Oh Baby, No Baby?

I’m not pregnant. 

Let’s just get that out of the way now, shall we?

For some reason, Stereotypical gender roles indicate that, because I’m 34 years old, I should be well on the way to motherhood by now…but that’s just not the case. Still, my fertility (or lack thereof), and the fertility of all women, is always up for discussion. But I don’t have to tell you we have no boundaries when it comes to women’s bodies, do I?

Even when it’s asked with love, “When are you going to have a baby?” is an inescapable and frustrating question for so many women. There are a bazillion layers to dissect here, so just for today’s blog post, I’m going to focus on the part that hit me the hardest last year: sharing big news.

Shockingly enough, a woman in her thirties can have news to share that isn’t related to having a baby.

When I was going to share the news about our move to Baltimore last summer, I chose my words very carefully. Like, I practiced how I was going to tell people because I knew – I just knew – that if I buried the lede even the slightest bit, folks were going to jump to the pregnancy conclusion.

Think about it. If a woman of “childbearing age” starts an announcement with “I have news…” where does the mind jump? I mean, even the word announcement evokes images of baby bumps and showers and maternity leave.

Still, I had high hopes for my enlightened, feminist friends and colleagues as I prepared to give notice of my international relocation.

I phrased my news as such:

“So, Paul got a new job and we’re moving to Baltimore!”

The response?

“What? Oh, I thought you were going to tell me you’re pregnant!”

Bob's Face Palm

What do you even say to that? Ummmm, nope. Not pregnant, just preparing to leave my job, sell my home, and move to another country, so…NBD, eh?

I’m not talking about one or two individuals here either. With the exception of my nearest and dearest who already knew my in/fertility situation (more on that in a future post), there were a lot of responses of this nature.

It was frustrating because I really thought I had set myself up for news-sharing, baby-avoiding success by phrasing my move the way I had. I was also disappointed that even the most progressive, staunch feminist, liberal minded people still felt the need to share with me that they were expecting a baby announcement.

Now, I don’t blame these people for going there. And I know the question wasn’t intended in any way to be hurtful or even prying. Some even said it offhandedly: “oh, you seemed like you were going to tell me something else – like that you were pregnant.” But the fact remains that we as a society have got to stop being so obtuse when it comes to sensitive and personal questions about women’s bodies.

So, the next time a female friend says she’s got something to share, consider maybe that she’s up for a promotion, or that she just had something published, or that she found the absolute best new pizza place in town. Aren’t all those things worthy of celebration too?

Design

11 thoughts on “Oh Baby, No Baby?

  1. Thank you for sharing this; it’s a message that must be heard again and again for all to start to learn. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of saying such things in the past, but I can say that for the past several years I’ve made a conscious effort NOT to assume friends have intentions regarding children and to word my questions in a thoughtful, respectful way. The more we are reminded by strong souls like you that these assumptions can be unintentional hurtful, the more we will all become more empathetic – and focus on celebrating whatever wonderful news you have to share.

    • Thank you for saying that! I’m sure your friends appreciate the efforts you’re making. I feel like it’s totally okay to ask your close friends if they want kids but it’s such a different story when it’s an acquaintance or colleague asking WHEN.

  2. Thanks for this! Also 34 and probably not able to have children and I hate feeling insufficient or not enough despite all I do in life.

  3. I love this post so much. After years of feeling like I disappointed people with my non-baby news (and even after finally having two children and being public about not having any more…) I STILL get anxiety and feel like I have to plan ahead and word my “announcements” carefully. “Big news” PTSD…

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