The infertilite and the next baby question

No matter how old – or young – your first baby is, there is going to be someone who asks you “So, when is baby number two coming around?”  You will be overwhelmed with managing the first baby, quite possibly with the little squirt in your arms, and you may or may not have gotten around to putting on makeup that day.  But someone will ask the question, and they will be puzzled when your response is anything but positive – because of course you want another one!

This question shows just how tricky it is to be polite but not misleading in a (formerly?) infertilite situation like mine.  People who know just how difficult it was for you to get pregnant won’t ask – just as they knew not to ask when you were going to get pregnant in the first place, and knew not to have a baby bump watch for you.  It’s all the people who don’t realize how difficult it was, who don’t know, or who don’t think it was such a big deal because you got pregnant anyway so obviously you’re not infertile, who will rush right in to discussions of your future children.

Fortunately, I like using these kinds of questions as an opportunity for anthropological studies.  The first time I got the question was from some coworkers I was visiting this week.  One woman, who both shares too much and manages to turn every conversation into one about herself, asked with glee when I’m going to have the next baby.  I tried the evasive approach first – “Uhhhh….  I’m not sure.”  I said it with a smile, hoping she might infer that I already had my hands full.

Result: The evasive approach is not enough of an answer.  The questioner will continue prodding, probably with a statement like, “Oh, come on.  Don’t you want another one?”

I tried the duck-and-cover excuse for this second round.  “I think if you asked my husband, one’s enough.”  I was half-joking about this, because he really doesn’t enjoy the night wakings.  But this excuse still did not satisfy her.  She really wanted to hear me say, “Maybe in a year or two!” and maybe that’s how I should have answered.  Instead, I continued to excuse it.  “I don’t know, the first six weeks were rough.”

“Oh, but you get over that.  Aren’t they so cute?”

Excuse number three: “I had a section, and I don’t think I could put my body through that again.”  Another half-truth.  “You know, I couldn’t drive for six weeks, I couldn’t exercise until last week…”

“Oh, well I had two c-sections, and I don’t regret them one bit!”

Grrr!!!  She’s good.  And before I could throw in excuse number four, the two guys, both with kids under 5, jumped to my defense.  “Nah, it’s too soon.  You’ve got enough going on with that guy.”  That seemed to shut her up enough to change the subject to the exact shape and location of my scar, which is not exactly what you want to talk about in the office.  She just wanted to ask, though, because she wanted to share hers.

I know there will be others who ask the question, “So do you want another?”  I don’t know why people think that’s an appropriate question.  I think I’ve probably asked the question, though, because it seems like what you do.  Maybe I might have asked it differently, though, and left space for people to tell a half-truth: “Do you think you will have another?”  Still, if a person is persistent enough, they could ask that question and still want to know why.

If I were to answer anyone about having another baby with, “Oh, well, I have a unicornuate uterus, which increases my risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and preterm birth, so I’m not even sure if it’s the ethical thing to do to try to have another one…” it’s too much information.  And besides, they’ll say, you had your first one without any problems.  Which isn’t true, but I did beat the odds at least in having a full-term guy, though he did have intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).  But you can’t tell that by looking at him, other than the fact he’s smaller than other kids his age.  No, I think this time around my approach has to be a little more polite.  “Not for a few more years,” is one option but leads people open to starting another baby watch in a few years.  “If I have another one it won’t be for a few more years,” is probably more prone to the round of questioning and excuses as I went through the other day.  “Thanks, but let me get my sleep back first,” can be a funny way to dodge the question.  Maybe that’s the one I’ll try next.

I wasn’t expecting this question to sting, but it does.  It rips open that same wound that was there when I first learned about the UU and the odds I had, because having one baby doesn’t change that fact or change my odds for the next one.  And the guys at the office were right, it is too soon to really think about anything.  Most days I’m not even sure what day it is… and that’s a beautiful thing.

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One thought on “The infertilite and the next baby question

  1. Pingback: Follow-up: The next baby question | Expectant Hope

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