A “late start” on The Timeline
I was 31 when I got married, my wife 28- much later than the typical “Utah County Mormon” timeline. We’d each heard “when ya gonna get married?” plenty of times, as if choosing a spouse is like buying a car. Just go find one you like and sign the papers. Done.
But finally, sweet tender mercies, we found each other, got married, and started our life together in Lehi, Utah.
About a month later we saw my friend Adam and his wife in the produce section of the supermarket.
“Have you read the book we gave you yet?” Adam asked.
“Read it. Read it together! It’s thought provoking, and will do wonders for your relationship.”
“Will do. I’ll let you know what we think.”
“So when you gonna have kids?” He asked.
And I’m serious. That was literally his next question. We’d only been married a month. He knew that because he had gone to our reception.
I paused for a second.
“Oh, I don’t know Adam… Hopefully 9 months from this morning.” Followed by a sideways smile, winks, and a couple of those awkward fake elbow motions towards my wife’s ribcage.
It totally caught my wife off guard, and she stammered out an embarrassed comment–probably apologetic or something. We all got a good laugh, parted ways, and wished each other well.
That was the first time I realized that within the Mormon community, the you-need-to-follow-the-timeline question of “So, when you gonna get married”, had simply been replaced with “When you gonna have kids?” But we didn’t care. We were newlyweds. Plus, I was the last of 9 kids to get married, and ALL of my siblings were married with kids…so it was only natural to hear that question 10 times or so at family gatherings. We took it in stride because we knew everyone meant well, even though we laughed at how really personal that question was (more on that later).
We had fun with The Question–developing several replies:
- The Fake Argument: “I don’t know, maybe when SOMEONE decides he is ready to be a FATHER.” followed by, “Well maybe SOMEBODY should start cleaning up after herself!”
- The Worldly Answer: “Maybe after we save up enough money for a boat.”
- The Shock the Asker Answer: “Meh… Hopefully never. We don’t like kids.”
- The Intimate make-everyone-uncomfortable Answer: “Hopefully 9-months from this morning… eh? Eh? (wink wink)
She’s ready. I’m not.
Six months into our marriage, my wife wanted to start trying. But I wasn’t ready yet. I felt like we should wait a bit. My wife didn’t completely understand why I wanted to wait, so this lead to some minor disagreements. “When you gonna have kids?” transformed from silly question to something personal and invasive. When asked, I was reminded of how I was the one getting in the way, holding things up, whereas if my wife were to be asked–she’d think about how she was ready and I wasn’t.
After 1 year of marriage, I jumped on board, and we officially “started trying”.
A few months go by, and my wife still isn’t pregnant. Maybe because we were getting The Question so often, or maybe we felt some pressure because we got what our local society had deemed to be a “late start”, but for whatever reason, we felt incredibly impatient. We tried all the timing methods, but nothing happened. So we saw a doctor who told us some statistics about conception which calmed us down quite a bit. Basically, if everything is working right, you still only have (around) 20% chance of getting pregnant even if everything is timed perfectly. (I can’t remember the exact percentage, but it was along those lines). The woman who gets pregnant from the first attempt is actually an anomaly not the norm. The doctor told us to relax and continue trying, but that after 8 more months we still weren’t pregnant, then we would do some tests.
After a year of trying
A year flew by, and my wife was still not pregnant. We’d been married for 2 years, and had been asked The Question seemingly thousands of times. It was now a reminder of the disappointment we felt each month. We stopped having as much fun with the answers, and would say things like “As soon as Mother Nature cooperates”, or “As soon as God wants us to” with an almost resigned nature.
My wife’s sister, who got married within a few weeks of us, was pregnant for the second time. I think from washing their clothes together or something, they are seriously that fertile. My wife’s friends seemed to all be getting pregnant with ease. It seemed our whole neighborhood was pregnant. As Mormons, we are very family oriented–and having kids was a big part of that. We didn’t want to miss out.
I remember one time a woman in the ward we barely knew was talking to my wife:
Lady we barely knew: “When you going to have kids?”
My wife: “Well, we’re trying…”
Lady we barely knew: “Wait, how old are you?”
My wife: “Uh… 30?”
Lady we barely knew: “Well, maybe that’s the problem.”
My wife told me about it after church, shaking her head a little that someone would treat the age of 30 as the age of barrenness.
A word on procreation and family planning
Let’s take a break from my story and think about how personal the subject of family planning is:
Procreation itself not only involves the highest level of intimacy and the most private of private parts, but all kinds of other highly personal factors. From the very painful ones such as infertility, impotence, or miscarriages, to awkward topics like finances, or perhaps the contention that could arise from one spouse being super ready while the other is dragging their feet. We’ve all heard that each couple has that one recurring argument–and differing priorities on family planning can be one of the most sensitive and raw arguments a couple can have.
Getting the test results
After 2 years of trying with no success, we did what we were nervous to do, started getting tested.
Not long after, we were told the news we’d been dreading–though not necessarily the way we thought it would come. I was completely infertile. As in ZERO. I emphasize zero because some men can have a low count… mine was zero.
I was devastated.
It was like someone had punched me in the solar plexus, and not only knocked the wind out of me, but had injected my entire body with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. My wife was in tears as she told me the results. I just remember feeling like my face was literally numb. I also remember trying to snap out of it, and made this hollow attempt at putting on a brave face. It was awful.
Shortly after that, we went to a Urologist that supposedly specialized in fertility issues, so we could get a bigger picture. He sent his assistant in to tell the news at first, but I insisted on hearing directly from him. So he came in begrudgingly and sat across that poorly lit room and told me I had “testicular failure”, and it was irreversible. I remember facing that Urologist trying to keep eye contact as if to show I could handle it, as bit by bit I felt my masculinity peeling away. 3 years before that, I’d been diagnosed with low Testosterone–and this visit had completed the trifecta of “Worst News for Guys”: Low Testosterone, Testicular Failure, and Sterility. Awesome. I felt like my last shred of manliness melted in the room of that Urologist. It was all I could do to keep from crying like a little boy. My wife described it much later as watching in horror as she could see my soul absolutely crushed.
I kept asking what our options were, and he said “Adoption or a donor. A donor is the cheapest way to go. But just never tell your kid or anyone else. Take it to the grave.”
We didn’t know what to think. So we didn’t discuss it at all for several months. As in, at all. We didn’t even mention it. A Molotov Cocktail had been thrown at our “Plan”–completely destroying it, and the despair was too heavy to discuss making a new one. We dove into every form of distraction possible, retreating into our self protection zone–we traveled, we worked, we hung out with friends… we never talked about having a baby.
At this point, “When you gonna have kids” became very painful to hear. As did some children references at church–the testimonies about having children, and being blessed with children, and how happy they are and how much God loves them because of the children they were sent, etc etc…. (I wish I was kidding about that last point) And now, it seemed like those talks and testimonies happened all the time. Kind of like when you have a sunburn and everyone seems to want to pat you on the back. This sunburn just stung of inadequacy. Church became a big source of pain and insensitivity at times.
We were super private about what was happening, so no one around us knew that when they were asking The Question, they were reminding us of something that could potentially never be. It took me about a year to become ok with the idea of using a donor for my side. Don’t ask me why it took me that long, it just did. It just felt weird, and when it comes to fertility, infertility, family planning, etc–there are all kinds of emotions that express themselves differently for each person. A few days after we started shopping for a donor, my wife was hospitalized for severe abdominal pain. Ultrasounds revealed an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit.
After the surgery, the doctor showed me the photos. Endometriosis. Bad. As in, so bad, the ovaries were almost destroyed, but not removed in case there was a chance they could still function. But he warned me that my wife had a very slim chance of ever having a child of her own, due to how bad the Endometriosis had gotten, and how bad the damage had been.
All this time I’d been the infertile partner in our marriage, and now it was likely the two of us. Our backup plan of using a donor was eliminated. Scratched off the list of possibilities.
The fragile walls I had built up as a coping mechanism came crashing down. Obliterated. And we went through an even more hopeless time. Fortunately, this wouldn’t last as long.
Let’s take another break from my story to make the final point to my post:
As I’ve said, family planning is super personal. And infertility is massively painful. Just remember that asking someone you don’t know too well about when they are going to have kids is far more personal than asking how much credit card debt they have. You have no idea what the couple is going through in that area of their lives.
- Don’t ask. It’s frankly none of your business. It’s as personal as asking how often they make love, and you’d never dream of asking that question. So don’t ask, let them bring it up if it comes up.
- The culture within the church needs to change to be mindful of those who might possibly be in your group or congregation who are struggling with infertility. So don’t ever make statements that may make those with fertility issues feel excluded. “Unless you have a child of your own, you’ll NEVER understand the true love of a child” (true story). “Until you’re pregnant, you’ll never understand what it means to truly bond with your child…” etc etc–because maybe someone in that group just got the news that they will NEVER get pregnant. Just remember, not everyone is following your timeline, and not everyone CAN follow your timeline–but would love to.
- If you find out that someone is struggling with infertility, please please please love them with everything you got. Hug them if you can. Cry with them if you can. A dream of theirs just got shattered and taken away. Yes, there’s adoption, but let them accept that later on. Be with them NOW, as if they’d just lost a loved one. Trust me, whatever brave face they are showing you is trying to hide some serious pain of all kinds.
Epilogue to my story:
Here is where I give mad props to my wife. She did not give up. After seeing about 6 different doctors, she still researched until she found a specialist in male infertility up at the U of U (Named Dr Meikle–not sure if he’s still practicing, but I highly recommend him if he is). We scheduled an appt, and we tentatively went to see him. At this point, I’d been on Androgel for low testosterone for 4 years. He took me off it right away. Said that in some rare cases, that can kill sperm count. He took some other measurements too, and found that other things were high that should have been lower. He warned me that going off artificial Testosterone would make me “feel lousy”, which was the biggest understatement of the year–but that’s a story for another time.
The entire process of working with Dr Meikle took about 9 months. This involved going off Androgel for a few months, having bloodwork done, going on other medications, having bloodwork done etc.
At the end of all of this I got measured again for swimmers…. which timeline-wise, was about a month after my wife’s surgery where we found out her ovaries were destroyed.
I was producing normal…. 106 million. So my body was all systems go. Now it was my wife’s turn to get bloodwork done, dye tests, more bloodwork, etc. Miraculously, in the middle of all of these tests, my wife became pregnant. With mine and her genetics, totally natural. We were ECSTATIC to say the least! We had a boy 7 months later (he came a little early) and named him Matthew–which means “Gift from God”. I’m actually hesitant to include that, because remember wondering why God would bless others with children and not us, but we would have named him that regardless of how he came into our lives–adoption, a donor, 2 donors, etc.
17 months later, Matthew’s little sister arrived. We’re now a family of 4.
I don’t attempt to speak for all issues that can cause infertility. There are dozens of potential causes. In our specific example, it was the medication Androgel that I used (don’t ask me why at least 6 different doctors, including specialists, saw that on my chart and didn’t take me off of it) which told my pituitary to stop producing testosterone and dropped my count to zero.
And I know that our total of 4 years of trying, and 3-ish of thinking we were infertile pales in comparison to what others have gone through.
But the pain is very real. It’s crushing, discouraging, disheartening pain…. and if anyone reading this is going through the pain of infertility I just want you to know you are loved, and I wish I could give you a hug right now. I feel for you. It’s an awful feeling, and I pray for peace for you to get through it.
Beautiful. And important. Thank you.
Agreed. THANK YOU.
I am infertile. Thank you so, so much.
This was moving, and so very brave of you to share. Thank you.
Hey, at least you’ve got a biological reason and certainty! After nearly 14 years and everything but IVF, doctors are still flummoxed by our lack of kids. Of course, theoretically, they could happen at any time, without medical intervention (not that it’s helped so far), and that’s more frustrating than anything else.
No one has really bothered us though, probably because we got the hell out of Utah as quickly as possible after we married, and went to the midwest. Now when people ask, “so do you have kids?” I say, “no… we have fertility issues and graduate degrees instead.”
Love your reply to the kid question! God bless!!
The questions aren’t limited to LDS, as young marrieds and catholic, we were both asked the same questions. It isn’t just Utah, or Mormon, or Catholic or Baptist. We dealt with this long before IVF was even possible. People just don’t think. Our timing just was really bad overall. Too early for IVF, we couldn’t afford the fees for adoption… Just sad all the way around.
Thank you for your comment, Patricia. We lived in Utah during our time of infertility, and it was very hard for us. Not so much because of what people said, but becaue of our own wanting, and our seeing other people’s “success” without the cost of pain and grieving that many couples have to pay. But just because it happens in Utah doesn’t make it okay to slam Mormons, or Utah Mormons, or Utah… We can talk about the real issue–being more aware and thoughtful and considerate–without criticizing others and/or making insensitive blanket statements. I thought this post was very well written. I just feel sorry for those that haven’t figured these lessons out for themselves yet (the lessons on how to be gentle with or refrain from personal subjects). I learned most of them the hard way (through my own struggles), but if that was how I needed to learn them, I’m grateful that least I’m better for it now :).
She was definitely NOT attacking you, clearly she was sympathizing with the article and RELATING to the issue by telling us about her life and how it can happen to anyone and anywhere. I don’t even know how in any wayyyy any person (but you) could have possibly thought that was an attack to mormons. It is ironic that you claim “you are better” at refraining from reproaching people about their personal affairs, when you’ve just done that now. So yes, I am doing the same to you for sheer stupidity. It does not mean that because she isn’t mormon that she is attacking you or your Utah people.
Viewing other people’s “success” and assuming it happened without pain or grief is as wrong as asking why you don’t have any kids. I have 4 children and have had miscarriages between each pregnancy, some occurring as late as 27 weeks. Yes, I have children in my life but no can tell me I haven’t suffered in the process.
Thank-you for a wonderful article!!! My husband and I have experienced infertility, it can be such a lonely place. We both were a infertility doctors dream, me with severe endometriosis and him very low sperm count. The church can be the loneliest place on earth, not to mention most painful for us. I have really struggled with my testimony after dealing with infertility. Love, understanding and awareness are sooo important
I believe many who wish to adopt may be unaware that if you go through the process to become a foster parent for the state, it is possible to get on a list as a foster parent who wishes to adopt and there are even infants available… if you are squeamish about adopting an older child! The awesome thing about getting into this system is that you don’t have to pay adoption fees and you are helping a child or children who got a really bad deal in life!
I love your response “we have graduate degrees instead”, no need to add the infertility issues part, especially if you don’t want to hear the response of “my sisters ex-brother-in-laws kids were infertile and here’s what they did…..”!
So true. Everyone has a cure.
It took a lot of courage for you to write this, and it’s appreciated.
I feel badly that it took me so many years to realize that most people (LDS or not, but sometimes it seems that LDS have a corner on that market)–
are not only insensitive, but highly ignorant.
It sounds arrogant to say that, but there are insensitive, ignorant people in the world, and they hang out in every church, every culture, and they cause a lot of heartache to the sensitive, intelligent people in the world–
So, your advice is well-given, but don’t expect it to be taken seriously, because insensitive, ignorant people probably aren’t reading–
There may be a few who will wake up, and that’s why it’s worth writing and trying–
the fact is that the world and every culture in it is filled with people who don’t care about being kind.
Our own LDS culture rewards the ‘go getter/do gooder’, and often the ‘go getter/do gooder’ is nosey–
and ferrets around in other peoples’ business–and is seen as someone who cares, when, in truth, he/she is usually just someone who thinks he knows more than other people–
people who don’t evaluate their own hearts and minds for flaws cause a lot of the pain in this world–
even the scriptures tell *us* to search our hearts and minds and active in discerning good from evil–
but most LDS have been conditioned to think that if they are modest and don’t smoke, etc.–they are good; the words they say to other people have nothing to do with goodness–
it’s a definite cultural failing–
I’m glad you had a happy ending–
not everyone does, but I like to think that there is MUCH more waiting for all of *us* beyond this life, and those who have shed many tears will find peace and comfort at last–
Dear Marginalized Mormon,
I am the mother of one child and have suffered with secondary infertility since I was 27. Multiple attempts at IVF were totally useless. We had a very hard time adopting and realized it wasn’t going to work for us. My husband and I are now both educators and our son is on his own, however he got involved in some pretty bad things and is reaping the effects of that. This has brought us more pain. Once again, there is that feeling of not fitting in and not being good enough. What gives me hope is thinking of how I can make myself useful to God and trusting in his promises. If I’d not had these challenges, I’d likely be of the same attitude of so many in and out of the church, so I do know in my head that I give thanks for that, however, I don’t always embrace that truth with my heart as much as I wish I could at times.
Anyhow, you sound like an awesome person. Yes, we do need more sensitive and caring people in this church that can bless the lives of those that are struggling. Thanks for being one of them.
I love this post, and I love this comment. Thank-you both for sharing.
“I feel badly that it took me so many years to realize that most people (LDS or not, but sometimes it seems that LDS have a corner on that market)–
are not only insensitive, but highly ignorant.
It sounds arrogant to say that, but there are insensitive, ignorant people in the world, and they hang out in every church, every culture, and they cause a lot of heartache to the sensitive, intelligent people in the world–”
The irony of the statement above is priceless.
When I was young and stupid I asked the “when..” question. I’m embarrassed now, and stopped it long ago. We need better teaching on this subject. Thanks for this post.
Don’t be embarrassed. That’s part of growing up, right?
I too used to ask the “when are you having kids” question just as a conversation starter. I have since learned to ask less personal questions like “how many times do you have sex” AND “what’s your credit score”! My husband & I have struggled with infertility since we were first married and I find it irritating when acquaintances (not close friends, b/c we talk with them about personal things) will say “well at least you have ____ (#) kids!” Some of us feel deeply about have more children and were not able to.
Because none of us always say or do the “perfect” thing, I have learned to always assume other people have good intentions in what they do and say. Sometimes people make mistakes and say hurtful things, but they VERY SELDOM DO IT TO BE MEAN, they just don’t know what to say! So how about we all cut each other some slack and assume good intent and move on/forgive each other for saying the “wrong” thing? I hope the thousands of people I could have offended or hurt by my ignorant words over my lifetime have realized I didn’t mean them harm, but just said or did the wrong thing out of naïveté, will forgive me. I have long ago forgiven those who said or did things for the same reason.
Assume good intent- always great words to live by.
Great words of wisdom, and I loved the humor…. If I could re-write this article, I would have put more emphasis on the fact that I absolutely know without a doubt (and beyond a shadow of one) that people aren’t saying things to be mean. I only meant to say that when wounds are really fresh, questions like that can cut deep–even if the person has no intention of doing so.
And I certainly didn’t mean to imply that people expressing gratitude about their children should stop doing so-On the contrary. I think children should know how appreciated they are in every forum possible. But that during that exact moment, I couldn’t help feeling bad or jealous, or envious, or whatever. Like I said, it’s like getting an unintentional slap on the back when you have a bad sunburn. Not saying it’s right to feel that way, just being honest.
I appreciate your honesty & understand your point of view. Like my nine year old daughter said yesterday “before we had our puppy and I really wanted a one, it felt like everyone had a puppy but me and I saw cute puppies everywhere!”. Kids know just how to put our complex emotions into simple, yet true words! Thanks for your thought provoking words!
Douglas, I just have to say, “wow.” My husband and I have been married a little over a year and attend a young married college ward (LDS). There are MANY women in our ward who struggle with infertility and we are blessed that the other members of our ward are incredibly sensitive to this.
Thank you so much for your bravery! Your words touched my heart.
So so much of your story resonates with me! My husband and I went into our marriage knowing we would probably never have kids. While we have always been very vocal about my fertility issues, we still get questions and comments about it and we have been married for over 9 years. We had been married for 8 months the first time we were asked (mostly because we were inactive for the first 8 months of our marriage, it was literally our first Sunday back) and I said, flustered and embarrassed, “But we’ve only been married 8 months!”. This woman’s reply was “I was pregnant after 6!”. I didn’t realize that creating life was a race.
One of the saddest things I have heard lately came from a friend in my Ward who is also struggling…she told me that someone high up in the Stake asked her when her and her husband were planning on having children and then practically chastised her for working instead of raising a family. If I were in that situation and my faith were perhaps shaky, I think I would have walked out of the door and never came back. I am almost afraid to go talk to this person for fear of what might happen. These things REALLY need to be addressed or feelings are going to continue to be hurt. I know a lot of people get overly upset over minor offenses said, but these cut so deeply and only a small few will ever know our pain.
I unfortunately have also heard that I can’t know the love of a child until I become a mother. I have spent the last 7 years (6 professionally) taking care of a child with special needs. She is completely dependent, so I bathe her, I feed her, I pick her up from school, I give her hugs and kisses. Can anyone deny that *I* know the true love of a child? It would be hard for some women to take care of someone else’s child but I love this girl and was happy to do it for her and her family. Should I also be chastised for making the decision to help this family with their daughter knowing that I will probably never have one of my own? My alternative at this point is to sit around and feel sorry for myself and be depressed (which is exactly what I did for the first 3 years of our marriage!)
My last day of taking care of her full time was this last Friday and I cried the entire way home. I will see her every Sunday at least (because I will still take care of her all 3 hours) and I can be there on random date nights and for birthday dinners. Her Mom has always been good about making it known that she considers me Grace’s “other mother” and that has meant the world to me.
I am so happy that you and your wife were able to finally have children. I am also 30 and we have been trying for 9 years, so I feel like my clock is ticking as well, but everyone keeps saying that we’re still young and it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen. I have come to terms with it and preparing myself for it not happening. I know that sounds very pessimistic but if it does happen, then it will be a nice surprise and life will be a little sweeter. If not, I have a wonderful husband, two perfectly behaved (mostly) fur-babies, 3 AAS degrees and hopefully a few graduate degrees too. Good luck in the future and thank you for sharing your story!
this kind of problem (infertility) is on the increase actually–
it’s becoming less rare for many reasons–
and the insensitivity has been going on for centuries–
it’s in the bible–
the fact is that many infertile couples struggle with the church–
and then, if a couple chooses to adopt, that adds another complication for everyone–
not everyone is sensitive about that either–
so many sad stories–
Jenny, if your story about the Stake leader had happened to me I have no reservations in saying I would have stopped that discussion cold and stated that the behavior was not in any way acceptable. Depending on how much self control I was able to exercise, I may have slapped and/or punched said priesthood leader. The behavior exhibited in the story is unfortunately all too common in our culture and it is thought to be ok. IT IS NOT OK.
I’m from Detroit so I don’t let people mess with me. Moving to Texas was a huge culture shock! There is no way saying that to people would ever fly up there. I am a very sweet person 99.9% of the time, but in a situation like that I can fly off the handle really easily, especially when it comes to my family or the little girl I take care of!
I believe you can know the love of a mother. I was a live in nanny for a family for some years, and I used to tell people I loved those children like my own. “But you can’t know what your own is like. You don’t have any.” I was surprised, but maybe they were right. Well, I have three of my own now. And I do still love those girls I nannied just as much as I’ve ever loved my own. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! They can’t know. You develop a love for those sweet children you serve daily. You can be a mother without giving birth. You can be a mother without having children. There are some childless women in my ward that have acted as mothers to my children, and I am ever grateful for the love they have to share!
Miranda, LOVE this reply. Thank you.
AMEN! I foster a little boy who I have loved as my own for 4 years and I have given birth to 3 biological children. God knows that due to his special needs and special circumstances, I have offered more heartfelt, fervent prayers in his behalf than any of my biological children. If he ever goes I will absolutely feel like I’ve lost MY child, because I have raised him as mine, cared for him as mine, loved him as mine and God has called me to care for him during this time in his life! He calls me Mom and treats me as his mother just like my other kids do! Don’t Ever let anyone make you feel like less of a mother (or father) for mothering someone else’s children! Every child needs more than just a Mom and Dad. That’s why God arranged the church to have primary teachers, visiting/home teachers, neighbors and friends. I’m sure the Lord has equally important work for the infertile couple as he has for the parents of 12.
Thank you Miranda! I mentioned this blog on FB and my seminary teacher replied to say that she considered me and all of her other students her children. I had a great Mom but she struggled like every other Mom. Having this other amazing woman (who didn’t have her one child until later in life) in my life really set a course for who I am today. I miss her so much, just like I miss my Mom (who lives 1200 miles away…)
It is truly mindblowing that someone thinks those things. The only thing a woman who can’t get pregnant will not experience is actually what it’s like to get pregnant. That’s it.
Whether a child is a foster child, stepchild, adopted child, surrogate birth, or in your wonderful example a child you cared for, the love can be the same level, which is love. Thank you for your comment and sharing your experiences.
I am not infertile. I’m on the other end of the scale where even prevention doesn’t work. I know the pain of loss, but it isn’t the same as what you’ve struggled with.
My aunt, who is just 6 years my elder, however, has a little family that she and her husband waited ages to get. One by adoption, one by some miracle. IVF failed them. She would cry on my shoulder and I would cry with her, wishing that the unexpected privilege I was getting would be given to her.
I have several cousins who struggle with the same thing. Mother’s Day was the hardest for them, and I often felt guilty for getting something they so desperately wanted.
I would never, ever ask someone when they’re going to have kids, just as I hated being asked, “You’re having ANOTHER one??” Completely different ends of the parenthood scale and timeline, I know, and not the same at all. But from what I did feel and experience of my family member’s pain at being told they’d never have kids… there just aren’t words.
Your suggestions and observations are spot on. Thank you for your bravery in sharing.
Yes, people can choose whether or not to be offended by questions, but that doesn’t change the fact that family size and shape is nothing we as observers and outsiders have any right to have a say about. It’s personal and it’s quite often painful, no matter what the situation.
Again, thank you.
I just ask one thing of you – don’t be that couple that says to people still struggling “it’ll happen when you lease expect it!” or “look at us, we thought we’d never had kids and here they are!”. Those comments make me even more crazy but the couple knows EXACTLY how we feel and they are still saying obnoixous things 😉
You got it… 🙂 Those comments are silly and cliche. I heard those a million times when I was single too.
I’m more apt to say something like, “I’m so so sorry. We had some trouble with our little ones getting here, and it was an agonizing time for us, so I feel for you guys”. Let me know if you ever wanna talk about it.”
But that is kind of what Douglas said isn’t it? When he least expected it?
I have had several patients who were, supposedly, infertile. When we checked the communication between their pituitary and ovary, it was blocked. A few months later they were pregnant. One of these women now has two children. If you are close to Boise, I would be happy to check you for this same problem, no charge.
Hi Ross, how can I go about getting this test? Is it performed by a GP? Thanks.
That is so very sweet of you Dr. Stockwell. I unfortunately live very far away from Idaho, I’m all of the way down in Dallas, Texas. I have found a great doctor who is trying to get some things taken care of. We did not have insurance for a very long time and I just started a new job that will give us fantastic insurance, so we’re looking forward to getting some more testing done and seeing what our options are. We have never felt this huge urge to get this taken care of, like it will happen or it won’t. Adoption, fostering, IVF, anything like that has always been a huge obvious no to us. It just might not be meant to be.
I TOTALLY agree that you CAN love fully and completely without first having been pregnant with that child. When I first brought my babies home from the hospital, I was not immediately in love with them – they were cute, but I felt none of the feelings of bonding with them that others have described, and I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I still remember the feeling, after two weeks of serving that baby every hour of the day (and night), when I was HIT with the feeling I had been missing. Love is a pure result of the service we give, NOT a natural reaction of going through pregnancy/child birth. I believe, as you know and experienced, if you serve completely, you love completely.
I also got married older than normal(29). I lived in Utah at the time. I had endured years of people asking why I was not married. Then I get married and that same question.. when are you going to have kids? Even when we moved we got that some. It was really hard because I had all kinds of health problems and just could not get pregnant. That turned into fertility treatments with no changed. There seemed to be no explanation. Finally we decided to start the adoption process. I gave up the idea of bearing a child of my own. It was not easy giving that idea up but I just knew I had to trust in the Lord. I did so. Two months after starting the adoption paperwork I got pregnant. I had to be on hormones and such to maintain the pregnancy. Our little one still is not here yet. About 3 months left. I do not know really why the Lord has blessed us so. I know that only His will has allowed it.I still have friends who have not been able to have children. I wonder why a lot. But I know the Lord knows the reason. I pray for them and love them because they are dear to me. I really enjoyed your story. It is good to remember to never ask such questions of people. It is hard and causes a lot of pain. I still remember the pain I felt when all those people asked me why I did not have kids and watching people who got married the same time as me working on kid number 3 or 4. I hope people remember to be kind and not pry into peoples personal lives in regards to children. I do not know what the future holds for me. This little child that I am bearing may be the only one I get. I know it is in the Lord’s hands. My heart aches for all those dear couples out there who yearn for children. And to all those people out there who yearn to be married but due to circumstances out of their control have not been able to get married. I know they are all love and I hope we can be kinder to them and avoid thoughtless questions.
Heatherly, thank you for this comment… and congratulations! We wish you the very best with your pregnancy, and with your new one on the way.
Sometimes you get the, “You watch! You’ll start the process of adoption and THEN you’ll get pregnant!”
My husband and I have adopted 4 kids and I’m STILL not pregnant!
I know people say things to be supportive, just cause they feel the need to say something, but I couldn’t believe it when people were saying that. Like, “why don’t you pour some more salt in my wound? It’s just not stinging quite yet!”
I have often wondered how to respond to questions about private issues such as infertility. My husband once said to an older sister, that’s interesting you asked this question. Why do you feel the need to know? I suppose the word got around because I was never asked again!
I really think it’s one of those knee-jerk, automatic questions people ask… kinda like “have you picked a name?” when they find out someone’s pregnant, or “can he/she crawl yet?” when someone’s just had a baby.
The point of my post is that it is still a personal, invasive question because it can’t be answered with a polite yes/no–it requires a question that either gives a timeline, or explains why there isn’t a timeline. And since we’re talking about procreation, it’s intimate and personal, and needs to be eliminated from the list of knee-jerk, automatic questions people ask and replaced with simply “Do you have children?” which CAN be answered by a simple yes/no answer, and requires no explanation about fertility or infertility.
My wife and I couldn’t have kids and ended up adopting. When people asked when we were going to have kids I would tell them “I’m not sure when, but we are getting very anxious because we decided not to consummate the marriage until after the first child”. This caused them to either shut up or to laugh heartily. Either way, they left me alone.
Good for you!
Tim this is an AWESOME response. My husband and I didn’t have our first child until 11 years after we were married due to infertility. I WISH I would have thought up an great response like this!
Tim, LOVE IT! I always told the askers that I was checking E-Bay every day but I still haven’t found one.
I enjoyed this article and your bravery in sharing it. It’s not often that you get to hear things from the husband’s viewpoint.
We are also infertility survivors. Through adoption and biology and God, we are parents. You wouldn’t believe some of the comments we have received. Especially the things that people to say to my kids.
We had friends who really didn’t want kids for a while and they pretended to be sterile. No joke.
It’s so important to remember that we have all our own story and journey and everyone is hurting somehow.
IMO, an adopted child = your own child in every sense of the word. No one should ever say differently. If it’s a kid saying something to your kids, well, sadly, kids are mean… if it’s an adult–they are ignorant.
When we considered our options, we decided to go with a donor (before I worked out my issues) because of finances, and because we thought my wife was good to go. When we found out she had issues as well, we turned straight to adoption and started trying to figure out how we could make it work.
About 20% of the cousins on my wife’s side are adopted. They feel just as loved from their parents, and feel just as much love FOR their parents as any other of the cousins.
My grandpa on my dad’s side was actually his stepdad. No one can tell me that the love my dad felt for his dad (who he never referred to as his stepdad, always his dad) was anything less than what any other child who worships his father would feel. And his dad married my grandma when my dad was about 12–so Grandpa missed out on the infant years, and STILL received the pure love of a child.
What i heard frequently, after “Just have faith… It’ll happen when God wants it to,” was, “Adoption? Yeah, I guess it’s ok. But you’re not really their family,” or some iteration of not “really” being parents.
Thank you so much! My husband and I have been trying to have children for some time now and we have been feeling so frustrated in our inability to get pregnant. Especially when I feel like everyone around me is getting pregnant. It is nice to know that someone understands what we are going through and it is nice to still believe in hope!
I was married at 22, to the girl I met three weeks home from the mission field. I didn’t find out for sure that I was infertile until I was 25. It was devastating. Repeat DEVASTATING. “The question” is such a twist of the knife to someone who already has raw emotions on the subject. And church was the worst place for it. We’d end up in the parking lot, both on the verge of tears within 10 minutes of entering the building that first year.
I’m 31 now. We both still get “the question,” and I can handle it now. But it still hurts… Every time.
Also, so few men write on the subject. I know how you felt man. It is pretty much just a terrible feeling. The guilt, the rage and then the nagging disappointment.
Glad you guys were able to have kids eventually though. Congrats.
It really got to me too. In fact, there was a time there where my wife told a few people who probed SHE was getting some issues checked out, just because it’s far more common for the woman to have issues, and she didn’t want any questions going my way cause I was going through a real rough patch.
Everyone’s different though. I know some people wear it on their sleeve that they are infertile. We had a couple that went up to bear their testimony and announced it from the pulpit that they just found out. Maybe that’s the way they feel support. To each their own, though… I’m personally just not that way.
For me, it was something I told no one and it took a while for me to get rid of those feelings of being deeply flawed.
That is a beautiful article you wrote! And very brave to come out and say it how it is, and how the sensitivity of the subject has effected you (and your wife). I totally agree on the part that it is non of anyone’s business as to when and how many children someone will have. We have been able to have 3 beautiful children naturally, and I truely feel that our family is complete, yet people still ask me if (or WHEN!) we’re going to have more! SO insensitive and just plain rude to ask! That is between me, my spouse and the Lord.
I really appreciate this beautiful article. Although I admit that I have not struggled with fertility, I do struggle with the guilt that comes from not feeling like I am capable of having more than one or two children and still being a good mother. I find myself mentioning it often in hopes that those close to me will reassure me that it is okay to recognize your limits. Instead, I often find people saying “well, they only come one at a time” (I have only one) and “I’m sure you will cross that bridge when you get there”. Even sometimes I hear implications that God is going to give me a different answer than what I already sense. (I would argue that perhaps God is already letting me know!) In mormon culture, there is altogether too much emphasis on what is considered the stereotypical mormon family and not enough room for all types of families. I get excited to see families that are functioning in ways other than the norm. I think there are mothers that are better mothers when they work part-time or even full-time and fathers who would like to stay home. I think the beauty of the world today is that all of those options are available to families in all their forms: adoptive, biological, couples, etc. And I firmly believe that God accepts and loves all of those families and encourages them to do what is best for them, not what is culturally acceptable.
Ashlie. If it’s any comfort, I have just the two, and it is as much as I can cope with. I’m not someone who can spread myself too thin. I was told in a blessing I had chosen wisely, so yes, I think it is okay to recognise our own individual limits. Which doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel inadequate, having 6 siblings and over 25 nieces and nephews.
I understand what you are saying. If you want one you are wrong if you want 10 you are wrong. I do have 5 and I would like more. I have also suffered through miscarriages. I have had 3 in row six altogether. I just had my last one 3 weeks ago. This elder lady in my ward told my daughter that your mom should not have any more kids. Than gave her, her reasons why. It made my daughter cry.
People also use the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. I hate that comment.
Going through wanting more kids and not getting them “fast enough and being told the Lords timing and the lord won’t give you more than you can handle the thought came to me that even people who only want 0, 1 or what ever if that is the feeling that they are having than that is what I support. I hope that makes since.
So many people are judgmental fools and apparently have nothing better to do than butt into other people’s business. (And, no, the irony of my judging them for being judgmental is not lost on me.) How do they dare assume that they have the right to ask personal questions? It’s infuriating! The Holy Spirit is supposed to refine us, but I see very little refinement in the social interactions at church.
I got married when I was 19 I did get those questions and we always said when the Lord lets us and no one would bug us about it. Being honest with people is the best way to go. People ask because they want to get to know you. I feel its the same as what r u doing next week? or where was your fav vacation?. the question of kids is just on of those questions. it took us 8 YEARS 4 ai and 1 miscarriage to get our gift his now 4 and he will most likely be our only one. we get the question from kids now wondering if we will have another Awesome kid. It is just a question you can rise above it or cry about it.
Wow. Congrats on your kid. Sorry for your struggle… but to still say your last line might be the most assinine comment ever. Gtfo
“It is just a question you can rise above it or cry about it.”
Here are a few more questions:
1. Hey, have you ever worried about health concerns with how much weight you have gained? When are you going to lose weight?
2. Has your son with the terminal illness died?
3. When do you think your husband is going to go out and get a job?
4. Couldn’t help but notice how much take-out food you guys are bringing home, hey, how much credit card debt do you guys have?
5. Sorry you lost your son in Afghanistan, aren’t you really glad you have another son?
6. Wow! what happened to your legs? Do you miss being able to walk?
Yes, they are all questions, some more ridiculous and inconsiderate than others. Theoretically someone could “choose to rise above it or cry about it”.
I’d rank “When you gonna have kids?” in the middle somewhere. Just because it’s commonly asked doesn’t make it right.
I think I can see both sides of this problem. It is insensitive for someone to ask “When are you going to have kids?”, but the person asking can be ignorant about infertility in general. By asking that question, they don’t often realize that they can be touching on tender feelings. No one could think that asking about another person’s missing legs in that manner would not touch on tender feelings.
According to the CDC, 6% of married women in the USA are infertile. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm) (The data is from ’06-’10, but the page is current. Maybe that statistic will change with new data.) When people ask “when are you having kids,” it is insensitive of them not to consider that you may be struggling with infertility, but if only 6 out of 100 married women are infertile, it is (foolishly) easy to assume that your friend is not in the minority.
But you should know, there are other problems besides infertility that people get asked sensitive questions about at church. Often I sit by myself in relief society because I have a social phobia (USA prevalence of 12% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_anxiety_disorder#cite_note-Schneier-2, although admittedly mine is more severe). When someone asks me to sit by them or talk to them, I get so scared that I feel like throwing up or crying. As angry, scared, and depressed as it makes me when others try to reach out, I can’t blame it on those who seem to be causing my pain because they don’t know what’s wrong with me. They mean well to try to include me. When you think about it, almost any question anyone could ever ask could be potentially tender and inappropriate to someone out there. In that sense, I can also understand why it would be okay to try to, to quote the original poster, “rise above” offensive questions you are asked. They are not usually meant to be offensive. It is impossible to alter your behavior to suit everyone’s desires (someone who has SAD, like me, would want others to not single them out in any way. A “normal” woman would be hurt if she went to relief society and was not greeted, smiled at, or acknowledged in any way.)
Still, I wholeheartedly agree with you in that it is insensitive to question others about when they will have children. (I’ve been asked that question, too, but since I’d rather not talk about miscarriages I ignore it or brush it aside.) Just remember that it is often not meant to be offensive, and if the people asking you were to know how it made you feel, they would feel remorse for bringing up tender thoughts.
J., thanks so much for your comment. I feel like you really nailed it. Different people are sensitive to different topics, and it can be hard to know what not to bring up with whom. That is something I have been also been thinking about while reading through the comments. What we all need to do is do our best to be sensitive to others and what might hurt feelings or bring up something difficult for them. When I hear from someone that something is hard for them, like your struggles with SAD, (which I haven’t really heard about before), or with the “when are you having kids?” question (which I have thought a lot about, especially in connection with church) I store that in my mind for when I might need to be more sensitive in conversation with someone. I am glad to know about these kinds of things so I can help people I meet be more comfortable, either by sitting by them, or not sitting by them, or talking about a certain topic, or avoiding something that is pain-filled for them.
What has really made me sad is the stories of people having others be openly rude to them at church or in other places (but especially when it messes with their view of the church}. I have a calling in my ward where I am supposed to know what is going on with people and fill needs and help everyone be ok, really. I honestly spend time worrying about conversations I have had with people, hoping that I haven’t made them feel bad in any way. I WANT to understand everyone’s unique situation and help them feel like someone cares and is trying to be sensitive, as we are all going through something, so I hope I succeed more often that not.
Q: “When are you going to have kids?”
A: “Probably sooner than you will develop the most minimal social graces.”
Q: “When are you going to have kids?”
A: “I’ll tell you that if you tell me the most unconventional place you and your spouse have…”
I got asked this question when we’d only been married for 2 weeks, by someone who’d been married 18 months and was already pregnant for the second time. I didn’t know back then that we would struggle with infertility, and it was still a personal question. While we were living in a highly LDS populated city, we attended a married ward and got asked this several times. It was like, anyone who’d been married a year and didn’t have kids was unrighteous. I happen to know a few girls in that ward that had miscarried or who had been trying for ages. Your article sure put words to how we’ve felt over the past few years that we’ve been trying. I loved your responses though. I might try a few of those next time.
Someone asked in the Gospel Doctrine class I was teaching how to approach dear friends they feared were too selfish–they’d been married a few years and didn’t have kids yet. I answered as compassionately as I could, “Mind you business. Next!” I hate that. It was never my struggle, but seriously, as a culture we stink at minding our own business. You do you. Jesus does not ask you about others.
What?!? Too selfish? Wow. Wow. Wow.
Is that person a clairvoyant? Can they possibly predict the future too, or just look deeply into a person’s soul and interpret their innermost thoughts?
Shaking my head…
You had a great response though!
My VT somehow turns every monthly message into this, going on and on about how selfish couples are nowadays in waiting to have children or choosing not to. Somehow she just hasn’t put two and two together and I just won’t give her the satisfaction in telling her we are childless for a reason. I hope this article brings more awareness. Thank you!
You nailed it. Do you know that Mormonism has a “creed”? It used to be very popular, especially during the time from Brigham Young to Wilford Woodruff or so:
“mind your own business.”
I Was Adopted At The Age Of 10 After Being In Foster Care My Whole Life. MY Parents Who Already Had Four Kids Of Their Own Then Adopted My 5 Sibling And I They are Most definately My Parents. I Have Two Boys Now but My Husband And I Already Plan To Adopt One Day. That Child/Children Will Be As Much Our Child As Any Other Of Our Kids
Thank you for sharing. I think it’s very sad that married couples get barraged with questions about when they are going to have kids, how many they will have, etc. I haven’t faced that so much, but I did realize that we were treated much differently in our ward as soon as we had our son. It was like we were “acceptable” all of the sudden. We moved into our married ward a couple months before we got married because we couldn’t afford to sign new leases and break them after two months (my husband lived in a sort of boarding house while I moved into our new apartment in the new ward). A lot of people didn’t really talk to us until after the wedding. It was weird. Not super offensive, but weird.
Now that we’ve had one kid and survived a really difficult pregnancy I’m worried about getting left in the dust a year from now when all of my friends are pregnant with kid number 2 or 3 and I’m waiting a few more years to have another. Even if someone can have kids, it’s a personal decision and they shouldn’t be judged for waiting or spacing them more than 18-24 months apart.
I also want to share that sometimes (not usually, but sometimes) these questions come out of sincere interest. There is a woman in my ward with four kids, three of them are adopted. She is one of the women I really look up to in the ward, and I asked her about her decision to adopt once. I appreciated that she was willing to tell me her story. She grew up with adopted siblings and knew she always wanted to adopt. Not that my opinion matters, but I really admire her for it and for the personality traits that motivated her to do it. So, people aren’t always trying to be judgmental when they ask. I think we would all do better to really think about when it’s okay to ask and when it’s not. There’s a huge difference between asking a good friend their story and pestering someone you hardly know.
I TOTALLY agree with this article! The attitude in the Church HAS to change! I want to add my story to this one… I grew up in the Church and came from a family that popped out babies like candy. People didn’t even wait until after we were married to start asking when we were going to have kids. I wanted to have a dozen at first but my husband didn’t grow up in the Church and had only one sibling. He was more realistic. We had four kids so easy it was ridiculous! When we were surprised with our fourth i was done, mentally. So we talked about it and my husband got a vasectomy. Then our older son died. Questions started all over again… “when are you going to get another son?” (as if my 3 daughters weren’t good enough for all the important things only boys can do in the Church) “Your quiver isn’t full yet!” (one old lady actually said that to me. i realized old ladies forget really fast how hard it is to raise kids.) Overall I learned that people need to mind their own business and peers and old people in the Church do not know best. Many a times we had to quote the Handbook “Couples should have only as many children as they can physically, emotionally and mentally provide for.” Then we’d get the old “Oh, God will provide if you do what he wants (ie pop out a gazillion kids) not really. Thank goodness my husband was too common sense for that. Life is hard, no matter what. And we shouldn’t make it harder by sticking our noses where they don’t belong.
Thank you so much for sharing. It’s remarkable to me how similar my husband and my story is to yours. We have had so many of the same issues, and it has been such a painful journey. As much as you hate to hear someone else has been struggling, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone – especially in a religion where you can feel so completely singular when it comes to family planning.
Thank you again.
THANKS for sharing! My heart breaks for what you went through, but what an amazing family you got out of it! How cool! Infertility is a struggle only those of us enduring can understand.
Just like loving a child is something only a parent can understand? Don’t be silly now 🙂 We all have emotions and if we use our brains we can understand even that which we have not experienced. Thank God for that since it allows us to feel the same joy that the early saints felt when they saw the resurrected Savior.
I have a niece and two daughters who have infertility problems. Trust me, I understand the pain and cry real tears for them. And then there are inspired writers like the one who wrote this article that help us to understand and feel their pain also.
Just as you meant no insult (or to cause pain to me) when you made that statement, many other people don’t mean to cause pain when they ask about having children. They just don’t THINK about what they are saying and it’s appropriateness or implications. That is why articles like this are so important – because they educate people who then can educate other people. And because they help those going through it to know they are not alone.
My wife and I tried for seven years to get pregnant, but it never happened. We tried IUI’s about four times with no luck. The fertility specialist we used was not much help either. We live in Idaho and the LDS population asked us regularly when we were going to have kids as well. I understand the feeling of “getting left behind” when you see all your friends having children and seven years later you are still trying to have your first.
We chose the path of adoption. We now have three wonderful boys who are just as much ours as any biological child. We continue to get comments like the ones mentioned earlier about how we’ll never understand what it is like to be a real parent until you have children of your own. The comment that really bugs us, but it is due to lack of education in most cases, is “Who is the REAL mom” or “REAL dad”? I am a firm believer that people need to learn to think about their comments BEFORE saying them. Again, I know a lot of this is education. We had a couple times that people would think it was necessary to ask us about our “adopted son”. Why not just say “how is your son?”
One huge frustration I have had is watching a friend of ours try to “schedule” their children to be two years apart. They get all frustrated when they aren’t pregnant right when they want to be. I have gotten to the point that I don’t have much sympathy for someone who can get pregnant and complains that they aren’t right when they wanted to be. If I had had a choice when I was 23, I would have had a child at 25 or so and not waited until I was 30 to have our first.
So, my point is that I completely understand this article too. I was most of the problem in our fertility issues (very low count and many that weren’t good swimmers) and my wife was a small part with some uterus issues. It is very difficult to deal with and many times I felt like I didn’t even want to go to church and watch all of these families or see young mom’s to be that were so excited that they “finally” got pregnant.
I am also a firm believer that you will get the children you are meant to have-even if it through adoption. Our first two boys, we have been told, look just like us and you wouldn’t even know they were adopted. Our youngest is a different race, but he definitely belongs to our family.
I just wish that people would think about their comments before just blurting them out.
That really bugs me too! Really ticked me off, the first time I heard it. Now I just have fun with it!
“Where’s their real mom?”
“I’m right here”
“No, I mean their REAL mom”
“I’M Their REAL mom”
“Oh you mean their birth mom?”
I’m adopted. I like it when I say “My mom didn’t have any kids!”
I loved this article and agree that this is a sensitive topic that we should be taught to approach delicately if at all. Having said that, there will be supportive people and not-so-supportive people no matter what you choose to do. I live in the same Utah Mormon culture and my perspective is the opposite side of the fence. When my fourth child was born, my oldest was still four. No one has ever asked me when we were going to start having kids because it’s no applicable. No, the opposite has been the case, even in the church. People have made rude comments suggesting that we don’t know how the procreation process works, suggesting that we have been unwise, as well as acting shocked when I have suggested that I would love to have ten children or even more. I hear “you’ve got your hands full” almost every time I take my kids to the grocery store. No joke. There are many in and out of the church who have been very supportive of our family’s choice, and I do not make this comment to be negative. I’m quite secure that this is the right thing for us to do and I’m very grateful that infertility is not something I have had to suffer. Because I treasure my fertility, my heart goes out to those who struggle all the more. I just want to point out that there are two sides to this coin. Whether a family has zero children or twenty+, it’s really none of our business. Who are we to judge?
I was raised by two wonderful parents who got a lot of this kind of “censure”. I am one of the youngest in a very large family (13 children)and I’ve had many of these awful comments directed towards my mother and my siblings and myself.
No matter which side of the coin you are on – infertility or many children – bottom line is that it is nobody else’s business.
My wonderful parents taught me that it is NO ONE’S business to ask WHEN or HOW many kids anyone will have. It’s a personal decision between the couple and God.
Also, I just wanted to clarify something that kinda bothered me in other posts. This problem of insensitivity is not the LDS church’s problem – it’s an LDS member problem. The church has given it’s position – its between god and the couple.
Anyway, No matter where you might be in this situation, it is heart wrenching. I have some very dear friends who are infertile, I have the constant worry of infertility and problems (I recently lost my baby due to a chromosomal disorder), and I know people that get backlashed for having many children.
Just be kind. Mind your own business, and think before you speak.
Went through this same thing for a little over 12 years. We now have two beautiful children, a boy and second is a girl. I hated going to church because of that question. I think everyone needs to read this article.
We too struggled to get pregnant for some years. We had been married 8 years by the time we finally had our son and I was 30 as a first time mother, my husband 35. I’ll never forget when our home teacher asked us, “So don’t you guys want kids? Is something wrong with you or something? Do you not like kids?” we were shocked. It’s true what somebody else said, that once we had a child, after living in our ward for 6 years, that suddenly everybody was so nice and friendly and social to us. We weren’t social pariahs anymore. I was amazed that women that had never acknowledged my existence before suddenly wanted it be good friends. It made me very mad, to say the least. Sometimes I hate living here (Utah) with all of my heart, but, I know stupid, ignorant people are everywhere. Thank you for writing this. There people talk about this, hopefully the more people will keep their mouths shut.
I’ve been married 6 years and no children for reasons. My husband and I are very social and active in our ward. I totally feel like we’d have more friends if we had children. We feel like some of the other young couples just don’t feel like they have anything in common with us beacuse we don’t have children. Yup! Your comment confirmed it!
Having gone through infertility and having had to do IVF each and every time to get my babies here, I feel like I may be one of the few on this side of the fence to somewhat disagree. I look at some as these questions as being somewhat “natural”. What do I mean? When one meets someone single, they might ask, “Are you dating anyone?” I suppose according to this we shouldn’t ask because it might remind them of their singleness…and I know this is how some people feel about this question as well, but maybe the other person was asked by their single friend to help them find someone to date. Who knows? When we meet a new couple, a natural question to ask is, “Do you have any children?” Now some might take this as a “judgemental” question…especially those who can’t have children, it may even come across as a painful reminder, but the asker may simply be asking because they are trying to find some playmates for their own children. And are children blessings? Absolutely! As are spouses…and moms…and dads…and jobs…and houses. So are we supposed to stop publicly expressing our feelings of being blessed just because we might accidentally offend someone? I don’t recall anywhere it being said that we will all be blessed equally. I think we are supposed to count our many blessings and even seek them out. What if someone just lost their job or their own mom, etc., etc. We can find lots of ways to try and correct how other people should act and treat other people, but what I have found is that we cannot change ANYONE…except ourselves. It is up to us to not be offended. It is up to us to try and let things roll off our shoulders…as hard and as painful as it might be sometimes. Most people are well-meaning. Could some learn how to be more tactful? Sure! But I can guarantee that not everyone will, and so it is ultimately up to us to change our reaction to things. And we need to learn how to be happy for other people and THEIR blessings…even if we want it.
I am not saying that this article is completely written in vain- I think it is important for people to be aware that infertility is most definitely an issue and really can’t just be prayed away and then of course learn to have a little more tact and think before asking something. However– when not, and if not…then we need to learn to not think so badly of the other person.
And I hope you have NO problem thinking of your children as a blessing and letting your children know each and every day how grateful you are that God sent them to you. They are YOUR blessings…and that is OK!
You’re young.. you will learn why, with some experience.
I kept thinking the same thing. I got married a month and a half before I turned 33. I understand how it can be hard to hear questions. I appreciated this article, but some of the comments make me think…we also can’t take offense.
I am glad you brought this up. The intent of the question should always be taken into consideration. And I’m not one who advocates getting offended easily, or treating these types of questions as “judgemental”. If you met me, you’d see that I’m very difficult to offend.
But let’s be honest…. it’s a HUGE stretch to compare asking a single person “are you dating anyone” or asking a couple you just met “do you have any children” to asking a “When you gonna have kids?”
And “what do you do for work?” Might sting a little to the guy who is out of work (especially if he’s nervous about getting a new job and running out of money) but I guarantee “So…. when are you going to go out and get a job?” would sting a lot more–and is a lot closer of a comparison.
The examples you gave were get-to-know you type questions-or finding out what is the latest with your single friend.
“When you gonna have kids” is just a far more personal question than it is typically treated–and that’s the point I’m trying to make.
Hey, if you know the person well, ask away.
I can see that my examples may be a bit like comparing apples and…grapples (if you’ve never had one- yum), (although, I have a single friend and she is VERY passionate and offended by people who ask her if she is dating anyone, etc. But I digress…) My main point that I was hoping to have come across with my comment, however, is that no matter how much we would like other people to change their ways or questioning techniques, we WILL NOT be able to change them- we can ultimately only change ourselves and our reaction to them. (There will ALWAYS be ignorance) As I’ve been reading this comment section (and as I’ve read others to similar articles), many people feel triumphant and validated in responding to this personal question by saying whatever they need to say in order to “shut the person up,” “quit bugging them about the topic”, etc. Personally, I think it is VERY rude to come back with a stick-it-to-them comment. The questioner is NAIVELY and ignorantly asking a rude question, but I think it is actually WORSE to very KNOWINGLY come back with a rude answer. Two wrongs don’t make a right. (I know not everyone comes back with a rude comment…but for those who do…) I have found that when people have asked me this question, if I just answer sincerely and honestly (we have been trying for a very long time but are unable to, etc.), I feel like I am teaching them about this whole new world that they– because they themselves have never had to experience– have been ignorant to. I would also like to point out that this is not just our “church problem,” in fact, I have actually had more people outside of the church ask me this question than those in the church. This is very much a cultural issue. People get married to have kids. (I know, I know….not EVERYONE, but this tends to be the assumption). For most people today, having children is the ONLY reason to get married.
I want to emphasize that I don’t disagree with your premise or didn’t hurt alongside you as I read your story. (I also laughed and thought your creative answers… “hopefully nine months from now” were funny :). ) I just wish there were articles out there that highlighted how one should react to these well-meaning,but-rude,not-very-well-thought-out questions. I know my attitude towards people saved me from a very potentially hurtful bitterness. Maybe I should write something…. 😉
Great points, and thank you for clarifying what you wanted to say!
There is a huge difference in asking ‘Do you have children?’ and ‘When are you going to have children?’ It is much easier to answer the first question with a simple ‘no’.
We shouldn’t be asking personal questions. Remember, it is a covert question, asking them about their sexual relationship too, as this is implied by the fact that this is how babies are made. You wouldn’t ask someone ‘So, have you learned how to orgasm yet?’ Yeh right, it’s personal, thoughtless and nosy, just like question number two.
My wife and I were joking about this very thing. If you reword the question “When you gonna have kids?”, it could just as well be “When are you going to stop having sex for pleasure only, and start having sex for pleasure AND procreation?”
And then there’s another point. As far as how to answer that question, there are far more highly personal, none-of-your-business answers than there are non-personal answers to that question.
This is a beautiful response. I love this!
I had Endo too and it destroyed all chances I had at getting pregnant. AND every time that my husband pray about adoption, we are given a no answer. It is devastating and I have no explanation for it currently. So when people find out I can’t have kids and immediately say “Well there is always adoption.” It truly guts me. Do you not think that I hadn’t considered that option in the 15 years I have been dealing with this?! Please be considerate of others and the things you don’t know!!
Thank you so much for this post! It was so well written with so much information that needs to be shared… from the pulpit!
I had to have a hysterectomy at age 33, which put an end to the dream of having a larger family. So the question “are you going to have more children?” always has a sting to it. Thankfully, my awkward answer “I can’t, I don’t have a uterus!” stops the questioning right away and then makes everyone around feel uncomfortable!
I love what you wrote about how talking about having children is much more private than discussing bank statements! So true! Thank you again for this post!!
The question that invades my family is, “Did your sons serve missions?” That question invokes as much pain to me (and I’m sure many others) as your feelings on questions about children. As soon as people know I have older sons, it’s one of the first things they ask me about them, as if they are grading my ability to parent. It cuts deep to tell them that they didn’t, but I assure you it is not indicative of my parenting skills, faith, testimony, and discipleship. I wonder how Lehi would’ve felt if he were constantly asked if Laman and Lemuel served faithfully as God’s servants, and what reaction he would have seen in faces when he answered in the negative. Or, to hear the judgmental, disappointed response, “oh!” when you tell them they didnt. In essence, people are asking, “Did your boys commit sins that prevented them from serving when they were young?” In which I have to relive all those days/nights of tears I was trying to help a temporarily, troubled child. (Sigh)
Not only is that question inappropriate to ask parents, but it’s also inappropriate to ask young adults. It makes people feel inadequate, even if they’re not. The Savior forgets the past when people repent. We, unfortunately, ask about people’s pasts. It’s none of our business. We can do better than this.
Does it really matter when couples are going to have children or if young adults have served missions if they are temple worthy and faithful members? If someone is proud about their missionary service, they will tell you about it. You don’t have to ask.
Thank you for this comment. My younger brother has a high functioning form of autism called Aspergers. He can do everything a “normal” person can do. He has a job, drives the car by himself, feeds himself, clothes himself, and he attends regular college courses. However, because he was honest in his paperwork about his Aspergers, he was informed that he will not be permitted to serve a full time two year mission for the church. As you can imagine, he is devastated as is the entire family. This is something he has looked forward to and worked for his entire life…
It is so hard for him, for now he is enduring watching all of his friends receive their mission calls and leave for the MTC. People keep asking him, “So when are you leaving on your mission? You turned in your papers right?” He doesn’t know how to respond to them and it hurts every single time. How is he suppose to respond?
I feel that the people within the church need to be more sensitive with the questions they ask. “When are you going to get married?” , “When are you going to have kids?” , “Where did your kid(s) serve their mission(s)” , “When are you going on a mission?” , “When are you going to have another (kid)?” , “Wow, you have your hands full. You know about birth control right?” …
I think that people do not mean to hurt others with their questions, but in the end those questions can hurt. Be mindful of others. Keep your nose out of people’s business. And most importantly, love each other and do not judge something you do not have an understanding of.
You nailed it, exactly! There is nothing wrong with talking with people and even asking questions that help you get to know them, but regardless of the issue stay away from personal and probing questions. If the person you are talking to wants to share more intimate details about themselves or their family they will offer it up.
“No, we don’t have kids, we are working through some infertility issues…”
“Yes I am married, but my spouse doesn’t like to come to church…”
“I work at Company Corp down the road, I’d be happy to help you get a discount on our product!”
And certainly there is never any reason to offer an assessment or judgement of their situation (in support or condemnation), unless the person literally invites you to do so!
You said it perfectly.
My husband grew up in the church. For 19 years, “everyone” asked him if he was ready for a mission. When the time came for his answer he said, yes, I joined the Air Force yesterday! It was 1971 and the draft and Vietnam were in full swing. He served his mission for 20 years.
My brother did this with the Marines. With missions, fertility and so many other things that I can’t think of, there are always exceptions. My husband and I have been married a year and we have told family right off that we are waiting until we graduate from college (including my masters) to have kids. With my husband having Aspergers (who also had similar mission struggles as the parent comment above) and me with ADD, we take careful control of our enviroment to avoid issues. We haven’t had a lot of direct questions about kids from strangers, but we’re quick enough so if we get lip we can give it back.
You are so right, the culture in the church NEEDS to change. Our kids are 6 years apart. Not for any particulars reason other than, THEY ARE. I am sad that I had to constantly remind people that the answers to my prayers were likely going to be different than theirs. Besides, there are so many reasons besides infertility that people don’t have kids right off. Sometimes people go through really scary and rough patches of marriage, do they really have to tell the entire ward that is what’s going on? Sometimes our emotions are so raw and personal, it doesn’t matter what the question is its inappropriate.
Thank you so much. My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years and we feel that having kids is not the right time for us. But everyone who knows us seems to think that because were in our late 20’s we need to have kids ASAP, and its so frustrating that its got to the point that we just tell people we hate kids. Even at our wedding reception I had family members from both sides telling me that it wasn’t right for me to deny my husband children. I would just look at them and go, “really considering that we just got married, Kids are the last thing on our mind.” Its even gone so far as for me to tell them that its none of their business to wonder about our sex life. Its just so frustrating to have people think that its their job to tell us when we need to procreate. Especially when we both feel that we need to adopt, and our children are already here. Thanks again for one amazing article.
Thanks for the post! The medical community is very hard to work with and regarding medications, they usually aren’t ever good for you in the long run. I am a kinesiologist and work with lots of people who are trying to have babies and can’t. Many of these problems are due to hormonal imbalances, we use nutrition to balance these out so the person can make more testosterone or whatever hormone might be their problem. I’m glad in the end it worked out for you, but there are ways besides the medical community who can help with these problems. (and usually doesn’t take as long and is cheaper on your wallet)
This article really breaks my heart. As a teenager I had several physical issues that made me think that I would, in the future, have problems with fertility. I tried to prepare myself for the worse but I couldn’t stop entertaining the thought of how great it would be to have children of my own one day. When I married, my husband told me that he had experienced the same fears but that we would take life as it happened. I was incredibly thankful when we were able to conceive and my fears left when my first daughter was born . But I still have a very soft place in heart for those individuals and families who deal with any form of infertility. I know that there are wonderful options available in adoption, IVF and other things but I also feel for those whose dreams are crushed when their very basic and perfect desire to create offspring and a family is challenged with such news. Thank you for sharing your incite and the news of your own family! I hope this helps people, myself included, to know how to better comfort and support those facing this issue.
This was SO great. I’m in the “When are you going to have #2?” boat right now and I swear if I hear, “Well, you’re never really ready” one more time, I might scream. To have or not have kids and how many is such a personal choice/struggle for many, with SO many factors that play into it. People would do well to remember to just mind their own business and let us live our own lives.
I’m so glad you mentioned that one… the “You’re never really ready” response was one I heard hundreds of times about marriage throughout my 20’s. Glad I’m not the only one who got tired of that one!
Don’t worry it never ends! My parents couldn’t have children of their own. My dad was stationed in England during WWII and my mom was a WREN and they got married in 1945. My mom was 31 and my dad was 35, so they got a late start. They adopted me in 1951, a girl. They gave me everything I needed and we were a happy family. I got married in 1972 and got pregnant right away. Everything was ok until delivery. My husband was in the military and my c-section wasn’t a pleasant one. We tried for years to have a second child but no such luck. I don’t remember people in the military asking why we didn’t have another child. They just took us as we were…a happy family…just the three of us! So when my husband retired we came to his home state, Utah, to live. By this time we were in our forties and our daughter was in her twenties. We were asked quite a few times why we didn’t have anymore children! Can you believe that? I just told them we couldn’t have anymore…plain and simple…as if it were any of their bloody business. Sometimes our daughter would chime in and say she knocked everyone else off “her” cloud! Yes, she even gets the slack for being an only child. Now our daughter is in her forties and she is constantly asked why she isn’t married! As if being married will make her a happier person! They seem to feel sorry for her (or at least that is the way they look)! She doesn’t seem to have any answer for them, as if they deserve one. So, even if you think this happens everywhere, it does, sort of. It happens here, Utah, a lot! So much so, you just want to run in the opposite direction! Now, being over 60, I am asked if I have any grandchildren…here we go again!
Beautifully written. Thank you for your courage in writing this and for your willingness to offer real and useful advice. What a gift. God bless you.
Thank you for writing this. It took me a long time to find my spouse, so we also started late and though we haven’t had issues with infertility, my spouse was abused as a child and this impacted our ability to conceive.
My mother was also asked insensitive questions because she was able to have a large family-one of the worst was when a co-worker asked something along the lines of “Don’t you know what makes babies yet?” Love my mother, her response was “Of course I do. I’m really good at it!” That shut him up.
My husband and I have been married about 10 months, and for various reasons have worked out a timetable that involves not having kids right away. Because I’m 28, a lot of people around me feel like my biological clock is ticking, and I’m wasting time. We get the question all the time: “When are you going to start your family?” We always say, “September 28, 2012 (our wedding day); that’s when we started our family.” Why is it a husband and wife don’t constitute a family?
My mom struggled to get pregnant for all but her last kid, and I’ve always worried that I might have the same struggles. It’s good to know that I wouldn’t be alone, and to have some of these great responses for insensitive people who act like you aren’t a “whole” person until you have children. Thanks for sharing your story! I felt for you. God bless you!
Thank you so much for writing this. I used to be one of those people that asked the question. Now I’m married and have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. I now realize how insensitive this question can be. I’m glad things worked out for you in the end. I think everyone should read this article. Thanks again.
My husband comes from a family of 10 kids, 7 girls and 3 boys. Nobody in the family believes in using birth control, and each of his sisters had honeymoon babies. My mother-in-law has suggested more than once that the reason why I have not been able to get pregnant is because I used birth control (for three months, right after I got marred). Being married into such a fertile and judgmental family has been a severe trial for me.
I am so happy to have read this–it brought me the peace I was seeking today. I hope that all of my in-laws take a few minutes to read what you’ve said.
Such a rude and insensitive question deserves a rude and insensitive answer, but I would suggest a response like: “I will forgive you the impertenence of your question if you will forgive the honest of my answer.”
Some great comments already given!
i was browsing and ran across this. means more to me than i can say. we didn’t have much trouble having our first child, but have been trying for a long time for our second. We have been married just shy of 7 years, and we can’t seem to get pregnant. we haven’t been brave enough to face a doctor to find out what is going on. So happy that you were able to have a family. It gives me hope that i can have another child still.
Me and my husband have been married for four years now, and still people will not understand we will never have a child.
You see my husband started dating me, and it didn’t seem to matter to him that I had, had a heart transplant just 4 years earlier. I could do everything anyone else could do. In fact he met me on my mission.
We had only been dating for 6 weeks when I went in to see my heart transplant team, just for a regular checkup. but there was nothing regular about it. My body was rejecting the transplanted heart so they hospitalized me.
I wouldn’t have blamed him if he waved good bye, and never saw me again, but he stayed, and slept on the floor of my ICU room.
To make a very long, and drawn out story a little less, my rejection turned to heart failure, and the doctors tried to do surgeries to repair it. In one of the many surgeries I flat lined, and I think it was then (after all those waiting hours, and sleepless nights) he asked the doctors if he could take me out of the hospital for a few hours.
He drove me to SLC temple square, and proposed to me. He said the only way he could continue to watch me die, and not die inside is if he knew I’d be waiting for him.
We were married two months later, and 41 days after we were married in the temple I was called in for my 2nd transplant.
I will never give birth with this body. I am alive and well today almost four years after my 2nd transplant, but my husband after watching me almost die, he will not let me take the risk.
Two years after we were married he was deployed to Iraq for 400 days, and he saw some very ugly things, and he has a hard time wanting to bring any child into a world like the one we live in today.
My future is so unknown, I could go into rejection, and heart failure again, or I could out live most people my age.
When my husband and I think of family, we look at each other. We are our family as of now. Perhaps in some future situation that might change. God bless all of you who feel misfit in the LDS culture.
God bless all who feel misfit in any culture! Your story brought me to tears. What an incredible (and wise) man you have married! I am so glad he has found a woman who cherishes him as much as he cherishes her.
Thanks for this. I needed to hear this.
It just goes to show that God does work miracles, and your story gives me hope.
It sounds like you’ve had some negative experiences with insensitive people. I’m sorry about that. But I wish you wouldn’t lump us all together in generalizations, or pretend to know what people think of themselves as far as being “good.” That just doesn’t seem very fair.
Thank you so much for writing this! These words came straight out of my mouth. You just put them more nicely than I could’ve ever done.
We are pretty much in the same boat as you… Except no kids yet. I recently was able to get pregnant but miscarried a short week later. I’m hoping we will be able to have the same outcome as you someday!
After dealing with infertility, I realized soon that the question of “When are you going to have kids?” is so awkward and painful and everything you described. So thank you for voicing that!
Ugh… I’m so sorry about the miscarriage, I can’t imagine how that must have felt (feel). Thank you for replying, and I wish you the very best!
I get those questions from my sister and my sister-in-law all the time. Usually I can handle the face that, while we’re trying, things just haven’t worked out for us yet. But sometimes when they ask I just want to say, “Well we DID get pregnant, but then I had a miscarriage right in at the beginning of a 5k, which was painful, humiliating, frustrating….but thanks for asking that question over and over and over, just to remind me of all that.”
We’ve chosen to keep that part of our struggle private, but sometimes….
My husband and I had our first child before we were married. I was 18 almost 19 when she was born. I am so thankful for the ward I grew up in that no one asked me when are you guys going to get married or questions like that. That is the other side of this. We did get married 6 weeks after she was born and when someone would ask when we got married or something I’m open about it. That’s what the repentance process is for and I have a great testimony for it. When my second was 6, I had my third baby. That raised some eyebrows. It was a choice. I wasn’t ready to have a third child and I waited until I was. She’s now 5 and people tell me it’s time for another. I’m only 33 so I feel like I still have time if I decide to have a 4th. It’s hard but people do have good intentions. I just say she’s only 5! It’s too soon!
I love how you brought up this example of when are you going to get married. I’m glad you lived in a ward where they just loved you and gave you the support you needed.
The Question is absolutely tactless (and irrelevant to most people–like strangers really even care!), but don’t blame it in Latter-Day Saint culture. It is something that obsesses the world in general and has sadly creeped in.
True. My apologies if it came across as blaming the LDS culture for people endlessly asking The Question… I think within the LDS culture (and many other religions) there is a strong focus on families (a great thing) and a byproduct of that strong focus is an assumption that everyone is onboard with the same goals and timelines as far as family planning.
Thanks for this great article! I have been very blessed to have children come easily but I have a sister-in-law and my best friend who struggled for 4-5 years each trying to have a child and are still struggling with it. After being so close with them and their struggles it has really made me more sensitive to others and there are times that I watch others around me and want to tell them to try and be more sensitive because as you said you never know what a person is going through.
My husband and I are experiencing infertility and are currently seeing a fertility specialist. Honestly, I am grateful when people ask me the kid question so I can explain to them that hopefully we will have kids soon but we’re currently seeing a fertility specialist. I let them know that I have a good attitude about it and it is not worth the stress of feeling sorry for myself. In the meantime, I will love my life and enjoy it anyway! Ultimately, I would rather people ask me the kid question than have them silently wonder if we even want kids.
That’s a great way to look at it.
But everyone is different. It sounds like you are very open about it. We chose not to be, and faced it very privately.
In fact, I’m still private about it… that’s not even a picture of me to the left. 🙂
But it looks like you…
True. Frederick Douglass had way more hair than me though.
Thank you so much for this article! I am 26 and not married (I am practically an old maid by Mormon standards haha). I will most likely either be infertile or have difficulty conceiving or carrying a child, since my pituitary doesn’t do it’s job very well. I have always been so scared to figure out if I can have children or not, but your article gave me hope and made me realize so many more people than we realize are fighting this same battle. Thank you again and God bless.
More than you know. According to a fertility specialist we worked with in Draper, he’s worked in a few different states across the nation, and he’s never seen a state with so much rampant over-prescribing of Androgel–leading to a lot of male infertility. Again, that’s just one reason. There are countless other reasons for infertility.
Thank you for the voice. I was about 23 (right after my mission) when the Dr told me that I would probable never have children. Men would stop dating me, one told me I was fun but he couldn’t marry me because of this. After my divorce I decided that I was just going to be the fun Aunt. At 42 I married again to a wonderful man 20 yrs my senior. We talked about this before we were married and decided to try infertility treatments. After the Dr gave us less then 4% chance we still tried, with a lot of prayer, and after being married 9 months and 3 months of treatment we got pregnant and have a wonderful son. I was told by people that someone my age shouldn’t have children. Well meaning people- me included- say some hurtful things. I have now realized that sometime the best thing to say is nothing. I have tried to say things about how nice you look instead of where your at in life. That is between you and God and what is right for one person isn’t for someone else.
My mother had a lot of problems getting pregnant, had some miscarriages. She had to have surgeries but was finally able to have 4 children, I was the last when she was almost 40. I had been told in my teens that I couldn’t have children, because of scarring in my tubes, and other health problems. When my husband wanted to marry me, I told him he should find someone else because I couldn’t have children. He said we could adopt, and there was always the Abraham/Sarah thing. He wouldn’t give up, so I finally married him, smartest thing I ever did! I was in my late 20’s. I was pregnant within weeks, and had 3 children under 3 by the time I was 30. Then I went through early menopause at 30. I was almost 40 when my doctor wanted to have me try a medication. I am allergic to almost all medicines, but I took it a couple of times, then just stopped. About 6 months later I went to the doctor because I didn’t know what was going on, my body seemed to be going through something strange. He examined me and told me I was 5 1/2 months pregnant. I ended up having a 4th child, and then going through menopause again! Tender mercies.
Sure hope you’re being careful with that Androgel. I switched to injections before I got married so as to avoid skin-to-skin contact.
Also, as far as the article is concerned, I’ve been sterile my entire life thanks to aeronautical corporations leaching chemicals into the groundwater near where I was happily (and unknowingly) gestating in my mom’s tummy. I’m also 6’5″, do MMA, ride motorcycles, run marathons, lift a whole heckuvalot of weight, and am basically more of the traditional “man” than any of my male friends. Your body doesn’t dictate who you are, my friend. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Jack Reacher?? Is that you?? (the massive and super tough one from the books, not the 5’6″ version in the movie)
Thanks for the comment… feel free to post any of your youtube clips from the octagon!
I love this blog thank you so much for posting- Its funny how people can be so insensitive like its a sin not to have kids some people CANT!!! that’s Gods plan He has another plan another child for that couple to love
My husband is on testosterone too! Want to have kids and I would love to know what medications you went on that boosted your testosterone? I feel like this is my story and you are an answer to our prayers. Please and thank you.
First off–if you haven’t already, you need to see an actual andrologist–the Dr that specializes in male hormones and fertility. They’ll do what’s called a full panel blood test, where they look at all the hormones, not just testosterone. Most physicians will just look at testosterone levels, then recommend a band-aid approach to that (i.e. Androgel, testosterone shots, etc) without stressing the side effects. So definitely go see an Andrologist.
In my case, after going off androgel completely for a few months to get to my baseline amounts, the panel showed that a hormone called prolactin was particularly high, while my testosterone was really low. So my Dr put me on something called Bromocriptine, which lowers prolactin, allowing my body to naturally produce more testosterone–which then kicked my pituitary into gear, etc etc. I don’t know how they all work together, but that’s what Andrologists study for a living–so I’d go check it out with a professional.
I am not infertile, but I suffer from an auto-immune disease called lichen sclerosis. My husband and I could not have any sort of sexual relations for the first 4 months of our marriage, after a year of PT, steroid creams, vitamins, therapy, and lots of prayers, I can almost have sex without pain. I cried every time my in-laws asked when we were going to have children, because I just wanted to have that “sacred closeness” that people talk about in Sunday School
. You’re right, you don’t have any idea what is going on in other’s marriages, and you don’t realize how horribly that question may hurt them.
This is one question I never ask. My parents, though they are happy with each successive grandchild, keep their noses squarely out of the family planning of their children and let us all make our own decisions. I am eternally grateful for their sensitivity.
It was very hard for me that my in-laws didn’t share the same philosophy. I know they were just joking around, but I was offended by it every time. Maybe I should have been mature and said it made me uncomfortable, but I was new to the family and didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot.
I have not experienced infertility, but it is a very real struggle that I have witnessed in friends and relatives.
My cousin has been incredibly blessed in that, though unable to ever experience pregnancy herself, she is now a mother to six adopted children. Not everyone is given that blessing, but it is not because God has forsaken them.
I firmly believe that every couple who currently struggles with the desire for children that hasn’t been fulfilled will get to experience parenthood. It may not be until the next life, but it will come nonetheless. Until then, some are asked to endure to the end. Those who endure well will be blessed beyond their ability to comprehend. Love and prayers for all of you who are struggling!
Thank you so much for your comment! Sounds like your parents were great examples.
My husband and I married later in life. We now have many children and are on the end of the spectrum where members and society in general criticize us for the number of children that we have. Many have asked “Don’t you know how to prevent that?”. “When are you going to get fixed….You are not fixed yet?”. You are dammed if you do and damned if you don’t. A cousin responded to a nosey member in her ward in regards to her lack of children and maybe she and her spouse were not doing things right with “oh…would you like to come over and give us some pointers?”. Shut the person up good. Great article! Thank you for sharing!
Haha… That’s awesome. Great response!
Loved your post! My husband and I have suddenly discovered that my husband most likely has the same problems as you. We are just beginning our journey down the complex road of infertility and possibly adoption. Perhaps this is way too personal, but I was wondering if you’d be willing to discuss more details of what you went through – tests, treatments, drs, that sort of thing – whether through email or through here. If that is over the line, I totally understand. It’s just frustrating to both of us; I’m the type of person who likes to know what to expect, and when there is uncertainty, I want to at least know my options and so far every resource seems unable to give us any really good information. Google searches for “testicular failure” do not come up with any results that are very hopeful as far as fertility is concerned. We want more information about the condition, but don’t meet with our Dr. until September and even then I’m not sure that he is really the one that we should be talking to. If you even know of any good articles on the condition, anything would be helpful. In the mean time, it is extremely comforting that at least some men are able to recover. Thanks again!
Is the specialist you are seeing a specialist in Andrology? There are a lot of fertility specialists out there, but most of them specialize in female infertility, not male. So first off, try to find the best Andrology clinic you can find.
Once we did that, and scheduled the appt, he took a look at my medications I was on–the one of the most interest to him was Androgel. So he took a full panel test, which is where they look at all of your hormones, not just testosterone. Then he had me go off of Androgel, and return a few months later for a new full panel test, to get my “baseline amounts”. Then he looked at what hormones were at what levels, and made decisions accordingly.
In my case, my Prolactin levels were high–which (and I’m no Dr here, but I’ll do my best to describe) had some kind of effect as to lower my natural testosterone output. So he prescribed Bromocriptine, a medication that lowers Prolactin levels, to see if my body would naturally increase testosterone output. It did…and my pituitary started working again.
Prior to that, I had CT Scans of my pituitary to check for tumors, Urologist appointments, and all kinds of bloodwork done by various doctors…
But what I just described to you was when things actually started to change. Hope that helps!
thank you SOOO much for writing this!!! it was very beautifully done. my husband and I suffer from infertility as well, also LDS and living in Utah. It took us 2.5 years to finally get pregnant with our amazing daughter. (i was diagnosed with PCOS) it took us another 15 months to get pregnant again, but sadly miscarried at 12 weeks. we have now been trying for #2 for just under 3 years total. Just about 4 months ago, my endo had my husband do a SA, which came back bad, really bad. we were told that there were no normal sperm counted, at all. he is on some supplements and we are hoping and praying for some good news soon. but if not, IVF w/ ICSI will be our only option to ever have another baby. Right after we got married, we had a REALLY hard time going to church. We honestly felt like outsiders. we felt like we were unwanted in the ward (a family ward in Logan, which is really isolated and 95% LDS). We felt like we did not belong because we didnt have kids yet. there were very few people that actually made us feel welcomed there. there were times at relief society functions that i would try to talk with the other ladies, but i would get totally blown off and ignored. it really hurt, so i stopped going to them. then they put us in the nursery (about 25 kids) for like 3 years. we never truly felt wanted and welcomed there. we moved after about 4 years (just to another part of logan), and hoped the new ward would be different, but it wasnt. even though we had our daughter by that point. we still felt like outsiders because we didnt have MORE kids. never felt welcomed or wanted there either. We would get asked if we had kids, and we would say yes 1. and then it was “oh, only 1?” like we were freaks for not having more. it made it REALLY hard to want to go to church. sadly we went pretty much inactive for a while. We just moved to the SLC area in Feb, and so far, our new ward is very friendly and welcoming. Even though we still only have our daughter, we dont get quite as many questions about more kids. some yes, but not as many. and i actually found out recently that my relief society president has PCOS and been trying for #2 for about 6 years. so i actually have someone that can relate to me.
I think we can relate to a lot of that. When we weren’t able to get pregnant, we’d go to neighborhood get-togethers and hang out with the couples. As a man with no kids, it was really easy for me to fit in because when guys talk, they talk about work, sports, etc. But my wife found that a lot of the women in our neighborhood just wanted to share baby stories. She’d try to offer up topics like politics, movies, current events, celebrity gossip, basically anything she could participate in, and this one neighbor in particular would steer the conversation back to her kids and her pregnancies. It didn’t offend my wife, it was just a challenge to contribute because she had no experience or in depth knowledge on the matter.
It’s kind of like when you hang out with a bunch of people who were all friends in High School, and you weren’t–and all they want to do is re-live old memories. It’s not offensive, just natural to feel somewhat left out.
I’m glad your new RS president is someone you can relate with, though! Thanks for commenting.
oh, forgot to add, that we are the ONLY ones in my family and his that have any sort of infertility problems. every other couple can pop babies out like they are nothing. seriously only taking about a month or two to get pregnant. there are babies and pregnant sister in laws every time we go to family things. none of them understand what its like for us.
Thank you so much! For sharing ur story I have been married for 4years in nov, we are going through the thing but the problem is my body! Numerous doctors told me that I will never have kids. I constantly keep and still get asked when we are!! Anyways just wanted to say thank! And I wish I could meet you guys! And personally tell u thank you!! 🙂
My husband and I used the “we just really need a boat first” excuse many times and joked we didn’t know how babies were made. Love this post!
As an infertile couple, church really is the hardest place to be. I full out skipped church on Mother’s Day for a few years and bawled in my bed instead. (So dramatic I know) Standing at the end of sacrament and that damn flower was too much for me to handle. I eventually realized Mother’s Day can be hard for a lot of people not just those suffering from empty wombs. My husband spoke this last Mother’s Day and he brought light to all those who may be having a difficult day and to be sensitive to their feelings. For example those who have lost a mother, feel inadequate as a mom, birth moms, and those whose suffer from infertility. I can’t count how many women came up to me with tears in their eyes, thankful for his talk and many who said they had never even thought about it before.
We adopted our little girl three years ago and are adopting a little boy in a couple months. You do have to mourn the babies that never were, but in all honesty adoption has been the best thing that ever happened to us. I did not have to birth our daughter to love her as my own. She is ours and she came to us in an awesome miracle infused way. I could go write a novel about it. Okay maybe I already did…
Anyway, thanks for the funny yet truthful post.
PS I have Endo as well. Your poor wife! We can be Endo sisters. Haha. Creepy much?
Congratulations on your children! I wish I could have been there for your husband’s talk, sounds like it was very insightful. Thank you for this comment. I think you Endo Sisters should start a support group or something, seems to be very very painful.
Even though my wife and I have been trying now for almost 13 years, we still get excited for those who have struggled and had success. We just found out her brothers wife is pregnant, do that means she will be the first to matty in her family, but the last to have children. It was another hard reality. We know that God will bless us with our own children, even if it takes a bit more time. I’ve learned from many experiences to hadn’t patience with God, and he does answer prayers. Nothing can shake that testimony. Our ward is awesome and Tori was asked to be the primary president, which she absolutely enjoyed.
Thank you for sharing your story, and congratulations.
Thank you for writing this. My husband and I were never able to have children, we have been married 32 years. I was so thankful when we got older and the painful questions stopped.
Thank you for posting this.
I have been lucky enough to be able to have children easily, but one of my sisters has not. She has struggled with her inability to carry children to term. She’s been able to get pregnant, but she’s suffered multiple miscarriages (I would never ask her how many).
She is a wonderful teacher who helps teenagers learn more about their world and how it works year after year, she helps children in her community, and she also has served many, many years in callings that have had her involved with children (primary especially). She has been treated terribly by members in the past, including being told by some that her childlessness might be because God was punishing her for something she had done.
If anyone can deserve to be a parent, she does. She loves the kids around her (including her nieces and nephews) unconditionally. The idea that someone would think Heavenly Father would punish someone by withholding children is awful. The fact that someone would feel comfortable saying such a thing to anyone, but especially to a woman who was serving that person’s children year after year in Primary is unconscionable. My heart aches for her often, and I’m so grateful every time a general authority brings up infertility or childlessness in a kind and thoughtful manner during General Conference.
Such a wonderful story to read. I did not have my first child until I was 34. My husband and I had already been married 6 years (I was one of those “old maids” getting married at almost 29 years old). We wanted to have a 2nd child but I was never able to get pregnant (to this day I still don’t know why). We began the adoption process and then I became pregnant, at 41 years old. I have 2 healthy daughters that are 6 1/2 years apart.
I’ve felt the pain of going to church and seeing all the large families and pregnant women. I felt like I was being judged just because, at the time, I had only our one daughter. It hurts to the point of wanting to walk out of church and just cry. I can not tell you how grateful I am for these 2 sweet girls that we have. To all of those people out there dealing with infertility, hang in there. Some how, it does seem that things work out. Possibly just not the way you planned it.
I highly recommend this blog to those going thru infertility issues. Attitude and positive thinking are such huge and healthy factors! http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/search/label/Infertility
Great find. Thank you!
You never know what people are going through. When we were in a married student ward, there were several couples going through fertility treatments and talked freely about “trying to get pregnant”. This subject hurt me deeply because my husband was gay. He didn’t ever want sex or any kind of physical (or emotional) intimacy. I was envious of even the infertile couples. Yes, going to church then was the hardest thing I ever did. Some things are private for many reasons. One of those reasons is to save us from causing pain to those who are struggling.
Thank you so much for sharing this. My husband and I have been suffering with fertility issues for 4 years. We have a biological daughter (she’s almost 5), but after her I was diagnosed with PCOS. I don’t get the “when are you going to have kids” question I get the “why don’t you have more” question. I never know what to say in response. Until this last year we hasn’t even told family about our fertility issues and they still don’t understand why we can’t have more and why it’s painful to talk about it. My husband and I are thinking about adoption and my mother just jokes about it which makes it even more painful. I’ll have to share this with her so she understands how hard it is and how what she says is painful. Thank you.
I hope it helps. I think it’s human nature that if you don’t have the same challenge, the challenge someone else is going through is just theoretical. Examples such as the way someone treats depression who has never been through it themselves (just snap out of it!), or the person who is still single giving marital advice to someone who is married. Unless you really can see through their eyes, it’s difficult to comprehend what someone is going through.
What a fabulous article. It must have taken great courage to share your personal experiences like this. I know, though, that your advice will help those who are struggling with infirtility. As the parent of a daughter who is struggling with this trial, I’ve seen such love and support when she finally chose to reveal what they were going through. It was very difficult for her to share this private situation, but when she did the outpouring of support was incredible. I hope that people can take a step back and understand what is appropriate when asking personal questions of childless couples.
Thank you for writing & sharing this. A true statement of courage & means of support for others-you never know who it will touch & at what stage in their journey. Glad to hear you had a happy ending after all. I will be sharing 🙂
This is such a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.
I’ve had my own struggles bringing my children into the world. Ovarian cysts and accompanying treatments and surgery, multiple miscarriages, preterm labor and long periods of bedrest, close calls in the delivery room. My children are truly miracles, so much more so because there were times when I thought I would never have the opportunity to meet them. I understand, too well, the sting of loss, the pain of childlessness. I will never forget the first Sunday at church after my first miscarraige … rumors had apparently been flying, and at least half the ward walked up and congratulated me on my pregnancy and wanted to know the due date. I was already so devastated at the loss of my child, but having to explain my loss over and over for hours was terribly painful.
I’m currently at a resting point in bearing children. I still have some outstanding issues leftover from my last delivery that could cause serious complications if I became pregnant again. I think every day about how much I long to have another baby. I do not know what is the right decision for my family. People seem to ask me, at least every week or two, “Are you done yet?” or “When are you going to have another one?” It’s a complicated decision, not something that I can really go into in a casual conversation, and not something that I feel comfortable discussing with just anyone. I know that people mean well, but sometimes it’s better to just keep your questions to yourself.
You are incredibly strong to have gone through so much. Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences, and insight.
Thank you for sharing your experience. My wife and I had similar experiences and our eyes and hearts were opened to compassion that is required for people who are suffering through this. After 5 years of infertility (my wife got a masters degree in nursing & I earned my CPA) we decided to get medical help and were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Two years later the medical solution that had worked for us failed repeatedly until we were told that we had 0% chance of it working for us again. We decided to do IVF in order to get pregnant.
IVF is no cakewalk, it painful for the wife, the hormone shots are no fun, and it can be extremely expensive. It can often cost $20k for the full procedure and if the first time doesn’t take then it is another $20k. We heard stories of people going to Africa or other countries to get IVF treatments for cheaper.
I am writing this post to thank Dr. Polansky at Bay IVF in Palo Alto California http://bayivf.com/
Dr. Polansky was one of the original doctors to perform IVFs and he led the practice at Stanford before he retired. After retiring he realized he missed helping bring babies into this world and so he opened BayIVF and does IVF at no cost for his services. There are still lab costs and fees to pay the nurses and support staff he works with; but he doesn’t charge for his time and expertise. He is an amazing man. The end cost for our IVF treatment was only $7k, and we got two for the price of one where he put embryos on ice incase they are needed. They also told us the medication my wife would need and then gave us a list of different pharmacies that each sell the drugs at a cheaper price (we saved a bunch of money by ordering different drugs from different pharmacies).
I have heard of couples who have given up on IVF because they can’t afford the $20k cost of it. I am hoping that someone will read this and see that they have more options because of Dr. Polansky at BayIVF.
Wow… that’s incredible. How long is the waiting list? Thank you for sharing this.
No waiting list, the wait time is really just when you complete your first consultation where Dr Polansky goes over your history & does a preliminary exam to tell you his recommended careplan…& when you want to begin treatment. If you look at the Bay IVF website it has a price breakdown for what services you end up using for your situation & what to expect with how they run their clinic so you walk in knowing a good idea of the treatment as well as estimated end price.
My parent struggled with infertility and went through many of the same things. My mom even told my dad she would divorce him when she learned she had a disorder that would prevent her from ever having children. She knew he wanted kids and thought he deserved someone who wasn’t “broken” and could give him babies. Luckily, he had a good response and they are still happily married 26 years later. After years of painful fertility treatments and insensitive comments, they adopted. Nine years later we got another family member via IVF. I’m still surprised at how insensitive people are about adoption and infertility. I even had several cousins ask me on dates because we weren’t REALLY related. Now people can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to meet my birth parents. They just don’t get that I HAVE parents. I don’t feel like part of me is missing but people seem to think I should. I just say that families come in all sizes and there are lots of ways of creating one!
As a single LDS girl living in Idaho I got the same premarital question “When ya gonna get married?” Or even at my brothers wedding I was asked “When’s it your turn?”, so I understand “the questions”. I got married two weeks before my fortieth birthday to an amazing man who brought me four great boys, so you would think the question of children would be moot. Not so. We had discussed the topic of having children before we even got married, and considering our ages (41 & 38) the fact that I didn’t want to immediately throw children into the relationship, and the fact that his youngest was 14 at the time we got married, it became our decision to wait to be blessed with grand children instead. Almost immediately though we started getting the question, not just from ward members and friends, but family as well as acquaintances or even people I may have just met through work (I work in a dental office). Even now four years later people still ask, and even though we haven’t gone through the trials you have with infertility et al, I understand the feelings those questions bring. I have always said and still believe that when it comes to the church you have to open your heart to the spirit of the gospel, we are all imperfect beings and we are all here for the same reason, to return to our Heavenly Father. Judge not his church by those who attend for we are all flawed. Bless you and you family of 4! 😉
I grew up around infertility, my parents worked in the field, so I’m not a stranger to these topics and the pain they can cause.
That said, I disagree with the theme of the post that being Mormon somehow makes being infertile worse. It’s just as bad for anyone else. Kids are celebrated in every culture, and it’s certainly not Mormons who came up with the question “when are you going to have children” or some variant of it. That question is age-old. It’s basically a person’s implicit approval of the thought of you and your partner as parents- frame it in that light and it seems alot more positive doesn’t it. The person is excited about the idea of you and your partner reproducing- that’s a high compliment.
I fully agree that it’s up to a couple whether and when to have children, and people should remember that it’s a very personal thing for many couples. That said, it’s important not to view ourselves as victims of others or of our culture- at the end of the day we decide how to interpret others’ remarks, and if we are offended by a well-meaning remark from a friend (even if the remark isn’t wise and wasn’t thought out), it is ultimately our attitude that needs to change, not theirs.
Likewise, I think culture overall would worsen if people tried to restrain their excitement about children more. It’s natural to be excited about, it’s good, and there are all sorts of evolutionary arguments for why societies would develop cultures in which they encourage one another to have children, and take interest in one another’s reproduction, even though it’s a private matter. In other words, it’s good to be excited about kids, including other people’s kids, and that goes for anyone else as much as for Mormons.
I celebrate your success in building a family you wanted through adversity (even though I don’t know you – isn’t that anthropologically interesting), but I don’t condemn Mormon culture as uniquely insensitive to others’ family issues, nor do I think we would be better off if we stopped talking about the joys of parenthood, along with it’s hardships. I figure let people be themselves, and don’t get offended when their self takes a different approach than our self in social situations.
Sasha – to me your comment hit the nail on the head. I’ve been struggling with infertility for the past 18 months or so. I have PCOS and have gone through a few tests and treatments.
I’m in a very positive spot right now about the entire process and I whole heartedly believe it has everything to do with my attitude.
In the beginning of our journey I was extremely excited to start our family and get going. Then, as the first 6 months flew by I started to get anxious. Then, my cycles started going crazy. I couldn’t get in to see a reproductive endocronologist until the start of the 9th month. Once he confirmed that I had PCOS and had to start medication and change my diet, I started to get deflated.
Soon after that I started having more regular cycles and I got excited again because I felt like I was taking some sort of control. But by the 13th and 14th months when I realized it still wasn’t happening I fell into a deep depression. Everywhere I kept seeing pregnant friends – especially on Facebook. I had to quit visiting the site for a few weeks because every time I logged on it was another pregnancy or birth announcement.
My husband and I visited a therapist who helped us work through many of our communication issues that contributed to my depression. My husband was raised in FL and he doesn’t have the same perceptions about having kids as I do here growing up in UT. I feel like I’m the last one left of my childhood friends who doesn’t have kids. Most of my friends are on to kids 3,4 and 5 and I’m only 31!
We’re now 18 months in and we’ve both had additional tests that confirm that everything is working as it should. I could dwell on the negative thinking, but instead I choose to be positive about life. It really is all about choosing the right mindset. I’m completely open about my situation with anyone that asks me. My work colleagues, personal friends and family are all aware. Because they are aware, they are innately more sensitive and supportive of us.
This was a great post because it’s important to realize that everyone experiences the issue of fertility differently. But while we all may experience it differently, we all still have a choice as to how we let it affect our attitude and well-being.
I am in college and experiencing most of my friends getting married and dropping out to have children. When I hear the “when are you going to have a baby?” question, it’s almost always meant as a joke – teasing the couple of friends because it’s so typical to get pregnant right away – not to mention getting married after barely meeting. The few times I have asked, it was meant in a teasing way. But I do understand how personal it is – and perhaps we young people are sort of mocking the older LDS members who really do ask it seriously. I never liked talks in church about how it is our only purpose to have children of our own – and how giving birth is an important process that all women should go through. I used to wonder about women who couldn’t – or women who never marrried – or couples who didn’t feel like having children was right for them (who am I to judge them for something like that?). I understand the center on famoly, but the culture of our church needs to stop micromanaging every personal detail of life. I already feel bad enough being 22 and treated like I am evil and selfish for not even actively seeking dates. We are all on different timelines. I know it isn’t right for me yet. Glad I read this. I will be more aware of these issues from now on. 🙂
Thank you for your comment! Personally, I’m sure if it’s asked in humor it’s probably received in humor. And nothing wrong with mocking the older LDS members who ask it seriously. 🙂
And also, I wish I had been that aware at age 22 to be looking around and thinking, “What about the ones this talk will never apply to? Don’t THEY feel left out?” (Obviously paraphrasing there…) I think that’s literally living the scripture about leaving the 99 to find/comfort the 1.
Though I do always laugh in Sunday School when people would ONLY share mission stories about living the gospel. I always want to ask, “Wait, so is the gospel only for missionaries? Should those who haven’t served a mission just go home?” but alas, I never have.
Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I got married at 20, not because I felt social pressure, but because I actually was just lucky enough to find the love of my life at that age. The children questions started immediately after that…I was 20! My husband and I talked about the subject of children before we got married and decided to wait a while and then start thinking about it when the time was right. Members of our family and random ward members just didn’t seem to understand that. We were actually told by an aunt that we were committing a sin of omission by putting off starting a family. It’s been 4 years since we got married and I’m used to the comments now. To all those who are constantly bombarded with the baby question, this is a personal decision between you and your spouse, don’t let the decision be made by social pressure.
I love hearing the males perspective. My hubby and I have been married for 4.5 years and have been TTC for 2.5 years. We purposely waited 2 years before starting to try and we copped a lot of flack for that but we took it on the chin and would often make jokes about it. I look back on that time and wish I knew what was ahead. Going to church is hard, for the same reasons you mentioned. Going to family events is hard. We avoid social events with church friends. We’re open about our struggles which means we get a whole lot less hurtful comments and questions thrown at us, but also means people stare, they don’t know what to say to you so just don’t talk to you at all. But this is our trial, just like it was yours, and it is others. Everyone has trials and I can only hope their hearts break and they feel lonely and frustrated throughout their trial like our hearts breaks and we feel lonely and frustrated throughout ours.
I greatly enjoyed this artical very much. It’s written we’ll, and it’s amazing to hear these things from a male. Most males are closed books when it comes to this topic.
My husband and I are also infertile, and the snide, rude, inconsiderate questions, comments, states, etc, led us to become inactive for a while, then we moved to a different state, and became active again, but the comments haven’t disappeared in its entirety yet. Just a few weeks ago the relief society teacher plainly stated “infertile mormons are looked down upon” and yes, I do think that is true to a degree, but it’s wrong to preach discrimination. And yes, we are discriminated against for being infertile. After being in the ward for two and a half years we still don’t have home or visiting teachers. When asked about it there response was “you don’t have kids, so you don’t need them”.
Well written. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m glad that things finally worked out for you.
My husband and I have had a similar experience (getting married a little older and then finding out we couldn’t have children). Luckily for us, we moved into our ward as newlyweds, and no one knew how old we were. Also, once we had been trying for a while, I started telling people in our ward so that people would not ask me stupid questions. I get more of the “so do you have kids?” from all the new people who move in more than the “when are you going to have kids?” question. And then I’m just honest with people. “Well, we’ve been unable to, and we’re working on it.” Most people are fairly compassionate about it, but you still do get those people who think they need to give you advice about conceiving and stuff.
I totally agree about the talks and testimonies thing though. It hurts so bad when someone says something like, “we’re so blessed to have children and grateful God has trusted us with this responsibility.” Well, I guess we just suck then and God doesn’t love us or trust us! Church was extremely painful for me for a while, especially being in a ward with a lot of young couples several years younger than us who all seem to be having children left and right. Eventually I just learned that maybe part of the reason we’re going through all this is so that I can learn to not be offending and also to be more compassionate towards people who are struggling with things that I don’t understand.
I LOVED this comment! It is all about perspective.
Being offended is a choice.
I was the complete opposite. I married right after turning 19. Before we were even married, we decided we wanted a large family and didn’t want to mess with hormonal BC or anything that could possibly interfere with our ability to have children. When I was pregnant after 2 months of marriage, I got the response, “Oops!” from some girl in my ward who (although married) had hopes of going to medical school. She said this after finding out I had not received a degree. I was so stunned, I didn’t respond. ‘Does she think I’m young and ignorant, and I don’t know how babies are created?’ I thought. Why would our marriage mentality centered completely around creating, providing, protecting, and nurturing children be wrong just because I hadn’t finished college? I also had people in shock, “You didn’t wait a year?”
What is the deal with the magical one-year period? Tah-dah! You have been married one year. Happy Anniversary! It is now okay to start trying to have a baby.
I now have five children. I am still very young, and I hope to have a few more, AND I home school. (I can see some of you rolling your eyes! Ha ha!) I get comments like, “I could NOT stand to have my kids home all day! I need a break!” “You want more kids?!” My poor husband. Everyone at work thinks he’s a jerk who keeps getting his wife pregnant!
I could choose to be offended, but instead I choose to pray for God to help me see others the way He sees them. We all have different life experiences that alter our perspectives.
Sometimes I feel self-conscious because I appear to have the perfect happy family, and I worry I make others feel bad. I try not to rub salt in their wound, but it’s hard not to when I walk into sacrament meeting with my all my ducklings. No one seems to worry about offending the lady who seems to have it all. We need to realize that we ALL have our trials and stop judging others and STOP being offended.
We all have our weaknesses. We all say things that we don’t mean or convey messages we don’t intend. Let’s give each other a break.
The following are a few more examples of “just questions” that someone could rise above or choose to cry about:
1. Did your son with terminal illness ever die yet?
2. When do you think your husband is ever going to go out and find a job?
3. Do you feel self conscious knowing that everyone around you knows you’re behind on your mortgage?
4. I see the amount of money you guys spend and know you can’t make that much money… how much credit card debt do you have?
5. You and your husband always seem pretty cold towards each other, how often do you guys have sex?
6. Hey, do you think your son is still alive over there in Afghanistan? I understand things have gotten pretty crazy over there the past few days.
Just questions. You can choose to be offended.
The question of “when are you gonna have kids” CAN BE an offensive or invasive question to someone with fertility struggles, just like the above questions would be offensive or inconsiderate with their related struggles and worries. There are such things as politeness, social graces, kindness, consideration for a society to get along well.
Also, don’t they all sound a little bit crazy? I’d put “when you gonna have kids” up there in craziness–when asked by someone who isn’t that close to a couple with fertility issues.
Just because it is a COMMON question, doesn’t make it a RIGHT question. It is a very personal question, and can be asked a number of other more sensitive and socially correct ways, especially when the possibility of fertility issues exists.
Such a great reply 🙂 There are so many ways to think about this topic. Just reading through these comments has opened my eyes to new perspectives.
“Sometimes I feel self-conscious because I appear to have the perfect happy family, and I worry I make others feel bad. I try not to rub salt in their wound, but it’s hard not to when I walk into sacrament meeting with my all my ducklings. No one seems to worry about offending the lady who seems to have it all.”
Don’t worry about this. It probably doesn’t happen as often as you think it does.
Being offended is a choice.
Being a jerk is also a choice.
Being kind is the best choice.
I’m so glad you bring up the topic of male infertility. I feel like in our culture now it is always thought that only women are infertile. We found out after 18 months of trying that my husband also had a very low sperm count. He had good swimmers, just not many and were told it would be very hard to have children. When we were told this I just assumed that male infertility would be easy to treat. Little did I realize that it is not, that most female infertility you can treat but most male issues you cannot.
Thankfully a doctor suggested that he try Clomid, the medicine that they put women on for infertility. I don’t know if it was that or finally having a job after 2 years of searching, but we have a 6 month old.
I don’t know you, but I’m happy for you both! Glad to hear the treatment worked out!
I wonder if it’s because most male infertility cannot be treated, or if because the majority of issues are female infertility, and therefore more fertility doctors study that area of medicine instead?
Thank you. Such an important thing to remind people. I’m waiting on some tests to see if I have a genetic disease. If I do, then being pregnant is extremely life-threatening to me and baby. It’s such a blow to me and my husband and has made it super hard not to slap the next “helpful” person asking when we’ll have a baby. (Might have to start using your suggested replies-lol) Thanks for taking on this sensitive topic and talking about it so personally and frankly. Hope this helps remind people that an innocent question can cause much pain.
Well, specifically, an innocent–and probing– question can cause some pain. Innocent and non-probing questions are fine, right? A question like “tell us about yourselves” is fine, non-probing, etc. “Why don’t you have children?” is probing, and none-of-anyone’s business.
A lot of women with kids simply don’t know what else to talk about besides kids. So it’s not that they shun you until you reproduce, it’s that they feel they finally have something they know how to talk about with you. Sometimes people ask that question because they honestly are just trying to make conversation. Sometimes our peers are anxious for us to have kids because they know the unparalleled joy they bring. Socializing isn’t easy for a lot of people, and the “judgement” we feel from others is all too often our own projections. It would strengthen us to give these “insensitive people” the same benefit of the doubt we desire from them. Be the change you want to see.
Sounds like they need to learn how to socialize then! We can do much better.
I replied to this post, but it showed up at the bottom. 🙂 Look for the one with B’s quote.
This was such a wonderful article. We tried for 11 years and were SHOCKED when we did find out we were pregnant. We were not financial able to adopt or do fertility treatments so we just figured it was only going to be us. We had the question asked of us all the time. Even had one woman who thought we were such terrible people she actually said “What’s wrong with you, I mean you don’t even have kids”. Well let me tell you I snapped, I got into her face….literally 3 inches from it….and proceeded to tell her just why that comment was completely out of line and what it felt like as an infertile couple to get comments and questions like that. I’m sure I told her a few more things cause she kept backing up until she was at the door and then fled to her car (she had the gall to say this to me in my own home). Not my best moment, but still made me feel like maybe she might rethink asking another couple that question.
Reading your story brought back all the feelings and emotions we went through during those 11 years and though it was me that was infertile I understand the whole feeling of being stripped of everything that you identify with in your gender.
Our son is now 11 years old and we still get the whole “You ever think about having more than one?” I tell them now that at 48 I pray God won’t do that to me….and besides with our son being autistic, having just the one is a blessing for him”. Still never ends I guess, but I am content now to educate rather than get mad.
I would like to add my two cents worth, if I may because many years ago, I was where most of you are right now. I suffered from severe endometriosis before anyone (except infertility specialists) had ever even heard of the word. IVF was so brand new that they were still calling it “test tube babies”. This is what I learned while dealing with infertility for over 30 years:
1. People who make insenstive comments at Church, are not to be confused with the Perfect Gospel of Christ. They are two different things, and I will not allow someone’s hurtful remark affect my worshipping my Savior and partaking of the Sacrament.
2. It’s OK to use the situation of someone remarking about your procreation (or lack thereof) to teach them that they are being innappropriate. When asked why we didn’t have any kids yet, I went from crying and getting upset to being strong and standing up for myself and declaring to them: “if it were any of your business, I would discuss this with you, but it’s not…so I won’t.”
3. Having righteous desires unanswered in a way that I wanted taught me more about “Coming Unto Christ” than any other experience could.
4. Struggling to come to the point of sincerely and humbly declaring to my Savior, “Thy will be done, not my will” was the greatest lesson I ever learned in my lifetime. And I know by learning this in my 20’s that it helped me immensely throughout my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.
5. I learned that the Peace that my Savior offers me, is greater than any other gift. That His Atonement heals ALL wounds.
6. I learned that for me (this might not be the case for everyone) but for me, it was important to do everything physically, medically, emotionally, spiritually, available to me to try and conceive. Knowing that I had done all I could gave me peace…and I had no regrets.
I have purposely not revealed whether I eventually had children or not…because the important thing I’m trying to share with you is this: the trial of dealing with infertility all those years led me to Christ and I will be eternally grateful for that. I’d like to end with a quote from Neal A. Maxwell:
“How can I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'”
I’m sending my love and prayers to all of you who are struggling…and please know that your Savior Jesus Christ will lift you and carry you through this trial if you allow Him.
Thanks for your 2 cents worth! They were actually worth much more than $.02.
Thank you for writing this. My exhusband and I dealt with this issue. Sadly I think it was a major reason why he left the church and ended our marriage. It is a hard thing to go through, especially in our culture.
I’m so sorry to hear about that. Thank you for commenting, and I wish you the very best.
Thank you for putting these thoughts out there. I have never dealt with infertility personally and cannot fathom going through such a journey! I am amazed at the level of adversity you passed through and thrilled that above all else you came through it. I am commenting because I could not agree more with your suggestions. I had four children by 28 and you would not believe how many times I was asked the question about when another one was coming or are you having more (yes, this has been asked of me just hours after delivery more than once!) And now that my baby is a year and a half many are asking if I’ll have more! I don’t know where this false tradition came from but I hope others will come to understand how inappropriate it is to ask unless someone else brings it up. Thank you for sharing! Tell your wife I think she is absolutely amazing!
Thank you for replying! And just so you know, I did tell my wife you think/know she’s amazing. 🙂
Thank you for sharing. When I was 15 I started developing cysts on my ovaries as well and was advised I would probably never have children. The Doctors were wrong and I had my first son a year an and a half after being married. I had some complications, almost did not make it and was told I am too high risk and should not have anymore. I did not care and wanted more children. It took me 3 years to get pregnant the second time but I spent those 3 years with the same questions at church, when are you going to have another one, you don’t want your kids too far apart in age and so on. My second pregnanacy ended in a miscarriage. After 2 more miscarriages I was able to have 3 more children. My oldest is 20 and my youngest is 6.
That’s why I wrote this article. I’m hoping the readers are the change, and learn to see infertility as it really is. I can’t do anything about those who don’t read it.
Thanks for commenting, and I agree with you–a lot of women get a lot of their value through having children, and choose to talk about it in social situations.
And those who are infertile can “choose” to be offended or not, as many have said. Sure.
But you wouldn’t talk about how nice it is to be able to walk and run around someone who is a paraplegic, would you? Some things are just bad manners.
You may never know how powerful this post is. This is the change *I* want to see and be in the world.
As a fellow infertility survivor I give you a virtual hug. We also struggle with male factor infertility.
As a fellow infertility advocate and writer I give you a huge high five and thank you.
I both shared this post and wrote a response to it on my own site. (http://www.therhouse.com/we-can-be-more-sensitive-to-each-other/)
I hope your words go double viral …if that’s even a thing.
I can definitely relate! :). And then when we finally did have kids, the comments then became, “What are you thinking?!” “What are you, the Brady Bunch??” “Um, are you ‘happy’ about this??” “You DO know what causes this, right?!” (Oh the comebacks I would give, haha!), or “You’re done… right???” (Like it was up to them). Yeah… no matter what you do, people can say stupid, insensitive, rude things that are totally none of their business and our kids are the best thing we’ve ever done! I think some just can’t help it, so it helps to understand that, but most people are truly very kind about this stuff. Even in Utah. 😉 Haha! Ohhhh people… wanna smack ’em sometimes, but gotta love ’em because I am so entertained by them! (I’m glad for your sweet family!!)
While fertility is not my personal struggle, my first pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of my daughter 2 weeks before due date. I got asked when we were going to try again several times (and I became pregnant with my second daughter 5 months after delivering my angel, so I really DON’T know what they were expecting of me!) But the insensitivity toward my grief was…soul crushing. I was treated by the other women at church (married student ward at BYU-Idaho) like stillbirth was something they could “catch.” Many of the other pregnant ladies “hugged” their bellies protectively when I walked by, like my mere presence would kill their child.
I was told by my bishop not to talk about my experience because I “scared” people [I only ever mentioned it when we were discussing things like “how God gives us strength to endure trials].
For months I only went to sacrament meeting, because I felt so unwelcome in the smaller groupings.
Maybe a large portion of it was me being oversensitive, but I think I had to be oversensitive because so many weren’t sensitive in any way at all.
Somewhere people (not just Mormons, though we seem to excel at it) got it through their heads that only good things happen to good people, and therefore bad things happening must obviously occur after some sort of personal unrighteousness. Which doesn’t make any sense at all when you look at Jesus and all the bad things that happen to HIM.
Anyway, Douglas, many hugs to you. I hope that one day my oldest brother and SIL have the ending to your story. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this month. She brought a daughter to the marriage, but they have no children together, and it just breaks my heart.
You weren’t being oversensitive. I know many women in our pregnancy/infant/child loss support group that still have problems going to church because of issues like yours. Having somebody to talk to is SOOO important when dealing with grief. I have become a strong believer in a GOOD support group.
I was still in the hospital the day after our baby died when a relative asked “So, are you going to try for more?” I had to shut down emotionally to give them a polite response to it. A little different than the “When are you going to have kids?” but just as hurtful because of the timing.
I’m sorry, Ed, but two wrongs don’t make a right. In fact, I think it is WORSE and FAR more immature to PURPOSELY give a rude answer than to NAIVELY ask a rude question.
VERY good article!!!! I love the points you made and I am so happy you and your wife were able to have two children! My husband and I have had many similar emotional trials with regards to conceiving also. I heard similar comments in church that were pretty hard to digest. It definitely makes me more aware of my own comments in social settings.
Such a good article, thank you for sharing. I haven’t had this trial in my life (except for the getting married late part, I always hated the “when you going to get married” question), but I’ve known people who have, and I can’t imagine why people would be so insensitive as to ask about children. Frankly, it’s noone’s business. Even if someone has no problem having kids and decides not to, that’s their life, and their choice. It’s just as impertinent as the “Don’t you know what causes it” remarks. My mother-in-law talks about how judgemental people were to her when she was having kids after her third.
While my husband and I don’t suffer right now from infertility (that we know of) we did have a similar experience. We had been married a year when we moved to a new state and into a new ward. We had just found out that we were pregnant, but we decided not to tell anyone. We got the usual “No kids yet?” or “When are you going to have kids,” but we just kept it vague. A few weeks after that I miscarried. We were devastated. Those questions suddenly hit right where it hurt most and there were times that I frequently left the room because I would start crying. I have several friends who struggle with infertility and are going through their own trials. I have learned through my own experience and theirs what not to say. I think a lot of it comes through ignorance and being in a culture that is so child and marriage oriented. I don’t think a lot of people know what their comments mean or how they make people feel.
Yeah, I have no idea the level of devastation a miscarriage would be. It must involve so many feelings that are deep and complex.
This is another situation where I think the whole “You can choose to be offended” argument is completely ignorant. When you just had a miscarriage, if someone were to probe and pry and try to find out why you don’t have children, it would be nearly impossible to want to leave and cry.
People need to be tactful. Good manners in this topic need to make a huge comeback.
Before I met my husband he had been an accident that left him virtually infertile. He was told IF he ever had a child it would be a miracle. We were blessed with a daughter early on in our marriage but a few years later I was diagnosed with thyroid disease & PCOS. I wanted more children so badly & struggled for many years before I finally made peace with having just one child.
Just before our 15th anniversary, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Within a few weeks of his surgery, I became pregnant with our 2nd child (who was born 3 months premature) & 16 months later gave birth to our third.
You just never know what the Lord has in store for you.
Being infertile does not automatically make a person sensitive and intelligent any more than having six children with no problems will make a person insensitive and ignorant. There are a lot of “blanket statements” being made in these comments, which I feel is insensitive. I may have a lot of children, and I may have never felt the pain of infertility. I also may have asked the question, “When are you going to have kids?” This does not mean, though, that I am unintelligent. It could just mean that my challenges are very different from yours. I may have learned something from this article, but is that bad? Is this life not a test for all of us? Don’t we all have cause to repent every day of our lives? This may be controversial to say, but the truth is that infertile people don’t have a corner on grief. Nor do they have a corner on being sensitive. Ithink you are right to say that people can be insensitive and ignorant regardless of religion or culture, but we all are in our own right. We all have to start somewhere. And I don’t think it is impossible to believe that people are capable of learning to be sensitive. To say that they aren’t is so cynical and defeatist. Sorry to be so blunt, and “insensitive” if you will. I hope you learn from this comment as much as I learned from yours.
Amanda, the author never said he had a corner on grief and i never got the impression that infertile people have the corner on being sensitive. Clearly, we all have our different challenges in life. You seem really defensive and judgmental of him when he was only sharing his specific experience and how it felt to him. We all have our “Mt. Everests” That was his. Related to children, my “Mt. Everest” was horrible pregnancies. It was to the point after our second child we weren’t sure it was a good idea to have a third. We did after 6 years and now we’re done. It was worth the climb, but we had our own specific corner on grief and sensitivity related to our situation.
Amanda, I never claimed that those suffering infertility have a “corner on grief”. But I DID hope to point out that fertility is devastating enough to cause some to feel grief. (though I never even mentioned the word grief, so I’m still curious as to how you got that out of my article)
Jill and Douglas… Amanda was responding to marginalizedmormon’s comment, not to the original article.
Having had secondary infertility, I understand the pain of people asking “when are you going to have another.” Thus, I refrain from asking questions about kids. Although there are those outside the LDS religion who ask the questions in ignorance, the ignorance is enhanced within the LDS religion because of the focus on families and children. I’ve noticed the Apostles and other Church leaders addressing these more sensitive issues quite a bit more. That doesn’t completely eliminate the ignorance, but it does decrease the instances of awkwardness within the LDS communiaty. Thank you for addressing this very sensitive issue
I agree, it seems more talks have been given about leaving the 99 to find the one–i.e., reaching out to widows, the single adults, divorcees, single parents, those who are infertile, etc.
I hope the trend continues!
Your situation is very similar to ours, I am glad you shared it! We both have fertility issues and were unable to get pregnant without help, add to that the fact that we were 35 and 36 when we married, yes we were out of place here in Utah! It was awful for a while but we have been blessed with our precious son whom we conceived through IVF names Jacob – child of the promise. We had both been promised we would have children, we now have 13, one on earth with us and 12 in heaven that formed but did not survive, I truly believe we will see them one day and know that my son knows them already – he speaks of his “brothers” often. Thank you again for sharing, infertility is HARD and most people don’t understand.
Thank you for your reply, and for sharing your own experience!
Thank you for sharing. I have a sibling that has had experiences similar to yours. I cried. We have experienced the joy of adoption with them. But there still has been a lot of pain along the way. You are brave to share and I am grateful you did. So glad that you have a the joy of children. God bless and best wishes!
Thank you! I wish you the best as well.
Thank you for your article. My husband and i went through quite a bit with people asking if and when we were going to have children also. After a while, my husband would just say we didn’t want kids. That usually backfired though because we would then receive a lecture on why we should have kids.
We went through quite a bit of fertility issues and then finally decided that we would adopt. We then were asked so many questions about why we weren’t going through the church or adopting an infant. We just felt that we could still be the family our Father in Heaven wants us to be while providing a home to his children already here and needing a family. So, we were looking for a sibling group of anywhere between two and four children that had been in foster care.
It was a very long and trying process, which isn’t far off from the ups and downs of going through fertility. Although different, we still spent many nights with tears and wanting to give up and just be us for the rest of our lives.
Finally, 7 months ago, just before our 8th anniversary we were matched with three boys who are brothers. They are now 7, 5 and 4. Our adoption was finalized two months ago and we were sealed in the temple a month ago. We can’t imagine our lives without them and although they knew other parents for the first years of their lives, they know that we are their parents and they were meant to be in our family.
We are now looking for another sibling group to adopt with girls because our boys want some sisters. Even after we got our boys and now, we just get comments and questions about how we could accept children who had such histories. It amazes me how people could say those things because these boys deserve a loving family just as much as their children do.
We found a different way to build our family, but it was the right way for us. We all have our own path to follow and we don’t know what that path is for others, so we need to be mindful of that. Majority of the time we don’t even know what our own paths are, so we have no right to ask or judge others about theirs.
Thank you again for your article and just reminding us all to be aware of what we say because all we see is the surface of what others are going through.
Thank you for sharing this experience, I truly loved reading it. And you are undoubtedly the answer to your son’s prayers. It sounds like you are an amazing family. Congratulations!
This was a really good article to read. It made me stop and think about all the times I have asked people about having kids in the church without thinking about it. Hopefully now I can be more sensitive to others and think about what I’m saying before I say it.
I am a birthmom who placed a daughter for adoption 17 years 6 months ago. Through that I have met many people with infertility and I have gained such respect for them and the difficulties they face. I’m happy for you and your family.
Thank you so much for replying! I wish you well.
I appreciate this article so much. I have many dear friends who struggle with infertility, and it breaks my heart. I myself have been blessed with two children, and relatively easy pregnancies. I feel so guilty whenever I am around my friends who have been trying for years. They are good enough friends that they are truly happy for me and love my children… But I feel as though my joy hurts them even more.
It’s true, I don’t really know what to say around ten when the subject comes up because I know the simplest statements I make could cut them to the heart. I was mortified once when I finally realized mid-sentence that I was complaining about postpartum and breastfeeding problems to a woman who would give anything to have them. That was my wake up call, and I haven’t stopped hurting for her and every other person desperately wishing to become a parent. I just wish there was a way for me to reach out without feeling like I was rubbing it in even more.
You are aware of the pain they have felt. That says a lot about how sensitive and tactful you already are. I’m sure listening and loving is all most everyone needs. I guess it just goes back to love, right? I think when someone is hurting–regardless of the source of pain–the important thing is to forget your own discomforts, and help them through THEIR pain… I’ll probably be writing a follow up post on this very subject (with a few contributors who can add additional insight)
Thank you so much for this. I choked up. And just a couple days ago, some good friends of ours had a miscarriage and she was just in her second trimester. It was their first pregnancy, but I find myself angry and heartbroken that it happened. Being LDS and living in a “Mini-Utah” my whole life (East Valley in AZ), I get so irritated at those who equate LDS cultural norms as the gospel and their brains fall out in the process. The children thing is a big part of it. The whole talk or testimony meeting of “we were married 6 weeks after meeting in Institute and 9 months later our son Ezekiel arrived,” makes me gag. My husband and I waited a scandalous 5 years before we started to have kids. Our daughter came 3 months before our 6th anniversary. Waiting was the best thing we ever did, but it raised so many eyebrows. For me, infertility wasn’t the problem, but horrible pregnancies were. And when my daughter was 2, I started getting the “when are you going to have another baby?” WTH?! And in my eventual second pregnancy, I was truck with one of the darkest gritty periods of depression of my life. I completely understood how someone could consider suicide. When your brain has changed your whole reality of how you feel and see the world, suicide made perfect sense to end the pain. Thankfully, my pain in the azz stubbornness served and I got through it. We were lucky we dared have a third – and last – child after that. But we waited a scandalous 6 years after our 2nd before we had the guts to even try that again. It’s also irritating when I hear, “well, your next pregnancy may not be so bad.” I reply, “We’re done!” While I’m sad that we won’t have our magic “4”, I am happy with our decisions. But people irritate the hell out of me. But my stubbornness to stick around and annoy them with my counterculture attitude has helped me survive. I don’t know how you do it in Utah. I am so happy you were able to have your beautiful babies. They grow up so fast. Our first turned 13 today. Where did time go?
I loved your reply. I’m sure my wife and you have mutual friends, as she is originally from Arizona and seems to have a ridiculous amount of friends all over down there. And if not–you should be friends. Thank you for sharing your own story! I agree with so much you said.
I really appreciated the candid, well-written thoughts that this article offers. My only comment is that thoughtless comments/questions are not a component of ‘Mormon Culture’…they are a component of ‘Human Culture’. Mormons don’t have a monopoly on unfortunate dialogue. My husband & I both struggled with infertility issues over the past decade, and we received way more questions/comments from coworkers than anyone affiliated with our congregation. I even had girls ringing me up at the grocery store that recognized me week after week in my hometown ask me when we would have a baby. I’m pretty confident that small villages in Europe, Africa, South America, etc where they have never heard of Mormons have couples going through this same experience.
Oh, and to the people whose ecclesiastical leaders have told them not to talk about still births, miscarriages, medical tragedy, or that they don’t need home teachers, etc because they don’t have growing families….I am so sorry. Every one of us is struggling with our private battles and every one of us is in need of support. Unfortunately thats part of living in this world. I’m sorry there is so much grief. I just pray we don’t all get swallowed up in it.
Asking the question “when are you going to have children” is certainly not exclusive to Mormon culture, but having been both in and out of it, I have to say Mormon culture magnifies the pressure to have kids and to explain childlessness more than the culture at large. The theological underpinnings Mormonism, with emphasis on eternal families and having a family,( preferably one with biological offspring) at the center of spiritual life naturally leads to a social and spiritual crisis when the couple cannot conceive, chooses to delay child rearing or does not want children. Church leadership needs to speak out forcefully to acknowledge the social/cultural forces in the church that add to the distress of infertility and to admonish members to have compassion and sensitivity in this area.
Well written, thank you. We just got pregnant after 15 months of trying, it took 9 months with our 3rd, 1 try each for 1st and 2nd. We were told my hubs enbrel was the cause of our sterility but he can’t live without his meds because the r.a. is too severe and painful… But they he started using doterra vitamins and the ddr prime oil and we got pregnant 2 months later because he has been able to go longer in between his meds and truly feeling better due to the oils. So we know we are blessed that we found the reason why we couldn’t have more and were able to over come it but I have many friends who have not been able to find answers or overcome theirs and this article is so good for people to read so they will stop asking personal questions! Let people live their own lives.
Congrats to you and your family. I hope you are enjoying every moment, they go by fast. My oldest is turning 8 this year, not sure where that went 😀
Thank you for writing, sharing, teaching, and helping me to think and improve.
Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I didn’t find each other until we were in our mid thirties. We started trying for children right away; I knew my clock was ticking very loudly. I was able to get pregnant very easily, but unfortunately my body couldn’t hold on to them. To make a long story very short, I’ve been pregnant 9 times, but was only able to carry 2 babies to term. We now have two beautiful healthy girls and I’m grateful every day for the miracle they are in our lives. I’m now almost 40 and due to medical issues from all my miscarriages and 2 very difficult pregnancies, we’ve made the decision, with the help of our doctor, not to try for any more. We both feel totally at peace with our choice. Unfortunately, I still get asked all the time, when I’m having my next. I get comments like, “You don’t want to stop at two, that’s not enough kids”, or “How sad, don’t you want a big family??” I know people mean well; they’re not malicious comments. As imperfect souls, we all at times have probably said or done things that hurt others because we don’t understand or know better. That’s why it’s important for people like you or me or all of us to share our life experiences, what ever they may be, to help each other understand and grow. I think the best way to handle situations, if you’re emotionally ready, is to be bold and open. When I was recently asked about more children by a neighbor, I just told her a little of my story and she was apologetic and understanding. Thanks again for sharing your story, I know many will read it and gain a greater understanding.
Thank you for sharing your own story, and replying! Sounds like you are a wonderful parent to your 2 daughters.
I truly appreciate this post. I can relate to most of it. I remember a time a couple of years after my husband and I were married and going through these “issues” of infertility, I was standing around a group of women, (some pregnant, but all with children), talking about their pregnancies and their kids and how wonderful each of them were, blah blah blah blah blah and I just wanted to scream! I finally left the group and quietly sobbed my heart out in another room. I could hear them talk about me when I left. I think they felt badly, but I’ll never know if it impacted them for being sensitive in the future.
My husband and I could’ve done the fertility clinic, however we both decided to go the route of adoption. We had our reasons why we didn’t want to pursue trying to get pregnant with help. We thought adoption was more of a “guarantee”.
Well 4 adopted kids later, we’re now asking ourselves if we want to go the fertility route now, (cause I still want to experience a baby…..all of my kids were older when we adopted them). I tell you, it freaks me out! I’m not sure if I want someone to tell me that there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to be pregnant. At least by our choice to adopt there was no one telling me I couldn’t.
I admire you and your wife’s fight to get pregnant. I’m happy for you both and the children you were able to conceive. I hope I will have to courage one day. But for now I’m happy to have the 4 beautiful children that I have.
Thanks again for this post!
Thank you for your reply! You sound like a very loving, happy family.
About two years ago when we finally got married at the ripe ages of 32 and 37 my husband wanted to enjoy married life for just a little while first. So I went on birth control for half a year and that seemed to completely change anything normal cycle. Not only were we not getting pregnant but I gained 50 pounds while dieting in a matter of months. I started having my period for months at a time (this year I’m hitting 5/7 months) and many many other embarrassing, and humbling symptoms. The doctors can’t seem to find anything… but not for lack of tests.
Now not only do I get asked if we’re pregnant- and given lectures on waiting too long, but emotionally I’m more than a little crazy (5 months of almost constant pms will do this) AND I look pregnant. So when people ask it pushes all sorts of violent buttons I never knew I had- that usually end up with me weeping in the car, or my office, or the back of church… or my pillows. Even when I’m mentally not that upset (re: pms crazy).
So to the guy that asked if I was pregnant or letting myself go- it took every ounce of will power I had to just ignore him and hang up.
The reason I don’t tell people or want to talk to people about it- It gives then the ability to talk about it at anytime and bring me to tears. And they will start talking about it at any time. Like my mom who did while I was on the way to work. Took me a half an hour to recover and she wanted to tell everyone else so they could also talk to and about me. That’s why we don’t want to talk about it… emotional ambush. Every single time.
This is also especially annoying because it took soooo long to get married- and now I play the waiting game… again.
And to Amanda the person above- I don’t think anyone here is saying that infertile couples of a corner on grief. It’s just something rarely talked about and very sensitive that needs to be reminded of from time to time- and a place to vent and educate- not sure why you felt the need to comment.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. As one who may–or may not–be sitting at the beginning of such a journey, I find it a little hard not to imagine all the nasty, but oh, so clever, things I could say to people who make the mistake of asking this question. It is such a painful topic. I find, though, that as alone as I may feel, it is a much more common problem than I before realized.
It’s taking some time, but my desires to “educate” (read “shame” here, because that was my true goal) everyone who may pry into my life are being replaced with a desire to make it through this without becoming bitter. I’ve found the words of Neal A. Maxwell to be particularly comforting, and have adopted the phrase “empathy during agony is a portion of divinity” to be my motto. It may be a rough challenge, but if I can endure without rudely flipping out at well-meaning church members with no better conversation starter, I’ll be even better for it!
Thank you very much for your loving words. My husband and I have been trying for the last five years. We haven’t been tested yet, partly because finances prohibit it. I have felt responsible, since he has a child from a previous relationship. My rational mind tells me that God has a plan for us, and when it’s right, we’ll conceive, but my heart aches for the lost time, and the possibility that I’ll never become a mother. Thank you for making me feel like it’s okay to feel that way, and not be ashamed of my different place in life than those around me.
You and your wife’s family story is heart wrenching and beautiful. Life is full of twists, good and bad, and I am so happy that your dream of creating life became reality. Your wife seems like she has great faith, I adore her without knowing her. I am glad you shared, sometimes people, including myself, are just looking for a conversation and not truly thinking. I will definitely be putting more thought and heart into conversation topics from now on.
Great post! Hopefully it gets well-read by the busybodies of the world. It took my parents 8 years before they were able to get children and more than a couple of those years were spent at BYU (where newlyweds getting pregnant is all the rage). People are incredibly insensitive, just like you said. Douglas is not exaggerating at all, people really are that invasive.
Needless to say, thanks to hearing the horror stories from my parents, I don’t ask. Period. I’m in the frame of mind that if the couple doesn’t have kids, there’s a reason and the reason is 100% none of my business.
Douglas, you and your wife are too kind. If it ever happened to me, I think the vengeful spirit for my parents and myself would have to come out. Good for you for trying to treat kindly those who ask thoughtless questions.
And very pleased to hear it all worked out for your family in the end. 🙂
Loved your reply! I imagine that once upon a time, when good manners and tact were taught to everyone, people were taught the same thing you just said “if the couple doesn’t have kids, there’s a reason and the reason is 100% none of my business.”
Thank you so much for this post. I have had two miscarriages recently and now I’m getting “The Question” more and more (since I’ve been married over a year now). It’s extremely painful. I hope beyond hope that more people will read this and learn what pain they could be causing.
Thanks again, it’s good to know other people are struggling with similar heartbreaks.
Thanks for this post. Seven years ago my hubby and I received the same news as you, that he has zero sperm. Back then there were several people we knew who struggled with infertility, but it seemed that it was all the women and not the men. I felt like no one on earth who knew EXACTLY how we felt. Then last year we met a couple who had the same diagnosis as us. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s nice to know of someone else who was in the same boat. I’m very happy that you have had a happy ending. We’re currently on the adoption waitlist, waiting for our own happy ending. For now we’re enjoying time with just the two of us.
It is happening more and more… And what’s tough is that most fertility specialists are focused on the female issues, so you have to look up a good Andrology clinic in order to treat male issues. Please send your husband my regards, and I wish you the very best.
I loved this so much! I can’t believe how eloquently this was said. I have been married for 3 years and get this question all the time! It’s just such a personal and sensitive topic that I don’t want to discuss it with people other than my husband and the Lord. I mean there are so many little details that go into planning a family that how do you really explain to someone who isn’t on the inside? And why would you need to? It’s not their business!
I also love how it was pointed out how insensitive it is when people say “The Lord trusted us to raise this baby” etc…. I have a hard time with that because there are so many wonderful couples who could give a baby a great home but can’t get pregnant, yet teens and drug addicts are also entrusted with a baby? Yeah… really we were given our agency and God is bound by those physical and biological laws. I do know that if couples allows it, the Lord will be there to comfort and guide to the right time to start a family.
If anyone cares or is interested in reading my rant on this topic here it is: http://www.ruminatingroom.com/2013/07/maybe-baby.html
I think that’s the key, too. It takes discernment to sense whom you can talk to about what. I have a friend or two whom i’m close enough to to ask, if the subject came up, and if i felt like the Spirit wasn’t telling me not to. Most of the time, though, asking someone when they’re gonna have kids is just not appropriate. It’s no one’s business but theirs, and like has been said here, there are countless personal, and potentially painful, issues tied to it. I just wish people in general (but especially church members, since our church is so big on families) would educate themselves a bit more on infertility so they could understand why it’s inappropriate to ask. I haven’t had to struggle with infertility, but I have tried to read articles like this when I’ve come across them so I can better understand my loved ones and others who go through it. It has helped me to understand a tiny bit more. So is it really an excuse that people are just ignorant? Maybe sometimes, but it’s not THAT hard to learn more.
Anyway, thanks for this post. I’m grateful to be able to understand it from a man’s perspective better.
the sad thing is that many LDS couples are intentionally putting off having kids. One sister went so far as to state that she didn’t want to have kids during sacrament meeting because she had 30 in her class room. She wanted them walking, talking and potty trained. After 10 years of marriage her and her husband were crying infertility. I attended a function that they attended with the newly placed baby. Her husband acted very attentive towards the child but she acted indifferent towards it. And when you make those marital covenants in the temple having children isn’t just between you and Heavenly Father but also the witnesses there. My husband and I were asked when we were going to have children after we were sealed – we look so young. I told the person asking – I can’t and that we already did our share of multiplying and replenishing the earth in our previous marriages. End of discussion
My husband and I can relate to your story on so many levels. I was always worried that people thought we didn’t want to have kids. We learned about the the side effects of treating low testosterone the hard way too. My husband had a count of 2 at one point. Drs need to inform people of the side effect of testosterone meds before the prescribe them! We had known for a long time that I had fertility issues, but finding out both of us did was awful! After 1 amazing adoption experience, a horrible failed adoption experience and another wonderful adoption our family continues to grow. After some major help from Dr. Matthew Peterson of the U of U we are now the parents of a little son born last month. I am so thankful to have my family, no matter how we became one. Thank you for sharing your story.
Crazy how much androgel and other TRT meds are prescribed… I talked to a fertility specialist in Draper that said Utah had one of the highest rates of over-prescription of TRT than he’s seen in any state he’s worked in (I think 3). It’s insane how harmful it is for male fertility.
Congratulations on your growing family!!
Wow. Powerful. Thank you for sharing your story.
Comment: I did walk out. The obvious judgments and perceptions, lack of integrity if how/when to ask questions of personal nature, and then when I trusted enough to open up, to get the door slammed into my face (so to speak),, and told I “should” do this or that, when these are decisions made between a couple and God, was too much. I miss church sometimes, but I don’t miss those things I mentioned. I know God loves me either way.
I appreciate your thoughts so, so much. My husband and I married at 25. My mother-in-law presented me a baby blanket she had crotched just after our reception and asked me when we would be having children. Upset and embarrassed, I told her I wasn’t sure IF we would be having children, much less when. She told me I had “hurt her feelings.”
At 28, I had a stroke. Now, at almost 31, I am on medications to prevent further strokes that make it very dangerous to have children, and for about three years, I have wanted children. Ironic, isn’t it? But still, we get those questions, although much less frequently than we did.
As someone who has never struggled with fertility issues, my heart goes out to all of you who have gone through this and those who still go through these issues.
Even while having children at an “acceptable” rate for those around me, I was still so often asked when we were going to have another one. It was made very clear to me that since we didn’t struggle with pregnancy we should keep having children until we had a “suitable” sized family.
After telling one woman that we were finished, she gave me a knowing look and said something to the effect that God had other plans. I was amazed she knew God’s plans for my family!
Having never been in your shoes I cannot understand the depth of your pain, but know that not all of us out there are insensitive to the struggles that you are going through.
# 1 – stop worrying or caring about what people think
# 1 – mind your own business
If someone asked you refer to #1
If you want to ask someone refer to #1
Bless you. The questions don’t end even when you could have popped them out every 10 months. In our case it is people telling me that after my three delightful boys I won’t really be happy until I have a girl. And asking me when we are trying again. We must stop tying righteousness to childbearing. While it is true that having children comes with its own blessings and challenges, the same can be said of almost anything. I heard an interview with Kristen Oaks in which she said of her late-in-life first marriage “The waiting can be sanctifying.” Clearly this experience has been as bonding (and probably more sanctifying) for you and your sweet wife as a babies often and early are for other couples. We all have our own path to walk; bless you for your courage to share.
I love your point of view! Thank you! I know many that have problems becoming pregnant and I can see the pain every time we’re at church and/or someone makes an insensitive comment. One note though, people are insensitive and stick their noses in regardless. I have 5 kids, 7 and under, have been married for almost 8 years. I LOVE my kids more than anything in the world! When we announced that we were having number 4 people gave us dirty looks for having SOO many kids. When number 5 came we started to get lectures. We want more kids. People are always asking me why I don’t take birth control to help slow down and ‘recover’. Well, I do take birth control and we use other protection as well but it doesn’t help (and don’t bring up abstinence because that never makes for a happy lasting marriage). Even despite using protection on many different levels, we have also lost several pregnancies. The pain of losing a child, no matter what stage, is something that even words can’t express…its unbearable, nor is it talked about as well, but the pain is always there and the comments of ‘don’t you have enough kids?’ is something that always hurts as well because of the number of kids we have lost. Many of my family members, both on my husbands side as well as my own, have infertility problems…we just happen to be a phenomenon within our family and even those with infertility still ask us when we’re going to stop because we already have so many. The point is it hurts no matter where you stand in life! As much as it hurts on either side of things, lots of kids or struggling to have kids, people just need to learn to keep their mouths shut and stay out of other people’s bedroom life! We all know that won’t happen though so, even when the comments hurt, we just need to move on and focus on our lives and be happy where we are at and not dwell on the negativity that goes around. We each choose how and what we take to heart when it comes to other people. Just love each other and stop judging or being offended by others…..just my two cents though. I do appreciate your article though. The pain will always hurt and expressing the pain and struggle is always a good way to help us through our trials. Holding it in doesn’t do any good and having others, like you, that are willing to talk about it is a great way for us to all help each other to grow in love and understanding towards one another!
Good article. I think that most people have good intentions when they are asking these questions. Agreed, they might not be funny or lacking in tact, but usually they don’t mean to offend. We can all be a little more mindful of the things we say.
On the other hand, I think we’re all a little bit happier when we quickly brush off poorly aimed commentary. After all, if you want great relationships, you’re going to have to sacrifice a little bit of personal space, sharing in what is most important to you.
For people who have kids, they are among the most important thing in their lives, so naturally, they want to talk about it. For me, talking about family is my way of opening up deep conversations about what matters most with those that are most important in my life.
I understand this very well. Been through infertility treatments for 6 years, had a still birth and 2 miscarriages following the fertility treatments. Even had IVF, and it did not work. Having children is not a formula, and it doesn’t work just because we want it to work.
My husband and I have not struggled with this, but I have close family that has. I feel for everyone who has issues with fertility. I shouldn’t be, but am shocked every time I hear about people asking when a couple will be having children . . . or when they’re going to have another one if they’ve already been ‘successful’ at reproducing. I’m sharing this. More people need to realize that it’s completely insensitive of them to ask these kinds of questions.
People keep saying in the comments that you choose whether or not to be offended. I feel like something major that these people are ignoring is that it’s not always a matter of taking offense. If someone accidentally hurts another person physically, that person who was injured doesn’t have to feel offended in order to feel the pain of the injury. In the same way, a careless comment by a sweet old lady doesn’t have to make you feel any ill will towards her to sting for days, or even longer. Yes, we choose our attitude and our reaction, but some things cause a pain that we can’t control, regardless of whether we are angry at those who caused the pain or not. It’s normal and natural to feel pain when something cuts deeply into our skin. And it’s the same when something cuts deeply into our spirit. It’s wonderful and good not to be offended when no offense was intended, but that doesn’t change the fact that others should be mindful and sensitive to not opening others’ wounds.
I cried as I read this. Nights of tears and anguish begging and pleading for something that is so natural for others, something we are told we should “aim” towards…having children. Our infertility started AFTER we had our first. We had a honeymoon baby and man were we eaten alive for that. It wasn’t planned however it wasn’t prevented due to divine intervention and us following that prompting. A 12 week miscarriage later, we added a 2nd. Now we hear constantly, “are you done?” “are you having more”. That too me is just as painful as “when are you going to start having children?” because the desire is there, the outcome just won’t come. It is soooo hard seeing family “Accidently” add an additional child. I try so hard to be very mindful of others family plans cause you honestly just do not know!
In September my husband & I will have been married for 12 years & we are still without children of our own. We had The Question put to us quite a bit, especially in the first year of marriage, but we were in our mid 20s, so we weren’t in a super rush to have kids. After the first year, though, The Question started to get to me & my standard answe became, ” When The Lord decides its time.” That shut people up pretty quick. (Thankfully Californians know when to stop asking.) In the years since we’ve both had all of the tests done & have both been declared perfectly healthy, but for some reason nothing is happening, clomped has been a flop for us, & IVF isn’t in the budget. Thankfully we have some wonderful friends who love sharing their children with us. Thank you for sharing your story.
Unfortunately, I sometimes give in to my nosy side and ask insensitive questions. I think it’s hard sometimes for people like me to reign in our buoyant, outgoing personalities to consider that not everyone has the same situation or beliefs that we do.
So my question is: what do you say to someone when you’ve made the mistake of being insensitive and asking “The Question?” Do you let it be or apologize? How do you apologize? What do you say?
If it’s in the moment, you can say. “I’m sorry that was [insert choice] insensitive, rude, none of my business.”
If it’s later that you realize you’ve said something inappropriate, I would recommend that you NOT bring it up again. But instead show an increase of love to that person, so that your previous discussion or comment is not the most recent memory and that you show that you appreciate them as a person, not their status.
My husband and I pretty much went thru the same situation but we were never able to have children and we tried for almost 3 years to adopt and never got chosen.
Also if you are a childless woman and in need of some support please search for Childless Mormons on Facebook.
It’s hard to approach this without being a little bitter and sarcastic. Therefore, I’m going to focus on the things that are beautiful to me about the trial of infertility I’m going through. First of all, my relationship to my husband has been strengthened significantly by our troubles. We have learned to lean on each other in difficult times. Secondly, I have learned that it is okay to talk to people about my troubles because I have yet to find a person who wasn’t sympathetic. Thirdly, and most importantly, I have learned to trust my Savior and allow the Lord’s timing to be my guide. Let people ask me why no kids yet… I’ll tell them. And if it is embarrassing to anyone it will be them, not me.
I am so grateful to have read this! I never realized that it hurt people’s feelings or anything to ask. Although – I have never asked anyone that I wasn’t close to, but I will still just not ask from now on. I was never trying to be insensitive or rude. As far as I go – I only asked close friends that I was excited for. I did not suffer from infertility before, but I do now. I can truly say that it is very hard to deal with. Even when you already have kids. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to go through this. It is a beautiful “story”. Thank you for sharing!!
This post touched my heart. Thank you for sharing so openly about this.
Im a 31 y/o single, LDS female, who is also dealing with the recent, tragic loss of a brother. I am constantly asked ‘Why’ Im not married, or such and although I know that its asked by caring but ignorant individuals, it still breaks my heart. I have had to really reach outside of myself and remember that this life is not about who you married, or how many kids you have, or what job you have, or, or, or. But rather its about becoming the type of person that will bring you closer to Christ and eternal life in the end. You can be married, or be a parent, or have a fabulous job and still not be a good person, or the best person that you can be.
Our cultural is not going to change on a dime. People are not going to automatically start asking only kind, appropriate questions as a whole. But if we all start to do our best in our communities, then maybe just maybe we might to see a shift during our lifetime. We need to take those sticks in the mud we judge ourselves and others by out of the passing conversations, and learn to connect with people in a different way.
This is an amazing story and I am so happy that you were able to have babies. We had to go through IVF and I am currently pregnant with our first little boy. I never knew how hard it was going to be going through infertility and how many people this really effects. I think a lot of others don’t understand that either. I am going to share this! Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have honestly never suffered anything more painful then finding out that my husband and I are unable to have children. I am not ready to share my story yet, I’m still in the angry phase, but it helps so much and gives me hope to hear how others have made it through to a healthier less painful place. Someday…
I choose the think that the majority of the people who ask these questions or make these statements that are hurtful honestly don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. I think it’s easy to be offended by someone being intrusive, but you can also choose to not be offended. (Even when the comment hurts.) I have had these types of comments and questions many times in my 13 years of marriage. They slowed down after we adopted, but we still got them. I had a surprise pregnancy after 10 years, and now I get people asking me if we will have any more. I had someone ask me shortly after I had a miscarriage (I lost my 2nd pregnancy out of 13 years of trying). I think the thing to remember about this is that by choosing to be offended, you are only hurting yourself. It won’t stop people from asking personal questions, but it might make you a more bitter about something that you have no control over. I have to remind myself, that while the person asking me this question probably shouldn’t be asking me … chances are, they aren’t doing it to intentionally upset me.
And to those who say that you can relate and understand even if you haven’t experienced it … as much as you can have empathy for someone you love experiencing a certain trial, I don’t think it’s the same unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Just like I didn’t understand loss until my brother passed away, I don’t think you can fully understand infertility or pregnancy loss (or any trial really) unless you’ve been there. I think the joys in life (i.e. feeling the love a child without being a parent, or loving a child without having been pregnant) are able to be experienced by everyone, because you can seek it out and choose to experience it. I don’t know anyone who sought out infertility. I don’t know anyone who sought out having to grieve the loss of a loved one. I think it’s important to remember that we DON’T know what someone else is experiencing. And what is a big trial for me, may not be as big of a trial for someone else who experiences the exact same thing.
Bottom line is, I think we all could stand to be a little kinder. (myself included.) Whether that is to be more considerate of what we are asking others or the comments we make, or whether it is to not take offense when someone asks you these questions. Really, we should all be looking at ourselves and ways that we can be better people … because we are the only ones we have control of! That’s my two cents! 😉
Love the article, very well written and made a great point! 😀
Thank you. I love that you take the time to describe the change in your mindset and emotions as circumstances changed. I also love that you, a guy, wrote this, reminding people that both sides of a relationship are involved and can have extremely strong feelings about their family.
My husband and I struggled for several years to have a child. His family is huge, and someone was always asking: “when are you going to have kids?” or “why haven’t you had kids yet?”. I had such mixed emotions watching the little ones in our extended family playing together. I loved them, loved their smiles and silly songs, and always wondered why I couldn’t have that.
Then, each month when my cycle started anew, I would get so sick. family party was held one of my lucky weekends, and as I sat on the floor shaking, and kept running to the bathroom to throw up, I was asked “Oh, is there a baby in your belly?” I could not believe I was being asked at such an awful time.
After doing some research, I suspected endometriosis, and demanded that we stop the hormones and do a scope. The doctors were hesitant, wanting to address the more common possibilities first, but did the scope, and……yep. I had it. After the scope, where they burned out the unwanted tissue, I had 3 months of feeling amazing!! No pain, no frequent stops at the toilet-it was great-and then I found out I was pregnant. At my 20 week ultrasound, we discovered our child was actually twin boys! I knew that for me, my Heavenly Father was showing me an outpouring of love for the long struggle and the pain endured.
Our boys are now almost 4, and again we are waiting and hoping to add to the family. I know, though, that our Father loves us, whether any blessing comes in this life, or the next.
Wonderful, touching story. Thank you for sharing.
I really liked what you said about family planning being a VERY PERSONAL matter…even more so than your financial situation. I just got married and decided…after reading this…that when people I don’t know well start asking me when my husband and I are going to have kids, I am going to ask them what their debt is or their their checking account balance or what their credit card or social security number is. When they look at me all weird, I would probably say, “That’s right. None of your business.” But I’m blunt and somewhat mean like that.
Thank you so very much. I’m happy for you & appreciate your “hugs” & love. It is so hard to go through this & I’ve known since I was a young teenager I could never have a baby of my own.
I think there’s often a lack of boundaries in Mormon culture. It’s good to explain to people why they need to be more careful in their language and what they are taking for granted.
Excellent article. Thank you. I believe that most people mean well. They just don’t know what they are saying. I suppose we should follow Christ’s example with a “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
We all have our own trials. Different trials. I can’t say that I’m infertile. I am currently pregnant with my 10th baby. Out of those 10 babies I have 4 living beautiful (and very rambunctious) boys and finally have “our little girl” on the way.
Even though I have lost 5 pregnancies, each bringing with them their own heartbreak (and postpartum depression with the last 4), the hardest pregnancy I had to “cope” with or “come to terms” with was my fourth. I already had a baby that was just 9 months old and I found out I was expecting another. It was completely unexpected and came at, what seemed like, the WORST time it could possibly have happen. I was so deeply vexed, YES, VEXED, with my incredibly fertile ability to procreate. It took me at least 7 months of that pregnancy to overcome this feeling. I prayed and prayed for all I was worth that I would not resent and reject my baby. Selfish? Absolutely. But very VERY real RAW emotions, nonetheless. I thank the Lord constantly for answering those prayers because after he was born I fell into the deepest, darkest pit of postpartum depression I have EVER experienced (and that is saying a lot) and was stuck there, so incredibly ANGRY and HOPELESS, for almost 2 years…and I never once blamed it on my sweet smiley baby boy. Tender mercy, for sure.
So, yes, infertility is a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE thing. My heart weeps for those who have to go through it. Just remember, there is always another side to the story and if people don’t know your story, and even some that do, if they haven’t lived it themselves they can not truly understand the pain you go through.
I’m so happy for your wives strength to fight for what you wanted and that you have been able to have children. What an incredible answer to prayers.
I have posted before about being told I would never have children, and then finally married in my late 20’s and had 3 children in less than 3 years.
My second child was only 6 months old when I got pregnant again, and my milk dried up. He was a huge baby at 6 months, 23 pounds. Then he started with severe ear infections, and couldn’t keep down any medications. We discovered there was almost nothing he could drink or eat (goats milk was the only thing he could tolerate), and he stopped growing, even his head, and didn’t gain any weight until he was a year old, thankfully he was already big. Because of the ear infections, he couldn’t hear and couldn’t speak. He acted out with so much frustration and anger. I was pregnant during all this, and I was so angry to be pregnant because of what the pregnancy was doing to my little boy.
When my 3rd child was born, another son, he couldn’t nurse, my milk was like poison to him the doctors said. I remember thinking I shouldn’t be surprised, I had been so angry to be carrying him the whole pregnancy. The nurses gave him donated milk, and would have me try to nurse him once in awhile. After I had cried and prayed for forgiveness for my anger, finally he was able to nurse and not get sick.
My biggest problem I believe was an inability to connect with the child I was carrying, I was so invested in the child I was holding.
After he was born, I went through early menopause at 30. When I was 40, I was given an incredible gift, I had another daughter without knowing I was pregnant until I was almost 6 months pregnant.
My oldest son I had to put in speech therapy, and he has always had anger issues, even after years of counseling, yet he is the sweetest and most patient father with his own children.
To the writer of this piece, thank you so much for you thoughtful words. I read them through tears. Our babies came to us through a donor (my husband had testicular cancer and there were serious complications that resulted from treatment to cure that cancer). It was a long 12 year battle for us with 7 miscarriages but we have three beautiful children together and I would not trade a single thing we went through to get here.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am 35 and my husband and I have not been able to have children.
With that said I would like to add that it is a feeling of great loss. The feeling is similar to loosing a love one, maybe even losing a child. I know someone is going to disagree with me, that I don’t know what it is like to loose a child and they are right. I don’t and I couldn’t imagine the pain that they would feel.
The feelings I am struggling with I associate with loosing a child, a child I never got a chance to carry or hold. A child I never got the chance to Love and cherish. Not being able to share my life with a child is becoming more and more unbearable for me. I have always had a great desire to have a child, my lose is for a child I never had.
So for those that ask when you are going to have a child please consider that this is a deeply personal question and might not be a good Idea to ask. This question has brought me to tears many times.
those that complain about the money, loss of sleep, and the hard work it takes to raise a child. remember that they are a blessing, and worth every ounce of work, loss of sleep and money.
Though I have never experienced the pain of infertility I feel very deeply for couples who struggle so with it. My best friend (more of a sister really) and her husband have been trying for over 7 years to have a child. They both have fertility issues, ranging from a uterine septum to testicular failure. Many procedures and medications later they have yet to conceive. My heart aches for them, I pray that they will be able to have a child one day, whether it be biologically or through adoption.
Though I do have children, I have been on the receiving end of some insensitivity and ignorance myself. I was pulled aside and told that I (not my husband) was a big disappointment for not being able to produce a boy when I announced I was having my second daughter (never mind biology and how a child’s sex is determined!). I have also experienced the pain of miscarriage and the loss of someone I dearly loved and wanted with all of my heart. It was later said by a very insensitive person that they had no recollection of me miscarrying (a person who was there during that time and absolutely knew about it)and claimed that it never happened. That was very hurtful!
It seems that no one is immune to ignorance and insensitivity, regardless of their situation. I agree that more people need to learn to be more tactful and realize that some things are just very personal and not their business. There will always be people who will ask whatever they like and make insensitive and ignorant comments about very private matters. To those who have been called selfish or unrighteous or just plain wrong, remember: you know your own hearts and have learned to be sensitive to others through your own struggles and experiences. You don’t have to defend or explain yourselves to anyone unless you want to. It is OKAY to say “I’m sorry, but that is personal and I would rather not discuss it with you”.
We were infertile for 5 years (I didn’t ovulate and my hubby had varicocele). An operation and adoption later, we have three biological children. The worst “helpful” comment of all time? “You should just get a dog.” The best rebuttal I’ve heard? “There are two reasons couples don’t have children: either they d
As I was saying, my favorite rebuttal is “There are two reasons couples don’t have children: either they don’t want them or they can’t have them. And neither one is any of your da@n business.”
In our family the adopted child and our first bioloical child are just 8 months apart. This has opened up a whole new level of insensitive comments like “I guess once you relaxed, you could get pregnant.” Implying five years of intimacy in a war zone or something. I never brought up the surgery out of respect for my hubby’s private parts.
Before kids came along I always felt like an outsider at church. Enough so that when we came to church that first week with our adopted newborn a mother of 8 said; “Welcome to the club” and oh, how I was boiling with anger thinking “I KNEW it was a club!” Maybe it’s laziness with THE QUESTION or how parenting changes you, but I sure could have done without their “No infertile friends allowed” club.
I used to get asked that question a lot because we just have one living child. I say living child because our first child, our son, only lived for two weeks. There were a lot of people who would ask me that dreaded question. And the answer I gave that squelched the question from everyone around was this, “Isn’t it interesting how our society seems to feel like it’s appropriate to invade someone’s privacy by asking them a completely personal and private question and that person is not allowed to find it offensive?”
And then I would just look at them. And I would never answer their question.
Of course, on the flip side, I have to point this out: Outside of Utah/Mormon culture, if you have more than 2 kids, people start asking you questions about why you have so many. They want to know if you don’t believe in birth control, if you can afford them, if you don’t know when to stop, if you have too much fun with sex and don’t care about the consequences, if you’re just irresponsible, etc.
I think it is entirely APPROPRIATE to point out to someone how INAPPROPRIATE their question is.
When I was about 20 and still single, my oldest sister was in the hospital having just given birth to her 8th child the day before. It was Sunday and her husband didn’t want to deal with feeding all the kids, so he asked me to go with him to help with the kids at a restaurant. It was fun, and the kids were really behaving well. When we asked the waitress for the check, she said that an elderly couple had already paid for our meal. They were so impressed what a well-behaved brood of children we had!
When my sister came home from the hospital, her neighbors gave her a lecture about how she had no right to have so many children, how her children were polluting “their” air, and how irresponsible she was to have such a large family.
What a contrast in attitudes.
Thank you for writing this article. It really touched me. My husband and I have been married for almost ten years. He is a recent convert to the church but we have of course be asked for years when we were going to have children. I was diagnosed back in 2006 with Multiple Sclerosis and with all the problems and medications I had to take I was not even allowed to try to have children. Of course this didn’t stop people from asking us when we were having children. Seeing my brother’s, sister’s, and cousin’s popping out children left and right was so difficult. Even though you are happy for them it is difficult not to be sad for yourself.
In Oct 2009 the doctors told us that the MS has settled enough for us to try to start trying for a family of our own. Of course we were overjoyed but after 4 years of trying and 5 miscarriages the joy to emptiness and bitterness. I kept most of the pain inside and didn’t visit an OB/Gyn about my problems until my 5th miscarriage who was shocked and of course started all sorts of test. So far nothing is come back as wrong but they are concerns as I have immense undiagnosed abdominal pain that they cannot pinpoint. At this point I have been referred to General surgeon. Praying for the best and hoping it all works out.
My daughter in laws twin sister had the same problem. My daughter in law has no problem having babies. Her twin has MS. After many years, the twin went into remission and had two girls very close together. They are all healthy, but they decided not to try again and perhaps have the mother relapse.
I hope a miracle like hers will be in your future!
Thank you for sharing. I could feel my heart break with yours as I was reading this. I never stopped to realize HOW personal the Question is. Although I don’t ask it.
I’m so happy for your family and then saddened by those that don’t have such a positive outcome. I just pray that other people in a similar or more disparate situation can have peace in their hearts about it.
Hubby and I have been married over 18 years. We were never able to have children, and it was made very clear to us that adoption was not the route for us to follow. While the the phenomenon of people wanting to know if you have kids, when you’re going to have kids, why don’t you have kids, when will you stop having kids etc is pervasive throughout all societies, I think Mormon culture is a bit apart in that for so long we have heard or been taught (even though it’s not doctrinally correct) that the purpose of life is to procreate. When I was growing up, almost every YW lesson was tied into being a wife and mother. It’s not a far stretch to see how people’s self-worth, and value as part of the culture in the church, can be linked to those roles, and how anything else equates to feelings of worthlessness. When that is the mindset, infertility is a living paradox. If the purpose of life is to have a family (ie children) and you can’t, then what is the purpose of your existence?! (A whole lot, let me reassure you!) Throughout the trial of infertility, when you are already emotionally grieving, physically hurting, and spiritually crushed, you need to seek solace in the gospel and the Savior. It’s difficult to do that at church if you are hearing over the pulpit that the reason you are on this earth is to have children, that the Lord rewards obedience, unshakable faith, and righteous desire with longed-for blessings, or being taught in Sunday School that the purpose of the church is to sustain families (which are very clearly defined as having children), or being implicitly (or blatantly) chastised by others for not having children. It also makes it hard to come to peace with the idea that Heavenly Father has a different plan for you and your life, that is not the same as the one you anticipated, or “everyone” at church thinks is worthwhile and appropriate.
I was asked to speak in church this Mother’s Day, and initially said no (which I never do!). I come at that day from a completely different place than most people. I agreed to do so only after the counselor in our bishopric assured me that he was very clearly prompted to ask me, and that church members needed to hear another point of view than the usual. This dear brother, who now serves on our high council, is single, and gay, and knows exactly what it is like to live outside of the expected norm within Mormon culture. I have attached a link to that talk, rather than take the space here to say how very much the Lord loves each of us as individuals, and will bless us as individuals, with everything we need to accomplish what He needs and desires of us while we are on this big and beautiful Earth. For me and my husband, that does not include children. That makes our lives different, but no less fulfilling or worthwhile than they could or should be.
I turn 39 later this month. I’m writing the MCAT tomorrow. Within a year or two, I will either be a medical student, or enrolled as one of the first students in the soon to be, and only, Masters of Science in Dental Hygiene program in Canada. I am living my life with full trust in the Lord– even if it is not even remotely close to the life I imagined as a young bride almost two decades ago. But, it is the life that was meant for me, because I have a desire to serve, and am willing to listen to the Spirit, make changes in my thoughts and expectations, and then move forward in faith and act accordingly 🙂
Gotta get back to reviewing physics formulas…
Thank you for sharing your incredible story, I’m so happy for you that you ended up being happy. I enjoyed reading this, however your “Suggestions” divulge a little bit about your personality.
Particularly number 2. You said “don’t ever make statements that may make those with fertility issues feel excluded….” do you actually believe that most people are in the wrong because they express their happiness? you are taking offense when offense is not meant. You cant expect everyone to walk on eggshells all day long so that some people wont get offended. Getting butt hurt is your problem. get over yourself.
Suggestion number 1 you said “Don’t ask…It’s as personal as asking how often they make love” This is also completely false. asking weather or not you are going to have kids is not like asking when the last time you had sex. again, get over yourself.
This generation is getting more entitled as each day passes. this type of thinking is wrong and should be shunned. I’m just a nice guy hopeful for you to feel the joy of being a father/mother. don’t get butt hurt because i express my joy or ask you whats up.
I have a question for you. In all those times that someone asked weather or not your going to have kids. Were you ever completely honest with them? allowing suggestion 3 to happen. If i asked you if you were going to have kids and then you told me that it is a hard subject, i think you would be surprised at the thoughtfulness you would experience. so my suggestion to you and those like you. open up, its not a big deal, let us in to help you so that we can “cry with you”, and get over yourselves.
You are totally missing the point of this article and being a total jerk.I think you need to get over yourself. It is a personal question and you have no right to say otherwise. Especially if you have never experienced it yourself.
I think that the point of this article is that you never know what someone is going through and so you should be careful what you say. I do believe, however, that it goes both ways, and therefore it is not appropriate or careful or sensitive to make someone feel bad in any way for asking questions, whether you like the question or not. Yes, the suffering is very real, and certain questions may bring attention to it, but how do you know that the person asking the question isn’t suffering a different trial, and by pointing out what some have called “ignorance,” “insensitivity,” or “stupidity” you may be causing them a great deal of pain as well? Some people live in a world of pain and fear in social settings, they worry about everything they say, and this whole “putting them in their place” philosophy can just cause them to crumble inside. Everyone has different trials and different hidden pains, and if there is a call for compassion, it is from EVERYONE. I doubt that anyone asking those questions is intentionally trying to cause hurt – in fact the opposite, they are trying to connect, trying to be a part of your life, and if taken in that light, maybe it can be a little less painful for everyone involved.
If only that were true. Generally, people at church are NOT “trying to connect” or “trying to be a part of your life”. Instead, they are either looking for gossip fodder, or trying to keep up some social appearance, or trying to cover their own nervousness, or trying to fill some assignment, or trying to feel better about themselves because they struck up a “meaningful” conversation with someone at church, etc. Once they pick the last bit of meat from your bones, they leave you behind and look for the next carcass. This is also why most members find the spot of carpet directly in front of their feet of such interest when they pass you in the hall – no attempts at eye contact or even the most minimal effort at a superficial “hello”. Although there are some who are sincere, loving, and truly interested in their fellow members, there are far more who are simply adhering to the forms but denying the godliness thereof.
Thank you! It is such a complicated, and extremely personal question. There are many factors, most of which are out of our control. It is painful when the desire to have children is there but the result seems to hopeless. I agree, love those without children just as much as those with. I really hope people realize that it is like losing a loved one, month after month after month.
Thank you for this! We’ve experienced secondary infertility from both sides and it is a pain like no other. People truly don’t understand the impact of those little question or just how long the emotionalism pact lasts.
I agree whole-heartedly with everything said in this article.
At the same time, I want to point out what can happen on the other extreme. My wife and I have lived in a student branch for several years. A number of sisters in the branch are working on graduate degrees. We frequently hear comments like “I would never want to be just a mother,” or “I want to do more with my life than raise kids.”
I don’t think people realize how offensive those comments are. While justifying your own life you are simultaneously criticizing my wife’s. My wife could have done graduate work, she could have had a professional career. She didn’t. She chose not to. Members of the branch belittle the decision to be a parent, but my wife is unable to defend that decision because she knows that there is a couple in the branch who is struggling with fertility issues. Rather than hurt their feelings, my wife bears the belittlement of others.
Don’t cast judgment either way. Don’t criticize someone for not having kids, but don’t criticize the decision to have kids either. Let people make their own decisions without your moral judgments on what is right or wrong.
When I married in my late 20’s, I had been told for over a decade I could not have children. I was the highest paid female executive in the state of Utah when I married. All through my schooling I had been told I had the best math grades of anyone in the US, including when I became an accountant. I had grown up in the business world. I guest lectured at business graduate schools. I purchased my own home. I finally met a good man that was my total opposite, but as he put it we complemented and completed each other. We got married and I was pregnant within 6 weeks, we ended up with 4 children. I have always run my husband’s business, I take all the calls, schedule everything, do the accounting, answer any questions. I GET to stay at home. I was able to be room mother for all of my children, every year. I was on the PTA Board as Safety and Welfare Commissioner at all their schools, and on the City Wide Board. We now have 16 grandchildren, and our youngest child is getting married this week. I have been very blessed! My husband just gets to do all the work! I have truly had the best of both worlds. I have served in all the Auxiliaries but my favorite callings in the church are Nursery and Primary!
My husband and I went through almost the same thing. As I was reading your story I thought he should go off of testosterone. My husband was on it for four years until we went to our fertility doctor and he told him to get off it right away. Four year going to a doctor who didn’t know what he was doing. We still had to do IVF but when I look back on it I can tell what The Lord was doing for us.
The thing I got out of this blog post was that by sharing something so personal online, people will change and not ask dumb questions so other people won’t suffer hurt feelings as much as the author has. I feel sorry for the author thinking that way. Here’s two truths as to why:
(1) You can’t control or know what people are going to ask you, ever.
(2) You’ll always get questions you don’t like to hear.
Yes, we must teach our kids the difference between polite and impolite questions to ask of others BUT I think it’s more important to teach our kids not to take things personal if someone asks a bad question.
If we keep reminiscing how much a person’s question hurt our feelings, or wishing people will just say nice questions, we just keep setting ourselves up for more disappointment. I’ve been asked all kinds of dumb, rude, illegal, and/or ignorant questions in my personal and professional settings. Once I realized and accepted the reality of the situation (two truths I mentioned above), I stopped dwelling on how others should be more considerate with what they say or do and started focusing on not taking anything personal that people continue to say or do. I am much happier and liberated as a result.
PS “The 4 Agreements” is a great book that helped me a lot with this.
I skipped over reading most of these comments, but felt I needed to add something also. I also dealt with infertility after 3 kids. I knew Heavenly Father wanted that 4th child to come, but it all had to be in his timeline. I feel that I experienced that so that I could now deal with a teenager who wants to leave the church. Whether it’s infertility or just heartbreak from imperfect families, it’s still devastating to not have your family complete. I wish more people had censor buttons! Like you, I think kids are such a personal matter. Do you think I want my child to miss church? No! Do you think I want her to come back? Absolutely! Infertility is the only heartbreak I can compare this to. Thanks for your article. I’m glad I found it. The timing for me was impeccable.
Shanda- my brother went through the exact same thing with Asbergers, our bishop found out about another missionary opportunity and my brother ended up serving a two-year full time mission at the Family History center in SLC, they have many young missionaries with asbergers and other health issues that prevent them from serving in other capacities, there are apartments near temple square for them to live in, a great mission president with opportunities for leadership and everything. My brother loved it and was able to feel the blessings of serving The Lord as a full time missionary. Just something he might want to look in to.
Thanks for sharing. I understand completely. After seven years of infertility we adopted two boys and later got a little girl through IVF. Nineteen years married now and my youngest is 7. I just found out I am pregnant, completely natural. Total shock and surprise. We are thrilled.
People in the church who never experience infertility need to be less judgmental and compassionate. While going through infertility, we stopped attending church on Mother’s day for many years. It was way too painful and I couldn’t deal with the comments.
When my brother and sister in law were struggling with infertility, we were having 3 kids in 3 years, each 14 months apart. A kid a year, each year more tests for my brother and sister in law, more procedures, more pain and suffering. During my first pregnancy, I accidentally hurt one of them with a comment about how being pregnant was the hardest thing ever. Afterwards I tried for a long, long time to make amends for my insensitivity. I worried a lot about our (me and my husband’s) mere presence frustrating, annoying, or discouraging them. I read every book in my library about infertility, especially the “infertility memoir” type books. I tried very hard to be sensitive in my comments and questions. I listened and truly cared (and still do care), though I felt so on edge. I did not want to hurt them again.
After years of trying, and my awkward voyeuristic super sensitivity, they were able to successfully have a baby via IVF. And that strange barrier no longer exists in our relationship. I wonder – was it me? Did I create that weirdness? Or, was it just situational?
I want to be sensitive to my friends who have infertility. How can I, when I have three kids 3 and under running around all over the place all the time? This is a non facetious question. I would love for you to write a blog post on that topic. It would help me, and probably others, a lot. Is there a way for a fertile person to reach out in a normal, kind, loving way to their infertile friends/family – a way to avoid or reconcile the inherent awkwardness of, “you have what I dream of having,” and, “3 toddlers is difficult”?
Because it was family, and because of my personality, I just flat out told my SIL about my worries about offending them by my presence, or an inadvertently insensitive comment that I might make. It didn’t dissipate the awkwardness, though! That only went away after my niece was born! Why!??
This is a great question, and I think there could be an entire post about it. Because I haven’t faced every kind of situation that could contain infertility, I don’t feel qualified to answer it myself–but I will say this. I think infertility is one of the biggest struggles a person can face in this lifetime. I think there are other trials that are certainly worse, but this has to be up there at the top.
As such, I think ANY trial that is painful is better addressed with unrelenting love. No apologies for your own kids, but rather love for your sister-in-law and brother. Again, I can really only authoritatively speak for myself, but I felt no lasting envy or any kind of jealousy towards others with children (just the ones who didn’t seem to want them). And on an issue this privately, I only opened up to people who truly loved me.
When you truly love someone in this situation, you listen. You listen some more. You serve them. You thank them any time they open up to you and let them know it means a lot that they’d trust you with their deepest feelings. AT first they may just dip their feet in the water, kind of test out what kind of confidant you are–and when they see you keep their trust, and feel your compassion, they’ll wade a little deeper into the water and give you more of their insecurities. Sounds touchy-feely, but that’s because infertility involves the deepest human emotions a person can have and share with their spouse.
Don’t try to offer a fix, or tell them your theory as to why they don’t have kids, or assume they are jealous of yours. Just love them with everything you’ve got. Seriously.
And then there is the question of “When are you having another”. I havent had anyone outside the church ask, but there is certainly a cultural expectation that if you can have 1 you should obviously have 4 – or more.
My husband and I didn’t have any problems conceiving 2 little girls but I have issues that nearly resulted in my death after our second daughter was born. Even with knowing what happened, people still ask me when we are going to have another, but are “understanding” after I remind them that it is dangerous for me. As if that is a good enough excuse.
Making things worse, after many consultations with doctors and a lot of soul searching we decided to try for one more only to miscarry. And then the painful process of deciding if we were willing to risk it again started over. Enter more soul searching and a year of tryng with no luck. Fertility hadn’t ever been an issue, so compounded with a miscarriage those questions sting that much more. They have slowed down because my youngest is 5 now, but it still happens.
I know my situation isn’t anywhere near as extreme as others, but there have been times that I’ve felt some people were often more sensitive to those without any children and won’t ask The Question because fertility issues are automatically assumed.. At any rate, insensitivity is alive and well in all forms. I only wish I had the whit of others on this thread in my responses.
Thank you so much for your reply. You bring up some other situations that again, can be addressed more tactfully. I can’t possibly imagine the pain a miscarriage would bring. We had a miscarriage scare 6 months into our 1st pregnancy and I was freaking out.
What a great article to educate us all on how hurtful comments can be when we are experiencing pain and mourning the life we planned on having for what is now our reality. The responses I have read show that it is something that needs to be said and discussed. Thank you for sharing your story, there are many who have experienced a lot of the same.
We also had fertility problems not for as long as some but we went through years of tests to see why were weren’t able to conceive. Then years of trying to conceive with help of those trained medically to help, only to hear that our chances were close to zero of have children. We were told however that there was a new test that would tell us for sure if fertilization was even possible. Still hopeful we were waiting for our tax return to pay for the test. (No one has mentioned the financial burden that comes from infertility treatments and testing, but we experienced it) We heard many comments close to the same mentioned. While waiting for money for the test, we discovered we were pregnant! Then instead of “Aren’t you going to have children” or “You do know how babies are made don’t you” We heard “See, you just needed to relax and stop worrying to let nature takes its course.” or “What took you so long” It didn’t matter at what stage, comments were made and questions asked that hurt. After our sweet daughter was born two years later we were thrilled to be blessed with our son. (Yes, children are a blessing, but that doesn’t mean if you aren’t able or if now isn’t the time for you to have children, that you aren’t also blessed in other ways) It has taken me many years to learn that.
Then came 7 more years of infertility. All the time hoping that we would be able to have more, but also loving and enjoying the two we did have. Then we heard “You have one of each, you should be happy with that.” Comments hurt when made by church members or family. When my son was 7 years old, we decided to take in foster children. Which some questioned the how wise that decision was. We ended up adopting our first placement, our daughter, who was 6 when her adoption went through and then feeling like there was a son out there for us, our next placement was a 3 yr old boy who we were able to adopt when he was 5 yrs. There was heartache involved in that, at the same time hoping that the courts wouldn’t see fit to send them back to their REAL parents, knowing what environment they had come from but also knowing the pain their mom’s must be experiencing in losing their children. A roller coaster of hopes and disappointments again. We feel they were meant to be part of our family but came to us in a way we would never have thought of years before when we were struggling (I’ve also heard the statement of not being their REAL mom. We went through many years after that struggling to help them with their special needs, but having the blessing of some of that burden being shared by many in our ward. One woman who wasn’t married and didn’t have children of her own, mothering our my son and helping him succeed in cub scouts. I still feel such gratitude for those loving people for helping instead of complaining of the problems those special needs brought to the ward.
I have read here of so many painful experiences and thoughtless comments that have been said. They are all comments made by ignorant people who at the time aren’t able to understand that there are reasons for why our lives aren’t mirroring theirs. Those of us who have experienced the heartache, understand and know to treat others more gently. When we are in pain, I don’t think it matters that in our heads we know that they don’t realize how painful their comments are and of course we shouldn’t judge them based on their comments and no, we can’t change those making the painful comments. Knowing all that doesn’t take away the sting and painful jolt to hearts that are already aching.
Now after sharing the joys and struggles we have gone through, that many of you have also experienced.
There is one area that hasn’t been mentioned that has helped me even now, years after those painful years of infertility. That is *God’s timing* and plan for each of us. I was reminded of this through many blessings given to me during those those years, but it didn’t sink in until many, many years later when I was reminded again, this time the reminder came from my daughter.
After sharing with her how difficult those years had been for me, my wise daughter reminded me of God’s timing and plan for each of us. She said, “mom, don’t you see that if I had been born during those years, instead of when I was I wouldn’t have had the friends I have had that helped me in difficult times, I wouldn’t have been there to help those I have helped. She went on to tell me she wouldn’t have had the same timetable to meet and marry the man God wanted her to marry. I know there have been many times that God’s timing and my own disagreed. Knowing this doesn’t erase the pain I experienced at the time, but it does remind me that God does have a timetable for each of us. Heavenly Father loves us and He does have a plan for our lives and if we have children, a plan for their lives as well. I guess the biggest struggle at least for me, is that of aligning my will with God’s will. My daughters words put all my heartache I went through at the time and gave me new perspective. God’s timing, I now see years later was also in play as we fostered and adopted our youngest two.The timing had to be right for them to be in our home when they were placed there. Then we were in a ward that was understanding of their needs and supportive to us at that difficult time and that special lady was there to help my son feel success during his cub scout years.
I want to send love to all those who are hurting, who have been hurt from thoughtless comments and questions. Know that you are not alone even though you might be feeling alone. Heavenly Father is always there and our Savior knows our heartache and pain we are experiencing because He has also experienced it so He can help us through our painful times and share our joy in our joyful times.
My oldest two grandsons are special needs, and I have been so grateful over the years for the wonderful loving Primary, and now Young Men leaders that are so thoughtful and always include them in outings and events. My oldest grandson went on a Handcart Trek last month, and just returned this week from a High Adventure event. He had at first not wanted to go on the High Adventure, but after the Handcart Trek, he felt more comfortable with the young men and the YM leaders, and decided to go. He had a wonderful experience! The next oldest grandson was just barely too young to be able to go this time, but he is eager to go soon!
The absolute worst…”Sounds like God didn’t intend for you to have any children.” And that was not only from LDS and non-LDS people, but from within my own family!!! It was so stupid to me – like if your appendix blows up nobody says, “Well, looks like God intends for you to die.” No, they expect you to go get medical treatment and get help for your physical ailment. I don’t understand why people think infertility should have no medical intervention whatsoever. The second worst is “You should just adopt.” Like there’s an adoption store where I could just go and pick up a baby whenever I wanted. Nobody cared about the tens of thousands of dollars or the extremely long waits involved with adopting. Just that I shouldn’t spend any money on IVF because it interfered with what “God wanted” (and I LOVED how they were the experts on what God wanted!!!) My infertility doctor worked out of a Catholic hospital. They really hated what he was doing, but said/did nothing because he brought in so much money to the facility.
Good grief. What kind of response or feelings did they think you were going to feel after hearing “God doesn’t want you to have children”? Oh, that’s right… people who say those things aren’t thinking. Never mind. Silly question.
You know, I’d love to adopt–even still. I think adoption is one of the most noble and wonderful things a couple can do. Like I said in another comment, about 20% of my wife’s cousins are adopted. But you are right, there is a huge financial barrier–and it’s unfortunate, especially when you hear of overcrowded orphanages in other parts of the world with children not getting enough love because of the red tape (and bribes) required for a US citizen to adopt.
When we thought the problems were only mine, we looked into using a sperm donor, because it was something like 1,000 for a sperm donor, 15-25K for adoption, and somewhere in the middle for some invasive procedure where they would operate on me to find out if there was a blockage, or if there were pockets of live sperm they could extract. We only had money for the first.
But your comment goes to show that there are awfully ignorant people in this world.
I agree with you though…it’s amazing how many God’s-will experts there are.
Thanks for replying!
Thank you for posting this. Both my husband and I have been going through similar experience. We married late but we knew that it would be very difficult to have children due to my condition. But we are both stubborn. We were blessed with a son after 3 years naturally. The doctors were shocked. Unfortunately he was not able to come home with us due to his heart condition. Before that and then afterwards we were constantly asked if we had children and when would we have them. Even after losing our son this question was often posed. It was very difficult at first to be kind and not make a rude remark or make a joke.
We have always told people that it was me to save my husband the embarrassment. So thank you for posting this. More people need to realize that having children is not easy and the cost of paying for the treatment is not easy either. Adopting maybe wonderful for some people but for my husband it is a difficult choice to face.
We have been blessed now with 2 children through the help of some wonderful fertility doctors. Even though only two out three of our children were able to come home healthy and well. We have been blessed with Three wonderful children.
Thank you again.
Thank you so much for your reply! I can’t imagine what it must have been to go through–and I just want you to know I appreciate you opening up about your own experiences. My wife, on her own (and another area where I give her mad props) actually told some people she was having issues because she knew it was very embarrassing for me.
One time I got incredibly sick on a work trip because of a fertility-related medication I was on, and had to fly home early. My co-worker–a good friend of mine–somehow found out it was fertility drug related, and talked to his wife about it, his wife told him, “but I thought it was (my wife) who had fertility issues?” So there was some confusion as far as that went, but I appreciated the gesture from my wife, as I’m sure your husband appreciated yours.
Thanks again for commenting!
If you are ‘old and of the non-married folk’ and non-LDS in Utah County….. you also are gay.
My husband and I have found ourselves in a strange, lonely “no man’s land” situation when it comes to the issue of infertility. We were blessed with a baby boy after about 2 years of marriage, but when he was born we found out that he had a very rare genetic syndrome which affects his hearing and also caused physical anomalies which will require several surgeries to correct. We found out that our future children will have a 50/50 chance of getting this syndrome, and that the syndrome is often a lot more severe than what our first child presented with. We were then presented with an option of undergoing IVF with pre-implantation diagnosis for our future children, where they can eliminate the gene that causes the syndrome and then implant the non-affected sperm, thereby eliminating the chance of passing the syndrome to our other children. Even though we don’t have fertility issues, we have to go through this very costly (even more with the added tests/procedures) and emotional experience.
I definitely have a greater appreciation and understanding of what couples go through who have fertility issues. I love the church and I love and agree with its principles and doctrines, but after going through this, I can see now how people who struggle with having children are so brave when they go to church and have to listen to all of the lessons and talks and conversations which are centered on “the family.” How painful that must be for them!
Having said all of that, I think that this definitely goes both ways, and that the concept of “be careful of what you say” applies to many different situations, whether in the church or outside the church. We don’t really fit in with the couples who are struggling to have children–sometimes I feel that we’re judged as being “infertile wannabes”–that sounds horrible, I know. But we also don’t fit in with the “normal” (what is normal?) people who can have kids whenever they want and not have to worry about their kid being born with extra fingers or no eyes or having a million other problems. IMO, it’s just best not to judge and we all should strive to accept and love everyone around us, and to be sensitive to others and their situations.
Absolutely. Great comment.
Reading through this story and many of the comments struck my heart very deeply. Not just on infertility, over fertilility, adoption, IVF, but all together how family is viewed.
I may not understand the feeling of knowing that getting pregnant and bearing children will be an emotional capsize at best, but i do know about the pain of being treated as if my family structure orggod gave me my family is less than anothers.
Turning 22 last week, most people are shocked to find that i have 4 children, my husband and I came into our marriage with two each and more grief on our hearts and those of our children really needed. When the topic comes up to how at 22 I have a 7 year old, it is not uncommon for comments and questions concerning my love for any of my children. Being chided for caring for the two that god blessed me with by alternative means “youknow you can never really be their mom” by people who are almost strangers to me.
It’s difficult to say that family should be personal because most of the time we are so proud of our loved ones, but the dynamic at which one’s famiky operates is a delicate matter and should be treated with the same delicacy as old parchment.
Thank you for sharing your struggles from within and out of the home that ultimately brought your family to you.
I definitely agree with most of this article, it is insensitive/inappropriate to ask any invasive or personal question. But to talk about the love my child brings to my life is not innaprpriate, it is real. I shouldn’t have to hold that back because there might be somebody who has struggled with having a child. Just like you shouldn’t have to hold back sharing that story of your great dad just because somebody may have had an abusive or absent father, or talking about your Masters Degree just because somebody in the room might not be very academic. We should always be happy for others successes/gains, and always be sensitive to or keep out of people’s struggles and pain.
Josh, I’m not saying you should hold back.
My saying it hurt or made me feel a little envious to hear those kinds of things doesn’t mean the people should stop saying them–nor did I ever suggest I was RIGHT to feel that way. I’m just being honest. When someone says they feel that God showed their love for them by sending them 3 beautiful children, I couldn’t help but ask myself “Why doesn’t God love me that much then?” Again, not saying it’s right, that’s just what came to mind.
Yes, I believe people should stop asking about other’s plans for procreation, but I don’t think people should EVER stop professing their love for their children. And that’s not a point of this article.
The point of the article is to show that infertility is more painful than people realize, and asking prying questions can rip open some awfully sensitive woulds.
Thanks for the reply, I do understand what you’re saying, and do agree that my gripe was not the main point of your article 🙂 I will be sharing this article though, thanks!
I love this post! I am not married, and don’t have kids, and don’t know when or even if that time will come along but I love everything you have to say! And I don’t think you are being rude or insensitive to be honest with your feelings about how others comments sometimes brings up painful feelings. It’s just like when you’ve lost a close loved one I would imagine. Different, but still both situations have the ability to remind you of what you feel is missing. I definitely think people are way too nosy without realizing it! And we can all learn to be more sensititve! Especially concerning this topic!
This reminds me of how sensitive the question is to newlyweds of “so how’s married life?” If you have a crummy marriage and are talking about divorce this is also the dreaded death question. Taken from my personal experience.
Several commenters have indicated a feeling of being left out by the other women at church because of not having children. I feel for you.
Including others has always been important to me, because I spent so much time on the outside, when I was younger.
This is a lot easier with other mothers because children seem to create a lot of automatic common ground. They are open to talking about the miseries of potty training, appreciate bandying over little childish comments, and basically otherwise spend the majority of their day engaged in the wonderful but often mundane work of watching children grow. And the kids can keep each other busy, giving us space to actually talk.
Reaching out without that common ground has often proven difficult. Many women without children that I have reached out to have given the frequent impression that they find the presence of my children a nuisance and my topics of conversation boring. Spending 90% of my time engaged in the world of toddlers kind of leaves my brain in a rut… And having to dump my children somewhere in order to get together obviously limits the socializing opportunities.
There have been women that have been easy to, despite the differences in situation. Here’s what makes it easier for us to connect with you:
1) let us know that you like our kids. This doesn’t mean you are obligated to babysit them, but it helps to know that you can put up with their interruptions and general background presence.
2) offer other possible sources of common ground. We have kids on the brain all day, which can narrow our creative focus, but that doesn’t mean kids are our only interests. It can just be hard for us to think of anything else sometimes, after worrying about nothing but them all day.
3) when we try to strike up a conversation, PLEASE help out with topic choice. Same reasons as #2; we just have kids on the brain all the time. Can’t help it. But we recognize that their are other worthy topics as well. We are talking to you because we want to be friends, not just to shove our child’s latest doing down your throat.
Do any women who have felt left out have specific suggestions for what the women with children can do to better include you? They would be much appreciated!
Thank you for a spot on, well written post. Your story has a lot of similarities ours. I’m glad you found that doctor at the U. I also found my miracle doctor after so many said it could not be done. We are still waiting for your happy ending. Our first pregnancy ended prematurely an or twin girls returned to Heavenly Father after only 10 short days with us. Other attempts have not been successful. Just yesterday we learned that our fourth attempt was unsuccessful. But we are not giving up yet. Your story has inspired me not to lose faith. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your story.
The hardest part for us going to church with infertility issues was when you would have all these young married girls in the women’s class who were upset and complaining to the other sisters because they were pregnant and didn’t want a baby right now. Here we were wanting a baby and couldn’t have one, and all these girls were getting married and whining because “I wanted a few more years of social life” or “I wanted to get to enjoy my marriage for a few more years” before having to deal with kids. Weak after weak of another girl or two or three that had gotten pregnant and acted as if now their life was ruined. There were a lot of young, married college students in our congregation, but still…
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was a lot more open about my problems with infertility because I just couldn’t handle THE QUESTION. We had a miracle along the way similar to yours where it was a matter of changing the medicine or going off a certain medicine to make the change necessary for that miracle. We had no idea when we were half-way through the foster care training that we had somehow gotten pregnant. Then with our second child we went through the U of U as well and he walked us through the process to get our second miracle.
Every time though I think of starting the process to try for a little girl, my heart just sinks again at the thought of starting the roller coaster again… Oh, the clomid, the injections, the process, etc. None of it sounds fun to start again.
Regardless, you expressed this challenge very eloquently. I only wish everyone could read this article to understand how devastating this challenge can be. I recall a friend who had similar problems being visit taught before she was able to get her first miracle. They had been “DINKs” for so long (Double-income, no children) that they had some nice furniture in their home, and their visiting teacher decided it was her duty to give a lesson regarding not waiting to have children for the sake of getting nice things, toys, etc. as she looked down at her beautiful leather couch as she spoke. This friend handled it very gracefully, whereas I would have given her a beautiful lecture of what it is really like. You know, the joys of when you start yelling at your spouse because of absolutely nothing and going from that to laughing hysterically because you realize you are yelling at him for nothing to when you to start sobbing because you just watched that whole thing happen and realize it’s because you are on CRAZY PILLS that all of that happened within 90 seconds. The same crazy pills that are supposed to make you get pregnant but make your hubby hate you so much because you are a special word that rhymes with “Witch”. And the whole time you wonder how that “Witchy” self is going to get intimate with the person who is quickly resenting you because he also forgets that you are on that CRAZY PILL.
And you hate to mention the monthly breakdown when you get to go “pee on a stick” to find out your fate and it just sends you into an emotional spiral for a few days.
Oh, and the time that you find out that your sibling is about to deliver her 6th baby and she only had 3 or 4 kids when the whole process began for you.
Or, the time that same sister after trying for two months for her 5th child has the audacity to say that she now “understands exactly what you have been going through” when it comes to infertility because of her one month of getting a negative test with that dreaded stick.
Anyway, your 3rd suggestion of what to do is Spot On! Love them with everything you’ve got, cheer them on through the painful testing, through the negative test results, through the days, months and years of watching others around them get to have children. Hugging them when you catch them staring dreamlessly at that tiny newborn sitting next to them during relief society. Never comparing your situation to their hopeless situation because it is never going to feel the same in their seemingly empty heart. Not telling someone that they don’t have enough faith in God’s timing for them because they are going through infertility or considering adoption.
I could go on… Thank you for sharing that bit from your very personal trial. Everyone should read this. It is often a silent struggle.
I loved this reply. Thank you so much for sharing your story, as well as what it means to love someone. Your suggestions for how to love someone going through this silent struggle were applicable and beautiful.
I just wanted to thank you for this beautiful story. I find that it is not an uncommon one. I my self have been trying for 14 years with two husbands. I have had two stillbirths, two ectopic pregnancies and the saddest part 20 miscarriages. I have undergone IVF twice. I have had 4 surgeries to try and fix what is wrong. I have tried to get help from LDS social services to start a support group for infertility but as of yet have not been able to. I myself have not been to church on mothers or fathers day because I have gotten tired of hearing “Even though your not a mom(or my husband not a dad here is a gift anyway” yet I have gotten pregnant more times than they can comprehend. yet I keep trying because at this point it will happen sometime.
I can’t imagine the pain of a still birth or multiple miscarriages. I’m so sorry! Thank you so much for commenting, and I hope the very best for you.
I also have a zero sperm count and was told that I could never have kids. I can’t tell you how much hearing your story has helped me. I wish I could be in a place where I could feel like a whole man and I would love my story to have an ending like yours. It also helps to know that I am not alone. I have wanted to talk to others about what it means to be infertile but it isn’t like I can just walk up to a guy and ask if their man parts are totally up to snuff and if they are not. ..hey lets chat about that. Pretty lonely. Anyways thanks for risking and I think I am going to see if I can find that Doctor you saw and see if I can get a second opinion. Any help or suggestions you could give me would be appreciated.
The DR I saw was Dr Wayne Meikle–http://healthcare.utah.edu/fad/mddetail.php?physicianID=u0033497
The questions I’d have are if you’ve ever used Androgel or any kind of testosterone replacement therapy–if so, you could have the same issues I had. If not, it could be any number of things. But specialists like Dr Meikle who study male endocrinology, andrology, etc focus on male issues, while the VAST MAJORITY of fertility specialists focus on women’s fertility issues.
My “Free Roaming” testosterone has always been normal. I went and saw a specialist in Provo, Utah and had a Testicular Biopsy and the diagnosis was “Aspermatogenesis” a failure of the testicles. They said it could of been because of a “Trauma” to the testicles or the mumps or measles….which to the best of mine and my mothers knowledge I never had (and what young man has never experienced a little “Trauma” in that department…I think we all have taken a shot or two in that area for some reason or another.
My wife and I did end up going with a sperm donor and one of my son is climbing all over me as I type this. I couldn’t imagine loving another human being more than I love these two and I am convinced that I wouldn’t love them any more if they were biologically mine…but I still wonder what a little me might look like and act like. I am pretty sure with my condition that there is little or no hope of ever really ever seeing this come true but who knows….I might get lucky.
Also, the U of U has an andrology dept–If you can’t get in to see Dr Meikle right away, you may want to give them a call.
I really appreciated this article. My husband and I decided to wait one year before trying to have kids. That was followed by a year and a half of disappointment, month after month. Only a few people outside of our families knew we were trying.
I had some thyroid issues, but even after that was controlled, still no success. We eventually found out that my husband had very low sperm count. He did have some, but not much. We tried 6 months of different supplements, but they did very little to improve his counts. At that point, I was exhausted and worried that we would never have kids. Looking back I realize that a year and a half is such a small time compared to so many people struggling with infertility. My heart goes out to those struggling with this. It is heartbreaking.
To make a long story short, we went from considering IUI (even though they said it was a long shot), to thinking about micro IVF, to committing to full IVF. We made the decision very quickly, so I didn’t have weeks to anticipate it. It was very expensive, but we were blessed to have enough to allow us to do it. We were also very blessed that it worked the first time and I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with twins.
My husband and I are in our late 20’s, and have been married a bit over 3 years. We hadn’t received the “When are you going to have kids?” too often, which I am grateful for.
But now that I’m pregnant with twins, we get the “Do twins run in your family?” question all the time. I normally just say yes, because I do have some twins in my family. But it is really frustrating when I get the “Are they natural?” type questions. It’s not that I’m ashamed of doing IVF. On the contrary, I am extremely grateful that we live in a time when we have this technology available to us. And I feel so blessed that it was able to work for us. But going through infertility was one of the hardest things I’ve done. And I don’t really want to have those memories rehashed every time someone finds out I’m having twins. I want the focus to be on the precious babies about to join our family, not how I became pregnant with them. I’ve had a few people ask if we did fertility treatments, and one straight out said she was just being nosy. I was talking with one woman who I knew I’d never see again, and when she asked if they were natural I said, “We did fertility treatments.” Her response was “Did you have to, or did you do it because you wanted twins?” Um, WHAT?!
When I first announced my pregnancy, I didn’t want to tell people because it was still too fresh. Every time I brought it up I would get emotional. My husband has always been willing to be open about it. It’s taking me a bit longer to get to that point, but I think it’s getting easier. I agree that people should not ask questions like “When are you going to have kids?” and would like to add that they really should avoid asking how children are conceived as well.
Asking how they were conceived is just as personal.
Such a great story, and I just want to congratulate you on your twins and your new young family!
I wish you the very very best. (see that, two “verys”?–ok, it’s getting late… my jokes are getting stale 😉
Thanks again for commenting!
LOVED this post so much! So much thought put behind it and so relatable to someone who has also struggled with fertility. We were told early on that we would never have children naturally and that IVF was the only option (male factor infertility). We were successful and have beautiful twin girls. Another thing that was hard to hear, “Well I have a friend who did IVF (or adopted, etc…) and then they got pregnant on their own. So that could happen to you too!” Everyone’s story is so different that it isn’t fair to compare someone to someone else. So glad you guys overcame your hurdles and can share your story with others!
Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m so happy for your family, and you are right–everyone’s situation is different. Thanks again for commenting!
Douglas, thanks for your article, it was from the heart, well-written, and it addressed a few different issues. It brought a few tears to my eyes, and I am happy that you and your wife have persevered!
I related to this article in some ways. However, with me it is “when are you going to get married? Do you have kids?” The answer is: heck if I know, and no. Then I get “Don’t you want children?” To which I tell them I already have 600 children, I don’t need anymore (I teach music at an elementary school).
It’s not really that I have not wanted kids, it’s just the stars have not aligned and Gerard Butler has not asked me to marry him, yet…When I was in my late 20’s early 30’s I used to think about marriage and children a lot. Now I’m in my late 30’s and the thought of getting married and starting a family at this point in my life or even a few years from now makes me cringe. I would probably be pushing 60 before I finished getting them through college, if I can make it that long! I have also had some issues that could make starting a family complicated. So there is that possibility that even if me and Gerry Butler found our nuptial bliss, we would not be able to conceive.
It has taken me several years to come to be ok with the possibility of not having any progeny, but you can still feel the sting when one of those dreaded questions pop up. There is a feeling of isolation, between you and other people because you don’t belong to the “club,” for lack of better terminology, and that you are not doing your part in the world by procreating. Beating yourself up does not help. I feel that what I do in my life is important; I am doing my part in helping to raise human beings, hopefully teach them about something that is beautiful in our world, even though we do not share a blood tie.
Hopefully, I will get some credit for that when it counts? 🙂
I’ve often said that teaching is one of the most, if not THE most important job on the planet… Especially at an elementary school. And we all know from “Here Comes The Boom” how much your co-workers would fight (literally) to help you keep your job, in case funds were cut 😉
Someone very wise told me something that has had tremendous impact to me “Everyone is trying, no one is perfect”. It’s helped me to relax on my expectations of others–but most importantly, myself.
I remember when I was in my mid to late 20’s where I’d literally put “get married” on my new year’s resolutions! I still laugh at that…
But anyway, I just want to thank you for commenting, and I wish you the very best in getting linked up with Gerard Butler! 🙂
(BTW, the 300 version? Or the version since then?)
I really appreciated this article. We have 2 sons biologically and then after suffering with infertillity, we adopted 2 girls, 7 years later. I get the comment, “Wow, that is quite a gap. Is it a second marriage?”
I can relate with the pain of testimony meetings on blessing Sunday. Hearing the “I am so blessed” comments and feeling sad and guilty like I should just be grateful for the 2 I already had.
I also came to the conclusion tha comments made in ignorance were not made with malicious intent. That being said, I learned to avoid people that often said rude clueless things. They usually weren’t one time offenders. There were a few women with overwhelming broods that just bugged me. It was more about me at the time. They were given other challenges. After resolving my infertility through adoption , the pain went away. I can honestly say that I live my daughters as much as my sons. I am thankful for my journey because Heavenly Father knew the right plan for me. I wish I could tell my self back then during those 7 years of struggle to relax and enjoy life more because it will all work out as it should if you can find joy in your unique life’s journey.
It has made me more sensitive to others. The longer I live, I realize that no one escapes challenges and adversity. Those challenges and heartaches are often private. We really can’t judge, can we? We can just love more openly and be more forgiving to the blunders that will come.
Please search for Childless Mormons on Facebook if you are a woman struggling with infertility but have decided that children are not in the picture in this life. We have a great group from all over just waiting to give you the support you need while letting you know that Heavenly Father has other plans for us.
I get this question all the time due to having been married less than a year. My usual response is glaringly honest and probably uncomfortable for the questioner, “Well, I WAS pregnant, but it was an ectopic pregnancy and the resultant surgery to save my life took out part of my destroyed reproductive system. I guess my body hasn’t recovered yet.” It’s a conversation stopper, but I am honestly answering their own question. There’s no reason for me to be the only one who feels bad because of their naivité and insensitivity. Don’t ask if you aren’t prepared for every iteration of the answer.
Amen! This is a question that people shouldn’t ask, whether friends, family or strangers! Thank you for your story …you will never know how many people you have touched in sharing it and given hope for the difficulties they face!
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!
Thank you so much for your story. Infertility is a very difficult topic and if you are being asked a dozen times a week “when”, well, that just makes it a million times harder. I’ve been suffering for almost 10 yrs with no luck. Multiple doctors, medications, surgeries, etc. It’s also a difficult decision to decide whether to adopt. It doesn’t come overnight and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. I really wish people would be more accepting and sensitive to others. I’ve heard it all,and I’ve been through it all (just short of a hysterectomy) and they never get easier. Thank you again for a wonderful story and testimony of something so important and personal.
It really is a difficult topic, and can only be made moreso if people are constantly asking you the “when” question–or its more invasive cousin, “So… are you pregnant yet??”.
I’m sorry you have had to go through what you have. I hope and pray for your own miracle to arrive, no matter the means of delivery.
Thanks again for posting.
Thank you for your story and testimony of what God has done for you and your wife. The most important part of this story (for me) is that God ultimately gets the glory for the favor He has shown in your lives. Although you had to go through hell before you experienced this Joy, you’re still giving Him the glory. I am neither Mormon, Catholic or Baptist but one who is a saved woman of God. I live on a completely different end of the spectrum in that I’ve suffered the unfortunate fate of losing a child to cancer at the tender age of 22. Although this is the absolute worst thing in my opinion that I could ever experience, the journey that it forced my family to travel was a blessed one and it taught me more than I could’ve ever learned in this short life we live on this earth. In my dark moments in being angry at God and asking “why”, I found that it was not and never will be about me or us. The picture is much bigger and I knew from the very beginning (5 1/2 years from diagnosis to death) that He had an incredible purpose. I believe that He would NEVER as me to suffer so greatly without a purpose. My faith ended up being strong enough and continues to be what brings me through rough days. Because I’m now part of a group of angel moms that I never would’ve picked for myself, I now know that my testimony and transparency are very necessary. I know that I have to share both the good and the bad part of this journey with whoever will listen because someone is waiting for and needs my testimony. Not just mine but all of us who experience great pain, no matter what it is, someone needs to hear your story! Someone’s soul will be forever saved when you are willing to share your story as well as the intimate details. When my daughter was diagnosed with this horrible disease and the doctors told us that she would live for a maximum of 5yrs, I knew that every day from that day forward was a gift and we took advantage of that gift of time until she took her last breath. I had and still have very many dark days BUT its people like you who share your story that help to reaffirm on me of what’s truly important in this life and I know that I can go on, sharing hers and my story because God continues to bless me by doing so. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m glad to have come across and understood your pain but experience His Glory by reading your testimony. I trust God NO MATTER WHAT happens in my earthly life from here on out, because His Grace is more than sufficient for me and I’m more than thankful for His Mercy. God bless you and your beautiful family. Keep sharing your story and don’t forget to make your mess, your MESSage!
Thank you so much for posting!
When I originally wrote this, I wrote it with a local–and mostly LDS audience in mind. I included my location and religion so that other mormons could nod their head in understanding of the family-focused ( which sometimes means have kids as soon as you can) culture we belong to, which is a great thing, but the social pressures that result–which aren’t ALWAYS great things.
If I knew it would reach as far and wide as it has, I would have left that portion out for the most part, because I think regardless of religion or lack of religion, infertility is still an incredibly sensitive and private topic, and should be addressed accordingly.
I’ve known since I was 18 that barring a major medical miracle, I will never get pregnant and bare my own children. EVER. Tragically, it was 15 years before that when I knew I wanted to be a mother more than anything in the world.
At first, I thought, Oh, I have time- I’m only 18.. not even out of high school! I got married, and researched- adoption, surrogacy, fostering- all of it. But he couldn’t behave himself financially. We were never in a position to be able to do any of that. After 10 years because of other things, we divorced.
I was alone for 3 years.
I’m now remarried to a sweet wonderful man who has 4 children (25-15) of his own. He wants to have more children. I’m grateful for this.
But don’t ask when we’re having children- I’m 37, and he’s 51. Really, just don’t– I’m a master of sarcasm and I WILL MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE for even asking! 😉
I’ve been talking about your post to others the last couple of days. Then tonight I thought that maybe I should tell you why your story touched my life. I am looking on how to write you privately. Do you have an email or something I can share my story? Sorry I know its a weird question.
Jen – you can go to the contact us page and I will pass along the message to Douglas
Jen, you can write me directly at cdc1043 [at] gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you!
thank you for this post. i joined LDS church after my husband died of HIV/AIDS. We had a son who is hiv free. i sometimes feel discouraged when people keep on asking me those questions ‘aren’t you going to remarry? what are you waiting for and we have eligible men in the stake’. it so hard to get a man to love me the way I am and thats why I avoid relationships. people should understand that those questions really humiliate others. thank you.
At the risk of seeming insensitive to some infertile couples, it’s important that this fact be stated here for those who are considering their options (and who might not already know this):
The Church discourages using donor sperm:
“The Church strongly discourages in vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife.” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church 21.4.7)
This story touches close to my heart. Thank you for sharing.
One Sunday at church someone said this quote “Why do you choose to be jealous, when I choose to be kind?” I always get so jealous or judgmental on myself when I see others that get pregnant so easily when we’ve been trying for 3 years. I think the hardest for me is when I see teens get pregnant out of wedlock. But when I heard that quote it changed my perspective. Why do you choose to be jealous, when God chooses to be kind to others and bless them with a child. You may have this challenge, and others will have different challenges. But God loves us all equally.
Thank you for sharing your story, it’s really inspiring.
Thank you for sharing your story. It really helped me understand some of the things I may have said that hurt another. I will do better. 🙂
Agree 300%. Just wanted to say I got questions like this not only from our Church members. Other people did it too.
Hang in there…..you are alone. I know God has not overlooked us
Out of irritation for that question, I began bluntly detailing our infertility issues. That was worse. The responses to my answer went anywhere from “you just have to stop thinking about it…” to “if you have enough faith…” to any number of worse-than-the-initial-question responses. Oi. And I don’t even live anywhere near Utah.
This was a great post and reminder, Douglas. Thank you for it.
But, I have to give the biggest props to your byline. Best ever.
Thank you (and congratulations on your gifts!)
I do not have any fertility issues that I know of. My husband and I had one son 8 years ago and our marriage wasn`t going that well for a few years. We both were working a lot and raising that baby was stressful, so it was a mutual decision to hold off on the human multiplication for a while.
Meanwhile, I never felt the desire of being a mother again. I found it very intense to manage all of life`s demands and realized that I had to focus on my one “gift from God”.
So, when asked when the next one would come, I replied the truth: My children capacity has been reached. I was not made to mother multiple kids.
Now, our marriage is back where it needs to be, we are a happy family of 3 and occasionally a thought of doing it again crosses our minds. The clock is ticking, but I`ll be patient and wait until we both feel we are ready.
Interestingly enough, nobody has asked us when the next one will be coming for a good 2 years. Did I finally tire them of waiting?
While I agree that the struggles of fertility are difficult and personal, the basis of your argument is that everyone who asks about having children is wrong. With that, I do not agree. If we always have to not ask questions that might offend someone, how do we know what we are “allowed” to ask? The possibility of offending someone is always there, even when asking something with great concern. We can do our best, but cannot control who will take offense at what. What we can control is our own reaction to others questions that will come, and that is the lesson that should be taught. I was the recipient of questions about when I am going to have kids that came when I had just miscarried. This was an extremely sensitive subject for me, but those inquiries were not trying to be rude or insensitive. It brought up intense emotions but I never blamed the people for asking. It is American culture to not want advice from outside sources about our lives, but we must decrease our oversensitive natures toward others comments (both direct and indirect). Life is difficult for everyone with varying problems and sensitivities, but if we all learn to cope with misunderstandings and open up to the idea that people want to know about our life, without us having to disclose everything, less hurt will come from friendly inquiries or comments.
Tamsyn, I knew a woman once who has 6 children and she is a great mom. When people give her sidelong looks and ask her sarcastically if she knows how babies are made, she told me she replies, “Yeah, and I like it!”
Just a thought… 😉
Thanks for this. I had the same issue 2 years ago, 0 sperm count. It is devastating, and nothing is more frustrating than friends/family/strangers asking “SO when are you having kids?” It would just make me even more mad.
Just remember, God has a plan. We may not know what it is. Our struggles here were agreed on in the preexsistance.
This was my mantra for so long, so many times a day I still cry when I say it. After infertility treatments and then losing my ovaries much like this story in endometriosis so bad it was considered to be cancer. at 28 I had no kids, no ovaries, and in menopause. Awesome. And then and my rock bottom, literally could not go down any more, He brought a baby in my life. Remember His answers are no, yes, or not yet.I will never have biological children. But because of my struggles I know I am a better mother then I would’ve been at 18. (That comment is just for me) I was able to finish my degree and develop my skills in my profession. As a labor nurse I get to help others bring little miracles I’m the world every day. Because of my struggles I have a closer relationship with my Lord because without Him the bad could not have happened to make me appreciate what was good. If it not a child for you look at everything else. I will attest that this adopted child could not be more ours if she was biologically ours. I know nursing her helped that but it was attitude too. Good luck to you. And to everyone else going through this!
Thank you for writing this article! As a member it is hard to have people understand what you are going through. You put it very well!
Thank you for writing this. This hits home for me in a way that isn’t quite the same as my friends who have struggled with conceiving. After I got engaged (I, too, took the Late Start to The Track), this was one of the first questions I got asked. Eight months of engagement to go and THAT was someone’s question? Kids are a TERRIFYING prospect for me. Sure, I eventually want to TRY, but I’m well aware there are three doctors who have to agree with me that it’s OKAY to try (and not a single one of them is EVER going to say it’s a GOOD idea because of my health predilections) and that my future husband and I have to be ready, too. All of those people being ready at the same time? Unlikely. And eight months before my wedding even happens this is what someone asks, this is what they remind me I have to face. I’m not even TRYING and the question hurts.
I FULLY agree with your assertion that the culture has to change. This question has to stop being an option in casual conversation. If that’s something a person wants to talk about, they will. Trust me.
Hello my name is Jessie Shaffner am from united states I want to share a great testimony on this website on how great Dr.Dahiru help me in falling pregnant,me and my husband have been trying to have a baby for over 6 years,but they where no luck so we decided to contact the family doctor and after all the test have been done,he said to us that my fallopian tube is not functioning.then one day i was in the office when a friend of mine who have the same problem with me, fall pregnant after she contacted Dr.Dahiru .she directed me to him and when i contacted him through his email and he did the purification on the pregnancy spell and in 8weeks time i was feeling some how and i want to meet the family doctor who told me that i am pregnant.if you know that you have a similar problem like this and you want to be pregnant you can contact Dr.Dahiru via Email: email@example.com
Well written. =) I'm glad to hear that you and your wife were able to have the children you were wanting so much!
My husband and I totally understand your pain. We get asked that question a lot after being married 5 years with infertility. Thank you for writing this.
You could also have adopted a child, and make he’s/she’s life better….
Glad things worked out for your family despite the agony and struggles and costs of the entire process. Sadly, these types of questions can apply to parents of children who can't have children also – ie – How may grandkids do you have (?) or the ever present 'Why aren't you married?' question. Bad manners all around.
We weren't able to have children either due to marrying after we were 30 (20+ years ago). My personal comment to those who always asked the seemingly most important question of my lifetime was — "The kids decided to stay in heaven. They seem to be having more fun there than they would here, so they are waiting for us to get there instead". Or "It's too bad too, our pets don't work for tax deductions either." Most people chuckle at these types of comments. Often, laughter is the best medicine in these types of situtations.
I think it is good though if you are in a ward / stake where you plan to stay for a long time (or not) and are in a non-child bearing situation is just to let people know upfront you aren't medically able to have children—never been asked medically why not — they understand that well and everyone quits asking you the same question the next day. It has worked for us over the years. No matter where we stayed or moved to. I hope these responses helps those who may be in this situation.
Blessings to those of you who are / were blessed to have posterity and extra blessings to those of us who have to wait for the promised day. The day will come. Prepare yourself well for either occasion.
Thank you so much for writing this! It can be heartbreaking being an active mormon and having to deal with endometriosis and infertelity! Here in Europe, 'The – way to personal to ask-question' doenst pop up as frequently, bit it still hurt (like crazy) every time it did. I deal(t) with really bad endometriosis, the ' endo- diet' helped me tonns for pain and relief. Maybe it can help your wife or others reading this.
http://www.endo-resolved.com/emotions.html ( btw, I believe very much because of this diet, and with a little help from above;-) we are now pregnant with miracle baby nr. 3!!)
When my husband and i finally decided it was time we start having kids, we realized that it would not be easy. While we were ready in all other aspects, apparently time was not on our side. We tried for 3 years to get pregnant and have a baby. All the usual steps didn’t work and then my husband stumbled upon marvelspelltemple @ gmail. com and the fertility Spell through an internet search. Fortunately we live in the area and decided to meet with Dr. Muna. From our first meeting, it was clear that this was a professional and busy practice that provides results! Dr. Muna is very direct and informative and tells you exactly what is going on and what is recommended. Dr. Muna process as easy as possible. it still is a stressful time, but knowing that his fertility Spell is one of the best in the world and he knows exactly what he was doing, made it bearable. i became pregnant after 21 days of casting fertility spell!!! My husband and i were thrilled and really couldn’t believe it! Thanks to Dr. Muna we had our best Christmas gift ever and welcomed little Maribel on December 20th, 2017! Currently we are thinking about expanding our family with the help of Dr. Muna and giving Maribel a sibling!
Also, there is the question “Are you guys done?” After three kids, I didn’t want to be “done”. I always wanted and planned to have 4, but 4 never came due to fertility and other reasons. I am so incredibly blessed with my 3 children and my experience was not even close to the pain of others, but it was still weird to hear a “big mormon family” mom with children close in age ask, “So are you guys done?” Always awkward and stung a little…