The Pregnancy Questions I Don’t Want You to Ask

by Kelli on September 11, 2012

in Parenting

There is a sort of expected progression in life.  As soon as you get a serious boyfriend, people start asking when you’re going to get married.  When you get engaged, everyone wants to know the date.  When you get hitched, everyone asks when you’re having kids.  These are the norms, these are assumed, expected occurences in most people’s lives.  And when you don’t follow the norm, these questions can be extremely annoying, not to mention evasive.

First, let me start with the whole “when are you getting engaged” question.  Now, I’m going to go out on a crazy limb here for a second and dare to say most (not all, but most) women wonder the same thing when they’re of age and have a serious boyfriend.  I know I did.  I also know I could never answer that question without feeling flustered, because, well, my boyfriend had serious committment issues.  As in, he said repeatedly he never wanted to get married.  So anytime anyone would ask that question–especially after we had been together four years–it was unsettling to me.

Once I actually got my ring (that’s a story for another day), people began to ask when the big day was.  How was I supposed to know?  Rings don’t come with manuals, and I’m not the type of girl who plans these things beginning at age five.  I was engaged almost two years before I set a date, and even then it was only because I fell in love with a dress and decided to actually go through with the wedding (and because my sister planned the entire thing for me).  It was just another question–nothing out of the ordinary, mind you–that left me feeling like I was somehow doing things wrong.

And now I face the worst question of all: When are you having kids?

The truth is, I don’t know.  It hasn’t happened yet.  We’ve been trying(ish), but after two years, it hasn’t happened.  We haven’t been to the doctor or anything, and we’re not living life and scheduling things around my cycle.  But we are ready for kids.  We want kids.  Just…it isn’t happening.

And that is hard to admit.

Trust me, I am well aware that I am in my mid 30s.  I am well aware that risks are increasing and my number of eggs is decreasing as each day passes.  I am well aware that most people my age already have kids.  I am well aware that everyone assumes we’ll have kids next because, well, that’s what you do.  We have the house, the dog, the white-picket fence, but not the 2.5 kids.

And you know what?  I don’t need anyone to remind me of that.

I am already dangerously close to feeling like a failure.  I remember the days I would talk about what month I would get pregnant.  I wanted to plan the birth around my work schedule, maximizing my time off with my new baby.  As though these things can be planned.  That was two years ago.  Now every single month I feel the disappointment when another period arrives, telling me I have failed once again.  I no longer care when the baby arrives, just that it does.

And yes, I am aware that I could go to the doctor regarding what might be fertility issues, but somehow, I can’t bring myself to do that.  Because with that comes the admittance of defeat.  The reality that we can’t do this without help  That, more than anything, makes me feel as though I somehow failed as a woman.

Especially because it seems everyone around me is announcing pregnancies.  My brother’s girlfriend.  My brother in-law’s girlfriend.  The wife of a friend who just got married.  The sixteen year old down the street (I wish I were joking on that one).  And, while I wouldn’t say these announcements upset me, there is an undeniably nagging feeling that grows stronger every time I hear of another ( and usually younger) woman who has succeeded where I have failed.

Maybe in a few more months, as my 35th birthday draws closer, I will go see the doctor.  Until then, I’m going to continue to believe that this will happen when it’s meant to happen.

But in the meantime, what I ask of you is that you think before you ask people questions that, while not intended to be so, are pretty damn personal.  I know the progression of The Questions people ask as you go through life, but I also know the dread and sensitivity each question brought me because I wasn’t doing things the same way everyone else was.  Maybe it’s me being sensitive, or maybe it’s that the questions need to change.  Maybe instead of asking “when are you having kids?” the better question would be “are you considering having kids?”  Likewise with the married thing.

Because, as someone who has done things a little differently than the norm, I can tell you that each time I was asked those questions, it hurt.

Tina September 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

I could have written this! I did things a little differently as far as getting engaged/ married. We are also trying for kids and nothing. I did go to the doctor and with a simple blood test I found out why. Go… It doesn’t mean you failed it just means your getting a little help and that’s OK!

Britannia September 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

Thank you Kelli for sharing with us about such a deeply personal matter. I can honestly say I understand your situation all too well, as we have been married for nearly three and a half years and… no baby as yet. But that doesn’t stop plenty of people from asking us about our plans!

We have recently started to undergo IVF treatment and have not looked back since our initial decision to go and talk to a doctor. We didn’t rush into it, but tried the old-fashioned way for three years first. Then we found out that my husband has an extremely low sperm count. Luckily, we are still good, healthy candidates for IVF. The reason why I tell you this story is because if you do decide to go to a doctor, your husband will need to get checked out as well. The hard fact is that male factor infertility is currently the number one cause for infertility in otherwise healthy couples.

Of course, it needn’t be the case that you have to resort to IVF. It may turn out that all you need is some drugs to help boost your body’s own hormones, or you could go the IUI route. That said, I completely understand that you will need to feel ready to make an appointment a doctor first…

These days we are so, so happy that we are actually doing something to address our fertility issues instead of just sitting around worrying about things My personal view is this: knowledge is power. Best of luck to you and your husband!

Tawny September 11, 2012 at 10:11 am

I understand EXACTLY how you feel. I am 32 and we were married almost 7 years ago, every month someone was pressuring us to have children. Finally we started to tell everyone that we were too selfish for children and were pretty sure we would not have any. The truth was we sort of did want kids but for some reason I never got pregnant. Towards my 30th birthday I became obsessed and had every test imaginable and was basically told that I was not ovulating and maybe I should try meds. I resisted and told my husband I did not like the odds of multiples and painful cysts that came with taking medicine.

Anyway – my husband turns 35 in November and we decided that if we were not pregnant by then we would quit “trying” and just practice safe sex. We were content to just grow old and travel and be carefree. Well guess what!! I am pregnant. BOOM. I was in such shock when that second line appeared that I did not even pull up the panties when I ran out of the bathroom.

To all the doctors that said it was not possible – poo on them. Through diet, excercise and obviously some other divine intervention, here we are.

Hollie September 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

My husband and I have been together for 13 years, and married for 7 of them. We don’t have kids. I wanted to have kids, but never wanted to get married. When I got married I found out that I have PCOS, and so I don’t always ovulate. For a long time, my family would ask when we were havIng kids, his family never did. My grandmother actually gave me a little porcelain doll and said to implant it and maybe it would grow.

We never did fertility treatments or any of that, but I did track my cycle for a while. I decided that if I wasn’t pregnant by the time I was 35, we wouldn’t worry about it anymore. I’m about to be 38, and these last few years without the pressure was great. My family even quit asking.

My siblings are filling in the grandbaby quota, and I do have to say that when they started having them, I was crushed. I would cry for days when I would hear that so-and-so were pregnant. There are now 9 nieces and nephews for me to spoil, and I get to send them home when I am done.

K September 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm

People should be careful about what they say for exactly this reason – when it comes to these “life milestones,” a person who is pursuing but not achieving them may be hurt by the assumption that they’re not trying combined with the reminder that it’s considered important.

But it is just as annoying to people who AREN’T pursuing the same milestones because you can’t even answer the question properly. For me and my friends it’s been “so what are you going to do with that [chemistry degree]?” What if my plan doesn’t have anything to do with my degree? What if I don’t have a plan? What if you don’t want to have kids? What if you think state-sanctioned marriage is unimportant to the commitment of your relationship and you’d only do it if you needed to get your partner a visa while you live in another country? I think it’s entirely reasonable to request that people get in the habit of asking open ended questions with a minimum of assumptions.

Jen D. September 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years, living together for 5.5 years. He’s 32 and I’m 27. People are ALWAYS asking “when are you getting engaged”? When, when, when? I’ve always known he wants to marry me…I’ve also known he is not in any kind of rush. Our relationship is already like that of a married couple (sharing finances, plans, life, etc)…why is everyone acting our relationship is less serious or less meaningful because we’re not following their timeline? I was never concerned about when he might pop the question, but in the last year with everyone asking so often and with couples we know getting married left and right after less time together it has been stressful. People don’t realize how much pressure it can be to have so many people asking these questions all the time!

Jennifer September 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

As someone that suffered through infertility for seven years and bears the soul scars… do it in your own time. Just, yeah… don’t wish heartache or pain on yourself because you are “supposed” to be at a certain point. Just do it in your own time.

Michelle September 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor! I’m 33 and we tried for two years with nothing. Went to the doctor and got pregnant the first cycle of iui! Found out that we probably never would have gotten pregnant naturally and I could have avoided monthly disappointed if we had gone sooner!

LT September 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I am 33, been married almost 12 years and don’t have kids for a lot of reasons — and am always stunned by people’s total lack of sensitivity to that. Honestly — here is a clue. If a couple has been married a long time and don’t have kids — the reasons why are personal. And in most cases, painful. And none of your business. As in, that’s not appropriate dinner time topic of discussion. It’s not appropriate to ask an acquaintance.

Great post. Good luck with the procreating and dealing with all the nosy nancies out there.

Katie September 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for sharing. My IVF baby is almost 11 months old. We lived through 4 years of heartache while trying to conceive, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! Things just work out the way that they are supposed to!

daisy September 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Also, if you know a person at all, you will know what is going on in their lives that they are willing to share. If they haven’t shared it with you, they either aren’t comfortable talking about it with others or don’t want to talk about it it with you. There is nothing at all wrong with not asking about these things to begin with.
Talk about what is going on in someone’s life and if they want to tell you about these big life steps, they will bring it up all by their big grown up selves.
Like, hey what’s new with you? Boom, no pressure and you get to be all surprised and excited if they bring up something super important to them.

Christina September 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

Thank you for sharing.

We kept getting the same question when we got married.

We got pregnant once about 3 years after marriage and 5 years of being together and had a miscarriage. A few months later with some healthy changes and relaxing we got pregnant again. What I did – a baby asprin every day, lots of water and because of the miscarriage I took the prenatals. I tracked my period and knew the most fertile time and the not so much time. We did it all the time no matter the time and I was pregnant later that same year.

Now people ask when I am having another – my response I was spayed the day I had my daughter. The look of horror in their face is amusing. Look, I didn’t really want kids because I had two step kids until I got pregnant the first time. We had our daughter and I was lucky by Gods grace to live through the pregnancy. C-Section because induction didn’t work and the tubes were tied. I love having my daughter and if God chooses the blessing of more children they will come by adoption or fostering.

I know people who are visiting the doctor because they are afraid to wait much longer and I just want to scream RELAX! Asprin, get healthy and go at it like rabbits. I have read that missionary is best to concieve – well hunny from behind is my favorite and thats how it happened for us!
Enjoy life and in time it will happen.

Ignore the question. People are nosy!

Heather September 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Well said. I wish people would really think about what they’re asking.

I’ve always loved babies and wanted children. One day I was holding a friend’s baby and a lady told me “you look good with a baby, you should get one”. Oh really, can I just pick one up somewhere? When you have no idea what people are struggling with, these personal questions can really hurt.

See related: “Are you ever going to get married?” Gee, I’ve only wanted that, well, my whole life. But since you mentioned it, sure! Where’s the nearest available guy?

Laura October 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

Nice article – this is a message that people should definitely listen to. I NEVER NEVER ask anyone that kind of question because, like you said, you just don’t know what is going on with people. My brother and sister-in-law just told us that they are having a baby and I am so excited. She went through breast cancer about 5 years ago and with all the treatments, it was possible that her body would go into menopause, so they froze some embryos. I knew that I would never never ask about their plans or anything about a potential pregnancy because I had no idea at what point they were in any kind of plans or process. They did use an embryo to get pregnant (2nd try) and now we can just be HAPPY rather than everyone asking and having put pressure on them because we were all waiting for a pregnancy to come.

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