I get it. My daughter is three years old and having a sibling to snuggle and grow up with would be an amazing adventure. I get it. Being an only child sometimes can cause children to be selfish or spoiled. I get it. The closer in age they are, the better of a relationship they will have. I get it. It just seems like the right time to grow our family. I get it. If I wait too long, our chances of getting pregnant will begin to become less and less. I get it. We originally said we wanted multiple little ones running around our house destroying what little cleanliness there was left. Please trust me when I say, I get it. We get it.
What I wish you would take the time to get is that things don’t always work out how people had hoped. You are right when you tell me that we said we wanted a couple, if not a few children. You are also right when you remind me that we wanted them close together. You are also right when you point out that our child might miss out on being in high school with a sibling if we wait much longer. What you don’t know though is that every time you remind me of these things it hurts a little more. It stings a little deeper.
I know you mean well when you ask. I know you ask because you love us and because you are excited to see our family grow. I know you would never chose to intentionally hurt us by asking what seems like an innocent question. The reality though, is that it does hurt and it’s not an innocent question. If anything, it is an insensitive question. The reality is that even though we were blessed with our beautiful daughter we have struggled immensely with getting pregnant again. We have miscarried. We have wrestled through getting our hopes up, just to find out that we weren’t pregnant in the first place. We have watched as many of our friends who were pregnant at the same time as us, and even after us, have announced they are having baby number two or three. Even though we have one beautiful daughter, the road and journey has still been incredibly difficult. We have cried many tears and had tough discussions about if we even want to keep trying.
Please also trust me when we say we know we are not alone. The question “When are you having your next one?” is one out of hundreds that sting a little when they are asked. I wish people would take the time to understand that not everyone shares their deep hurts and struggles with every person they meet. I wish they would understand that what seems like a simple question or comment can really pack a heavy punch. One that hurts every time it’s asked or said. For those that have never experienced such pain, please take a moment to consider that others might be facing it daily.
There are a long list of questions and reasons not to ask or “hint” to people about growing their family. I thought it might be helpful to include some of those here. I know I can’t cover every scenario, but I sure hope it brings light to the pain that a simple sentence can bring.
“When are you going to start having children?”
“You guys have been married now for what, like 5 years. Aren’t you going to have kids?”
“Don’t you want another one?”
“Awww, look he would make such a great big brother. Can’t you just see him protecting a little sister and making sure all of the boys don’t mess with her?”
“I know you lost a baby a while back, but don’t you think it’s time to try again? You will never know if you don’t try.”
“You should just be grateful for the one you have. Some people never even get that.”
“You could just adopt.”
“I know you say you don’t want kids, but you will change your mind. Everyone always does that says that.”
Honestly, even typing these things makes me cringe. Also, I’m sure I have been guilty and out of negligence I have asked someone one of these questions before. To any of you that I might have made that mistake with, I’m sorry! I really am. I get it now. The reality is that if these things were said, a lot of women might reply with something like this if they were honest:
-Well, what you don’t know is that we have been trying for years. The pain and the stress of failing has caused a huge strain on our marriage. We can’t even look at each other anymore.
-We have decided not to have children. We instead want to focus on traveling and building our careers. Every time people ask that question, it leaves us feeling judged because we have chosen a different path than most.
-We have lost a baby in the past. We don’t think we can go through that pain again. So instead, we have decided not to try anymore.
-All babies need love and adoption is an amazing thing. We have discussed that. However, it’s also very expensive and can take an extremely long time. We are open to that. At the same time, it also doesn’t remove the sting of feeling like my body as a female has failed me and my husband.
-Yes, we do want another baby. Thanks for reminding me like it’s not already at the forefront of my mind every waking moment of every day.
-If one more person asks me that question, I am going to explode with tears and anger!
Maybe next time you think about asking someone a question about having kids you could instead ask them “How are you?” Maybe next time you want to “hint” at a baby, well, just don’t.