Please Stop Asking Us When We're Going To Have A Baby

“So, when are you going to have kids then?” Let’s be honest, we’re all guilty of having asked this seemingly harmless question at some point in our lives. Except harmless, it is not.
Case in point: I’ve been single or in non-serious relationships for most of my 20s. They’re your 20s, right? The time to be figuring out what exactly it is you want to do in life, before things start getting a little serious later on. Or so I thought. Apparently, according to a friend, being single at 28 is like projecting your own personal subliminal message to the world.
Advertisement
“I thought you didn’t want kids!” she exclaimed in shock over brunch, after I’d started talking about the future and ‘one day’. When I looked a little confused, she continued, “Well, you haven’t seemed like you’ve wanted a relationship, so I assumed you were happy to be an independent woman.”
While she totally didn’t mean to offend me, she kind of did. Concluding that I didn’t want to have kids over (what seems to me) a pretty ridiculous reason made me feel like I’d passed some kind of invisible fertility sell-by date. And I was insulted. Did I need to run out into the street and make a marriage-and-babies pact with the first guy I came across? I sincerely hoped not, especially as we were in an area mostly inhabited by granddads.
As human beings, we seem to be fascinated with the fertility prospects of others. Innocent or otherwise, delving into someone’s reproductive choices is a prerogative that needs to be wiped out. There may or may not be a good (or heart-wrenching) reason why someone hasn’t yet had children but trust me, they will have definitely thought about it before you helpfully decided to prompt them on the subject. It’s time to realise that a woman is worth far more than the state of her uterus and reproductive plans...
1 of 7
The mother of an only child

“When my son was about two years old, I started to get a lot of "So, when’s the next one?" I would reply with a long, guilt-filled explanation about why we decided to ‘just have the one’, desperate to get approval and reassurance that I wasn’t a terrible, selfish person for not giving my child a sibling.

It wasn’t, in fact, an easy decision to come to. We spent many hours discussing and agonising over the fact that, in our hearts, we knew that we were at our limit financially, physically and emotionally, and that to have another child would tip the balance of our family life from managing to really struggling. We just didn’t want that for ourselves or for our son.

I felt that I had to justify our decision and make it clear that I really do love being a mum despite choosing to have just one child. After a while, when my own guilt had subsided, I began to resent the implication, whether intentional or not, that somehow our family is incomplete or that my wonderful boy is not enough.

I resent the assumption that because I have a womb and have used it, that my reproductive plans are open for discussion to complete strangers – and the fact that my husband has never been asked the same question.”
2 of 7
The newlyweds

“My husband and I had been together for 10 years before we got married, so I’m no stranger to annoying questions about my future, but the speed of the baby question has shocked me. Our honeymoon plane had literally only just touched down when my mother-in-law ‘jokingly’ asked about grandchildren. And it’s not just older relatives either; if I ever dare to opt for a soft drink instead of a glass of wine on a night out, I am immediately faced with a sly “Not pregnant, are you?”

It hurts to think these friends haven’t considered I might be going through hell. I could be trying desperately to conceive, suffering the heartbreak of miscarriages – and yet they ask such an incredibly personal question anyway, without care or interest, just because they think it’s what a woman in my position should be doing.

At first I bluffed my way through, answering honestly that I wasn’t sure I was ready and I wanted to enjoy being just the two of us for a while. But after a few “You’re not getting any younger” comments, I now answer with an abrupt change of subject.

Ultimately, I can’t help but feel incredibly pressured by the questions and a little bit saddened that if I do start a family, instead of excitement and joy, our news will be met with an exasperated, “Well, about time”.”
Advertisement
3 of 7
The couple suffering from infertility

“There’s a lot of pressure on us from a young age to avoid getting pregnant at all costs until you’re absolutely ready or ‘your life will be over’. So when you start trying to get pregnant, you assume it’s just going to happen. Like clicking your fingers. You don’t expect that after two years of trying, you’ll still be waiting for that positive test result.

Living in limbo before your next period, overanalysing every single sensation you have because it might be a sign of pregnancy, only to see the dreaded single line on a pregnancy test, followed by an immense sadness you cannot shake before the process starts all over again. And you never know when, or if, it’s going to end.

This is my truth. So when every single person, from family to virtual strangers, stabs a "When are you having kids?"-engraved knife into my stomach, it’s soul-destroying.

I swallow back the tears and answer with an “Oh, we’ll probably have them one day”.

I don’t understand why we’ve been conditioned to feel like it’s ok to ask such a question. It’s invasive, rude and I’m forced to lie. What am I meant to say? “Well, basically Karen, I have regular doctors’ appointments where they stick uncomfortable dildo-like cameras up my vagina to try and find a reason why I've played the last 26 months in some kind of baby-banned limbo, dealing with constant failure and disappointment and feeling like I’m not good enough to do the job that humans were put on this earth to do.”

I know it’s not meant to be hurtful, but having the added pressure from others when you’re trying to conceive is something that I just can’t deal with on top of it all. I wish people might consider this and think before they speak.”
4 of 7
The career woman

“I’m 30 and have always focused on my career goals and how I’m going to achieve them. My friends definitely see me as the ‘motivated one’, but equally I like having fun and enjoying life. I have a lot of friends and have only recently come out of a two-year relationship, which is why I was pretty gobsmacked when one of my friends told me that she’d assumed I didn’t want kids, because I’m the ‘career one’ (she actually likened me to Barbara Windsor). Like, what the actual fuck? Are we still living in a day and age where women have to choose between having a career and having a family? Because it would be totally impossible to have both, right?!

Seriously offensive. People like this need to stop living in the dark ages. I do want children, when I’m settled in my career and have achieved the goals I’ve set for myself. Or even if it happens before then, I’m sure I’m perfectly capable of achieving them with a baby in tow.”
5 of 7
The woman of ‘prime age’

“According to targeted advertising, I should really be getting on the pregnancy bandwagon at the ripe old age of 29. Every time I browse the web at the moment, I get those pregnancy adverts featuring women sitting in kitchens the size of my entire house in the middle of the day (presumably their partners are at work making the money to pay for said house), laughing senselessly about how happy they are to have received a positive result on their pregnancy test.

Every time I see those ads, it makes me feel sad. This is what women my age are ‘supposed’ to be doing. And yeah, I'd like to, but right now my life isn't suited. What am I meant to do – have a baby and continue to live in a flat-share? Bring the baby to work with me and stash it under my desk (have you SEEN the price of childcare?!)?

I don't really know what the solution is. I just know that the reality of women being able to ‘have it all’ isn't quite achievable at such an age for many of us. And it seems like some major changes will have to be made before it is.

To be honest, right now, I'd just settle for a pregnancy test ad with a slightly more accurate slant. Like two friends sitting in their shithole of a kitchen, drinking prosecco out of mismatched mugs and toasting to celebrate a negative pregnancy test result. That, to me, feels more like reality.”
6 of 7
The mid-30s woman

“I’ve always wanted a family and hadn’t imagined my life any other way. But when I came out of a long-term relationship two years ago at 34, it suddenly became clear that things weren’t just going to fall into place for me. When destiny doesn’t do its job, you have to take things into your own hands. So, yes, I am actively looking for a relationship. But who wants to admit that? And of course, I know there’s an added pressure at my age. That time isn’t on my side, biologically, if I do want to have kids. And I certainly don’t need anyone else to remind me of that.

So the answer is, yes. I do want children. I desperately want children. But I haven’t yet met the right man; and equally, am I meant to rush into it as soon as I do find the right person? I’m under a lot of pressure and it gets me down, more than I like to admit. It really is a dagger in the heart when someone tells me “to hurry up and have babies before my time runs out”.

I’m probably too polite and embarrassed to do anything other than laugh it off, but deep down it’s a constant reminder of something I’m already dealing with.”
7 of 7
The woman who actually doesn’t want kids

“No, I don’t want children. Oh, I have to provide an explanation for it, too? Well, I hate to let you down, but there isn’t much of one. I just don’t feel, personally, like that’s what I want. My partner and I have been together for five years now, and we’ve discussed possibly getting married in the future, but we have both decided that children just aren’t for us. Every time I get asked the age-old question, I always feel like I have to justify my answer with over-calculated responses to help people understand or to make myself seem like less of a monster. They always reply with, “You’re young, you’ll probably change your mind one day”. I hate to disappoint you, Mystic Meg, but I know I won’t. And if not having a reason is good enough for me, then it should be good enough for everyone else, too.”
Advertisement

More from Body

Watch

R29 Original Series