Are You Trying?
There comes a point in a married woman's life, usually three to five days after the wedding, when the world wants to know if the newlyweds have begun their quest toward parenthood. Like it or not, there's a certain life path women are expected to take ‑- single, dating, engaged, married, children, empty nest, Florida timeshare... dead. Any deviations from this path can cause quite a stir, so women are barraged with questions throughout their lives to track their progress and keep them moving along:
* Are you seeing anyone? (Single woman)
* Is it serious? (Single woman with new boyfriend)
* Do you think you'll get married? (Single woman with serious boyfriend)
* Have you set the date? (Newly engaged woman)
* Are you trying? (Married woman, no kids)
* Is she an only child? (Married woman with one child ‑- nine months or older)
* Are you planning to have more kids? (Married woman with one to five children)
When you first start trying to conceive, you may be so excited about the prospect of parenthood that you welcome any opportunity to share your bedroom efforts with anyone. But, as time goes by and your plans don't unfold as expected, even the most harmless questions can seem overwhelming. Suddenly you feel like an A-list celebrity being stalked by the paparazzi, and the only thing everyone wants to know is "Are you trying?"
Plan Long Term... Pray Short Term
No one knows how long it's going to take to get pregnant. There are women who have been plagued by feminine problems their whole lives and are convinced they'll never conceive. These are usually the women who find themselves pregnant the first month they are birth control free. And then there are women who are in peak physical condition, whose cycles are so regular you could synchronize your watch, but who unfortunately struggle for years to conceive. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to fertility.
If you fall into the "this is much harder than I expected" group, you may be surprised at your shifting attitude. At first you get tired of hearing the same old questions about your plans for parenthood but you continue to humor the meddler with a canned response that, yes, you are trying, and force a smile when they reply, "Trying is the best part."
A few more months pass and the questions start to feel like a spotlight on your failure ‑- you cringe each time you are cornered. You just want to curl up in your bed and be left alone until you have good news to share.
And finally you shift from weak, helpless kitten to Rambo. You not only expect the questions, you fantasize about the inevitable run-in with a nosy neighbor and have a series of responses all planned out:
Question: Are you going to have kids?
1) We can't. I'm barren.
2) It's not likely. My husband suffers from erectile dysfunction. (Optional: Add "hereditary" when asked by a particularly nosy in-law.)
3) We're going to start trying as soon as I complete my electroshock therapy.
4) We've decided to get a boat instead.
5) We were going to, until we spent the day with your kids.
While your fantasy responses may be a bit over the top, and clearly not appropriate in most situations, they are still fun to think about, don't you agree? In reality, we found the key to managing the endless inquisition is to have a plan. When someone unexpectedly asks you a pointed question about something as personal as your plans for a baby, you can be left feeling unguarded and vulnerable. The next thing you know, you're spilling your guts about your unpredictable ovaries to a colleague while in line for the salad bar.
Whether you've been trying for two months, or two years, give some thought as to how much of your personal life you are comfortable sharing, and with whom. You may never understand why some people feel entitled to ask such intimate questions, but you should never feel obligated to divulge more than you want. It's much easier to bite your tongue when the questions are being shot from the nosy and insensitive. But, even when they are coming from a genuinely good place, if you don't want to discuss the details of your efforts, don't. It's much easier to open the lines of communication once you're ready than trying to take back information you gave under unexpected duress.
The conception process can take months, even years. We certainly hope you won't be faced with tough decisions about fertility treatments along the way, but what if you are? You're going to need some support ‑- and close friends and family can be just the answer. Odds are, those closest to you may have been using the 20-questions technique as a way to let you know they were there if you needed them. Take the lead and tell them how they can help. In some cases you may want to talk through every detail. In others, you may take solace in the fact that you don't have to discuss your monthly efforts, but know these people are in your corner silently cheering you on.
This is new territory for you and everyone else in your life. Remember, it's temporary. So do what works for you ‑- and if you have to drop an atomic bomb conversation stopper on those who have mercilessly stepped over the line from time to time ‑- do it. We can guarantee that will be the last question you'll have to answer.