Unbearable: How Do You Explain Infertility To Children?

Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I have a lot of wonderful pregnant women in my life. Trying to explain pregnancy to my daughter is challenging and takes a little bit of imagination. There’s always the classic, “God put a baby in her tummy to protect it until its ready to come out.” Alright, the wording may be odd, but basically, you could fall back on religion. My niece chooses to believe that there are always babies in a mommy’s tummy and that the baby decides when to get big and come out. This works out just fine until she starts yelling at her one-day future siblings in her mom’s stomach to “Hurry Up!” And I vaquely remember a cool-sounding “seed” metaphor from the movie, The Switch. The only thing I remember about this approach was the word “seed” and that it sounded cute.

The point is, telling a child about pregnancy is hard. It’s uncomfortable and awkward and filled with lots of questions that parents are hesistant to answer.

Telling a child about infertility isn’t just hard, it’s downright excruciating.

With so many close friends and family members having children, my daughter often wonders, “Mommy, is there a baby in your tummy?” For some reason, telling my daughter that it won’t be so easy to have a brother or sister is just this huge emotional cliff that I’m terrified to jump off. Already, I have to clear my head and avert my eyes when I say, “No darlin. No baby in there.”

Heaven help me when she asks why. Honestly, I can do is pray for peace when she tells me that she wants a sibling. It’s not fair to tell her how much I want a sibling for her too. It’s not fair to admit that we might never have one.

Obviously, infertility isn’t something that needs to be explained to kids in detail. First of all, they probably won’t understand. Secondly, why would you burden them? But the questions surrounding infertility are still difficult to answer. When my daughter asks when she can expect a baby sister to play with, I’m not sure if I should be hopeful or dismissive. If I say, “Not yet,” it implies that there pregnancy will happen at a later time. It says that we’re going to have another baby, just not right now. “Not yet,” is how I respond when she asked for a popsicle an hour before dinner.

If I deny that we’re ever going to have another child, I should be ok. As long as we really don’t have another child. If we did, the poor second little one would have to deal with all the horror stories older siblings say. “Mom and dad didn’t want any more kids and they tried to flush down the toilet but your head was too big to squeeze through.” By the way, I’m sorry, Shanny. Mom and Dad never tried to flush you down the toilet or feed you to alligators.

So when it comes to kids, should you get their hopes up or try to be realistic, while still praying for a miracle? In reality, I don’t think there’s a right answer. I know that there isn’t an easy answer. For now, I’m just going to focus on not crying when I say, “No baby in there sweetie.”

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