As much as life has changed and we see men taking on paternity leave so women can continue to work, women postponing motherhood so they can build a career first, couples deciding to have a baby before getting married, or without getting married at all, there are still so many preconceptions about life, relationships, and pregnancy.
My partner and I have been together for over nine years. We’ve started dating in our early 20s when we were just kids trying to figure out life. Two years into the relationship, we moved in together. We’ve grown together, worked together, traveled together.
We always knew marriage and babies were things we both wanted, preferably in this order, but were never in a hurry to get there, as we were busy enjoying each other and building a life together. As we were getting closer and closer to hitting 30, everyone around us was starting to be concerned about when we were planning to get married and have kids. At first, we took it as a joke, but as time passed, it became more and more annoying.
When we decided we wanted to take the next step into our relationship and get married (way too late, according to those around us), the wedding party wasn’t even over, and people were already asking when we were planning to have a baby. I honestly thought the “we got married” news would keep everyone off our backs for a while, but it turns out I was wrong.
We had already discussed when we were going to start trying to have a baby, but it was a personal decision we didn’t feel like sharing with the world, especially since we didn’t know if it would take us a few months or a few years to get pregnant. When I got pregnant, we kept the news to ourselves for a while, and only announced it to people towards the beginning of the second trimester. Why? I know some are ready to shout it to the world as soon as the second line on the pregnancy test becomes visible. We were part of those who preferred to keep things private and enjoy it between just the two of us for a bit. We also wanted to make sure the baby was healthy, and everything was okay before telling the world.
Meanwhile, people kept asking us when we were planning to have a baby. I soon ran out of excuses for why I wasn’t drinking a glass of wine. Whenever I had a headache or wasn’t feeling good, someone would immediately assume I was pregnant. I even started joking that before we got married, nobody noticed if I wasn’t feeling well.
I felt like I was lying to everybody, but I eventually realized it wasn’t me doing anything wrong — it was all of them asking us all these inappropriate questions that were out of line.
Once we started telling people that we’re expecting a baby, I got reactions like, “Oh, I knew it,” “So when I asked you, you were indeed pregnant, but you lied,” “Why didn’t you tell us when we asked?” and so on.
My answer was invariably you never ask a woman if she’s pregnant, but I was surprised by the confused reactions of the people around us. Some even asked me, somewhat bewildered, what’s wrong with asking that question. So, here it goes.
Pregnancy is a very personal and intimate choice between the two people becoming parents, and it is an even more intimate experience for the mother.
It’s unique from one mother to another, even from a baby to another. Often, before things get magical, they get worse, or at least that was my case. I felt nauseous and tired throughout the first trimester. I found it hard to grasp the idea that the tiny human growing inside of me, a reason for so much joy and happiness, was also causing pain and discomfort, as my body was adjusting.
We needed a minute to ourselves, to take in the news and our new reality, and enjoy it just between us two for a while.
The percentage of miscarriages in the first trimester is unsettling.
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, but the numbers are most likely higher, as many miscarriages occur early on in the pregnancy, before a woman even finds out she’s pregnant. So it’s understandable why some women don’t want to spread the news just yet. Maybe both the mother and the baby are okay, but she wants to wait for the second trimester before announcing the pregnancy.
Maybe she was pregnant but suffered a miscarriage. She might have lost something the size of a sesame seed or a blueberry, but the pain can be overwhelming, and people asking about it will only make a woman feel worse, question and blame herself that she might’ve done something wrong that led to the miscarriage, although it was out of her control.
Infertility is no longer something we barely hear about, but a reality many couples face.
Some of them struggle for years to have a baby. Imagine trying for one or two years to have a baby – as relaxed and casual as you might be about it at the beginning, you’re bound to get worried, frustrated, and stressed as time passes, and it’s not happening. People asking when you’re going to have a baby is just an annoying reminder that you’re not “capable” of getting pregnant, and will only add to the frustration, the stress, and worries.
More and more couples today decide parenting is not for them and choose not to have a baby.
I sincerely admire their bravery, because I believe it takes courage to admit that you don’t want children, that you don’t think you’re made for parenthood, or are not willing to take on this responsibility.
I’ve seen so many people with no idea what being a good parent entails having children anyway, that it’s refreshing to see mature people admit it’s not for them.
You never ask a woman if she’s pregnant because it’s simply not your business.
We went from a generation of grandmas looking out the window to see what others are doing to a generation of Facebook and Instagram addicts that spend hours looking into other people’s lives, instead of focusing on living their own.
Let’s pause for a bit. Let’s look more into our households and inside ourselves, and less into other people’s lives. And let’s stop asking women when they’re having a baby.
Being in a long-term relationship doesn’t automatically mean you have to get married nor have children. Getting married doesn’t necessarily mean you should have a baby next. Turning 30 is not the universal age for marriage and parenthood. Let’s become more open to the diversity around us and show more kindness towards one another.