"When Are You Giving Us a Grandchild?": Tips for Talking Fertility with Family

When my mother asked me “When am I going to hear the pitter patter of little feet?” it absolutely crushed me. She meant well, but I hadn’t told her the full extent of my fertility journey. I just couldn’t tell her that now my husband and I were spending our evenings looking through profiles from the top egg donor agencies to find our perfect egg donor. I know in my heart that my parents want the best for me, but the guilt of not being able to bring that joy into their lives left me feeling so bad…

- Sarita, Donor Concierge client aged 40

Many of us have been on the receiving end of questions like “When are you going to settle down?” and “When are you two going to give us grandchildren?” And this time of year, when we get together to celebrate the holidays (even on a video call), awkward questions from relatives can leave us feeling a little raw, vulnerable and sad. Sarita told me that not being able to have her mother’s grandchild also left her with feelings of shame and guilt.

Here are our 3 tips for dealing with intrusive questions, especially when you’re navigating the egg donor process or figuring out how to find a surrogate.

You’re not obligated to share

Everyone dealing with fertility issues has a different journey, and there are different stages we must go through to get to a place of acceptance. You might be reeling from a recent diagnosis, or you could be pregnant via surrogacy. No one’s situation is the same! Acknowledge where you are and what your comfort level is. Are you excited about your journey and eager to share? Or are you dreading the questions from naive kids and nosey aunts?
We love our families, but you are not obligated to talk about your fertility outside of the doctor’s office. Once you gauge your own comfort level and set your boundary, you’ll feel more prepared for those awkward conversations.

Plan your response

If you’ve already opened up to your family about your fertility or have an exciting update to share, then you might not need to think about these conversations in advance. For those of us who are not happily expecting, however, it might be a different story.
Hopefully by now, most people know not to ask potentially sensitive questions. But regardless of your family’s likelihood of prying, you can plan a few responses. Whether it’s a breezy, “Don’t worry, we’re trying!” or “We’re working on that,” or a more serious, “We’d actually love to talk about this in depth – I’ll give you a call next week!” – having something in your back pocket will help you feel more comfortable participating in family-focused chats.

Recruit some backup

If you foresee the conversation going deep into the “Why haven’t you two had kids yet?” territory, or if you are just not comfortable deflecting, it can help to recruit some backup. If you have a spouse, planning what you’re both emotionally prepared to share is key. And it can be useful to rope someone else – a parent or a trusted cousin – into your planning. Just in case things go awry, having someone else to casually steer the conversation elsewhere is handy!

And remember, it’s okay to say you’d rather not talk about it right now. You could say, “It’s been a tough year and we’re hoping for some good news”, or “you’ll be the first to know.” Don’t feel awkward pushing back – a quick but firm response like this will ensure they get the message!

The holiday season is a time for you to celebrate the way you see fit, whether you want to share about your fertility story or keep it private. This season is already fraught with emotion – joy, love, reflection, and stress – and can be painful enough for those who are trying to build a family. And too often, well-meaning friends and relatives love to offer advice that just isn’t helpful.

If you’re struggling, check out our resources list or feel free to schedule a consultation with our case managers. No matter where you are on your journey, we hope that this holiday season is a time of peace and love.