Don't Ask When I'm Going to Have a Baby (and Other Sensitive Questions)
I know these days we are a bit crazy with being politically correct and sensitive. This isn't about being polite or politically correct, it's about being empathetic and sensitive to one of the most difficult things a woman can go through. It's time to put these questions on the "don't ask" (or at least, 'be aware this could be a sensitive issue') list:
"When are you going to have your next one?"
1 in 5 women have miscarriages, with the majority of these occurring in early pregnancy (the first 12 weeks). Considering it's mostly common for people to announce pregnancies after the first 12 weeks are over, many (and probably most) miscarriages occur in secret. That innocent question - "when are you going to have your next one?" is not so easy for someone who has just lost a baby to answer. It's hard for someone who is waiting for her period to return to normal after taking birth control, or for someone who is saving money to afford the operation she needs, or for someone whose partner works away from home every time she's ovulating.
"What age gap do you want between your children?"
Not everyone falls pregnant straight away. Just because you've got one child (or more) doesn't mean it happened quickly or easily, or that it will be the same way next time. Putting pressure on getting the 'perfect age gap' between siblings is unnecessary and unrealistic. We might have preferences or hopes, but let's stop pretending that we have control over whether or not we have a full-term, healthy baby. Because the fact is, not one of us through our own efforts grows that baby - it is out of our control.
This question is hard for the mama who lost a baby secretly, and therefore lost not just a child but time being in early pregnancy and waiting for her cycle to return to normal, while watching her other children grow older by the minute.
It is hard for the mama who struggled with postnatal depression and fears the return of it.
It is hard for the mum who doesn't know if she wants to have another child, and doesn't want to be subjected to people's insults about only having one child.
Just because we can choose to have sex, doesn't mean we can choose to fall (and stay) pregnant.
"When do you want to have kids?"
Just because they pretend they don't want kids yet, or that they want to do 'xyz' first, or that they feel too young still, doesn't mean their hearts don't break every time you ask them this. When? When they get a viable embryo, or when they can get through the paperwork and red tape, or afford the operation, or when a child is ready for adoption. When, or if, it will ever happen.
Approximately 1 in 6 couples have trouble getting pregnant. That is a LOT of us!
Many (possibly most?) couples choose to go through their infertility battles in private. Just because someone is healthy and young doesn't mean they can have kids at the click of a button. Asking her if she wants kids can be a knife in the wound. Some women are more than happy to talk about their journeys, but many prefer not to.
When someone goes through a miscarriage or struggles with infertility, the very core of who they are can be shaken. They can experience depression, financial struggles, relationship breakdowns, heartache, a feeling of isolation and so much more. To truly treat the women in our lives with friendship, love, respect and care, it's best to assume they have had private battles and phrase things more sensitively. I know they are great topics of conversation for the innocent, but just remember there's only a one in five chance it's going to be an innocent question for your friend.