There seems to be what is assumed to be a “socially acceptable” waiting period after having your first child, somewhere around 12 months, before THE QUESTION starts to make an appearance in any and every conversation – “Sooooo, when is baby number two coming?”.
This would be a very short post if I ended it right here, where most of us should end this conversation: “It is none of your damn business!”
But since most people are far too polite to be this blunt and defiant, I am more than happy to be the self-appointed “stroppy bitch” on-behalf of all other parents and explain as politely as I can why this line of questioning is not ok, and all the ways the answer is none of your business.
Firstly the deciding is both personal and fraught.
Deciding to have a baby, whether for the first time or for the fifth time is always a big decision, and always an incredibly personal one, the people making this decision are factoring in a number of things that may or may not be public knowledge. There are the obvious things – money, space, time. But then there are the things that are being softly, quietly, tentatively discussed as they lie next to each in the dark before falling asleep, the things that people don’t like to say out loud (nevermind to an acquaintance they bump into at Checkers).
Many of these questions and concerns are even harder the second time around, once the unknown is known and the romance of parenthood has been adjusted to more accurate levels.
“What if my post-partum comes back and I feel like hurting myself again, or even worse?
“What if our relationship can’t handle it?”
“What if we lose another baby?”
“What if we spend all that money on fertility treatment and it doesn’t take?”
“What if we can’t fall pregnant again?”
“What if I am too old and the baby has challenges?”
“What if we are not capable of raising more than one child?”
“I don’t know if I can do (I mean survive) the lack of sleep and stress again.”
“What if I don’t have enough love to give to a second one?”
And secondly, the trying is obviously personal but it is even more brimming with emotion and anxiety than the deciding.
Again trying to have a baby, whether for the first time or for the fifth time is an incredibly personal thing but it is also never a sure thing. And the quiet words exchanged in the dark become even more loaded.
“Why is it not happening?”
“I don’t know if I can go through another round of injections.”
“I can’t lose another baby.”
“Will you still love me, even if we can’t fall pregnant again?”
“The pressure is a lot, it is taking the fun and love out of trying.”
“You’re obsessed, it is driving me crazy.”
“I know we said “if it happens, it happens”, but I NEED it to happen. I need to make it happen.”
“What’s wrong with us?”
“Do you not want it anymore?”
When you consider all these questions, and all the others I haven’t mentioned, and I mean really think about them, put yourself into the shoes of the couple asking themselves and their partner these dark and loaded questions, then perhaps next time you are about to ask someone THE QUESTION about baby number two, you will pause and remember that you are not asking them whether they are planning to bake a cake this weekend or not.
You are asking them the question that launches a million other questions. You are asking them a question that they have probably asked themselves a million times, and since they are not announcing a pregnancy are still trying to find the answers to this and many other questions. Hopefully, you will remember this question is not one that is answered simply and easily.
But above all, I hope you will remember that you should not ask the question because IT IS NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!
Leigh Tayler is a writer, a Leo, a feminist, a fan of The Walking Dead, a lover of all things unicorn and nearly succumbs to rage strokes on the daily. Oh, and she also happens to be a mother to one small feral child. She wears her heart on her sleeve and invariably tells it like it is, the good the bad and the ugly. She juggles her writing, her family, her sanity in-between a demanding career in advertising. She has no shame in sharing her harebrained and high-strung anecdotes on her experience of motherhood, no sugar coating, no gloss, just her blunt truth with a healthy side order of sarcasm. Find her on her blog, The Ugly Truth of Being a Mom.