Sunday, August 16, 2015

Being Asked "The Question"... and Why You Shouldn't Be the Asker

As most women of a certain age know, if you haven't had kids yet, people start looking at you anxiously. If you concentrate, you can see aunts, cousins, family friends, etc. whispering quiet encouragement to your ovaries. "There is still time..." they promise. "Not much..."

If my fellow women are anything like me, reaching a certain age also led them to a keen feeling of being duped. Up until the very day you reach that certain age, the rhetoric is all "you're still young... you still have time... live your life." But no one follows that up with "But by age 33, 9 months and 14 days, be done and be pregnant, because then your time is up."

The switch flips overnight, and FYI.

My husband and I started trying to get pregnant when I was 33. I still felt young and unsure we were ready. I was, however, very sure that I was ready to stop getting "The Question." If you've made it past 30 without procreating, you've likely gotten the tentative yet probing "so do you think you'll ever want kids?"

We had a rather tempestuous time of getting pregnant. Ultimately, it only took us six months, but those six months included a cancer scare, surgery, a miscarriage, a referral to a fertility specialist (that we thankfully ended up not needing) and a very frank conversation about adoption versus in vitro. Once I did get pregnant, my doctor told us we had a pretty big chance of losing our baby before the end of the first trimester (thankfully, we didn't, and my little guy is kicking my bladder as I type). It was a roller coaster and one that left me emotionally frayed and terrified. . Worse, I felt like a failure. I had waited too long, the little voice in my head told me. I wanted the career and the experience before kids, and now I was paying for it. 

And as all of this went on inside my head, "The Question" persisted. Low voice, head tilt, sad tone... "Do you think you'll ever want kids?" 

So let me just assure you, if you've ever asked "The Question" before, you may have hurt someone's feelings. If it was someone like me who was going through hell trying to get pregnant, I am pretty sure you made them cry. Every time I got "The Question" during our half a year of angst, I smiled in response and then went home and sobbed. 

I honestly don't understand why "The Question" is socially acceptable in the first place. I am an open book, pretty much known for my tendency towards TMI, but my decision to have children always felt deeply personal to me. Someone asking me when I planned on having babies really felt like someone saying "so, how's that uterus?" 

Then again, society has this weird view of reproduction as a communal project. More on THAT to come...

But trust me... don't ask it. If curiosity gets the best of you, ask "so what's in store for you over the next few years?" Just leave my uterus out of it! 

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