I’m 30, I’m entering my third year of marriage, and I own a home, which clearly means I have a sign hanging from my neck that reads: “Please, ask me about by reproductive plans!” or “I want to tell you about my fertility!” I get that the inevitable questions about starting a family are harmless enough and likely come from a genuinely curious, yet slightly intrusive, place. But when this seemingly innocuous inquiry moves from casual question to indiscreet prodding (“So, are you trying right now?”) my skin crawls. Anger and frustration build up. If I were a cartoon character, steam would begin shooting from my ears.
When and why this oh-so-personal question became commonplace is beyond me. I cannot imagine being remotely comfortable asking a mere acquaintance about her sex life, which despite the asker’s intention, is an inescapable part of the question. No more can I fathom being prepared for the diverse and intensely private answers that woman may have. I fear, and mostly assume, I have asked a woman some variation of this dreadful question at some point. For that, I feel regret and shame. Sorry, girl. Not cool. I know better now.
So, you may wonder when is it appropriate to ask a woman about her baby-making plans? How about when she f’in brings it up. On her own. Unprompted.
“But she once told me she wanted a family. It’s okay to ask her how that’s going.” To that, I say "No." Let her bring it up.
“I have kids, so I know what it's like.” No.
“She knows personal things about me, so I can ask.” No.
Unless you are close friends or family, kindly refrain from asking. Know the boundaries of your relationship.
If you're still wondering why, I’ll use this opportunity to out myself. I do this to enlighten those curious minds; in a feeble effort to share the crazy emotions that are so deeply coupled with the decision to start, or not start, a family. Yes, I am trying to get pregnant. Sometime in the near future would be nice (see, I’m still a little uncomfortable really getting into it.) I have no clue whether it’ll be challenging or simple. If it will happen next week or next year. I do know that on some days I'm obsessed: babies and pregnant ladies everywhere; its a sign! Other days I'm scared: can I afford this, is it the right decision, how will this change my marriage? And sometimes I'm even a little weirded out: come on, growing a human inside you for nine months is freaky, right? The action is just as complicated and sensitive as the intention and both deserve respect, time, and most certainly warrant privacy if so desired.
I spent the better part of my 20’s confident that children were not a part of my future. Then a few years into my marriage, around 28, that cliché moment happened. I saw my husband holding a baby and my heart melted a bit. My mind went wild; picturing all sorts of scenarios of the perfectly happy family we’d create. Pregnancy would come swiftly and labor would be naturally uncomplicated. The baby would be a great sleeper, rarely cry and we’d be unique and cool parents. In reality, yeah sure, some of that could happen. But probably not.
Not all women experience that moment; they continue life happily without children. Some do and learn they can't have children. And that’s normal.
Not all women have the opportunity to picture that perfect family. Some don't want to and others may stumble into pregnancy unplanned. And that's okay.
Not all women get pregnant easily. It may be sad, even heartbreaking; but it’s true.
Labor rarely goes as planned. That’s normal, too.
That cool parent you promise to be? Yeah, maybe, sometimes.
My point is that this casual question simplifies the realities of a life-changing decision and the emotions that surround every step of the process. So let's stop forcing women (and me) to simplify it. Let's stop forcing women to relegate intense emotions for the sake of small talk. Let's allow the women making the decision to initiate the conversation. Deal?
By the way, I am NOT that only gal out there that feels this way...