It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Wishing for a Baby” who was feeling frustrated about not having yet gotten pregnant despite trying very hard. She wrote:
“My husband bugs me about coffee and what I eat. He brings up what we could do in the “nursery” and when it is acceptable for boys to start playing football. We moved to a house with a great school district and own a big house that should have kids in it. But I don’t want to talk about kids we don’t have or their hypothetical post-college football careers until we are pregnant. So then my husband thinks that I am not as invested as he is. But it makes me want to cry to talk about it. We are well-educated, upwardly mobile, well-traveled, loving, organic-food-buying people. We are just so sad. What can we do?”
Keep reading to see how she and her husband are doing now.
First, thanks for answering my letter. We are having such an emotional time with all of this. Your answer was thoughtful and caring and gave us some real ideas to help us with this. Second, I know people kept bringing up stress. I cannot imagine that my first world problems are enough stress to make me not get pregnant compared to the women who get pregnant in refugee camps, in war zones, in terrible home lives. My life is pretty charmed and that seems silly. Third, I just want to answer some of the comments about my husband. First, my husband’s and my response are both due to wanting this so badly. For people who haven’t been through this, you pee on an ovulation stick every day. You try for four days then sit and wait for almost two weeks and find out if it worked. That is when your mind starts to get to you. While we have spoken about his behavior, he still asks things like “Do you feel any different?” We can’t help it. While it is my body, all of my husband’s hopes and dreams for the future lie within it. The waiting and following disappointment are killer.
For every commenter that had a story or a book or a prayer for me, I really appreciate this and I read every single comment.
We had our first doctor’s appointment and she said that things sound fishy. We are both getting fertility testing and she has some ideas of what is the matter based on my medical history. The great thing is that we have a plan. We have a process and a path to be on. We also took Wendy’s advice and are starting to really take advantage of our time together. We are using Groupons and going to new and different events like the Rodeo, painting classes, independent movies, and a few plays. We also planned a trip to London and Paris next month (my husband wanted to go to countries with strong hospitals “just in case” so he hasn’t given up all his worrying). That way, while we wait we can talk about tours and hotels and what we want to experience rather than if we are pregnant every minute.
I know that comments by other people about our pregnancy are rude but they do happen. My brother is getting married this week and the whole family will have questions. Any one-liners anyone can think of? Like, “We will get around to it.” Or, “STFU, Grandma”?
Thank you so much for this. Your letter helped me reframe my problem and let me realize that a good plan is the best way to not be bogged down with the day to day. I might have a long road ahead of me but I am now feeling empowered.
Thank you for the update! I’m so glad to hear you’re making more of an effort to enjoy your one-on-one time with husband while you still can. A trip to Paris and London sounds wonderful! As for how to handle nosy people who ask you when you’re going to get pregnant, I’m sure readers will have some wonderful suggestions. I think a simple, “We’re working on it and we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have some happy news” should do the trick.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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camorzilla October 1, 2012, 1:19 pm
I love updates like this! Glad you have a plan that you are both happy with.
artsygirl October 1, 2012, 1:29 pm
Thanks for the update. People express stress in different ways so hopefully you will get everything worked out with the help of a doctor. Also, best of luck with the upcoming wedding. As a married woman of child bearing years your uterus suddenly becomes a communal object which can be openly discussed among everyone from family members to relative strangers. I had a family wedding this weekend and since my husband and I just got back from an anniversary trip to Cancun multiple members of my family not so subtly asked if I was knocked up or had tried to get knocked up on the vacation. You just have to be frank unfortunately – I replied with a “God I hope not since I spent the vacation eating raw fish and drinking massive amount of tequila which would not be conducive to fetal development’.
Anna October 1, 2012, 2:17 pm
I would LOVE to use that reply on my parents. It would shock them into silence. lol
artsygirl October 1, 2012, 2:33 pm
Feel free to take it. I am also a fan of “Nope not pregnant, why don’t we talk about your sex life now?”
MMcG October 1, 2012, 3:49 pm
I love this!!! I think this should be the standard response to all busy bodies… Turn it around and ask them invasive questions.
With strangers I also recommend pretending you don’t speak English, make up your own language and have fun with it 🙂
Anna October 1, 2012, 7:54 pm
I just got home from my parents’ house and they of course asked when I’m going to give them grandchildren, specifically grandsons!! Being that I’m currently single, I just pointed out that fact and asked if they would like me to be a single mother. They were quick to reply “No! No!” and shut up. lol
Riefer October 2, 2012, 4:49 pm
Tell them you’re doing it every night but maybe you’re doing it wrong… and then ask if they have any pointers. Of course this could backfire if they do!
Taylor October 1, 2012, 1:30 pm
I am a fan of “STFU nosy person”, but I suppose that’s inappropriate at a family wedding =) Good luck LW, I hope everything goes well for you and your husband.
Lindsay October 1, 2012, 2:03 pm
It’s good to have a plan. I will say that I don’t think it’s “silly” to suggest that stress can be a factor sometimes. Stress is relative. The body doesn’t know that your stress is less dramatic or life-threatening than someone else’s. All it knows is that you feel anxious and it will react accordingly. Also, everyone’s body is different, so some things might affect some women and not others.
ktfran October 1, 2012, 2:17 pm
I was trying to think of a way to say this and you said it a lot better than I would have. Some people get migraines, others can’t sleep. My stress manifests in my stomach and I lose weight I don’t need to lose. I think people were trying to be helpful and to completely dismiss it because someone hasn’t been through it, as far as you know – because some commenters may have – is a little mean spirited. Especially when so many people wished you well. I can easily imagine it being stressful or disheatening to check a stick every day to see if you’re pregnant when you very badly want a baby. I have friends who voice this to me and are going to doctor’s and just can’t seem to get pregnant. My heart aches for them.
I do wish you and your husband all the luck in your quest to become parents and I’m glad you are doing things that work for you.
kerrycontrary October 1, 2012, 2:41 pm
Totally agree. Stress can do crazy things to the body. And a lot of people don’t even realize how stressful a period of their life was until they look back on it months/years later.
Desiree October 1, 2012, 3:17 pm
I agree with you. I understand the LW was trying to put her situation in perspective to women across the globe, but that actually has no bearing on *her* body’s response to *her* life situation. I’m in medical school, so I get to see first hand (both in fellow students and in patients) what stress can do to the body. Female fertility is a particularly sensitive system, so I don’t think she should dismiss stress out of hand.
Brigitte October 2, 2012, 11:57 am
She didn’t dismiss stress out of hand- there’s actually fertility issues at play, and even if there wasn’t, being told to “just relax” or “think about something else” is really insulting, patronizing, and condescending, and it’s ok to acknowledge that. It’s once again putting the failure to get pregnant on her, making it her fault because she’s just not relaxing enough. Come on. It’s just one of these things people say when faced with a painful situation where they just don’t know what to say and where they should just shut the hell up. Instead they just say something that sounds innocuous but is actually rather loaded and rather mean.
kate B. October 1, 2012, 2:07 pm
I like STFU Grandma, but that’s not very friendly, is it?
Katia October 1, 2012, 2:07 pm
That’s good that your husband is supportive of the changes you made.
As a mom of 3 , (4 and under!) god do I wish I had done more of that (traveling and activities together) and strengthened our bond before procreating
At the wedding, Repeat their invasive question In a brisk calm neutral tone and change the subject (“am I pregnant? No, thanks for asking, what is that crepe thing over there?)
Kay October 1, 2012, 2:08 pm
“Second, I know people kept bringing up stress. I cannot imagine that my first world problems are enough stress to make me not get pregnant compared to the women who get pregnant in refugee camps, in war zones, in terrible home lives. My life is pretty charmed and that seems silly.”
It may seem silly, and you may want to keep things in perspective, but the fact is that it doesn’t matter who has it worse in the world: if there’s something weighing so heavily on your mind, then it will cause you stress. Those things that happen to other women are terrible, but it doesn’t directly effect you in the same way this situation does. The stress of wanting a child so badly is enough to probably effect you.
If the family has questions, you can just smile and say, “I’ll let you know,” then politely change the topic. Yes, people will ask, and it’s annoying, but it’s best to just smile and let it roll off.
haggith October 1, 2012, 2:21 pm
i know exactly what you mean! i’m 36 and i’ve been doing the ovulation test and nothing. i’m fine with that since i’m busy doing my phd and i have plenty of things on my plate. it’s my husband who is down, especially with 3 close couples have become pregnant almost simultaneously. we’ll have a check up to see what’s up with our fertility but meanwhile we’re trying to do stuff we won’t be able to do when/if a baby comes along. actually, i felt kind of relief to see i bought one more month! nevertheless, a baby is in our plans though i don’t mind not having one… oh well, let’s see. fortunately no relative is pushing for a niece/nephew/grandson/granddaughter etc… i guess they know me well not to do so 😀
Anna October 1, 2012, 2:31 pm
I think I can begin to understand the stress because I definitely want kids someday and I’ve always wondered if my birth control really just worked that well or if maybe there’s something wrong with me that I’ll never know about until I’m actually trying to get pregnant. The thought that comforts me is that I can become a mother either way. Worst case scenario, I would adopt a child who really needs a home. I know some people don’t see it as the same thing but I term “parent” as ” a loving authority figure who has your best interest in mind.” You don’t have to be related by blood to have that.
kerrycontrary October 1, 2012, 2:42 pm
Omg, I have that fear too!! I got on BC when I was a teen because my periods were irregular, but I’m always like “what if I had irregular periods because I have PCOS. and then I can’t get pregnant!”
LW October 1, 2012, 3:20 pm
That is actually what the doctor thinks I have. I was put on the pill quite young. She told me that knowing wouldn’t have changed a whole lot in my life. However, my thought was that we would have started trying sooner if we knew it was going to be hard up front. nothing is conclusive yet but based on my history, that is her guess.
AmyRenee October 1, 2012, 4:44 pm
I have PCOS and have 2 children that were “suprises” (using BC but not necessarily as carefully as we obviously should have), and I know many other women with PCOS that have conceived eventually with little to moderate medical intervention, so even if you DO have PCOS its not a completely closed door of “I can never get pregnant”.
If the doctor does suspect PCOS I would highly suggest seeing an endocrinologist or at least an OBGYN who specializes in it – I’ve had far better medical treatment when seeing an endo and a specialist OB than when I saw a general OB that didn’t really want to give me any treatment options other than BC.
I’d also recommend the group soulcysters.net as a great resource for women with PCOS – there are message boards where you can chat with other women who are also having trouble TTC due to PCOS, or just managing PCOS in general.
Good luck to you LW! And as far as the question “Are you planning to have kids?” Or “Are you pregnant?” The answer “Someday, we hope” usually gives people the hint that you are trying, without giving them a pile of medical history, etc
LW October 1, 2012, 5:14 pm
This is wonderful advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The doctor told me it was quite common and managable. But we have to wait for the bloodwork to make sure we know what we are talking about.
Riefer October 2, 2012, 4:52 pm
My sister has PCOS and got pregnant too. I’m sorry I don’t know the details, but they put her on medication and it helped. I’m sure you’re getting what you need from your doctor.
Kristen October 1, 2012, 4:48 pm
Kerry: I’ve never, ever had regular periods (I’m talking some cycles were 45 days, others 16) and I wondered for a long time if that was an indication of fertility problems. Apparently not, since I’m pregnant now! Just wanted to give you some reassurance that irregular periods don’t always mean you’ll have trouble conceiving 🙂
And LW, I’m so glad you updated! I’ve been thinking about you and hope you get your baby really soon.
katie October 1, 2012, 2:47 pm
i wish that more people would adopt… i know that this is probably a very un-popular opinion, and LW, it has nothing to do with you, but i wish that fertility treatments would be made illegal until every child without a family was adopted. i honestly do..
kerrycontrary October 1, 2012, 3:01 pm
Also an unpopular opinion…Because I’m not trying to have a baby yet, I guess I just can’t fathom how people spend all of their savings and sometimes all of their parents savings for fertility treatments/surrogates all so they can have a baby that is “their own.” But I guess when you want to have a baby the feeling is different….
katie October 1, 2012, 3:08 pm
yea, i agree. being a parent should just mean being a parent. genetics shouldnt play into that, because, as we know because of way too many sperm donors, shared DNA does not a parent make..
KP October 1, 2012, 5:11 pm
Adoption can cost thousands of dollars too. It’s not always an inexpensive alternative to parenthood. Especially when a lot of insurance plans will cover some forms of infertility treatments.
BecBoo84 October 1, 2012, 3:08 pm
I actually think making that comment on this thread is extremely thoughtless, plain and simple. If your comment had nothing to do with the LW, I’m not sure why you made it on the thread to her letter. I am a huge adoption advocate and am a foster parent in the state of Illinois, but this thread was not the time nor the place for that comment.
katie October 1, 2012, 3:10 pm
sorry it offended you.
i mentioned the LW because i dont want her to think that I think “bad people” use fertility treatments. i dont think it is a bad thing to use them, i just wish that adoption was much more available and was looked at as a viable option much more then it is.
BecBoo84 October 1, 2012, 3:22 pm
Saying that fertility treatments should be outlawed is not the way to make that point. And yes, I was offended by your thoughtless comment on behalf of all of the people I know who are going through fertility struggles. Thankfully, I am not one of them, but if I was, comments such as yours would probably make me cry.
katie October 1, 2012, 3:25 pm
well, sorry, but we are talking about alternative ways to become parents. i feel, given the multitude of children without homes all over the world, that adoption should be the number one option, and be made to be easier. once we are at a point that there are not as many homeless children, then artificial treatments should be used. thats my opinion.
Lindsay October 1, 2012, 3:44 pm
I know that having biological children is very, very important to a lot of people. (I have a set of quadruplet cousins now whom I love very much who resulted from fertility treatments) But I also feel awful for all the children who don’t have parents and who may not ever have them.
katie October 1, 2012, 3:58 pm
yea, i understand it too. and i get it- like i said, i dont think that people who use fertility treatments are bad by any stretch. i get it, i do. i guess i would, in a perfect world, just give precedence to already living, breathing children on earth.
and, i do wonder- what is it about the child being biologically yours? i dont have a particular urge to have children (at all? yet? i dunno), but i dont really think id care if its a bio kid or not. for women, i get that you carry the child, and that is a whole experience in itself. but what other driving factors are there? i remember asking my boyfriend if he would want to adopt a kid, and he had a huge, huge problem with a non-bio kid… which i just dont understand. its interesting to think about.
kerrycontrary October 1, 2012, 4:05 pm
I think there’s definitely some things to be appreciated about having your biological child. Like how your son could behave exactly like your father (I believe some personality aspects are nature not nurture), or that your daughter got your tennis ability, and your kid will be an adult who grows up to process things mentally like you do, etc…And maybe there’s some biological need to feel like we are continuing our family line. And the pride that you two people created a human being (a living breathing thing) out of absolutely nothing but your two bodies. I mean what else does our body produce that’s beautiful and lovely and smells delicious from birth? Nothing. That being said, I do think that people shouldn’t drive themselves crazy on this quest to have their own children either.
anonymous October 1, 2012, 4:58 pm
Babies do NOT always smell delicious — particularly right after birth
Eve Harrison October 1, 2012, 6:52 pm
Biologically it’s just about investing in something that can survive long enough to pass on your genes. That’s pretty much it. There are studies that conclude that step-parents are more likely to abuse step children, and more likely to provide step-children with fewer resources that biological parents with the same socio-economic background. [Obviously I’m not generalizing on all step-parents]. The point is, people like the idea of having someone “like them” [genetically] survive in this crazy-ass world.
Desiree October 1, 2012, 5:24 pm
I had very little desire to have biological children (had always planned on adopting) until I met my fiance. I love the idea of having children *with him*. We are still planning to adopt after having biological children, though, because we want to contribute in that way.
*HmC* October 1, 2012, 7:34 pm
I see where becboo is coming from… Katie, I think the logical disconnect in your comment is that the people who are actively trying to be parents by going through IVF should not be forced into the type of parenthood that you deem to be more appropriate, because those people are not the ones creating the lives that are overrunning the foster care system.
theattack October 2, 2012, 12:40 am
Katie, first of all, I’m absolutely with Becboo here. Second, a child being homeless does not mean they’re up for adoption. A child who is up for adoption has a temporary home. Almost all homeless children are under the custody and supervision of a relative. Many times Child Protective Services will step in, but not to remove the child. They step in to help the family get housing so that they don’t have to remove the child. You’re talking about something totally separate from adoption here.
LW October 1, 2012, 4:41 pm
I don’t think you have any idea how lengthy and heartbreaking adoption is. It is years of paperwork, time, and money. of false alarms and there is always the fear that the biological family will come back and sue for the child. They can sue years later and it isn’t just the parents but also the grandparents as well. From other countries, you never know if the parents were cooerced into giving them up. For ever one child up for adoption, there are 100 in foster care that could only be your kid temporarily. That is why so many people have to fly around the world. You have much more control in the fertility process than adoption process. Adoption is like waiting on the organ transplant list.
KP October 1, 2012, 5:31 pm
I agree. I’m all for adoption when it is the right decision for the couple, but I get frustrated when I hear people say things so offhandedly like, “oh you could always adopt.” I know a lot of adoptive families and it was an agonizing and frankly expensive undertaking for them. Adoption is wonderful, but honestly it is not always an option for all families. And many of the children that have been stuck in the foster system either here or in another country (and are more readily “adoptable”) often have specific challenges either mental, emotional, or physical, that need especially dedicated and committed parents willing to take on…something that not a lot of people understand or are qualified to handle, regardless of their desire to raise a child. Just food for thought.
BecBoo84 October 2, 2012, 4:17 pm
Yes, thank you for making that point as well. Adopting babies with no special needs is extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive. We didn’t go into fostering with the hope/desire to have a baby, but for those who are unable to conceive, the desire generally is to have a baby. Our 11 year old is a perfect example of this… he has moderate ADHD, FAS, and fairly severe attachment issues, which are all perfectly understandable/normal given the first 9 years of his life prior to coming into care. However, parenting him is a lot different than most people’s experience caring for their birth children. It’s also extremely time consuming: Between doctor/counseling/school appointments, I miss an hour or two of work every single week, in addition to the extra time he takes on school work, daily life skills, etc. Thankfully, my job is extremely supportive and family friendly, but not everyone has that. Not to mention, b/c he’s a ward of the state and covered by Medicaid, all of his medical expenses have to be approved by them, which is why we’ve been waiting close to a year for the full psych eval that his pediatrician, school psychologist, and counselor have all recommended. It’s extremely challenging, and although rewarding, rewarding in a different way.
katie October 1, 2012, 6:55 pm
Oh I know adoption process is so messed up- and that’s what I mean. The whole system is screwed, and I would say, skewed against the kids who are hoping for a real family everyday.
I wouldn’t fault anyone for not choosing adoption now, it’s way messed up. And really, I wouldn’t fault anyone for choosing the right option for them anyway- it’s your life, and you can choose what route is acceptable.
What I mean by saying that is that the system is messed up- and its not your fault- and given the system now, I’d choose the same as you! I wish in general the system was better so that adoption wasn’t so messed up. I didn’t mean that as things are now, everyone should choose adoption. I meant that the whole system needs a complete overhaul, and I believe that the kids who are already here should get predence.
pamplemousse October 1, 2012, 9:28 pm
How is it any more inconsiderate and thoughtless to tell someone with fertility problems to adopt than it is for a couple to immediately dismiss adoption because it’s emotionally stressful and “too much paperwork”? If I was going to risk offending anyone, it would be the infertile couple that is happy, healthy, and well-off enough to even consider having children – not the innocent orphan child praying for a family.
bubbacats October 2, 2012, 10:35 am
Three and a half years, hundreds of documents, over $40,000, three 10+ day trips to foreign country, invasive medical test in foreign company to see if we were ‘healthy’ (think prewar X-ray machines), pyschological exams in both countries, weeks of parenting classes…..
it was actually an easier and less stressful time going through our failed fertility treatments than our adoption.
But, it was all worth it.
BecBoo84 October 2, 2012, 4:20 pm
I just want to mention that there actually are hundreds of thousands of kids available for adoption in the US… they’re just not babies, and typically have special needs.
bubbacats October 3, 2012, 8:49 am
We adopted a teenager.
Riefer October 2, 2012, 5:00 pm
Why don’t you just make it illegal for anyone to have kids until all the children without family are adopted? Why should just the people with fertility problems be singled out?
LM October 1, 2012, 3:42 pm
Anna – yes! It takes more to being a parent than DNA…
SGMcG October 1, 2012, 3:02 pm
Since you’re there for your brother’s wedding, you should say something along the lines of, “I want to focus on my brother’s big day please, but I’ll let you know once I have news.”
Leah October 1, 2012, 3:11 pm
For nosy relatives, I guess it depends on how vague (or not) you want to be. If you’re feeling the latter, how about “we’re looking forward to kids but the timing isn’t exactly in our control!” That hints that you are trying but it’s maybe taking longer than you would like.
SpaceySteph October 1, 2012, 2:41 pm
Ugh this is why it is NEVER appropriate to ask people about their babymaking status. I wish I could say STFU to all the grandmas in the world! (including my own!)
I suggest that the first person who asks you burst into messy ugly cry tears and run off. That should shut them up for the night.
RMM0278 October 1, 2012, 4:01 pm
Here are some easy responses:
Why do you need to know?
When I know something, you’ll be the FIRST to know! (Say it with a fake grin on your face.)
What? Oh my gosh…you were serious when you asked that extremely personal question?
That’s a personal question that I’d rather not answer. How’s your cake?
Sheryl October 1, 2012, 5:06 pm
My favorite is to ask something really personal and inappropriate back?
“In order for me to answer that that, I need to know about you.”
Then, when they ask why it is related? Respond with..
“Oh, I thought we were just asking really inappropriate questions to one another” (this might be dangerous if you have overly TMI relatives though.
or… you can just say “To quote my favorite 90’s girl group Salt-n-Pepa, its None of yo’ business” and do a little dance while you are saying it, and walk away.
FireStar October 1, 2012, 5:15 pm
I would go with something like. “Oh my. That’s almost like asking us about when we have sex. Oh honey – I’m sure you don’t mean to do THAT. Wasn’t the bride beautiful?”
Desiree October 1, 2012, 5:26 pm
I agree. The pregnancy/baby question has always bothered me, not only because it is inconsiderate, but it is pointedly investigating a couple’s sex life.
SixtyFour October 2, 2012, 9:13 am
Oh, I like coming up with awkward responses to people’s rude questions. This is a fun game!
Here’s another possible comeback: We are trying! Last night we tried by doing this new sex position. It was awesome! And just this morning, in fact, we tried again! Can’t get enought of trying!
tbrucemom October 2, 2012, 9:55 am
Is it just me or did anyone else think the part about them using Groupons and then going on vacation to London and Paris was funny?! Seriously though, enjoy your vacation and try and “make love” while you’re there and not “try to have a baby”. If you happen to get pregnant, what a great story and you can name your child London or Paris! I know that it’s heartbreaking to want a baby and not have one yet, but concentrate on the love you and your husband have for each other and enjoy yourselves and stop putting so much pressure on each other. One day I’m sure you will be parents, one way or another, and you’ll miss the times you shared one on one.
Matcha October 2, 2012, 10:21 am
I think it makes sense. You save on your normal goings-out and just put that and a little more money towards a big trip.
Brigitte October 3, 2012, 7:10 am
I’m all for being rude back to strangers who try to get in your private business by asking questions about baby making, but in real life, when someone you love asks you about babies, they’re asking because they care most of the time and a snarky retort is uncalled for. If a comment is made in private, I think an enigmatic comment along the lines of “We hope to be parents one day, we’ll just see where that takes us” if you’re not ready to discuss your infertility issues.
I would offer a different option: tell them it’s been a struggle and tell them you’re working on it. Most people in our culture are rather secretive about pregnancy and fertility. For example, there’s this idea that we should keep things secret for the first 3 months because “well, you might have a miscarriage and then what?” Ya, then what? Then you’re in an even harder situation of grieving for a child that never was, but without the support of friends and family. You can hardly blame people for not feeling the loss of a child they never knew was around in the first place. Infertility is, in a way, going through that every month. I would say: let them know what you find yourself able to share, and be clear if you don’t want to talk about it further. There’s no reason to carry this alone with your husband.