What If I Don’t Want Another Baby?

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Dear Miriam,

How do I deal with nosy people who ask when I’m having another kid? I had to do IVF to have my first, and given how common secondary infertility is, these questions really bother me. Any tips?


Busybody Blues


Dear Blues,

Before I answer your question, I’d like to address something to everyone else really this: Other people’s reproduction is none of your business! If you find yourself tempted to ask a person, including friends, relatives, or strangers, any questions about their plans to have children now or in the future, sit on your hands, tape your own mouth shut, leave the room, or do whatever it takes so that that question does not leave your mouth. This includes asking other people to speculate with you about someone else’s reproduction. And, while I’m at it, this includes other questions about people’s bodies as well. I promise that if someone has news they want to share with you, you’ll know. 

Now, with that out of the way, back to you, Blues. If someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, you always (always!) have the right to say,  “I’d prefer not to discuss this.” This includes your mother-in-law, and, in fact, if that’s the direction these questions come from, enlist your spouse to deflect, redirect, and make it very clear that this line of questioning won’t be entertained. If you don’t have a partner in the picture and are building a family on your own, and/or if the questions are coming from your own mother, the same statement can still be used. 

If you prefer something a bit softer, consider, “I went through quite a journey to have my first.” You could just stop there, or you could add, “If there’s ever news to share, you’ll be sure to know,” or, “We’re so happy with where we are as a family now,” or “Just look at how adorable she is.” If you prefer something a bit more caustic, you could ask an invasive question in return. I don’t actually recommend really doing this, but fantasizing about questions you could ask may be cathartic enough to deal with people’s nosiness in the moment. 

Though you never (never!) need to discuss your plans for having children with anyone other than your partner/spouse (if applicable) and any healthcare providers who are relevant to the process, you may find that you actually do want a handful of safe people in your life with whom you can discuss your experiences, whether or not you are planning to try for future children. Maybe you want to confide in 1-2 friends. Maybe it’s worth having a therapist who’s skilled in counseling people around fertility. Maybe the doctor you saw for IVF can direct you to a support group for IVF parents or people experiencing secondary infertility. A group of people who share similar experiences will both understand and be empathetic towards you, and they probably also have a great supply of one-line responses to nosy people that you can repurpose and make your own.

Be well,