SENSITIVE POST WITH POSSIBLE TRIGGERS: The title may have triggered you already. If so, I do apologize. I believe this is an important topic to discuss, however. I’ll warn you, though… My perspective about this question is likely to surprise you.
Recently on Instagram, I once again saw the social media post stating, “Stop asking women when they are going to get pregnant.” The post asserts that because of endometriosis, PCOS, other medical conditions, or even just not wanting to have kids, the question, “So, when are you going to get pregnant” is none of anyone’s business.
Now, you might think I’m sitting over here with the clapping emoji, ready to like, comment, and share. It might surprise you to learn that I never like, comment, or share this post.
Or maybe that doesn’t surprise you. I do enjoy looking at things with a different perspective after all…
My Perspective on the question, “So, when are you going to get pregnant?”
And as for my perspective…
Well, I really, really wish the infertility & childless communities would stop telling others to stop asking about when women are going to get pregnant and have kids.
Now, you might be thinking…
What the heck, Brandi?! I usually like reading your perspective, but you’ve lost your ever-loving mind today!
Just stick with me for a moment…
Why on earth would I assert that we should not tell people to stop asking triggering questions like “So, when are you going to get pregnant?” and “Do you have kids?” Well, because I don’t think the question is actually the problem. I think the fact that there is only one acceptable answer is the problem.
In my humble opinion, the infertility & childless communities need to educate others that there are, in fact, many acceptable answers to “When are you going to get pregnant?” And one of those answers is, “I can’t.” Another is “I have endometriosis.” Or “I have PCOS.” Or “I’m infertile.” Or even, “I don’t want to have kids.” (Because I really do believe the childless not by choice and childfree by choice communities should advocate for one another. But that’s a different blog…)
I mean, we claim that we want to break the taboo of infertility and childlessness. We state that we want to break the taboo of women’s health issues. We stand up and say that our voices should be heard!
And yet, in the next breath, we assert that you shouldn’t ask questions about fertility?
Are you tired?
Not too long ago, someone asked me if I was tired. I didn’t really feel tired. I didn’t think I looked tired either. But instead of simply saying, “No,” I explained that I have endometriosis, which causes fatigue. She asked me what endometriosis is exactly. And I spent several minutes explaining a few key points about this chronic illness.
During our battle…
Many years ago, during Dane and my battle, we attended the birthday party of a close friend’s son every year. And every year, this one lady asked me when Dane and I were going to “get one of these.” In other words, “When are you going to get pregnant?”
For several years, I laughed off the question. But one year, I just couldn’t take it anymore. So, I looked at her and said, “Dane and I have been trying for several years, but we can’t have kids. We’ve been diagnosed with infertility.” The smile from her face dropped immediately, and there was a bit of awkwardness. Then, she said, “That’s okay.”
Now, she did go on to say that we could adopt. At that point, Dane and I were researching options, including various types of adoption. My point is not that she gave some type of not so helpful advice, however. My point is that I educated her about the fact that not everyone can get pregnant easily.
Some Final Thoughts…
Now, please, do not think that I am telling every infertile and/or childless woman that she must share her story with the well-meaning acquaintance, the dental hygienist, the coworker, etc. Infertility, women’s health, childlessness… These are emotional topics. And we are under no obligation to share intimate details about our lives with just anyone.
What I am asking…
Before we continue to share social media posts which ask others to stop asking questions… Well, let’s consider that stifling the conversation may not be the best way to break the taboo.
One of the hardest things about this journey is the isolation. We feel alone, like no one understands. But how are we to break the barriers if we halt the conversation, as difficult as the conversation may be?
So, my perspective on the question, “So, when are you going to get pregnant?” I want the wider world to understand this…
Only ask if you are willing to hear a true, authentic answer. Only ask if you can handle that the woman might not be able to get pregnant. Because “When are you going to get pregnant” isn’t a light-hearted question. It is a serious inquiry…
If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments.
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I understand where you’re coming from on this, but I still have issues with the question. My thought is that the question needs to be re-worded to honour all possible answers to something like: “where are you on the wanting/having kids spectrum? And feel free to tel me to mind my own business.”
This gives the person answering an out, but also lets them know that you recognize that there is more than one or two acceptable answers.
I’ve asked this almost exact question to some younger women – my hairdresser and my acupuncturist when the topic veered into the fact that they were engaged or newly married.
Approaching the topic with more sensitivity is exactly what we need. But also allowing people to not answer if they choose.
Stacy, thank you so much for sharing your perspective on this! I truly love how you redefined the question to “Where are you on the wanting/having kids spectrum?” I also love that you openly tell others that they do not have to answer if they don’t feel comfortable. I’m so glad I wrote this post, despite a few reservations on my part. Because if I hadn’t put my thoughts out there, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear your thoughts. And that is why we must keep sharing–when we feel ready! HUGS…
Truthfully when I first began to read this I thought she cannot be serious. I’m glad that I continued to read. It is nice to see it from another perspective because I have always hated the question. Most of all I hated my response, “I don’t think that I can”. I had to make the difficult decision to be childless and because of this post I’m now making the choice to be heard. I will no longer shy away from the question. I will stand with my head held high and boldly say “I cannot have a child”. Hopefully it will help people understand our situation more and hopefully it will make me stronger. Although this is a fresh situation, different circumstances have been leading up to this a long time. There is more for me to learn and I appreciate you for sharing your perspective because it has helped me out so much with mine!!
Quintoria, thank you for reading this blog despite your initial hesitations. And THANK YOU for sharing your kind words and perspective. I’m so honored that my post helped you decide to “no longer shy away from the question.” Because you absolutely deserve to stand with your “head held high” and boldly speak your truth. You are FABULOUS! Sending you so many HUGS…
I also totally agree that the childless and childfree communities should advocate for each other. I look forward to that post.
Yes, I agree that it is a problem that there is only one acceptable answer to this question. But I don’t 100% agree with the rest of your argument, because I object to the question in the first place. First, it is not something that is usually asked of men. Second, it implies that the question-asker thinks that they deserve to know what my plans are (or are not). Or, third, that my reproductive plans and my reproductive system’s performance should be public knowledge. And finally, the question requires an answer, and that really does put me on the spot. Most women are generally polite, and that makes it is hard NOT to answer and give detail we don’t want to give, or to wonder if we are rude. My best answer is “when I want you to know I will tell you.” But I couldn’t say that to everyone. “That’s private/personal” would be a good response too. Or “I’m not,” with no offer of an explanation. Because I don’t think we owe explanations to anyone! It is our right to choose who deserves to hear that information. There are a host of joke responses we can use too – “we’ve just put in white carpet,” or “the dog’s allergic” are some of the best I’ve heard.
Ultimately, I think the question itself, whether or not I have reproductive issues, is invasive and rude, unless the question-asker is close to me.
As always, thank you for giving your perspective, Mali. I knew when I published this post that not all would agree with my thoughts. Ultimately, I decided to share my perspective, as I want our community to consider various sides of this issue. I do remember this question being difficult to hear and answer when we were in the midst of our battle. (This question was actually asked to both me and my husband…) And as I said in my blog, I am NOT saying that one must share personal details with just anyone. I do, however, really want conversations about fertility/infertility/childless/childfree to be able to take place openly in an effort to break stigmas.
That’s the beauty of this community. We don’t always agree. Or we might agree at one stage of the journey, and not at another, or vice versa. Or we agree with about 60% etc. We don’t have to agree to support each other. I freely talk about not having children and not being able to. But it is always always my choice if I do so.
Yes, it is absolutely a personal choice to share when/if/how much/with whom… And YES, we do not have to agree on everything to support one another! 🙂