You’re right that the decision about whether or not to have children is very personal, so I can understand why these questions feel invasive. At the same time, depending on the context—the person’s relationship to you and the reason behind the question—what these people are asking, even if the words sound similar, might be very different. There’s also a difference between a private conversation with a friend, a group conversation at a party, and an encounter with a relative at Thanksgiving. These differences matter, because they’ll help you to figure out how to respond.
Let’s consider the various intentions behind these questions. First, most people don’t mean harm when they bring up babies. It’s usually a matter of being tone-deaf, unaware that they’re raising a topic that for many feels intensely private and for some feels intensely fraught. They may toss out the question as if they’re asking something on par with “How’s the new job going?” rather than “How much money do you make?” In particular, people of an older generation or a more traditional cultural background might automatically equate marriage with babies, so for them, they view this question as nothing more than casual small talk or perhaps an expression of support and interest: I’m so excited for you in this new chapter of your life! What’s next?
Then there are those who have a better sense of how personal this is, but ask from a place of care. While this question is hard for you, someone who asks about your personal life may be trying to create intimacy and build a friendship with you; if you automatically react by coldly shutting down the conversation, you may also be shutting down the possibility of growing closer with this person. For instance, some people who become parents do so through adoption or surrogacy, so even though you might explain why pregnancy isn’t for you, they may ask more questions—not because they’re nosy, but because this helps them understand more about you: Do you not want to be pregnant, or not want to be a parent?
If becoming a parent is important to those who ask, or their experience of raising their children has been fulfilling, they may struggle to understand your decision, or worry that you’ll be missing out on something, or wonder whether you’ll change your mind and regret your choice. Sometimes, too, because “No babies for us” is so vague, people might assume that you want to be parents but are having fertility issues. In these situations, people may ask more questions because they experienced fertility issues themselves and want to pass along information about what worked or offer support for you.
In all of these scenarios, the thing to remember is that the questions you get aren’t meant to irritate you. For the most part, they reflect the beliefs, desires, and experiences of the people asking. In other words, their questions are more about what parenthood means to them as they try to understand what it means for you. Given the variety of reasons that a person might be asking these questions, one way to handle them is to reply, in an open, curious tone, “Why do you ask?”