Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Lady Who Ruined My Week

I have to get this off my chest... I just have to... so bare with me and my rant.

On Wednesday afternoon, my heart was crushed.  It doesn't take much these days for someone's words to hurt me to my core.  I'm sensitive as it is, but add in daily Lupron injections and those darn vivelle patches in preparation for my upcoming FET, and I'd say that anxious, stressed, tense and worried doesn't even come close to covering how I really feel. 

Anyway, I've mentioned before that my job requires me to meet with clients on a weekly basis.  This is always something that I have enjoyed doing - it's great that my job allows me to be out and about, talking to people (even if what we're talking about is boring old insurance).  But, over the past couple of years as infertility has burrowed its way deeper and further into my life, socializing isn't something that I'd say I enjoy... at all... especially with strangers.  Now, my clients aren't strangers per se, I do know these people, but they don't know me... not the real me.  They know me as Aubrey, the Client Executive, their contact for life and disability stuff.  They don't know what's going on in my life.  And they sure as heck don't see the pain in my eyes that is there every.single.day. 

So, as I mentioned, my heart felt like it was smashed into a million little pieces as I met with a new client on Wednesday afternoon.  This woman was very nice - we had a good, productive meeting - but when the insurance talk was over, we started to chit chat.  And that's when I always start to tense up... when it gets personal, because I know what's coming.  The woman started talking about her children... twins (I automatically think to myself, hmmm, I wonder if she suffered through infertility too?) and another younger child.  I could feel my heart beating faster.  And then it happened...

Do you have any children?
 
Ugh.  Even after two and a half years, I still, still, don't have a good answer to this question.  A simple No just doesn't seem to cut it... While my eyes are filling up with tears because of some stranger's inability to realize that you just don't ask this question to someone, that's all I can say, though.  So, I told this woman that no, I don't have any children.  To which she replied...
 
Oh yeah, you're too young.
 
And then, just like that, she was done.  She moved on to the next person in the room, my co-worker, who does have children.  I don't even know what she had asked him when I suddenly and quietly whispered I can't.  I don't think she heard me.  She was too far into her conversation with my co-worker about his children at that point (two that were born during the two and a half years that I've been trying for just one, mind you).  But it doesn't matter if she heard me or not.  As I said, my heart was crushed. 
 
You see, here's the thing... and it all goes back to thinking before you speak.  Would you ask someone who is bald if they have cancer just because they have no hair on their head?  I'm willing to bet that most of you are answering that question with a No.  So, then, how could you ask someone, just because they are a female who looks like she is of the child bearing age (whatever that means) if she has children?  I understand that this may seem like a normal question to ask - people have babies everyday, having a baby is what a woman is supposed to be able to do... I mean, what's the harm in asking someone if they have children, right?  Well... let's think about it:
 
1. That person might not want children.
2. That person might be trying (with all of their might, with all of their hope, their faith, and even their darn bank account) to get pregnant.
3. That person might not be able to.
4. That person might be pregnant with a donor's egg or sperm.
5. That person might be pregnant with their own egg and their partner's sperm and they haven't yet told anyone, you dummy!
 
THE.LIST.GOES.ON.PEOPLE!
 
As I drove home that afternoon, with tears streaming down my face and steam coming out of my ears from my anger, I realized that what really sent me over the edge wasn't necessarily her initial question asking me if I have children.  No, it was how she followed up to me letting her know that I don't have children - she said that I am too young.  What I wish I could have responded to her with is this: 'No lady, I'm not too young.  I am thirty one years old.  My husband and I have a lot of love to offer a baby, probably more than you could ever imagine.  We have good jobs and will be able to financially support a child.  We are not too young.  I am not too young.  But since you asked, as it turns out, I'm actually too old to have a baby.  Though I'm thirty one, my eggs are in their forties.  So, thanks for the reminder you big, fat, jerk!
 
Moral of the story: don't ask another woman if she has any children.  Just don't.


34 comments:

Well-intentioned said...

So sorry that that happened! So many of us have been there. Women who haven't had to struggle can't imagine how loaded of a question that really is.
Sometimes I want to make a really awkward comment to put them in their place....but I never have....I just choke on my tears too.
There are so many things that I will NEVER do or say after walking this long road. Just remember...WE are not walking alone. Hugs!

Christen said...

Amen to everything you just wrote!! Why do some women not realize that a flippant comment can seriously be crushing?? I had a woman at work chirp to me, "You better get on having kids before it's too late!" one time. B*tch.

The conclusion I've come to is... these people just don't know ANYTHING. They don't know anything about loss or wanting something so much. They don't put themselves in other people's shoes. And it's unfortunate because while they go about their ordinary day, their comment lingers and repeats over and over, hurting each time.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I dread that question so much! I am also preparing for an FET with Dr. Schoolcraft in November, if you've started patches I think you are a week ahead of me. Wishing you the best of luck. I am also missing the chocolate and pumpkin lattes- if you like apple cider, Starbucks has a decent one and it is autumn-y! :)

JoJo said...

I'm sorry you had to go though that Aubrey. It's always tough when the kid convo comes up. It's sorta unavoidable bc everyone around us seems to have kids left and right. One day u will be able to smile and day yes I do have kid(s). Praying for u(:

Kimberly Q said...

Sorry you had to deal with this. I realize now that I used to ask people all if the time if they had kids. Now I never ask, I wait until they mention having one and then might ask normal follow up questions like how old, etc. IF taught me that lesson

Meanttobemommy said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. Anytime there is a baby anywhere near our office all of my coworkers who have no idea what I'm going through say "are you next?" I want to scream "I should have been first! Not next! And sorry I have no idea if I'm next,". UG. People just don't think.

Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples said...

Kim at Infertile Myrtle http://msmyrtle.wordpress.com just posted about this too. People suck. Sometimes I wish we could just lash out at people like that...so they finally GET IT. I'm so sorry honey.

the blogivers said...

Regardless of the lady's intentions, I'm sorry her question and comment made you so sad :( I hope you are enjoying a weekend free of idle chit chat!! Hugs to you!

Jennifer T said...

I am so so sorry people are so insensitive and stupid! You couldn't have said it better! Thank you for this post. I understand the feelings of chit chatting and the anxiety that comes with someone bringing up that question of if you have kids... I hate it! I am going to share this with my family because some still don't seem to get how hurtful the things that come out of their mouths are. I'm so sorry. Hugs!

Erika said...

Ugh, the "you're too young" comment...really? Really. So you are old enough to be running client meetings and handling her insurance needs...but not old enough to have children? Really? Okay, thanks, guru. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. My semi-standard response the last few years for the "do you have kids yet?" has been "no, but not for lack of trying!"...depending on the facial expression/voice (a little wink gives it an entirely different tone, haha, or a sad voice...) and the person I'm talking to, it either just shuts them up or elicits some kind of sympathetic/kind response. Sometimes follow-up questions, but then at least they know what they're getting themselves into.

Caroline said...

So sorry that you had a bad day Aubrey!! hugs for you!

jAllen said...

If It's a total stranger (unlike your client that you may have to interact with again) I tell them "No, I want to, but I'm infertile and I can't" as I enjoy knowing that some of them recognise that he or she is being an insensitive jerk. Then I make sure I can get out of the situation as soon as I can, because I know what will follow..."Have you tried...?" "I knew someone who was told she'd never have kids and her baby is a year old!" ...or..."Just Adopt"...Oh, Fuck You!

Emily said...

So sorry, those conversations are the worst. :(

bellehavendrive said...

I hate it when people ask if I have children. You're right; a simple "No" just doesn't cut it. People really shouldn't ask that question, but they're CLUELESS! Oh my gosh, the "You're too young" comment just pisses me off! I'm so sorry you had to deal with that this week. xoxo ...

Mrs B. said...

I had someone ask the other day and when I said 'no' she said 'why what's wrong with you?' Then laughed at me. Bleh. People suck. And we're so fragile too.. Hugs

Emily said...

Too young? Is she cray cray or maybe she's coming from a place where she used ART herself and was older so she just threw out the comment, still bitter herself and assuming you will have it easy because you LOOK so young? Either way, I'm sorry you had to deal with trying to bury emotions in a public work setting like that. I know what you mean about still not knowing the proper response, but I do think sometimes a simple NO is the best response. I feel like anytime I go into any detail like "we're trying" that's when the ignorant comments really start to spew forth from folks.

Sally said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you :(( xoxo

Amber said...

Being married for 16 years w/o kids, I've been asked that question a loooooootttttttt. It would have been the follow up response that would have rubbed me the wrong way as well. I hate being told how young I am or "oh, you're still young." Actually, I'm 39. That's not really considered young. It's not OLD, but it's definitely not young. Ugh. Now the question I get is "is this your first time being pregnant?" Or "are these your first children?" The answer: yes! And my last. it's not like I can just get pregnant again. Kind of had to use a donor for this to even happen in the first place. Hugs to you. Hopefully your answer to this question will soon be changing.

Stephanie said...

I am so sorry that you had to go through this. Stay strong. Ignore stupidity. Unfortunately this is a very common question in small talk. Since I work with children, I am asked this by them all of the time and sometimes their parents. Yes...you get sick of hearing this question, but unfortunately people don't get smarter. :/

Aramis said...

It seems like such a simple question, and most people wouldn't think twice about asking it until they get a n answer they're not expecting. I never did until a few years ago (before I discovered my own IF) when I asked a guy at work if he had kids (we were in a group and he was older and there was a big kid discussion going on). He replied, "No, that was something that never worked out for my wife and I." The look on his face said it all, and I felt like crap. I don't think I ever asked anyone that question after. No when it happens to me I use something similar, and hopefully it will make others think the same way.

Melissa said...

I dread that question too. It happened most recently at a photo shoot I did last Sunday. The dad, just making conversation, said "do you have kids?" I said, "No...". I usually say it in a matter-of-fact way but kind of a wistful way. Like maybe a hint of "i wish". And sometimes i add "not yet" & hope they can't tell i am actually 35. Haha. But anyway. I said No, but what hurt me was that he said, "no?" and kind of made a face. Like, "that's odd..." because MOST people have kids at our age. And he knew my age b/c we had just discovered we went to high school together (different grades so i didn't remember him). Anyway. The way he said, 'no?' is what hurt. They have two special needs kids and i wondered if they thought i had no problems, just b/c you can't see them. I know they must have a tough life. But i wondered if they think i have an easy life. You know?

Blah.

I am so sorry that happened. It really really sucks so bad. Brad's aunt once said to me, 'y'all better hurry up!' and i was FURIOUS. I said, 'WE ARE WORKING ON IT" quietly & through gritted teeth. I just didn't even care.

Love this post. I totally agree. I told Brad before, "you know... I'm 35. People who have known me forever know i have always LOVED kids. I've been married 5 years now. Shouldn't they ASSUME we are struggling and not to ask us?!!" Apparently i am expecting too much. But i just don't get it. Even before infertility, i felt that saying "when are y'all going to have kids" or anything was entirely too personal.

My IUI is this week, i think? I go for an ultrasound Tuesday to see.

Praying for you. XOXO

dspence said...

UGH!! I'm so sorry! Learning not to randomly ask someone if they have children has been the #1 thing I've learned through this community. I'm working on teaching that to R, too.

shay said...

People are just so super ignorant... SIGH. Unfortunately so many people don't think before they speak. They aren't sensitive to issues that haven't affected them personally. I know its hard, but sometimes you just have to be the better person and try to not let their ignorance affect you. Hang in there sista!

Suzanne said...

I cannot even tell you how many times I've had to keep my ladylike manners in check and not reach out and strangle someone over those questions and comments. I'm so sorry for the way she made you feel. She is a jerk. End of story. xoxoxo

Sarah said...

That sucks. So sorry friend.

Laura said...

That dreaded question... Why is that always such a go-to topic for discussion with people? I don't understand it, it's so personal, and hardly as safe topic to discuss with someone you just met. I will never understand why people feel like it's ok to ask this. I am sorry you had to deal with that on top of having fertility drugs already messing with your emotions, hopefully your mood is better now though. XOXO

conceptionallychallenged said...

I'm so sorry she ruined your day. This is such a tough question for any of us, probably more so in a professional context, where you don't want to share your personal struggles with getting or staying pregnant.
I do have an answer now, but it isn't the one I was hoping for: "Yes, I have twin girls. Unfortunately they were born too early to survive." Sigh.

I hope both of us will one day be able to share stories of our living children upon such a question.

Anonymous said...

There just doesn't seem to be a good answer to this question. It's so frustrating. When I tell the women who ask me if I have children that we are trying, but not successful yet. That opens you up to the typical hurtful comments, such as:

- "It will happen when you stop stressing about it." I want to scratch my eyeballs out when I hear this one. This is the worst thing to tell someone going through infertility treatments. It's usually the woman who got pregnant the first time month they tried that says this to you too. Like they have ever had to wait 3, 5, 7, 10 years to have a baby. Let's see how mellow and relaxed they would be after waiting that long!

- Which always follows with this story..."I had a friend who finally gave up trying after multiple IVFs and decided to adopt and that's when they got pregnant naturally"....if I hear that story again, I'm going to vomit.

- Another great response I get.... is to just relax, drink lots of alcohol and have lots of sex. it'll happen." Like we've never tried that for months on end with no result before resorting to IUIs and multiple IVFs.

The only think that seems to get the moms to leave me alone is to tell them that we are still in our honeymoon period and not ready to think about having kids yet. I do get the occasional, "You shouldn't wait too long", but usually the moms will leave me alone after I say that. If I don't get the "don't stress" lecture, then I'm pretty happy.

However, I have been amazed at how many other couples have gone through infertility. When I get the courage to tell people what is really going on, I find many couples who have gone through the same thing as me. Infertile couples that finally get to the other side and have a baby, never make the stupid comments I listed above and there is an automatic bond that happens between me and that couple. I am amazed at how great it feels to open up and find another person who gets my pain.

Aubrey, I bet you if you told that woman that you have undergone a few IVF cycles with no success, she would have opened up to you have how she got twins. I bet IVF was involved. You might have had a very positive experience with her if you both opened up and shared your IVF stories.

Megan D said...

Ok, so I'm stopping by from Melissa @ Little Mrs. Married and I have some thoughts:

-So, I can tell just by how you wrote this post, I'm gonna love your blog. I don't have time to really "take a look around...get to know you better" right now, but I just love how you write. (Ok..that's that :])

-I will say I agree about not asking about kids EXCEPT I've had a situation I was stuck in where I asked BECAUSE the title of the class is "Young Families" (this is a church class) and is intended for couples with young kids. I will say I handled the situation horribly AFTER I asked and profusely apologized for unintentionally sticking my foot in my mouth (I have several friends going through infertility...I'm not sure what possessed me that day, but it did.), but I don't regret asking because of that particular situation. So I will say occasionally the question is begging to be asked, though it's a very rare situation.

-And hoping you haven't written me off because of the last comment: I HATE the situation you were in. And that the woman was completely insensitive to your situation. I know everyone is capable of making the dumb mistake of asking a question that is highly sensitive (I find the question of "how many" a sensitive one because most people stare at me crazy when I don't know if they'll be ready to venture into the whole miscarriage discussion and take a long pause rather than just blurting out how many...plus, I just admitted I've been the insensitive one with my foot in my mouth. blah!) but she just walked away? After blurting assumptions of which she's really not entitled to. I'm so sorry!

Risa said...

I HATE this question. And everyone will still keep on asking it, because it's what the general public does. Because in our society we get married, we have kids. And people don't think about the fact that this is an incredibly rude question to ask. I myself, have stopped asking this 4.5 years ago when I started all this. But people don't think. They don't understand that some people may not like this question. I'm so sorry this happened to you, and I don't even have a good answer. Usually it's just a "no" and I change the subject. It's easier that way. Hugs.

Kim @ Infertile Myrtle said...

I found your blog from Dreaming of Dimple's sunshine award post. I literally just posted a similar blog post of my own on this exact topic http://wp.me/p2xdnQ-do People really don't know how paralyzing and hurtful those 4 words can be (do you have kids). Sending hugs, I can empathize 100%.

Jessica Elyse @ Memoirs of a Mommy said...

I just found your blog and was immediately drawn in by this post. I HATE this question. It assumes so many unknowns and then makes those of us without kids feels inferior or worthless. It just stinks! For us, we have tried for years and had a miscarriage recently. It is so hard to know how to answer that question. Yes, i have a legitimate, but my heart and arms are empty. Praying for you guys and your little miracle, that this round is a success.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new lurker, and I just read this post just now. A coworker asked me this one day, and when I said NO, she said, "Well, you're next." As though saying it made it true. I blurted back to her, "No, I"m not next because God f***ed me over!" I only said that because she was a Jesus-freak, and at that moment I hated her. Anyway, congratulations on your miracle.

Anonymous said...

I wish people would just say "What do you like to do when you're not working?" It's what I ask because then if they have kids they say "well, I go watch my son play soccer," etc. or if they have a hobby they can say "I love to kayak" that way the conversation isn't kid-centric - it's life-centric and you actually get to know the person you are talking to. It's more open to multiple people joining in so it's not just "kids" "no kids' camps. Anyway - I GET IT - been there!!!!!!!! I look MUCH younger than I am and people say "oh, well, you just got married" (which is like your "too young" comment) I don't say - well, we got married when I was 38 and have been trying longer than you know...

 
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