It’s a question often asked by well-meaning relatives or friends but if you’re struggling to conceive, you’re not ready for children or current circumstances prevent you from trying for a baby, being asked this question can be downright awkward, horribly frustrating and potentially heartbreaking.
If you’re finding yourself in this situation more and more, it can be helpful to think ahead about how you and your partner (if you have one) might respond. By considering what information you are willing to share with others and who you are happy to share this information with, you’re less likely to feel at sixes and sevens when people raise this topic with you.
And if you do find yourself put on the spot, humour can be a great form of defence. Along these lines, we did some asking around and here are some serious and not-so-serious responses our patients reported giving when they had been confronted with this question in the past:
We also asked these patients what they had found most helpful in terms of dealing with the emotions that these kinds of conversations can trigger. Here are some of their suggestions:
A common strategy for dealing with any stressful event is to put a time limit on how long you allow yourself to dwell or perseverate on what has happened. So, if you find yourself in this situation, set the timer on your phone for 5, 10 or 15 minutes – whatever you think is reasonable. But when the alarm goes off, do a Taylor Swift and commit to ‘shake it off’. If it helps, give your brain a physical cue to move on and think about something else: push the thoughts away with your hands, vigorously shake your head free of its thoughts, brush the load off your shoulders, dance off the negative vibes around the kitchen bench – then get on with your day.
Distraction is a wonderful way to quickly shift negative or unpleasant thoughts. Immerse yourself in a jigsaw puzzle, watch a movie, try a new recipe, read a book – the task can be joyful or meditative or intensely difficult. It just needs to take you out of the present and transport you to a different place for a little while. This will give you some time out from your thoughts and help you to focus your mind elsewhere.
Physically, emotions can leave us feeling uptight and strung out. Exercising is a great way to release some of the physical tension and reboot your energy. It also has the additional benefit of stimulating the release of feel-good endorphins, helping to lift your mood in a healthy way.
Or you may prefer to seek comfort in a creative outlet instead. If you like writing, keeping a journal can be a great way to process your feelings and document the ups and downs of your fertility journey. You could also use a journal to keep a list of questions you want to ask your doctor – questions that come to mind in the heat of the moment but you then forget when your thoughts and feelings settle down.
And last but not least, it can be helpful to remember that people who ask you about having a baby are likely to be well-meaning family or friends who have no intention of hurting your feelings. If you are comfortable doing so, you can use this opportunity to open up and talk to them about your experiences – whether it’s the pressure of trying to fall pregnant, the challenge of dealing with a miscarriage or the loneliness of going through the process by yourself. Talking about your journey and its emotional toll can give people a better understanding of what you are going through. As the old adage goes: a problem shared is a problem halved. Being asked this question might just be the best form of therapy.
If you are struggling to conceive and would like professional advice on the next best steps to take on your fertility journey, you can make an appointment with one of our fertility specialists by calling Newlife IVF on (03) 8080 8933. You can also book online via our appointments page.
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The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your healthcare professional for medical advice specific to you.