Thursday, February 1, 2007

The question

I knew that it was just a matter of time. When you're a happily married 37-year-old with no kids, people just don't seem to be able to restrain themselves for long. So, when I was out to lunch with several colleagues, including my boss, it didn't really surprise me when a colleague that I don't know very well suddenly said "Sara, do you have any plans to have a baby?"

Surprised, no. Annoyed? Absolutely.

What on earth is an infertile supposed to do in that situation? Telling the truth would a) mean announcing to my boss that all of those "sick days" for retrieval and transfer are actually optional, that my moodiness is self-induced, and that I'm hoping to be inconveniencing him by taking a maternity leave soon, b) make everybody at the table feel very uncomfortable, and c) involve sharing information of a fairly personal nature with people with whom I'm not terribly close. Heck, there were a couple of people at the table whose names I don't even know!

My reaction? Not good.

I stared at the table, muttered "not right this second", and then immediately changed the subject.

Ugh.

The thing that was particularly annoying about this incident is that I'm normally really open about my fertility problems, when asked in an appropriate context. I don't like to lie, and I don't think that I should be ashamed of a medical problem, so my normal protocol is to just give people the quantity of information that's appropriate for our relationship (close friends--the whole story, acquaintances--the basic info without details). The trouble is that here in Korea, I have no idea how much info is appropriate. Also, in my opinion, asking a personal question like that in front of a large group of people is never appropriate. So, what to do? My boss is actually an incredibly nice man, so I doubt that sharing my situation with him would result in discrimination. However, you never know, and once I tell him, I can't take it back. As for the colleagues that I barely know, why should I tell them something so personal?

The thing is, I DON'T have any plans for a baby. Hopes for a baby yes. Dreams of a baby, yes! Passionate all-encompassing desire for a baby, absolutely. But plans? The word plans implies that we think that we have some control over our fate. These days, I only plan cycles, not babies.

8 comments:

Tinker said...

That certainly was an awkward (personal) question in an inappropriate place, but I don't think you handled it badly or wrongly in spite of how uneasy it made you feel.

As for making a point of seeing the country in which you work, I think that's wonderful! You'll have fantastic lifelong memories.

Hopeful Mother said...

I can relate to this - my boss is a very nice person too, but I just don't feel it is anyone's business, nor would it be in my best interest career-wise for them to know.

Plans - HA! I agree, all I can plan nowadays is cycles. I stopped planning for a baby several years ago...

Marie-Baguette said...

Why do people ask these questions is beyond me. You reacted very well. Some infertiles tend to assume that it is OK to tell at work, but it is never the case. Even if your boss is the nicest person in the world, he might repeat the information to some assholes who will make your life hell.

Thalia said...

I think people just don't get it. They don't mean any harm, but they cannot imagine what it's like on the other side of that question. You handled it just fine.

Rose said...

I wish we could have a kind of "Groundhog Day" button that we could press so that we could try out different ways of responding(boldfaced, pitying, hopeful, downright rude) to see people's reactions, and then rewind to try again till we get the best one. I never know what to say in these situations either, and just hae to keep believing that people are generally well-intentioned and that deep down they don't really care about whether or not you have plans for a baby. They're just trying to make conversation.

Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baby Blues said...

I love this post. I hate that they use "plan". Whenever someone asks that question I feel like a bomb has been dropped! I usually say "we're working on it" but my mind is saying "it's none of your f#@%ing business."

wishingfor2 said...

I HATE the question. and I even HATE it more the question after the question..."I am sorry, you don't have to tell me" - like yeah right. cats out of the bag now