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Saved 1/25/10 to The Pregnancy Posse

How Can I Fend Off People Who Ask If I'm a Mom?


This post was submitted by an anonymous member in our A Place to Vent group.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for two years. It's been a beautiful, hopeful, but upsetting process. Our hopes are set so high, but it just hasn't worked out yet. I had a miscarriage right before the holidays so we've decided to take a few months off while we both heal and prepare to try again. My doctor is completely optimistic, as are hubby and I, that it will eventually happen because all our test results look good. All in all, I'm really proud of myself and how positive I've stayed throughout this journey and know that a baby — whether a biological child or adopted — awaits us. Our close friends and family all know most of the details and have remained supportive and upbeat. I couldn't ask for a better support system. Here's where it gets complicated: For whatever reason strangers have started asking me if I'm a mom, which has caused me to burst into tears twice in the past few weeks.

For the rest of the story and to share your insight, .

Not the answer they expected when they asked the question, I am sure. I am also sure most people understand how loaded that question can be for women trying to get pregnant, but what's the appropriate response if I start balling when asked? Last time I said "not yet" and was asked follow up questions, which I am just not ready to answer. I know I have every right to just walk away, but I don't want to be a mess about it.

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4 years 30 weeks
I'd say that if you're making conversation with someone and they say, "So, do you have any kids?" that's not in the least bit rude. If you say no, they should definitely be up for changing the subject, though - anything more is none of their business!
cowboyplus cowboyplus 4 years 30 weeks
let me just say i don't have infertility struggles -- i have a beautiful baby and hope one is waiting for you! -- but there are some very painful things that people innocently ask me about. "it's not something i like to talk about" usually works for me with painful subjects. people get the point right away but it isn't rude... plus it saves us both the potential embarrassment of me crying in front of them.
lawchick lawchick 4 years 33 weeks
Oh, and I think "That must be hard for you, I hope it happens soon" is a great response if someone shares their infertility struggle :)
lawchick lawchick 4 years 33 weeks
snowy, I hope MY comment didn't come off as rude --- I genuinely understand that people don't usually mean to be rude when they ask those questions or say "quit trying for awhile" --- I'm glad we have this forum to discuss the issue objectively so people can learn what may be hurtful without having to say the wrong thing first!
4 years 33 weeks
Here ultrasound techs aren't allowed to say anything other than basic body parts. They can't say they found a tumor, they can't say they can't detect a heartbeat, they can't state gender of a fetus. Which actually is good for them, it's not on their head to give medical input.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 4 years 33 weeks
I thought perhaps I should share...I am an ultrasound specialist. Many people look into my face for the answers while I scan them. It is virtually impossible to separate emotions from this particular exam. Rather than be all quiet and stoic--I spend a great deal of time showing patients what I see, even if it isn't a baby. I believe educating people empowers them. My infertility patients see me as one on their team--all working towards their goal. Many of my colleagues would disagree with my friendliness and openness with my patients BUT I know my patients value what I teach them. The physicians I work with consider me one of their assets. I educate and empower patients during a time when they often feel at the mercy of medical procedures, insurance companies and emotions. Having been in their shoes I really know what they are going through. When one of them names a baby after me I cannot express the overwhelming feeling of appreciation that I was a small part of their lives...and peering into their future...all on a small screen in a dark room.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 4 years 33 weeks
I wish all of you well. I celebrate with every patient of mine that becomes blessed. Blessings come in many forms. People cannot imagine the depth of pain and loss one feels when you lose a child or wait endlessly for one. I try to remind myself that the many well-meaning friends, family and strangers are simply clueless but it does not make it less painful. Ironically after we had our daughter, my husband had another sperm count done. One single healthy sperm. We resigned ourselves to the fact we'd been blessed with one beautiful and healthy daughter. I tell this story for a reason. My husband was almost 15 years older than me and had severe hypertension. (high blood pressure) Anyway---once they got his blood pressure under control...three years later....I discovered that I had been blessed once again...baby number two. My husband went in and had another sperm count done and it was astronomically high. There are SO many factors which influence fertility. This one is often overlooked. It is my reason for posting....aside from sharing the pain we all go through in the journey of infertility. With so many different factors to consider, physicians sometimes fail to create what I call a "treatment plan" or a "plan of action" which systematically goes from the most common issues all the way thru the oddities like my husband. Infertility treatment is exhausting and trying on relationships. I found that once I told those close to me that we were indeed trying and to please just send us prayers and happy thoughts instead of endless questions... life was a little less stressful. One cannot control those well-intentioned icky strangers. I guess I was a bit hostile toward them out of frustration. I'd feel guilty about it but somehow I just can't. I never gave up. I couldn't. Many people could not understand that and they never will. I encourage you to become your own health advocate. Educate yourself about infertility and then make a plan of action with your physician. Once I did that I felt a bit empowered over something I previously felt enslaved to...that process we must go thru of shots, pills and endless Dr visits. I remember cherishing the success stories...and the celebrations with each one of my patients who conceived. They were glimmers of hope during times when I felt all hope was lost. Because of this I shared mine. If my experiences both bad and good helps someone in some way then it was well worth the time to post. If I am overly wordy so I apologize. After reading my first post here I realized I sometimes lapse into a clinical writers voice...as I write in medical academia often. It can come across as unemotional and detached. Infertility is far from unemotional and it is impossible to become detached. I send you all glimmers of hope and best wishes. I will keep you all in my prayers.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 4 years 33 weeks
One middle-aged man I work with says "tick tock" every time he sees me. woooowwwwwwwwwww everytime tell his boss that is very rude. ok now i know that there is nothing good to say..... maybe just, oh, that must be really hard for you, i hope it happens soon? would that sound ok? i am getting to the age where im hearing more about infertility friends , cousins, etc i didnt realize the stop trying thing was so offensive. i have said that before as pregnancy happenned for my mom's cousin's wife (she wasnt so young) when they quit fertility stuff and contacted adoption people. i guess its just weird and surprising and thats why people want to share those stories but i should definitely think more about who im talking to and what they'd be comfortable hearing when speaking about these things.......thanks for sharing
lawchick lawchick 4 years 33 weeks
Elle, Good luck to you. Totally agree about the "quit trying" people - the last thing on earth I would do when I KNOW I have infertility and I'm in my 30s is stop trying! What if it doesn't "just happen" and then I'm 40 years old? Then it's really too late to just "start trying" again! Argh!!
4 years 33 weeks
I absolutely sympathise with you. My husband and I have been trying for more than two years. During those two years, my sister and both my sisters-in-law have gotten married and had babies. Since I'm over 30 and have been married for 5 years, I get asked ALL the time when we're going to start. At first I kept the fertility struggle a secret, but over time that gets difficult - especially as the doctor appointments and amounts of drugs increase. As I got more frustrated, I started telling people that we were trying. That turned out to be a big mistake. Now I have to be very careful about what I say, because if I even allude to having news or wanting to talk to someone they asume I'm pregnant. Having someone call and say "Did it happen? Are you expecting?" and having to tell them no is much more painful than asking when I'm planning on having a baby. I also now have to deal with all the well meaning advice that just makes me sad. Yesterday someone told me that I should try on the 14th day of my cycle and every night for the next few nights. Yes - I know. I monitor everything, give myself daily injenctions and have regular ultrasounds. I know exactly when to try. Giving me such basic advice just highlights how little everyone understands about difficult and emotionally painful the process is. Equally upsetting are the stories people feel compelled to share about someone who got pregnant when they stopped trying. I'm happy for them, but are you trying to tell me that we should just give up? Really? Trying to avoid more of those difficult conversations, I started telling people that we hope to have children someday. Then I got lectures about how we should wait too long and that if I put my career first I'd regret it. Argh!! Now I simply say I don't know, and try to change the subject. It is so hard for people who haven't gone through this to understand, I think the less said the better.
lawchick lawchick 4 years 33 weeks
You too running :)
runningesq runningesq 4 years 33 weeks
Good luck to everyone trying ((()))
lawchick lawchick 4 years 33 weeks
Susan, I'm so sorry for your losses. We've been trying for about a year and a half (married for two and a half). I'm 31. On the third cycle of Clomid now. No pregnancy achievement thus far. Four friends know, but that's it and I intend to keep it that way for the forseeable future. So when people ask do you have children, I just say no. When they ask when are y'all going to have children, I usually just say who knows. One middle-aged man I work with says "tick tock" every time he sees me. I have thought about saying something, but it would be so awkward. My husband has suggested he call the guy and tell him to lay off, but I haven't ok'd that plan yet. If it's another year down the line, I'm sure I'll reach a boiling point and have to do/say something.
starbucks2 starbucks2 4 years 34 weeks
Cheekyredhead, I honestly wish your story was completely fabricated because that is horrible! And you are so right, unless you experienced fertility problems yourself, don't give out advice! My SIL had to rely on in vitro after trying for several years. She was the first to be married but her older sister and younger brother had kids before her, while she was the one desperate to be a mother. Her brother and I didn't plan on our dauther and I was only 22 when I got pregnant so that must have been really hard on her. People kept asking them when the kids are coming while it was pretty obvious that they didn't choose not to get pregnant...She is due in April and couldn't be happier right now. Thank God for fertility treatments!
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 4 years 34 weeks
As someone who has heard this question one too many times through my 3 miscarriages... I just say "Not yet, I will let you know." or if it is a stranger, a simple no suffices and go on with a new topic unrelated. But that's me.
4 years 34 weeks
"Just remember they don't mean to hurt your feelings." Why? Why shouldn't they just remember not to ask stupid or hurtful questions? Why is it all on the person being asked rather than the person who refuses to use common sense? Lord, I hate "Oh just remember they didn't MEAN to hurt you." So what. They did.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 4 years 34 weeks
I think Shadow's sister did a fabulous job of deflecting that question. It took me 9 years to conceive. Being the eldest, last to marry and then last to have children I heard this question often. I also had judgemental people who chastised me for waiting in the first place. Some people never learn tact. Wearing baggy scrubs to work everyday--people also assumed I was pregnant and asked when I was due. I would say "When I get pregnant I'll let the whole world know" or "I am not pregnant--so I guess you are implying I am fat." Yes both of those retorts were kind of pointed--but dealing with pointed questions sometimes demands that. Honestly, if someone asks a stranger about something as personal as having offspring--and then offering unsolicited advice--maybe we need to get pointed and sharp. I would get so angry at well-intentioned people saying "It will happen if it is supposed to...when it is supposed to..." as if that somehow those words would give me solace. There is no comfort in those words. I wish they'd have said they'd keep me in their prayers or will send positive thoughts my way. Equally annoying was the "When you quit trying it will happen" crowd. They obviously have never been where we have. It is an emotional roller coaster--your life evolves around your biological clock. They have no concept that giving up requires more pain than they could possibly imagine. I did eventually conceive after we discovered my husband's Dr had lied to him about his sperm count. They gave him one shot of testosterone and I was knocked up within weeks. Apparently that Dr held the belief that "it only takes one sperm" and that telling my husband his count was low would injure his self esteem. Funny--that Dr cared little of mine. All the unnecessary tests and surgeries...that Dr ended up having to pay for because of his short-sighted views which essentially were so biased that they were essentially malpractice. All in all...having worked years in the infertility field myself as a medical professional...I believe in miracles. I see them every day. Hold onto that faith that your miracle will come. It does not always show up the way we thought it would....still...life is such a marvelous miracle. Cherish each quiet moment. Once the kids do come there is little quiet to be had. Well...there you have it....more advice from a stranger.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 4 years 34 weeks
I'm single and without any children, and people ask me if I'm a mom as well. Just remember they don't mean to hurt your feelings.
4 years 34 weeks
It can be an emotional time...but try to stay positive and with a simple reply you can say "it's in the works!" and talk about something else. As for the long time of trying...I am sure you have heard every piece of advice out there, but mine is...don't try too hard...relax, do some yoga, meditate, spend time with your husband, just the two of you enjoying each other, go on a weekend get-away and although it's hard, fill your time with other things and before you know it, you'll be complaining about all day sickness! Oh, and don't "try" every day...give the swimmers some time to lock and reload so to say...and also a weird, but true food tid-bit, frozen peaches help the little swimmers swim farther. Good luck and stay positive!
4 years 34 weeks
Just because someone doesn't mean it to be rude, that doesn't lessen the rudeness of it or how much it hurts. It should be common sense that you don't ask a person you don't know stuff like that. It kind of amazes me the stuff people will ask and think it's perfectly ok, and then excuse it with "Well I didn't MEAN to be rude." Yeah well I didn't mean to punch you in the throat, it just kind of slipped out.
runningesq runningesq 4 years 34 weeks
We're trying too .. we've been married for almost 5 years and I keep hearing "WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN?" and I want to scream "WHEN I GET PREGNANT!" It's a rude question - intentionallly so or not - and I wish people wouldn't ask it.
starbucks2 starbucks2 4 years 34 weeks
Well, obviously people aren't trying to be rude when asking, and they probably felt even worse afterwards, then you did. I know I would feel like a horrible person if I made someone cry. Like Misssushi said (whom I almost always seem to agree with, btw), I would be pretty blunt about it, because otherwise people will ask follow up questions. Don't lose your faith, it will happen for you. Sometimes it just takes longer. Good luck to you!
Shadow1989 Shadow1989 4 years 34 weeks
This is a similar situation to one that my sister is currently dealing with and her response has been a very quick, "When the timing is right, that will certainly be the case". She then deflects the conversation back onto the person she is speaking with, easily chatting them up about their children and/or pregnancy, or she is able to completely change the subject to another topic, asking questions about an item in a store, their outfit, or even discussion related to career. Honestly, most people do truly become distracted talking about themselves, especially those rude enough (or just unaware enough) to engage in questioning someone about this type of personal subject matter. Good luck to both you and your husband. :)
4 years 34 weeks
I'm all for crying and making the person feel awful for asking. It's a rude question, and asking for follow-up is seriously pushing boundaries.
MissSushi MissSushi 4 years 34 weeks
It took us over 2 years with each of our children, so we started to get worried about things and people can be somewhat insensitive without realizing it. I don't think theres anyway to fend off the question, since its random from random strangers. I guess you can really only choose from something along the lines of, I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable discussing that. Saying no, or not yet, or anything that doesn't immediatly say it's my business stay out of it leads to questions like why, when are you, etc etc and you explaining way too much. I totally understand knowing you have the right to walk away but not wanting to go that route. I'm quiet and reserved, so people already assume I'm unfriendly and rude, so it just makes situations like this really hard.