Friday, April 17, 2009

Where I address the obvious...

Disclaimer: Where the word "you" is simply my way of addressing the general public, not you, my wonderful blog readers who are possibly the only YOU this doesn't apply to.

I realize that once your only child reaches the age of 3, it opens the door to a multitude of questions regarding plans for the “next one”. So, it doesn’t take me by surprise when I get that question from family, friends, mere acquaintances, and members of the general public. Do I seem unsure when I reply? Perhaps I am not sure how to respond to you. Despite that, people continue to question me, the inflection of their words implying that maybe I haven’t given thought to this matter at all. Is it possible that item didn’t pop up on my Outlook to-do list this month and I need a gentle nudge? Or maybe I am unaware that at best, my children will now be at least four years apart. It was helpful to have you around to assist with the math.

So, if I look like I am unsure of what to say to you, it is because I am. I don’t want to tell you about the last 18 months of medical nightmares. I don’t want to talk about the poking, the prodding, the tests, and the medication. I don’t want to explain that even though nothing serious appears to me wrong with me, things just don’t want to cooperate. I don’t want to explain that it is a big messy mixture of issues related to my reproductive system and issues that are not. Let’s just say that Blue Cross Blue Shield may throw a party if I ever were to switch medical insurers.

I don’t also want to tell you that despite all that, we did manage to get pregnant. I don’t want to tell you that we lost that pregnancy after 12 weeks of excitement and anticipation. I didn’t tell you about it when it happened and I really don’t feel like telling you about it now. I also don’t want to talk about how much more difficult that was than I ever could have fathomed.

I don’t want to tell you that it is difficult to manage the obligations that I have right now and I am a little gun shy after the havoc that has surrounded this particular topic for me. It sounds selfish, doesn’t it? Well, it is the truth. I don’t want to tell you that having a husband who is gone more than he is home is hard. There are days when I feel like it takes all that I’ve got to be the best mom that I can be to Kate. I don’t want to tell you that being a good mom is hard work and there are days that increasing that work scares me. I am a realist, but I know those are not the answers you are searching for when you ask.

But because you don’t know any of this, you still ask. And I still struggle with what to say to you, because I am not sure when it will happen. I am not sure if it will happen. I am not sure if it is something that could happen even if I were certain that I wanted it to happen. I am not certain when I’ll be certain. One thing I am certain of is that I am okay with whatever happens. But I don’t want to tell you that, because you won’t believe me and many of you will feel like you need to fix something, or will need to offer awkward words of encouragement or assistance. Some days, I stop and think that maybe God gave me Kate simply because she’s the only one I’ll get. So, if I am only going to get one chance, he was going to make sure I got the best of the best. I’m okay with that.

It isn’t because I don’t want you know (hello, I am writing about it on the WORLD WIDE WEB), I just don’t have it in me to go there and quite frankly, it bugs me. So, I’ve decided that I need to find an answer for when people ask this question. Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, stumbling over my words, and lacking the ability to say anything hasn’t really been all that effective. With that, here are my proposed responses:

“The crack was so hard to give up with the last pregnancy. I’m not sure that I can make that sacrifice again.”

“We can’t decide if we want a boy or a girl, so we are going to wait until we can make up our mind.”

“Oh, we already have another one. I just keep forgetting where I left him. Adjusting to two has been so hard.”

“I’m not sure how to make it happen, I seem to have forgotten. Do you have some instructions you could give me?”

“Kate turned out perfect and we just don’t want to “chance it” again.” (wink wink)

“The maternity line this season is so not me. I’m going to wait and see if they come up with anything better next year.”

“We can’t afford daycare for two. I’m waiting until Kate’s old enough to stay home and take care of the baby, so maybe when she is six.”

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Since I seem to get this question daily, having an arsenal of replies at my disposal would be rather helpful. And since we're friends and all, care to dwell on your shortcomings, and any uncertainties of your future? It’s really quite cathartic.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perfect post...I think we all have something like this in our lives, yet we still feel compelled to ask others because if we did not ask it might seem like we don't care, but if we cared, would we ask?

Mary said...

I find you wonderfully honest. I love the way that you use words. Thanks for sharing with the www. What a great way to say what you want (or don't want) and not worry about offending someone. Here's my pick for your reponse when asked -

"We can’t decide if we want a boy or a girl, so we are going to wait until we can make up our mind.”

Call Me Cate said...

Oh, Lyndsay... I get similar questions. We've been married ten years and have no children. What is WRONG with us? Don't I feel pathetic that my baby sister has a child and I don't? Am I just too selfish? Are we ever going to get around to it?

Right, it couldn't at all be that I'm terrified and have medical issues and other issues that I just don't want to broadcast. It must be something simple so please keep asking me about it! It's sure to make me feel better and more secure about the situation.

I've run out of good excuses and answers. In fact, I've run out of polite responses. I might borrow some of yours that are applicable.

You could also tell them you gave Kate the choice between a baby bro/sis or a goldfish and she chose a goldfish.

Rachel Cotterill said...

my parents used the one about how i was perfect. only problem was that they also said that to *me*!!

it bugs me a bit when people ask us when we're going to have kids. We haven't decided. I refuse to discuss it and tell people not to ask me until i've finished my doctorate...

Ann's Rants said...

Very poignant post. No easy answers, but I like the ones you've come up with.

The old shrug/smile but not with the eyes often sends a clear message.

C. Beth said...

This is a great post. I think I learned a little about shutting up and not asking so many questions, when we chose to wait several years to have kids. I got so tired of fending off well-meaning people who wanted us to start our families. Having a miscarriage and realizing how common that is, helped me understand too.

I like all of your answers. :)

Erin said...

Love it and I can relate easily! The last year has been nothing but a 'next baby' interview at every family event. At Christmas, my cousin (whom I see maybe twice a year!) asked me when the next one was coming, before she even said Merry Christmas!
My favorite response is: "As soon as I start liking the first one." It usually gets a good look of "Is she joking or not?"

Tiffany said...

I get tired of the questions too! My lil man is the same age as Kate and while we don't have the health issues that you have dealt with we just honestly don't know if two kids is right for us. But try to get our families to understand that!!!

MS said...

I'm so sorry to hear something like this has been bugging you. It can be really hard to respond to because most people mean well, but really....

If someone's particularly pushy and deserving, how about a response like "We're not sure. When are you going to lose that extra weight?" or something along those lines. A little snippy, sure, but it would get the job done.

Hang in there!

MS said...

Also, “Oh, we already have another one. I just keep forgetting where I left him. Adjusting to two has been so hard.”

YES!

Claire said...

Lyndsay, I am so sorry to hear about all of this. I really feel for you-secondary infertility is so much more common that people realize, and also so much less understood (you already had one baby, why can't you have another?) Well exhibit A: young couple gets pregnant accidentally after only 5 months of marriage (while on birth control!) and figures they must be super-fertile. Nope, here I am with my 4.5 daughter and that's it.

If having another child is truly what you want, I hope with all my heart that you and Craig are blessed with that. But having an only child isn't the worst thing in the world either, which is something I have come to grips with over the last few years. It's one of the last remaining "acceptable" stereotypes though, so prepare yourself for a lot more helpful comments from the general public. Most people cannot wrap their heads around the concept that we are okay with 1 child and enjoying our lives. My husband is gone a lot too (Army) and sometimes I truly couldn't imagine having another child to care for without him around and no family to help me.

Sorry to share so much of my personal story, just want to let you know that I understand, kind of.

PS. If people ask me if I have more kids, I always say that Laura is the youngest of 8.

Claire said...

Another popular saying is:

We don't need an heir and a spare.

Grand Pooba said...

After being married for 7 years and no kids yet, I get asked "So when are you going to have a kid?" ALL the time!

After trying to explain to so many people why we are waiting or coming up with some excuse. I now have a one word response to that question.

"tomorrow"

Grand Pooba said...

So I'm wanting to try some new wines. Any suggestions?

Marinka said...

Great post. Stumbled you.

I'm sorry that it's been so hard, and that people are so obtuse. I don't understand why people think it's their business, or right to know. By the way, what's your bank PIN?

Jeanne said...

How about "Well, we wanted to, but the judge issued an injunction"?

BTW -- I raised a single, perfect daughter, and I couldn't be happier with the results.

MarjnHomer said...

One could be: Oh, we're going to see if she's college material before birthing another one.

LOL or "OH, I didn't know you were baby sitting services for free by you asking me that question."

People are nasty no matter what. If you do the right thing or the wrong thing. People by nature are curious beings so feel that others need thier two cents brilliance.

Comedy Goddess said...

You have some great answers!

I am raising an only daughter. We have so much time for each other. It's great. I cannot imagine what our relationship would be like if I had another one, which I won't, too old and divorced. We are very happy!

Sherry D said...

Lyndsay:

I like Marinka's response. When (the ones who are KNOW are being rude) you are asked, just respond, "Glad you asked me a question. My turn. How much money do you make?" This, done with a smile, usually will shut them up. Then there are one who don't realize the pain these questions could bring, and often think they are just making conversation. To those I would respond something along the lines of, "You'll hear." Or perhaps a simple, "That's personal, and I'm not up to discussing that." Leave them a graceful response and they will get the hint it is not a good topic.

How's my girl? I had such a great time with her this week. xoxo

Sherry

The Gnu said...

you could say "we didn't even have the first one, we just grabbed her and ran!"

or a creepy answer: "i actually used to have 7. we haven't been grocery shopping for a year and a half! all we need is the tomato sauce"

or an aggro answer for when they say "why don't you have more children" you could say "i was terrified they would end up as stupid as you".

Annje said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing something so personal. I hate these questions, but your answers are great.

Chris said...

I have three girls and people ask me all the time if I'm going to try for a boy. I always reply, "I did, three times."

Mommy said...

I think older generations (boomers and up) don't realize how widespread infertility issues are. I've had more friends with fertility problems than "normal" friends and it is astounding to me. What are we doing to ourselves as a species????

I'm so sorry you struggle with this. I decided long ago to never ask anyone about children because you never know what they may be dealing with.

marg said...

From someone with NO children.....
"I'll forgive you for asking such a personal question if you'll forgive me for not answering it."