“When are you going to have kids?”
As I sat on the edge of my seat watching the Denver Broncos/New England Patriots football game recently, I was reminded of this pressure filled question.
The Broncos had lost to the undefeated and recent Super Bowl champs many times, and were geared up for a win.
However, quarterback Peyton Manning, one of the world’s most accomplished athletes, was injured and would be unable to play. His backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler, had recently steered the Broncos to a victory over the Chicago Bears, but a rookie quarterback going up against the mighty Patriots? Well, this would be a challenge.
I put myself in the shoes of this inexperienced quarterback, attempting to discern what he might be feeling.
Pressure to prove that he’s a great athlete, capable of replacing his record setting mentor.
Pressure to make quick decisions on the field.
Pressure to play well on a frigid, 19 degree Fahrenheit night with snow bombarding him from all sides.
Pressure to help his team achieve a victory.
Pressure to give the loyal and dedicated Broncos fans a win.
Pressure to perform well for fans, coaches, his wife, his family, the team owner.
People with infertility feel pressure by family, friends, and well intentioned people every day.
Pressure to have a baby within a “reasonable” amount of time after they get married.
Pressure to bless parents with their first grandchild.
Pressure to provide a sibling for their first child.
It doesn’t help.
“When are you going to have children?” is a reminder of what is lacking. It’s a reminder of what the person or couple’s body or bodies are unable to do.
It feels shameful.
It feels embarrassing.
“When are you going to have another?” does the same.
It also creates guilt.
In addition to others putting pressure on us, we put pressure on ourselves.
We pressure ourselves to have a baby within a certain amount of time.
We pressure ourselves to provide a sibling for our child.
We pressure ourselves to do what so many others are able to do naturally.
No amount of pressuring, whether from others or from ourselves is healthy.
Please, if you’re a loved one of someone who might be experiencing difficulty having or adopting children, please do not ask when your loved ones will have children. The way that you know they’re having difficulty (unless they outright tell you) is that it hasn’t happened within what you might consider a “normal” amount of time.
People are hurting. The more they hear this question, the more they hurt, and the more pressure they feel.
And please, if you’re the one putting pressure on yourself to have children, please consider getting support. There is a plethora of therapists, support groups, and online support waiting to welcome you with open arms.
As always, let’s do our best to support one another.
A passionate infertility advocate, Jen Noonan destigmatizes the shame and guilt surrounding infertility and miscarriage. Her debut memoir, In Due Time, is available on Amazon at amzn.com/0996308601