At our age, we hear the question about as often as we hear casual greetings.

"When are you gonna have kids?"

Maybe the question asker just thinks my wife and I would make good parents, or perhaps they think it's not "normal" for a couple that's been together for 14 years to not already have children. Either way, the question is usually well-intended. At the same time, though, it's also unwelcome.

My wife and I have dealt with fertility issues for the duration of our time together. Going through something like that is equal parts embarrassing and hurtful.

There's a steady stream, especially as your age advances, of pregnancy announcements from close friends and relatives. Those announcements leave the infertile couple holding a mixed bag of emotions. You're happy - no, thrilled - for your loved one. At the same time, you're unrelentingly sad that something that seems to come so easily for others is so difficult for you.

You try to live your life the right way. You're good to people, generous with your time and resources. Yet, month after month, you're rewarded only with disappointment for the one thing you yearn for.

Make no mistake about it: My wife is the light of my life and I wouldn't trade a single day of our 14-plus years together for anything in the world. But we've always felt like we were born to be parents. It feels like a calling, and yet ...

Recently, Tabitha and I went "official" with the news that we are - finally - expecting our first child. The outpouring of support from those close to us has been overwhelming, as has the business of processing the news itself. We're going to be parents. Baby Parkhouse is set to arrive Dec. 21.

I write this, though, not necessarily to celebrate what, for us, is an achievement we started to think would never become possible, but rather to try and create an understanding for those who don't know what it's like.

Your question, posed earlier in this column, is well-meaning and, for the most part, the infertile couple understands that. But it's also important for the asker to understand a few things.

First, it's not as though having kids had never dawned on us. Sometimes, depending on the asker of the question, it feels as though there's an expectation that the response will be, "Oh yeah, kids! Never thought about it. Yeah, we should do that!"

Second, understand that the infertile couple might not necessarily be eager to talk about their issues. As I said before, there's a level of embarrassment that goes along with this. As a trusted friend or loved one, it's perfectly acceptable to let a person you suspect is struggling with infertility know that you're there for them. Trust me, having someone to speak to on the topic is helpful.

Lastly, about your own pregnancy announcement, and I can't underscore this enough, understand that the infertile couple might momentarily detach or react in a way that you find strange. These aren't necessarily feelings of resentment or hostility. As already stated, we're actually very happy for you and we will be there for you. But, we need a moment. Please understand.

So, yes, Tabitha and I are at long last expecting an addition to our family. It's a joyous time in our lives. At the same time, our hearts continue to ache for those who endure the struggle. We understand us breaking our news may have been hard for some to hear, but we know we ultimately have their love and support.

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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