For the past couple years, on Valentine’s Day, I’ve shared some of my most personal posts. Two years ago, I told the story of how my husband and I got together, Our Love Story. To this day, it remains one of the most popular posts on my site.
Last year on Valentine’s Day, I opened up about the struggles Alex and I had during our first year of marriage. I hoped through sharing the 15 Hard Truths About Marriage that I had learned, it would provide comfort to those dealing with similar struggles (whether in year 1 or any other year of their relationship).
Why all of this on Valentine’s Day?
Because while Valentine’s Day can be a happy time for some, it can also be a sad time for others. It’s the day of the year when the spotlight is all on relationships. So, I think we should be honest in sharing the good and the bad, and different aspects of love and relationships.
In keeping with this theme, this year I wanted to share an update on where Alex and I are now. I also wanted to address the one question I’ve gotten asked the most since we got married, “So, when are you going to have a baby?”
Where We Are Now
The quick update is that Alex and I are doing great! We’re well into our 3rd year of marriage. Between this time last year and now, we’ve traveled to California (with our first ever trip to Disneyland), Prince Edward County, Southwestern Ontario, Vancouver for our 3rd wedding anniversary, Vietnam, and Myanmar. A couple summers ago, we welcomed a new addition, Douglas, into our home. And over the past year and a half, Douglas has brought so much more joy into our home. We feel like the luckiest people in the world to have such an amazing animal and companion!
Okay, so now about the baby question…
Before answering, I want to address the dangers of even asking this question. As you can imagine, I’ve been asked A LOT. There have been times I’ve felt okay answering, and times I’ve been rubbed completely the wrong way.
So, I’ll share this as an open letter to any person out there who feels compelled to ask a woman when she plans to have a baby.
Why You Shouldn’t Ask the Question, in the First Place
Quite simply, asking a woman, “when are you going to have kids?”, or any variation thereof, is NOT APPROPRIATE. It’s an incredibly loaded question, which has the potential to offend, hurt, or make a situation verrrryyy awkward. It’s a conversation-killer. So, here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t even ask, in the first place.
1. It’s Based on Archaic Assumptions
If you ask me when I’m going to have a baby, you are assuming 2 things: (1) that I want to have kids, and (2) that just because I’m married, I’m supposed to have kids.
Our purpose in life isn’t merely to find a mate and then procreate. Many have rejected marriage altogether, and for those who have chosen to get married, the next natural step isn’t necessarily having a baby. Some have decided consciously to not have children (not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to), and that’s perfectly okay.
There are so many alternative lifestyles and family structures. No one is obligated to have kids. And, no, it’s not selfish if you can but don’t want to because there are people out there struggling to conceive. Our decisions about our reproductive system are entirely our own.
2. It’s None of Your Business
It’s neither your right, nor your privilege, to ask this extremely private question. In asking, you’re essentially forcing a woman’s hand in revealing something she wasn’t ready to. If you’re a close friend or family member, she will tell you if she is expecting or how she feels about children, when she’s ready. If you’re not a close friend or family member, it’s frankly none of your business.
Have we even stopped to think why this is relevant in 2020 anyway? There are literally a thousand other questions you can ask me. Ask me how my day was. Ask me how my job is going. Ask me about any upcoming travel plans. Ask me if I’ve been to any good restaurants lately.
One woman’s fertility is none of anyone’s business, but her own.
3. It Could be a Trigger
Asking when a woman plans to have a baby can not only offend, but can also hurt. It could be a trigger for someone who is trying to conceive (TTC), who has miscarried, who might be infertile or have a partner who is infertile, who is going through fertility treatments, or who has issues with her health.
She may be having difficulty or may have lost a child and doesn’t need your probing question as a reminder of that.
4. She Doesn’t Need Your Opinion or Advice, Unless She’s Asked for it
As well-intentioned as you think you might be, do you think there’s anything you could tell her that she hasn’t already considered? Do you think she wants to be reminded of something she’s likely already spent a lot of time thinking about? She already knows “the clock is ticking”. She already knows “she’s not getting any younger”.
Have you considered that your unsolicited counsel pressure is actually bad advice? Do you know anything about the couple’s financial situation, relationship, or mental or emotional readiness?
The decision to have a child is a MONUMENTAL one. The timing has to be right. The reasons have to be right. In the very fitting words of a dear friend, “It’s a human, not a shirt.”
Our Response to the Question
Now that I’ve gotten that little gripe off my chest, I’ll turn to my actual response and why I’m deciding to answer. Although I wholeheartedly stand by the fact that it’s not appropriate to ask when someone is going to have a baby, I am choosing to open up about this issue because my view is slightly unconventional, and there need to be more alternative views shared on this topic.
And since this is a decision that involves two people, I have gotten Alex’s permission to share this post and our feelings on the matter. So here goes…
We do want to have a (human) child, and he or she will be a blessing whether that happens in the near or distant future.
We did not want a child last year, the year before, or the year before that.
We have intentionally waited to start trying until we both feel ready. A decision to start trying must consider the fact that pregnancy could happen right away, or it could take months or years.
In choosing to wait, we acknowledge, AND WE ARE OKAY, if it doesn’t happen for us.
While we respect and support other people’s fertility decisions, we don’t feel that IUI or IVF will be options we want to canvass, if trying to conceive naturally doesn’t pan out.
Ultimately, we are okay if it never happens for us. Not because “things happen for a reason”. Not because “it’s God’s will”. But because we feel COMPLETE.
We love each other. We love our dog. We are happy with our life.
I am happy with and love myself. I know that I am not any less of a woman if I don’t have a baby.
I know that my identity as a woman isn’t defined by whether or not I become a mother.
I am a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a dog mom (and that’s already a lot of roles to handle!).
We are grateful for our immediate family, our extended families, our friendships, our health, and our jobs.
We are three and thriving, and anything else would be a bonus.
Photography by: Laura Clarke Photography