• May 20, 2018, 01:17:34 PM

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Author Topic: It didn't work. Infertility, Office small talk and a slew of ehell phrases.  (Read 6578 times)

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I don't really know where to put this, so if it's in the wrong spot, please move it.

Background: I work in a small, mainly female, not very talkative office, and there are only two of us girls of child-bearing age.  I'm not married, but have a long term partner, have no children, and at this point in time am not able to, for a number of reasons.

/end background

A couple of weeks ago, on a quiet Friday, a colleague and I were chatting in the kitchen about weekend plans.  I mentioned how busy we were going to be with my dancing and my partner's martial arts events, to which she responded: "Enjoy it while you can, when you have children you won't have time for that!"

I just stared at her (I'll never stop dancing).  She then asked how old I was, and when I told her, she continued "You don't want to leave it too late."

"Actually, that's not possible.  We can't have kids right now", I replied (hoping it'd stop the conversation)

"Why not?  Is it because of [partner]?"  (Um - what?)  ???

"Erm... no, no.." and I trailed off muttering something about my body being faulty. 

"Oh.  Sorry.  So where are you dancing on the weekend?" She beandipped me!

She's a nice lady, and I don't feel right just walking away from people when they're talking to me, so I felt trapped into answering her rather invasive questions.  It's a sensitive subject, (particularly as I'd been to the doc about it earlier that week) and I'd hoped that the comment about not possible to have kids would shut down her line of questioning - really who asks WHY a couple isn't having children in this day and age? 

I wasn't thinking fast enough to add "So kind of you to take an interest", although I mentally kicked myself afterwards.

What would you have said/done?  In the unlikely event this comes up again, how can I handle this better?


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I thin her 'beandippage' was her suddenly realising that she was being incrediably rude so she changed the topic.

You handled it fine, othern that disclosing more than you may have wanted to.  The only thing to do in future is beandip first!


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I hadn't thought of it before, but bean-dipping works both ways!  You were fine-you sorta used semi-silence and 'not possible' in a unique way. It looks like she realized where she'd just put her foot and changed the subject to back off.  It sort of sounds like she was making offhand comments and didn't realize where she was headed; I guess we've all done that on occassion. (I SURE have!)  PB


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I agree with the pp's that she realized she was wrong and backed off.

The only thing I'd say you could do better is that telling someone "We cant have kids right now." isnt necessary.  I'd say something like "Yeah, it's ok." or "I'm not worried about it." or even just a bean dip "::Smile:: Hmmm. What are you up to this weekend?" 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

Harriet Jones

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It would have been better if you had cut her off sooner, after she said "Enjoy it while you can, when you have children you won't have time for that!" -- like "I'm sure it'll work out", "Dancing's very important to me, I'll find the time".  No need to bring up your fertility status...


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I think at the point where she said you don't want to leave it too late, you should have repeated the "just staring" at her with an impassive look (or if you want to look offended, that would work too), and after just staring at her, turn and walk away. 

And if she persisted asking later, respond with "Why would you possibly need to know that information?!?" and then walk away.  Eventually people get the hint if you hit them over the head with it enough.   ::)


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I had a woman at my children's school who kept asking me when we were going to have another child (which for various reasons wasn't happening)- I tried telling her it we were having problems and that didn't stop her either because then she started saying "Oh well- you never know.." and continuing to press the issue.

In the end I said to her "This a a very painful subject for me and I prefer not to discuss it". She never asked me again. Sometimes you have to get very direct with nosy people.
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"That won't be possible," doesn't actually mean it is physically impossible.  It's a more polite way to say "That won't be happening," or "You and what army?"

Oh, but you have to come to church with us.
That won't be possible.  (You could, actually, go to that church instead of your own or whatever else you had planned for Sunday.  You just aren't going to.)

Oh, but you have to invite the Castlewicks.
That won't be possible.  (You could invite the Castlewicks.  You just won't.  And nothing will change your mind on the subject.)

It doesn't work in the sense that you used it, because it invites further inquiries.  Why can't you have children?  Infertility?  You or your husband is actually transgendered?  Your husband was kidnapped by aliens but replaced by a lifelike simulacrum that is unfortunately incapable of breeding?

A better response would have been something along the lines of, "If that happens, I'm planning on starting a dancing version of the Von Trapp family," or some such.
"Brownies and kindness for all!"  High Dudgeon


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It might have been enough to say "you betcha!" as opposed to getting into a discussion about it.