This is a post I wrote around National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day last year, but this topic will always be relevant no matter what month and day it is. Although I had a child by that point, this includes my thoughts and feelings from before I was pregnant as well. It is important to continue the dialogue and to continuously self-reflect on how we talk to each other. This is a reminder for myself, first and foremost:
October 15th was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and it has reminded me of how to conduct myself around other people. I say “people,” not just women, because men are also greatly affected when their child passes, whether it happens before birth, during, or after.
It also made me think to when I first got married... very soon after my wedding, people’s eyes would wander down to my belly, then snap back up to meet my own eyes with a “knowing” smile, asking that intimate question without using their words:
“Are you pregnant?”
Others would approach me at parties and blatantly demand to know when I would have a child, snarkily asking “Soooo, any good news?” and gasping when I responded that it wasn’t the right time for a child in my life. “No!” they would exclaim, quickly standing up and mentally preparing for a long debate. “You shouldn’t wait that long. You should have them quickly.”
A few thousand retorts would cross my mind. How I wish I could go back in time and say “Alrighty then, let me go get started. Save me some dessert, will you?” or “I didn’t realize you had ownership over my body and life. Write down your address for me so I can start sending you my bills.”
However, I usually laughed it off and waved them away. Nothing was remotely funny, I just couldn’t believe the outright nosiness of it all. Someone once dared to ask if I was unable to have children because “it’s been two years already.” LOLWUT
If I-someone who has never experienced loss of pregnancy or loss of a child- felt so uncomfortable, furious, and belittled with this pressure... I cannot begin to imagine the pain of someone who actually has lost a child, miscarried, struggled to get pregnant, and/or was told he or she is unable to have children.
I mean, can you imagine?
So much probing, dissecting, demanding on what is- at the base of it all- someone’s sex life (or non-existing sex life)... can you imagine how much hurt, devastation, and damage is being caused when posed to people who are silently suffering? The thing most people do not realize is that they can never know who is suffering and who isn’t. They don’t get that having a child does not define someone’s worth and right to exist.
I am blessed to have an amazing mother and an amazing mother-in-law who never put pressure on me and my husband, and would straight up tell others to let me and my husband live our lives the way we want to and respect our decisions. I realize that unfortunately, many people do not have this type of support. Many times, too many times, the most pressure comes from the closest friends and family members.
Here is what’s what:
- The next time you want to ask someone when they are going to have a baby, don’t.
- The next time you want to remind someone that he or she is “not getting any younger” and should have kids sooner, don’t.
- The next time you want to find out if someone is having trouble conceiving, don’t.
- The next time someone says he or she does not want children and you want to convince that person otherwise, don’t.
It is literally as simple as that.
There are plenty of other things you can do instead when faced with a situation in which you want to say any of those no-nos listed above:
- You can learn about that person’s dreams, aspirations, and personal goals and express your support.
- You can compliment the person’s outfit because damn, they’re rockin’ it.
- You can invite someone else into your conversation to help carry it along.
- You can stuff some delicious cake in your mouth. On a diet? No problem. Substitute with a fruit instead.
- You can walk away.
It doesn’t matter if you are the best friend, the closest cousin, the mentor, the parent, the grandparent, etc. You are not entitled to such personal information, and you do not have the right to dictate those personal decisions. If someone chooses to disclose that information, he/she will. They are not waiting to be asked.
Be compassionate, be supportive, and be mindful that all may not be as it seems.
Enough with these inappropriate questions and comments that do more harm than good.
As for why I don't have another child yet? It's none of your business.
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