7 December 2019 will mark a year since my friends Tshenolo and Bongani Gule have been married. They have been together since they were kids. Literally children. I would sometimes look at pictures of them when they were still young and in love, and I have hope. Their love is beautiful. They are so goofy together. They have not lost the play in their relationship, and I believe that’s what makes it work. They are friends before anything else, and it is beautiful to witness.
As I said, this would be a year since they have been married and people will start asking very inappropriate questions:
“Hao, you’ve been married for a year, when are the babies coming?”
“Girl, you must just do it now and get it over with.”
“Everyone is falling pregnant. When are you doing it?”.
What these people don’t know is that on the 5th of August 2019, Tshenolo and Bongani buried their son, Khwezi.
What they also don’t know is that this was the 2nd time Tshenolo fell pregnant, but the first time she miscarried soon after falling pregnant.
What are we hoping to achieve by asking these questions? Are we going to feel better about ourselves if we know that a couple are not planning on having kids at all? Or do we sleep better knowing our favourite couple plans on having kids in 5 years?
The sensitivity around fertility issues is one subject that is not recognized by many. I still get people asking me when the second baby is coming. These are people I have no form of relationship with. Its even people I haven’t seen for years who are aware that I have a toddler, and are curious to find out when am I bringing a sibling for Tshimo into the world.
This question always leaves me baffled and I always battle with giving the right response. Mostly because I am a really nice person and I always formulate a terrible response in my head but never articulate it correctly.
How would we imagine the conversation with Tshenolo would go after she has been asked about her failure to bring a child into the world? She would be asked by a person who is definitely outside of her circle. Because if this person were in her circle, they would have access to privileged information about Tshenolo’s miscarriage and Khwezi’s burial.
Tshenolo’s close friend just lost her child due to preeclampsia.
I am sure this loss has rocked her entire world. The last thing she needs while dealing with a trauma like this is being asked terrible questions. Other people who know that she lost a child will go as far as asking “when are you going to try again?”.
So where do these people get the confidence to go up to people they clearly don’t know very well and ask such nonsensical questions about things that don’t involve them?
This is because for so long a woman’s worth has been measured against her ability to conceive. Your legitimacy as a wife is solely based on your ability to procreate.
That a marriage is “incomplete” without babies.
Plus, we have all heard the nonsense about ticking biological clocks, like you are on everyone else’s time.
I feel like we still have a long way to go as a society in terms of shifting this very narrative. Currently, the narrative is basing our very womanhood on children.
I have seen a comment from a midwife on a similar post. She mentioned how cruel that question is. She has seen women go through 8/9 miscarriages before ultimately giving up, or finally being able to bring a live child into the world.
Hear that? It is cruel.
We might think we are just making conversation and asking an innocent question.
What we don’t know is that women are probably crying themselves to sleep every night at the very thought of wanting a child.
We probably also have no idea that women have fallen into deep dark holes of depression due to the numerous miscarriages they have had, and pressures to conceive from their in-laws.
Marriages have probably even fallen apart due to the realities of child loss. Can you imagine the strain it causes a family?
Maybe we still live in a society that shies away from conversing about child loss, or one that does not know how prevalent it is.
1 in 4 women will lose a child!
Ladies, go and sit next to three women you have never met. 1 of you has, or probably will miscarry or give birth to a stillborn.
Infertility is a real thing.
Have you met a couple that has been trying to conceive but hasn’t fallen pregnant yet? I know of one that has been trying for 10 years with no luck. I sometimes see the sadness in her eyes when she sees little kids running around. The hurt that is accompanied by that kind of longing is unimaginable. Being asked when a mini you will be running around like that, knowing that childbirth is not a reality for you is hurtful as hell.
I have always underestimated the blessing having a baby is until my preggy friend miscarried for the first time. Only at that point did I fully realize and absorb the truth that not everyone is able to carry to term, and birth successfully.
So many women either lose their children before they meet them or never get to take them home.
Also, not everyone wants a child.
It is sad to hear that a couple I know does not want children, making excuses about their decision. If they don’t lie about their timelines, they try and justify their decision to not procreate.
So can I humbly ask that we respect the boundaries that exist when it comes to conversations surrounding fertility and children? We have no idea what people are battling.
Karabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen. She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo.