The question that is driving me crazy: “Where is the baby?”

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Baby Toss
I recently got married and there is one question that is driving me crazy: “Where is the baby?”

Now let me explain the circumstances. We have been trying for a baby for about a year and a half, but only a handful of close people/family know about this. Therefore after the wedding, these questions tend to sting a little, even though I know it’s not the “asker’s” fault.

My question to others out there is, how do you answer this without getting emotional or rude, and letting them know it is a personal issue? And all without conveying our issue in that department? -Noelle

I am going to actually argue with you on one point: It IS the “asker’s” fault. I’m a staunch believer that your reproductive choices are personal — not something to be discussed over dinner, or inquired about in passing. In short, these people should NE-EV-ER ask “where is the baby.”

It took about FOUR YEARS for close friends and family to stop asking me about whether or not that guy I married was going to shoot his sperm into my body in the hopes of fertilizing an egg, in the hopes that I would start forming a human that I might incubate, birth, and raise. FOUR YEARS of people asking me about those deeply intimate activities and choices. Dah fuk, people!?

Which leads me to my second point…

I also believe there’s NO reason to be polite. The people asking you about your sex-havings and reproductive choices aren’t being polite to you. I think four years of our response of “hell fucking no” was jarring enough for people to never forget, and stop asking.

In short, I suggest giving it to them straight: “That’s actually a deeply personal issue, and I’d rather not discuss it.” I guarantee that response will not only stop them from ever bothering you about it again, but it may actually stop them from putting another couple in this awkward situation in the future.

A few very related posts from our archived sister site, Offbeat Families:

Oh, but Homies, I have ISSUES about this topic. Maybe you’d be less angsty? How would YOU answer the awful question “Where is the baby?”

Comments on The question that is driving me crazy: “Where is the baby?”

  1. Been with partner for 10 years so we get lots of this. I agree there are two different types of questions and one type is okay. Do you guys want kids? Etc are fine by me, they don’t just assume, they don’t demand and I generally find they come from more respectful people in general.

    Then there are the rude ones. My Mil only stopped asking when I said we will have them when partner can give birth to them. Before that she was starting to make me really angry, we went to her house and I got sick, throwing up etc, instantly the “Omg you must be pregnant” garbage started, now I know lots of people will say that as an annoying joke when you are sick as a twenty something female, at my work if you are throwing up you must be pregnant (male, female, sexual orientation and age mean nothing, which is why everyone at work is cool with it) and that doesn’t bother me but she was serious, replying that unless pregnancy gives you explosive diareaha along with vomiting tends to stop that though. It depends how I feel when asked, generally my answer to the question no matter how it is framed is a disgusted/ annoyed/ are you a complete idiot look along with an”Yeah, no” the combination of unfriendly facial expression with a very straightforward unquestionable answer tends to shut people up. It’s just a total refusal to engage in the topic. If I am having a hostile day or been asked to many times recently I reply with “what makes you think that’s an acceptable question to ask, have I ever asked about your sex life?” that tends to shut most people up. If the same person is asking over and over I will start to get rude, or go on a full on rant about how women are more than the product of their uterus, how questions like that are rude, how thy must make couples who are trying but suffering fertility issues feel etc etc. That really gets the point across. And lo and behold any person who comes out with some absolute whale shit about any woman who does not have a child is not being true to herself and is not a real woman. Then I tell them they are wrong and they are an arsehole, straight to their face.

  2. For what it’s worth I think that while there are lots of insensitive askers out there this problem it’s not automatically the askers fault and it’s certainly not the asked person’s fault either. Looking at it quite abstractly I admit, it’s can’t really be someone’s fault that the thing they have asked about something that they didn’t know you are struggling with and don’t want to talk about. That said I would very much hope that anyone with any kind of exposure to human beings would have noticed that this is a good reason to be careful with questions but we have all made faux pas in areas where we don’t have personal experience about something (although yes, there are some people that seem to make way more than their share…). The degree of hurt felt when this happens is not an automatic measure of the degree of badness of the asker, which is of course doubly unfair on the asked person and they are stuck with a double dose of hurt and anger.

    I asked my sister the where’s the baby question (though not those words) a year after her marriage. Because we are close and because she told me she’d be trying straight away. It was just the two of us and it led to a very teary conversation (both of us) about the upsetting year of trying. After that she did begin telling more members of the family about the problems she and her partner had been having and I could see that there was a certain amount of relief gained from stopping secret keeping (not that I am saying keeping this secret is bad, not at all). Ultimately they were lucky, they had just begun being tested and examining options when they fell pregnant.

    I wouldn’t dream of asking the question out of the blue to someone I didn’t know well just because they had got married but I don’t think that the topic of children is an automatically a no go area in part of the getting to know someone conversation. Not an opener for sure and not an obligatory piece of info to be obtained. As someone who will now never have a child (hysterectomy last year) it is something I have to deal with every time I meet anyone new, sooner or later in getting to know someone we will reach a point where my history will become known, it is a part of me. It’s not always a straightforward thing to talk about but my discomfort it doesn’t mean the asker is wrong to have brought it up. I think women get asked this stuff more than men (which I don’t like) and I do think it would be great to be less focused on it, but children and not having children are a huge part of human experience, so it does comes up.

    I love some of the suggested snarky replies here and I wouldn’t want to say anyone would be wrong to use them and to be angry but I do wonder if there may be bigger battles to use energy on here. I have never been pressured to give anyone a grandchild so I suppose I am dealing with a different situation but when getting to know new people and I try and see their questions as interest in me and a good thing. I just think that if no one ever asked anyone anything for fear of offending we’d lose some great opportunities for understand each other better and to sometimes to beneficially talk about stuff we would otherwise not have. This is of course coloured by my own experience so I don’t wish to any invalidate the pain anyone struggling with infertile may be feeling.

  3. After 14 years I still get asked. I had a cousin (with four children) that would relentlessly hound me at every family event. After years of harassment I finally told her, “I thought she had enough children for the both of us.” After that it stopped. Years later I knew that what I had said resonated because another cousin of ours had her fifth and shortly after that baby was born she said, “Now (insert name here) had more children than her so now (the other cousin) was why I didn’t “need” to have kids.” Generally when people ask I simply say that we feel satisfied with our lives and don’t have the desire to be parents. Even though it is none of their business I do respond with my real reason because I feel like the more people hear about people choosing to be child-free the more socially acceptable becomes.

  4. I don’t get this question that much, but I think it’s because I have a history of taking my sweet-ass time about everything, and I don’t talk about it along the way. My husband and I were 30 when we got married, and were together for 4 years before getting engaged. I didn’t tell my family I was dating him until we’d been together for 6 months, our wedding was low-key, we’ve basically just gone about our lives without much discussion of our decisions etc. Compare and contrast with my sisters, who got married at 21, 24, and 25, and met their respective husbands 2 or fewer years prior to getting engaged. One of my sisters started trying to get pregnant right after her wedding, and told everyone about it, while another actually consults my parents for help with charting. Both of them are pregnant right now (they’re actually due the same week, lol), and while my sister did ask me if I happened to also be pregnant, because it would be funny, that’s the first time she’s mentioned it in about 3 or 4 years.

    So, I might be a bit of an anomaly in that I have a big family, so the spotlight is shifting way too often for me to be the center of scrutiny for too long, but it also helps that I generally hold my cards close to my chest anyway. I’ve just never felt the need to discuss my life all that much, so I guess they figure I’ll tell them if/when I feel like it.

    My in-laws, though, haven’t asked us either, and I think it’s probably because my husband DOES tell them almost everything, so I guess they figure he’d tell them if there was anything to tell?

  5. I would be oh-so-tempted to be horribly sarcastic and say something like “Oh no! Where IS the baby?! Did I forget it again?” But that’s me. And would totally depend on the context and the relationship with the person I was saying it to. (It’s probably good that my friends and relations have had the sense not to poke into my reproductive business too much…)

  6. As an introverted, infertile, GenX woman, I love this website, but I find conversations like this one completely baffling. To me our culture has become marked by a total lack of boundaries, and a need to over share – Facebook, blogs, reality shows. So it is a complete surprise that in face-to-face communication, the boundaries seem to be pushing further outward. In a time where people are struggling to explain transgender & poly issues, I am baffled that so many seem to take offense at what for most people is a simple question about your life. I’ve also found it surprising that for many it seems to matter how the question is phrased.

    Granted, pressure from relatives is not OK, and there are whole books about these types of boundary issues. However, the questions I got right after marriage were meant to be a good-humored joke. They knew most newlyweds don’t want kids right away. In effect, they were saying, “So, you think life has changed now, wait till you have kids!” These folks and acquaintances who ask about kids don’t know that the subject is painful for you. For people with kids, they are such a huge part of their lives, that getting to know others means learning about their kids, too. They don’t mean to be rude, and really, I don’t think they are. In my experience if they knew how painful it was for me, they wouldn’t ask. I found that those who do know, ask because they care.

    As for how to respond, when I was younger, how much I said depended on how well I knew the person. Yes, it was a painful process, but now it is easy to say, “We aren’t able to have kids, but we have nieces/nephews/godchildren and we are blessed to be involved in their lives. Tell me about your children.” This relieves the other person of feeling bad for making an innocent blunder and steers the conversation away from TMI. Now, I am able to casually drop it into conversation. It is who I am and if I want to get to know another person, I am willing to share these things. However I mention it and move on and don’t make a big deal out of it.

    I think the conversations might actually be harder for those who choose not to have kids, because it is easy to feel defensive about the choices we make, fearing judgment from others. I think the key here is that eventually you will become comfortable enough not to worry about other people’s opinions on the matter. Again, I think a simple response, such as “we aren’t having children any time soon” and a change of subject would suffice. If not, a more direct, “lets talk about something else” should do. I think this would also work for those who are trying but don’t want to talk about it. “Soon” is a relative term and if you aren’t pregnant yet, I think it is justified.

    Finally, I am finding it strange to be crossing the generation gap. As a very private person, I am so in awe of the women who write on this website, who are willing to put themselves out there in this way. It has given me a window into this generation and the courage to speak up once in a while. Thank you.

    • *STANDS UP AND APPLAUDS!*

      I especially love this:

      I think the key here is that eventually you will become comfortable enough not to worry about other people’s opinions on the matter.

  7. We had trouble conceiving as well, and it didn’t happen for us for ten years. My DH’s grandmother was relentless about asking us when we were going to have kids (as if her other 6 grand and 6 great grandchildren weren’t enough) especially at extended family get-togethers. I finally put a stop to it (nicely) at a family gathering by telling her that if we tried any harder, my husband would have to quit his job. She laughed and blushed and let it go.

  8. Wow, thanks everyone for the awesome comebacks! I’ll definently be stealing the ” why are you so interested in our sex life? “. The only problem Ihave now is that my sister recently had a baby and now every cconversation with her is “look how perfect my child is, when are you going to have one?? “. Ugghh Just shoot me now

  9. If you can bring yourself to be honest, I recommend it; it shushes 90% of the askers. They become shocked because they didn’t expect honesty, or that answer, they were genuinely just asking because they are too ignorant to know it’s not okay to just go around asking.
    Of course, it’s easy for me to say that because at 18 weeks pregnant after IVF I’m *starting* to believe I’m going to come out the other side with a baby. I did have someone tell me that a comment I made about “moment of conception” was TMI (as in knowing the exact time, etc!) and I said “yeah, it was in a petrie dish, I forgot people make babies that other way.”
    And my husband had the comment the other day about how we should get ready to buy a house in the suburbs with a bajillion bedrooms and my husband didn’t know what to say. I told him he should have said “we have one embryo on ice, so we’re not exactly counting on a brood”, and scare him off that way.
    People are rude. Except for when I’m a sniveling emotional mess, I prefer to turn it around on them, I’m not interested in making people comfortable if they’re not approaching me gently in the first place.

  10. I’ve been married for 1 year and my in-laws would not stop asking about when my husband and I were going to have a baby. And this is after I told them, point-blank, that I was never having children. They told me I would change my mind. They told me life has no meaning until you birth a human. They told me they were going to throw me a Disney Princess-themed baby shower, because wouldn’t that be cute! To be clear, I asked for power tools and Home Depot gift cards for Christmas. I got so fed up with telling them that I wasn’t having kids, and listening to the condescend to tell me what I WILL FEEL in some unspecified amount of time. So I told both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law that every time they opened their mouths about my hypothetical pregnancy, they were disrespecting me; disrespecting my choices, disrespecting my agency, disrespecting my adulthood, and disrespecting my personal boundaries. To define my life by my reproductive choices is insulting. To continue to flout my stated boundaries is an affront. To say that life doesn’t have meaning without children is to devalue the lives of every person who is childless, especially those who can’t conceive. They were shocked, and told me they were just having some fun. I told them the next time they choose to insult someone’s life choices, and pry into their sex life, maybe they should offer up some information about their own sex lives first.

    I haven’t heard a word about it since.

  11. Whenever i get asked, it’s either shrugging and saying, ‘ehh, not an option at this point. Unless you want to finance it? 😀 ” to which they chuckle nervously and back away; or i lean in close and hiss ‘I ATE IT. IT WAS DELICIOUS’.
    But it’s mostly a blunt answer. ‘No. Not interested in kids. Loving the sex though.’
    All of my friends are cool about it, and the parentals know that they’re not getting any grandkids, period.
    If one of my friends was hanging for a baby i’d have heard about it already – thanks FB! lol

  12. We have tried everything. I’ve said “I promise to let you know”, “not today”, “we’re not quite ready”, “maybe in a few years” and “Back the f*ck off”. I hate to tell you, but some people will not let up, no matter what the response. They ask me every single time I see them, without fail. I have had to pull away from them out of necessity. After 5 years of marriage, we are finally ready to ditch the birth control. Those specific pushy, nosy people (who are close family members) have earned themselves ‘last to know’ status once the time comes. I’m so jaded about it now that I want to tell them only when it becomes too obvious to deny. I now care much less about their opinions. Childbearing, as with all of my lifestyle decisions, are simply none of their business.

  13. Due to health reasons on both sides it’s highly unlikely DH & I will conceive, we’ve accepted that IF/when we want kids we’ll adopt. But his mom is So Less Than Thrilled by that answer [bitch please, you have grand babies already!] So at this point when I’m asked ‘are you even trying?’ I respond with ‘nope, not ready to ruin my life yet! As you well know your son’s sperm count is like Zero. So even if I were to become pregnant, well it probably wouldn’t be his, would it?’ *eyeroll*

  14. I got all the stupid comments when we got engaged. I ended them with a Facebook post:

    “Please stop the pregnancy jokes. It’s not as funny as you think.”

    We got married this past May. Nobody has said a word, except for when I was sitting in what I thought would be a quiet stairwell trying to get my 2-month-old nephew to sleep that night — and I gave them a quiet bollocking for keeping him awake with their idiotic guffawing..

    I’d like to think that our families and most of our friends know better than to ask at this stage — we’ve been together five years now and I still refer to my cat as my kid. My parents finally have a human grandchild who lives four doors down, MIL has six grandkids between two of her daughters and doesn’t seem to be in any rush for another (probably helps that Himself is the only son…).

    And we won’t be telling anyone our news unless medically necessary until after my scan in September.

  15. My spouse and I had been on a “Deciding Not To Decide” Train for most of our relationship– leaning heavily toward being Childfree or adopting an older child. Our families have always been extremely respectful of our choices, which has been awesome, but it’s inescapable as we near our thirties and have been together almost a decade. People ask, what can you do? I always told them my “Decided Not To Decide,” line, about how we don’t want kids right now but don’t know what we’ll want in five years, how we think about adopting, blah blah blah. That worked really well and I was comfortable with it.

    Then my husband got diagnosed with testicular cancer, and during that magical time we found out we’ll never be able to have biological kids of our own. It was kind of like getting fired from a job you hate? Like, you didn’t really want that job, you had long term plans to definitely quit someday, but man, it still sucked really hard getting fired. That’s what infertility feels like for me.

    After that the question took on a whole new set of awfulness– just a reminder of that awful time in our lives. I have never had that strong maternal drive, we were never those people who couldn’t wait to have kids, but even so, knowing we Couldn’t, instead of Weren’t was really shitty.

    For awhile after we found out I would get so upset when people would ask me about kids I would snap back at them about testicular cancer. Which only had the effect of startling people who are well meaning and encouraging Nosy Nellies to say things like “Oh, honey, lots of men go on to have babies after they have testicular cancer! Even so, YOU don’t have anything wrong with you, you could get a sperm donor!” A) yes, lots of men are able to have kids after testicular cancer, but my spouse is not. B) Sperm donors are awesome options for other people, but the idea has always been off-putting for me.

    As I’ve come to a better peace with my situation, I just tell them the truth, which is, “We talk about adopting a teenager when we have more room. We love the idea of being empty nesters before we’re thirty!” 🙂

  16. My husband and I have been “lightly trying” for about a year and a half. I had a miscarriage early in that time, and then due to PCOS, apparently haven’t ovulated since. We knew we might not have an easy time, but it has still been traumatic. I get asked this question all the time, and my usual answer has been a vague, “Actually, we’re going to have a hard time.” Then quick subject change. Usually people get the hint, and from the look on their faces, I do feel like that level of honesty might possibly make them realize what a personal question they’re asking.
    However, the last time I was asked, when I gave my usual “Actually, we’re gonna have a hard time”, the response floored me. My co-worker interrupted me, saying “No you’re not. Because it’s in God’s hands.” I was so angry and hurt I didn’t even know what to do. I realize that she was trying to reassure me, but instead she was downplaying all of the hurt I have gone through, and all the hurt that may be still to come.
    I think my response in the future will have to let people know what an incredibly rude thing it is to ask something so personal. I hate to be mean when people are really just trying to be nice and interested in your life, but I’d rather help change peoples’ actions than give a fake smile and fake answer, or open myself up to be vulnerable to people I barely know.

  17. This is one of the things that I actually find really annoying and rude: asking about other people’s sex lives. I mean, that’s essentially what it is, right?
    I kind of see it in the same way as how people judge homosexuality and other non-binary sexual preferences/orientation: why the hell do people feel so self-important to pass judgement about how any other person prefers to (or not to) have sex? It’s really super freaking rude, in my opinion.

  18. I am in the same situation sadly. One of the worst things is when you tell people you are trying and they say “Oh just stop trying and stop stressing about it and it’ll happen” 1) you were just egging me on to hurry up and have a baby 2) if you are blessed with a happy healthy baby at home you do not get to ever say “oh just stop trying” to someone who wants so badly what you have! One person I even asked kindly “please don’t say that we are struggling with some medical issues at the moment and it isn’t really helpful” to which she persisted to push the issue! 3) when you have been trying for that long chances are you went through the “maybe it’ll be a happy accident” phase so “just stop trying” is a slap in the face

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