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What to Tell Who Ask If You're a Mother

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

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

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

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

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Katie1979 Katie1979 7 years
We gals spend to much time having to have the right answer to make every one else feel better. Sometimes snarky and sarcastic feels good. Consider that a perscription for your own mental health.
Katie1979 Katie1979 7 years
OK so off the topic a bit, since this is a mommy vent site. After both my miscarriages, I was quite irritated with the emmediate response of other women rehashing their own stories, not just saying the to had been through it, but emotionally rehashing their experience (I promise I don't mean in the context we are all here, I mean right after when people would see me at church or work and I had to break the news.) I was bearing the burden of being fresh off a D&C and the last thing I wanted was to be burdened with every one elses tragedy. I was already crushed with my own.
Katie1979 Katie1979 7 years
I have great sympathy for you. After my first miscarriage I would cry every time I went to my eye doctor because it was in the hospital with the emergency room I went to. They had no sympathy for me even after I explained my tears. As for the are you a mom question, I think it is an area to cut yourself some slack and don't worry about trying to find the perfect answer or whether they are uncomfortable or not. Just explain it's a sensitive subject and you would appreciate their thoughts and prayers. I think during this journey you have the license to not have to be the "I've got it all together" gal or the "snappy answer" gal. My quandary has been, what do I say since after having two miscarriages what do I say? Do I say yes, I have two babies in Heaven? Do I keep them to myself? Sometimes there just isn't a good answer. If there is, I'm sure Hallmark has come up with a card to cover it. :) You are in my prayers sweetie.
cowboyplus cowboyplus 7 years
let me just say i don't have infertility struggles -- i have a beautiful baby and hope one is waiting for you! -- but there are some very painful things that people innocently ask me about. "it's not something i like to talk about" usually works for me with painful subjects. people get the point right away but it isn't rude... plus it saves us both the potential embarrassment of me crying in front of them.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
Oh, and I think "That must be hard for you, I hope it happens soon" is a great response if someone shares their infertility struggle :)
lawchick lawchick 7 years
snowy, I hope MY comment didn't come off as rude --- I genuinely understand that people don't usually mean to be rude when they ask those questions or say "quit trying for awhile" --- I'm glad we have this forum to discuss the issue objectively so people can learn what may be hurtful without having to say the wrong thing first!
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
I thought perhaps I should share...I am an ultrasound specialist. Many people look into my face for the answers while I scan them. It is virtually impossible to separate emotions from this particular exam. Rather than be all quiet and stoic--I spend a great deal of time showing patients what I see, even if it isn't a baby. I believe educating people empowers them. My infertility patients see me as one on their team--all working towards their goal. Many of my colleagues would disagree with my friendliness and openness with my patients BUT I know my patients value what I teach them. The physicians I work with consider me one of their assets. I educate and empower patients during a time when they often feel at the mercy of medical procedures, insurance companies and emotions. Having been in their shoes I really know what they are going through. When one of them names a baby after me I cannot express the overwhelming feeling of appreciation that I was a small part of their lives...and peering into their future...all on a small screen in a dark room.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
I wish all of you well. I celebrate with every patient of mine that becomes blessed. Blessings come in many forms. People cannot imagine the depth of pain and loss one feels when you lose a child or wait endlessly for one. I try to remind myself that the many well-meaning friends, family and strangers are simply clueless but it does not make it less painful. Ironically after we had our daughter, my husband had another sperm count done. One single healthy sperm. We resigned ourselves to the fact we'd been blessed with one beautiful and healthy daughter. I tell this story for a reason. My husband was almost 15 years older than me and had severe hypertension. (high blood pressure) Anyway---once they got his blood pressure under control...three years later....I discovered that I had been blessed once number two. My husband went in and had another sperm count done and it was astronomically high. There are SO many factors which influence fertility. This one is often overlooked. It is my reason for posting....aside from sharing the pain we all go through in the journey of infertility. With so many different factors to consider, physicians sometimes fail to create what I call a "treatment plan" or a "plan of action" which systematically goes from the most common issues all the way thru the oddities like my husband. Infertility treatment is exhausting and trying on relationships. I found that once I told those close to me that we were indeed trying and to please just send us prayers and happy thoughts instead of endless questions... life was a little less stressful. One cannot control those well-intentioned icky strangers. I guess I was a bit hostile toward them out of frustration. I'd feel guilty about it but somehow I just can't. I never gave up. I couldn't. Many people could not understand that and they never will. I encourage you to become your own health advocate. Educate yourself about infertility and then make a plan of action with your physician. Once I did that I felt a bit empowered over something I previously felt enslaved to...that process we must go thru of shots, pills and endless Dr visits. I remember cherishing the success stories...and the celebrations with each one of my patients who conceived. They were glimmers of hope during times when I felt all hope was lost. Because of this I shared mine. If my experiences both bad and good helps someone in some way then it was well worth the time to post. If I am overly wordy so I apologize. After reading my first post here I realized I sometimes lapse into a clinical writers I write in medical academia often. It can come across as unemotional and detached. Infertility is far from unemotional and it is impossible to become detached. I send you all glimmers of hope and best wishes. I will keep you all in my prayers.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 7 years
One middle-aged man I work with says "tick tock" every time he sees me. woooowwwwwwwwwww everytime tell his boss that is very rude. ok now i know that there is nothing good to say..... maybe just, oh, that must be really hard for you, i hope it happens soon? would that sound ok? i am getting to the age where im hearing more about infertility friends , cousins, etc i didnt realize the stop trying thing was so offensive. i have said that before as pregnancy happenned for my mom's cousin's wife (she wasnt so young) when they quit fertility stuff and contacted adoption people. i guess its just weird and surprising and thats why people want to share those stories but i should definitely think more about who im talking to and what they'd be comfortable hearing when speaking about these things.......thanks for sharing
lawchick lawchick 7 years
Elle, Good luck to you. Totally agree about the "quit trying" people - the last thing on earth I would do when I KNOW I have infertility and I'm in my 30s is stop trying! What if it doesn't "just happen" and then I'm 40 years old? Then it's really too late to just "start trying" again! Argh!!
lawchick lawchick 7 years
You too running :)
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Good luck to everyone trying ((()))
lawchick lawchick 7 years
Susan, I'm so sorry for your losses. We've been trying for about a year and a half (married for two and a half). I'm 31. On the third cycle of Clomid now. No pregnancy achievement thus far. Four friends know, but that's it and I intend to keep it that way for the forseeable future. So when people ask do you have children, I just say no. When they ask when are y'all going to have children, I usually just say who knows. One middle-aged man I work with says "tick tock" every time he sees me. I have thought about saying something, but it would be so awkward. My husband has suggested he call the guy and tell him to lay off, but I haven't ok'd that plan yet. If it's another year down the line, I'm sure I'll reach a boiling point and have to do/say something.
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
Cheekyredhead, I honestly wish your story was completely fabricated because that is horrible! And you are so right, unless you experienced fertility problems yourself, don't give out advice! My SIL had to rely on in vitro after trying for several years. She was the first to be married but her older sister and younger brother had kids before her, while she was the one desperate to be a mother. Her brother and I didn't plan on our dauther and I was only 22 when I got pregnant so that must have been really hard on her. People kept asking them when the kids are coming while it was pretty obvious that they didn't choose not to get pregnant...She is due in April and couldn't be happier right now. Thank God for fertility treatments!
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 7 years
As someone who has heard this question one too many times through my 3 miscarriages... I just say "Not yet, I will let you know." or if it is a stranger, a simple no suffices and go on with a new topic unrelated. But that's me.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
I think Shadow's sister did a fabulous job of deflecting that question. It took me 9 years to conceive. Being the eldest, last to marry and then last to have children I heard this question often. I also had judgemental people who chastised me for waiting in the first place. Some people never learn tact. Wearing baggy scrubs to work everyday--people also assumed I was pregnant and asked when I was due. I would say "When I get pregnant I'll let the whole world know" or "I am not pregnant--so I guess you are implying I am fat." Yes both of those retorts were kind of pointed--but dealing with pointed questions sometimes demands that. Honestly, if someone asks a stranger about something as personal as having offspring--and then offering unsolicited advice--maybe we need to get pointed and sharp. I would get so angry at well-intentioned people saying "It will happen if it is supposed to...when it is supposed to..." as if that somehow those words would give me solace. There is no comfort in those words. I wish they'd have said they'd keep me in their prayers or will send positive thoughts my way. Equally annoying was the "When you quit trying it will happen" crowd. They obviously have never been where we have. It is an emotional roller coaster--your life evolves around your biological clock. They have no concept that giving up requires more pain than they could possibly imagine. I did eventually conceive after we discovered my husband's Dr had lied to him about his sperm count. They gave him one shot of testosterone and I was knocked up within weeks. Apparently that Dr held the belief that "it only takes one sperm" and that telling my husband his count was low would injure his self esteem. Funny--that Dr cared little of mine. All the unnecessary tests and surgeries...that Dr ended up having to pay for because of his short-sighted views which essentially were so biased that they were essentially malpractice. All in all...having worked years in the infertility field myself as a medical professional...I believe in miracles. I see them every day. Hold onto that faith that your miracle will come. It does not always show up the way we thought it is such a marvelous miracle. Cherish each quiet moment. Once the kids do come there is little quiet to be had. Well...there you have it....more advice from a stranger.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I'm single and without any children, and people ask me if I'm a mom as well. Just remember they don't mean to hurt your feelings.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
We're trying too .. we've been married for almost 5 years and I keep hearing "WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN?" and I want to scream "WHEN I GET PREGNANT!" It's a rude question - intentionallly so or not - and I wish people wouldn't ask it.
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
Well, obviously people aren't trying to be rude when asking, and they probably felt even worse afterwards, then you did. I know I would feel like a horrible person if I made someone cry. Like Misssushi said (whom I almost always seem to agree with, btw), I would be pretty blunt about it, because otherwise people will ask follow up questions. Don't lose your faith, it will happen for you. Sometimes it just takes longer. Good luck to you!
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