you can't rely on people not to ask. So to avoid the awkward situations that I endured, have a tactic practiced and ready to go.
If you've got a response to the dreaded question that works for you, I'd love to hear it!