I get asked pretty much on a daily basis if I’m going to have another baby or whether three is my limit. Usually it’s by complete strangers or people I only vaguely know. I generally laugh it off saying that I’m happy with three, and that yes, this is probably it.
What I really want to say though is, “I know you are being polite and friendly and making conversation, and it’s always lovely when people are genuinely interested in talking to me, but there are any number of reasons why asking me this could upset me or cause me offence, and why I don’t wish to discuss my reproductive intentions with someone I barely know”.
Perhaps that sounds over the top or irrational. I’m sure there are countless parents who wouldn’t bat an eyelid if they were asked this. However, I’ve had so many conversations with other parents, mostly (but not exclusively) those with one child, saying how difficult they find hearing this question and that they struggle to know how to respond.
Indeed, before I had children, I found myself fighting off the tears when people used to ask me when I was going to have a baby not long after I’d had a devastating miscarriage. I will never forget one occasion where someone told me in a room full of people, that if I wanted a baby I should “hurry up and get on with it” as I wasn’t getting any younger. I know this person didn’t know what I had been through, and the comment was in jest, but it upset me, and I know similar remarks upset a lot of other women, and men, too. Sometimes it’s really difficult to put on a poker face and pretend everything is okay when someone you barely know asks you about something so deeply personal.
So, next time you feel the urge to ask someone you don’t know that well if they are having another baby, or indeed, their first baby, here are 11 reasons why you should stop and think twice.
1. They might have been trying for the last year or two and are devastated that nothing is happening. Just because they have a child, it doesn’t mean they are immune from difficulties in conceiving number two or beyond.
2. They might have just had a miscarriage (or more than one) and are finding it painfully hard to talk about it.
3. They might want another baby but their partner might not. It might be causing lots of arguments between them and they might be very upset about this.
4. Baby number one might have been conceived with fertility treatment and they might not be entitled to another round, or able to afford another one privately. Or perhaps they did have another round, it didn’t work and they are devastated.
5. They might have suffered with terrible post-natal depression and are terrified of it happening again if they were to have another child.
6. They might have had a complicated pregnancy or birth and might have been advised that having another baby could be dangerous for them and the child.
7. They might have recently split up with their partner, the other parent of their child/children, or they might have been widowed.
8. They might genuinely want one child and are fed up of having to continually justify this decision by strangers who think it is their place to criticise this choice.
9. They might be taking strong medication where the side effects mean it is not advisable to get pregnant as it could be harmful for the baby.
10. They might be desperate for another child but can’t afford it. Having one may have been a financial struggle, and another maternity leave, more childcare to pay for and another mouth to feed would be too much.
11. They might have had a difficult, stressful time with baby number one being ill/in hospital/having reflux/milk or food allergies/autism/or any other condition, and adding another child to the mix is just too much to contemplate right now.
Do let me know what you think. You can tweet me on @cardfifmummy or follow me on Facebook