Stop Asking When I’m Having “Baby Number 2”

 

I am in my mid-twenties with a preschool-aged child and have been married to my husband for just over a year now – so it’s time I had another baby, right? *insert eye roll here*
At our wedding people were asking if I was already pregnant again (drinking champagne from the bottle soon stopped those questions). We were asked if we were going to have a super romantic honeymoon baby. A couple of months after the wedding people were checking in and asking if I was pregnant with said honeymoon baby. A year on, people are tapping their watches, commenting on the age gap and generally getting involved in our private business. 
 
Compare that to when my son was still very little and people were telling me that I absolutely shouldn’t have another baby. Some people even commented that THEY weren’t ready for me to have another baby (?!) but my answer has always been the same:
 
That is between me, my husband and my uterus. 
 
Thankfully, the word “uterus” seems to stop most people from making further comment for some reason.
 
I am not going to divulge whether or not we are trying for a baby because… well… That is between me, my husband and my uterus, but here are just some of the reasons why brash comments about a couple’s reproduction can be really inappropriate:
 
1. This is a big one with a trigger warning for infant loss – they have already conceived but have suffered one or more miscarriages. I would encourage everyone to be as open as they feel they can be about these losses but equally, if they don’t want to talk about it then it’s not okay to force their hand or make them lie or brush it off like nothing. If someone has suffered a loss like that the last thing they want to do is smile along and say “oh no babies for us just yet”. 
 
2. They are struggling with fertility and may well be considering other options like IVF, surrogacy or adoption. Unless this person has told you about their struggles and you are just checking in to see how things are going then this is a real stinger.
 
3. They don’t actually want to have (more) children. Yep – that’s right, humans can actually make the conscious decision not to reproduce and their reasons, if they choose to share them, are perfectly valid and you should respect them. From previous pregnancy/birth trauma to just not wanting to raise a family the phrase “you’ll change your mind” needs binning along with “when are you having a baby then?”
 
4. They already know they can’t have children for medical reasons. This can be broad, perhaps due to an injury or illness, complications with a previous child or medication that could make pregnancy risky to the mother and/or the child.
 
5. They’re already trying and if you just hold on a few months they will let you know when they are good and ready. They don’t want to talk to anyone about their sex life. “We’re trying for a baby” = “We’re having regular sex” and that level of sharing is just a little too much for some people. 

 
6. They want to wait until they are in a more stable financial situation or living in a nicer area and they don’t want to talk to you about sex and money and how they don’t like the town you raised your own kids in because that is an uncomfortable conversation waiting to happen. 
Now, I am actually going to hold my hands up here and say I have asked people about when they’re having babies in the past, and more than once I have been shocked and saddened to hear of their losses and struggles but now the shoe is not the other foot I can only apologise and change my attitude. 
 
Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments, I’m sure there are more than six reasons not to ask a person when they are having a baby!

Confession: I didn’t enjoy pregnancy

This is a topic that many mums shy away from, but I’m here to tell you all that it is perfectly okay to say that, for whatever reason, you didn’t enjoy being pregnant.

Whenever I make this controversial admission, I’m always met by the question of “did you have a rough pregnancy, then?”, or, from people who know me and saw me most days of the pregnancy, the concession “yeah but you did have a lot of sickness”.

First of all, my pregnancy really wasn’t that difficult. It was emotionally hard, as I was battling depression and anxiety, a number of personal issues, and leading a highly stressful life with little to no support network. But physically, it was quite an easy pregnancy. I had some morning sickness at odd points throughout the pregnancy, but really not a lot. Possibly the worst complaint I have of my pregnancy was that I had reflux for the entirety of the last trimester, which had me downing Gaviscon by the bottle, but even that isn’t such a severe reason to have hated being pregnant.

Secondly, regardless of whether I did or didn’t face any kinds of problems while I was pregnant, what has that got to do with my personal feelings on being pregnant? Why is it that my dislike of pregnancy has to somehow be justified by my (usually childless) friends’ perceptions of whether or not my pregnancy was a difficult one?

As much as society is making progress towards equality, I believe that the root of this need to justify anything I say about not liking pregnancy is that there is a stigma that this is what women are supposed to do, and that it’s a magical time, the bad parts of which we should take in our stride because of how we are biologically designed to cope with any childbirth related phenomenon.

Um, no.

Amazing as it is that my body grew a tiny (well, actually a rather porky) baby, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have legitimate complaints about the process.

Even worse than this is the response I get to stating that I never want to be pregnant again – for some reason, my age becomes a factor here. Sorry, I don’t care how old I am, but I won’t change my mind on this. Once was enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still get broody for babies, but I never plan on being pregnant again. I have plans to adopt/foster in the future and again those plans are met with the question of why? I’m able to have children, but that doesn’t mean I have to have children.

Just in case anyone reading this is thinking how ungrateful I am when there are plenty of women who can’t have a child themselves… I’m not. I appreciate that I probably don’t have a reason to complain when I have a perfectly healthy child, but again, the mere fact of my womanhood and my fertility doesn’t impose an obligation on me to have children or to enjoy pregnancy.

If you’re reading this and wondering why I felt the way I did, well…

1. My sickness wasn’t really sickness, it was a constant and painful process of dry-retching over a toilet until I could breathe enough to swallow water and spew it back up

2. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point

3. I put on 3st and hated my body. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying. I didn’t see a pregnant belly, I saw a fat lump of a woman who would never look the same again. That may be vain but sadly enough it was actually the only time I felt any kind of pride in my pre-baby body. It took my pre-baby body to have a baby and be essentially ruined for me to realise that I actually liked myself deep down.

4. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets.

5. In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out.

6. Drawing on the uncomfortable point – I went a week overdue, in a heatwave in May. Enough said.

7. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…

8. That god awful reflux – and yes, I did have a hairy baby.

So there you have it. One woman’s reasons for not enjoying pregnancy and for never wanting to do it again.

It doesn’t make me a bad mother, a bad female or a bad person. I am allowed to have an opinion, and my position as a mother and a woman doesn’t negate my opinion or mean that I should grin and bear it. So to any fellow women feeling the same way, don’t be ashamed. It’s not something you have to keep to yourself when asked the oh so annoying question “so when is baby number 2 on the way?” It’s nobody else’s business, anyway.

Mummies Waiting