“When Are You Starting Your Family?”

With the holiday season upon us, many people are planning to spend time with family and friends.  If you are married/partnered/single and in your child bearing years, you may be ready to start a family of your own.  You may have friends and relatives your age who have babies and toddlers, and you have yet to conceive.  Your may be contemplating your options around the idea of having children or you may be starting infertility treatment.  And you know an interested relative at a family gathering is going to ask…

“When are you going to start your family?  When are you going to have a baby?”

And just the thought of this question brings dread and feelings of frustration, shame, anger and confusion. You know you want to scream “It’s none of your business!” You are not ready for the uncomfortable silence that may follow nor are you about to discuss your struggle with infertility with your relatives.

How do I know you may have these feelings?  Well, one of my specialties is helping individuals like you deal with the emotional side of infertility and my patients have shared the many challenges they faced during their time of trying to conceive.

So, here are some tips to help get you through the awkwardness.

  1.  Know it is coming.  If your aunt, cousin, grandmother, friend has asked before then they may ask again.  Be ready for it; do not feel blindsided or hurt.  Cough it up to being a bit nosy, concerned and curious.
  2. Have a plan to respond.  The phrase “we just aren’t ready yet” is a great response and then have a follow-up to turn the conversation back to them.  For instance, offer them a drink, ask them about a current event, or inquire as to what they have been up to since the last time you saw them.
  3. You can feel ok about trying to avoid those difficult questions from people you suspect are prone to ask you personal questions. Limit your exposure to people who make you uncomfortable to reduce the risk of being caught in a painful situation.
  4. Enlist the support of your partner or close relative to either stay with you during the event or at least when dealing with certain relatives.  You can even ask to be surrounded by a safe group at the dinner table.

I do not recommend your sitting home pretending to be sick just because you do not want to face your relatives who will notice and comment that you do not yet have a baby.  Nor do I suggest you feel obligated to disclose or discuss anything that is private and sensitive. Sit confidently in your current situation knowing that at some point you will start your family.

The emotional side of dealing with infertility can be painful.  It is normal for you to be uncomfortable when others are having babies or asking questions.  Go home, have a good cry on your partner’s shoulder and make sure to spend some time talking with a therapist who can help you.

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