“Are you guys going to have kids?
“You won’t be young
“Little James is so cute! Time for a sibling!”
“Are you guys trying?”
Dear Women of Child Bearing Age,
I (and the rest of society) owe you a sincere apology. I am truly and deeply sorry for asking you about your family planning. I, like the majority of well-meaning people, often lack basic grace and sensitivity. Blame social media, blame politics, blame just a generally poor societal understanding of privacy. Either way it’s got to stop. It wasn’t until I found myself in your shoes that I really understood how invasive, sometimes devastating, these lines of questioning can be. And guess what, your bedroom is none of my business.
Whether or not a couple wants to have children is a very personal issue that most people don’t take lightly. But let’s just say for the sake of simplicity that population I’m talking about does want a little bald cutie to call them mama and cover them in drooly kisses. It’s not always as simple as boy meets girl, girl removes IUD and bam there’s a baby 9 months later. Here are the cold hard facts about having children per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG):
- Per each ovulation cycle for a woman the chances of becoming pregnant are about 20-30%
- Roughly 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage (spontaneous loss of pregnancy prior to 20 weeks)
- 1 in 8 couples have trouble achieving or maintaining pregnancy
The simple question, “So when are you two gonna have a baby?” may seem innocent enough. But let’s look at what we’re really asking: “So are you guys having unprotected sex and is it going according to plan?”
For every woman who gets “accidentally pregnant” on her honeymoon there’s one on her 3rd round of IVF. And unless we have a very intimate relationship with that woman, we probably don’t know which category she may fall into.
While fortunately the stigma of discussing infertility and miscarriage is changing, that does not mean every woman suffering wants her personal medical history discussed publicly. Here are a few ground rules for discussing this immensely sensitive subject.
- If you aren’t sure it’s a good idea to ask, don’t do it.
- Never ask in front of a group.
- If you wouldn’t discuss your depression or colonoscopy with this person then their fertility is too personal.
- Never call someone else’s child an accident.
- Just because you loved having a large family/being an only child does not mean that is right for others.
- Remove any mention of ticking clocks or running out of time from your small talk repertoire.
- Don’t ask a women publically if she is pregnant because you’ve noticed she’s a) gained weight b) is more emotional c) already has a child and you think her child needs a sibling
- If someone does confide in your regarding their struggles, just listen.
A lot of these suggestions don’t seem like rocket science, but they happen. Constantly. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way advocating for suffering alone. These issues need to be talked about and normalized. Sharing stories of mutual struggle or lending an empathetic ear can be the bonding cornerstone of a friendship. Just remember, until you’re on that level (privately) with another woman proceed with cautious sensitivity.