Is it ever OK to ask a woman WHEN she’s having a baby?
“When are you going to have a baby?!?!”
It’s a well-intentioned question. I get it.
Now that I’m a year and a few months into being married, the question pops up with increased frequency. Usually it’s only asked by people close to me – and a few friends/acquaintances who *think* they’re close to me. It’s interesting that people ask because the most important people with the best right to know – the PARENTS – have yet to even bring it up. Plus, no one asks my hubby. They only ask me.
I usually say that I’m not old enough to have a baby yet. Then I add that the hubby and I have to travel to both Paris AND Amsterdam before we have kids. Plus, I’d like to be married for a hot second before introducing someone else into my new relationship.
I’m not to the point where I’m furious because someone asks. But I’ve talked with other couples about this and they tell me that the “baby question” is one of the rudest questions you could ask a woman. Why? My friends say it’s rude because she might be infertile and if so, her infertility is none of your business. She might have been raped at a young age and had her ovaries ruined. Her husband might have a low sperm count. They might have been trying for years to no avail.
And if any of that actually happened to a couple, they might be too traumatized to discuss the details of their sex life over dinner at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
The hubby told me that he doesn’t think it’s anyone’s business to know whatever it is we have decided about kids. His take on it is that people have to just wait and see.
Another newlywed friend said that every time she passed on a glass of wine at dinner everyone at the table was like “oh! Are you expecting?!?!?!” She didn’t want to tell them that she was being treated for a vaginal infection and therefore couldn’t drink liquor. Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. She wound up saying she wasn’t pregnant and didn’t feel like wine tonight.
As for me, I find it odd that folks want to ask if I’m pregnant every time I get the flu or food poisoning. This is despite knowing that, for example, I’m running a fever of 102, am on antibiotics and just had rare pork loin for dinner… I think it’s funny and speaks to the fact that people think I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant prior to getting married. Even funnier when you consider that I had PLENTY of stomach flues prior to tying the knot.
In fact, while we were sitting on the couch, someone very close to me suddenly and unexpectedly reached over to rub my stomach, told me I was glowing and asked me if I was carrying a baby in there. All this in the space of six seconds. “Er.. No.” I said, suddenly reminded that I’m no longer the teeny size 0 that people expect me to be.
I was a little freaked that someone reached over to rub my stomach. (That was just weird and I totally sympathize with pregnant women who complain about that random kind of rubbing action.) But secondly, I was embarrassed that because I no longer have the 97 pound body of myself some 10 years ago.. [Read: because I have gained weight now that I’m no longer 21] people will now assume that I’m pregnant. And truly, unless you’re my trainer or my hubby, I don’t want anyone else ever asking me about the physical condition of my mostly-flat (on most days) stomach.
A newly-pregnant friend was aghast at this tale. Said she: “What if you had just had a miscarriage?”
If I had just had a miscarriage, that question might have seriously hurt my feelings. Good thing I was just suffering from too much apple pie and ice cream from a birthday dinner.
I made a similar “baby question” mistake four years ago. I was covering Hurricane Katrina down in Gulfport, MS and I was interviewing the injured who had been brought to a local veterans administration hospital. One of the nurses walking me around the premises had a huge stomach. She was rubbing it and holding it. After two days of working with her, I felt comfortable enough to ask when she was due. “I’m not due,” she said. “I have a 20-pound tumor in my belly.”
All I could say was “I’m so very sorry for assuming.”
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What say you? Do you ask? If so, how? And if you are on the receiving end of such questions, how do you respond? I think it’d be pretty horrifying to the asker if you gave a blow-by-blow description of your attempts to get pregnant. But if you say, “Yes, I’m trying to get pregnant,” will the asker then continue to ask month after month after month?