“I’d Love Another, But We Can’t Have Any More”

It’s turned out to be a bit of a conversation stopper, that.

Yet, somehow, despite the fact that it seems to drag infertility front and centre, I’ve found myself saying it more and more recently. Because, of course, it’s not uttering that statement that brings our infertility to the fore, it’s the never ending barrage of questions about whether, or when, we’re going to have another child, or even why we haven’t got on and done it already.

And every time someone asks that question, it reminds me of what I long for, but cannot have, and it breaks my heart just a little bit more.

Those questions won’t stop any time soon though. I know that now. For as long as I’m doing nursery runs, and preschool birthday parties with other mums of about my age, for as long as I’m of an age where I should, at least in theory, be well pre-menopausal, and for as long as I work with the well-meaning public who like to make “small talk”, people are going to keep asking me about our plans for more children.

I’ve had to find a way to deal with that which doesn’t involve suspiciously frequent trips to the loo and a good supply of waterproof mascara.

And honesty, as they say, is the best policy. It turns out that being honest about it is nothing like as hard as either going through the infertility experience, or putting up a pretence of all being well every time the subject is raised.

In fact, funnily enough, it’s actually helped. Just by bringing infertility out in to the open I feel better. Acknowledging it rather than hiding it means it’s no longer a dirty little secret that no one can possibly comprehend because they simply don’t know. And it allows me to raise it, and then move on, rather than all those questions leaving a simmering hurt and upset that eventually boils over.

It’s not my intention to make people feel uncomfortable or awkward, even though I recognise my words often do that. I see the look of panic flash across their eyes as what I’ve said sinks in and they flail to find something appropriate to say in return. (For the record “I’m sorry” or “That must be really tough” would be fine. Asking if we’ve tried IVF or considered adoption is like asking a dental hygienist if they know how to floss. And it’s a bit rude, not to mention inconsiderate. So yeah… Just. Stop.) But if I can make people think, then that has to be a good thing. If people can start to realise that these seemingly innocent questions can crush like a ton of bricks then that is great. If they can see that not everyone has the privilege of “choosing” the size of their family and that having an “only child” isn’t necessarily something that we wanted, nevermind it being selfish or lazy or all the other things people assume, then it will make me feel better. If I can make people realise that having one child is no guarantee of more to follow, then it’s worth a few seconds of squirming. In fact, if I can open people’s eyes to the fact that a family with only one child is a perfectly valid family, whether it was by choice or not, then we’d really be moving forwards.

But most of all, I’d like to hope that it will make people stop and think in future. And next time they meet a woman of child-bearing age, whether she already has children or not, they don’t pry in to her personal circumstances. Because really, the question of how many children you want, or are planning, to have, is not dinner table conversation.

It”s deeply personal. It can be a tough subject for so many people for a huge variety of reasons. And if I have to lob a few infertility grenades into conversations to get people to see that…well, so be it.

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3 Replies to ““I’d Love Another, But We Can’t Have Any More””

  1. I am always very careful with the question you have written about, for the reason that I am so aware the pain it can cause. We have friends that conceived their first child no problem, always assuming they would have a second. 9 years later and that hope is over, for many different reasons. She told me that a few times people had said “Oh, well, at least you have one” – and that would always make her instantly cry, she felt awful for sounding as though her one beloved child was not enough.

    Never assume anything when it comes to peoples personal lives, as usually none of us have a bloody clue whats going on behind the scenes.

    Cat

  2. Definitely to all of this! – “But most of all, I’d like to hope that it will make people stop and think in future. And next time they meet a woman of child-bearing age, whether she already has children or not, they don’t pry in to her personal circumstances. Because really, the question of how many children you want, or are planning, to have, is not dinner table conversation.”

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