We recently flew to Minnesota and being a family of four we had one row with the girls and me, then my husband across the aisle. A seemingly nice woman sat next to my husband and introduced herself. Then my husband gestured to us and said those are my girls. “Oh, well it looks you might need to try for a boy, huh? This is the equivalent of asking a newlywed couple, “So, when are you going to have kids?” right after they finish their first dance.
I have had a really hard time with this question, especially lately, because you never know “when” or “what” or “if” they are going to have kids or not.
This is probably one of the most insensitive topics to bring up to a woman if you don’t know their history. I am thankful for my husband and that he explained my history of postpartum depression and anxiety, and having another child would likely put me further into a deep dark hole that I have to work extremely hard to get out of. Needless to say, she didn’t ask another question or speak to my husband again for the duration of the flight.
When are you going to have kids?
I had a good friend who was in the middle of a miscarriage, told that she should have more kids because their first is so adorable and they are such great parents.
I have a friend who has been trying for years to start her family. Spending hoards of money to help her and her husband conceive. Their next step is the long and hard process of adoption.
I have another friend who would have another baby at the drop of a hat, but can’t. She and her husband have agreed to not have anymore.
Then there is me. I had amazing pregnancies and had super healthy babies, but my postpartum journey was dreadful. If I had a third baby, I can almost guarantee that I would end up in the hospital for postpartum depression and anxiety. If we want another baby, it won’t be from me.
You simply don’t know if a couple wants to have kids or not.
Why is it insensitive?
The loss of a child is indescribable.
The hurt I feel when I think of the women who have lost children brings me to tears. Now to ask that of a mother, who you may not know is having a miscarriage or having difficulty conceiving is not ok. Albeit unintentional, that hurt will be with them for the rest of their lives, and it’s not anyone’s business, actually.
This goes for the women who don’t have the desire to have kids too. The “normal” societal standard of growing up, falling in love, getting married, and popping out kids isn’t everyone’s dream. And guess what? That’s ok! There is enough pressure to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Some women are dead set on the idea of adding the pressure of having kids. It’s their life and their choice what they do with it.
Unfulfilled desires can feel like a weight crushing your heart, especially for the group of women who would love to have more kids but can’t justify it, or their bodies won’t allow it. Money issues, a partner is done having kids, job loss, demanding job, etc. When we ask these women if they plan on having another and they have to say, “No,” when their heart is dying to say, “Yes,” is unfair to them.
I actually was part of the “one and done” group for a long time. There was a part of me that didn’t want to have two kids because my first experience with postpartum was the biggest challenge I’d faced. I didn’t want a second kid until 4.5 years later after thinking about my oldest being all alone after my husband and I ultimately die one day. (Morbid, I know but it’s true.) There have been times where I have thought about another one, but I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of my mental health. Bringing a baby into this world knowing you might suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety to the point of hospitalization doesn’t seem fair to your current children, let alone a newborn or your partner.
So, just don’t ask.
Simply put, it’s really none of our business. Unless you are best friends, family, or married into the family could you ask, and even then… maybe reconsider and don’t. If someone wants to share their journey with you, they will. (We didn’t even tell our family when we decided to try for a second because it’s just an intimate decision.) And when they do, keep that information to yourself. It’s sacred information about a life that isn’t yours to question.