During a business meeting dinner (party of five) in a noisy restaurant earlier this week, a colleague who doesn’t know me very well turned to me as the conversation veered off into talk of kids and asked the loaded question on the subject of why I don’t have children.
What’s most remarkable to me is that it was the first time that I felt confident enough to actually answer the question rather than defer it with a euphism or worse yet, tear up and fight for words. Progress, I thought later. I wasn’t ashamed and I didn’t feel the need to hide the truth. Here’s how the conversation went:
Colleague (a mother of three boys): I, uh, well, I’m not sure how to ask this, but you don’t have kids, did you want them, did you try…?
Me: Want them? Try? Yes! My husband and I wanted them very much — so much that we spent the past decade trying everything available to us from spending tens of thousands of dollars and working with a world-class research hospital to yoga and acupuncture. Yes, we wanted them more than you could imagine…and I’m still pissed, more than pissed actually, that after all of our efforts, emotional ups and downs and financial investment we didn’t get so much as a positive pregancy test.
Colleague (with a curious, fascinated look on her face): Um, if you don’t mind me asking, was it you or your husband who had the problem?
Me: It was a combination of both. The medical teams could never quite crack the code…or pinpoint the exact reason behind our condition.
Colleague: Wow. Did you ever go after surrogacy or oh, I don’t know, donor something?
Me: Neither option felt right for us. I’ve always wanted the experience of being pregnant and delivering a child who carried both of our family traits. I love my husband more than anything and he feels the same about me. We wanted what every couple wants, to create a child of our own…
Just then the waiter arrived with wine. As he delivered the individual glasses, the table banter changed to who had been to a wine-growing region on the central coast.
There was no effort on my part or my colleagues to return to the subject of my reproductive capacity, but I felt satisfied that I had had my say. I’m curious to know how others might have handled the conversation.