Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The question to not ask young couples

A question that I‘ve been asked a few times a week since our daughter was born over four years ago is, “when are you having another one?” 

My answer is always “sometime.” That’s the best answer, maybe the only answer, I can muster even though countless responses surge through my brain before the words come out. The interested parties probably wouldn’t want to hear them and I’m not keen on sharing them all the time.

That’s because the truth hurts.

My wife and I have tried and tried to expand our family to no avail. Doctors don’t know why nothing has worked, given that we’re both healthy and all indicators say there shouldn’t be a problem. The frustrations with this reached their lowest points last year when we miscarried twins weeks apart and after a couple of scares that those new lives seemed to weather well, which only raised our hopes before dashing them and breaking our hearts.

With the fates seemingly against us in that regard, we’ve gone on to the path of adoption, registering with an agency while also going out on our own in hopes of putting some more delightful children in the Confer household and sharing with them the joys of life. Ultimately, we know that our sadness will come to a happy ending – or maybe a few of them.

But, it’s been tough and that’s what makes that simple question of “when” so uncomfortable. That and similar variations of it asked of childless couples, such as “are you going to have kids?” or “when are you having kids?” and the playful banter that the questioner adds to them, really shouldn’t be posed to husbands and wives with any regularity. No one who’s had our struggles really wants to talk about it to someone who’s not a close friend or family member. And, no one wants to rerun those moments or those feelings in their head when others unknowingly unearth them.

You’d be amazed at how many people are heartbroken by being asked those questions. As we’ve embarked on this journey we’ve come to realize that infertility and miscarriages aren’t unique to us and they are more common than we ever believed – it’s a sort of silent epidemic. A cousin had 5 miscarriages. My wife has a handful of friends battling the same issues. 3 in 10 couples battle infertility. A half million pregnancies end in miscarriages every year. They are real physical and emotional crises that have likely affected one of your friends or someone you work with.

Similarly, those questions shouldn’t be posed to couples who are on the other end of the spectrum – those who don’t want children, whether it’s a permanent goal (they don’t want to be parents ever) or a short term goal (they’re not emotionally or financially ready). I’ve known a few people like that and they told me how they feel – angry, hurt, worthless -- when people ask them those questions and prod them to “get going on it.” As with us, they mostly roll with the punches and never express how they feel to the person asking the question.

They probably don’t blow up for the same reasons we don’t. We know that people don’t mean ill will when they inquire about the growth and future of a family; they are curious, they want to know, they want to experience the excitement that they believe might be there.

Nonetheless, that playfulness and inquisitiveness should be tempered.  Infertility or the loss of a small living person are pains that don’t go away too quickly, if ever. They are problems for so many young couples that go unspoken and are better left unspoken as those who’ve been affected by them feel pain, stress, fear and even shame….feelings relived every time “the question” is asked. 

From the 07 December 2015 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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