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Why it’s not okay to ask

By Jessica Mary Logan 

There is no set plan in life so the simple question, “When are you having a child?” can be heartbreaking and impactful for many people.  Firstly, you don’t know what someone else has gone through or is going through. Secondly, it can be sad or frustrating if things aren’t going well for them. And thirdly, this is their choice and others have no right to question it.

Think before you ask
Sure, I understand sometimes it’s general chit-chat, but if that’s the case, rephrase the question to something like, “Do you plan to have …” Be aware you may be put into an uncomfortable situation as their story could be very sensitive or upsetting or they may not wish to share. They could be the one in every six couples that have trouble conceiving. IVF could have been refused, unsuccessful or too expensive. They could have experienced miscarriage after miscarriage. The person you are asking could be a victim of domestic or sexual abuse. Maybe physical contact is still traumatic. Perhaps they had to have an abortion in the past. Or, they could have health issues impacting their fertility, their ability to raise a child or a pre-existing medical condition may make it too dangerous for them to get pregnant.

Try not to judge
Some people may not be ready for, or interested in, raising children. Whether they don’t feel the relationship is ready for that next step, they are working on their career, they don’t feel mentally ready for the commitment or they don’t feel financially prepared. Some may not enjoy sex, which
we all know is needed to make babies. It could be too painful or their sex drive could be low. They could be thinking about a surrogate. It may seem different to you, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

For myself and my husband, we get asked: “When will you be having babies? Who will have one first (him or his sister)? Why aren’t you trying? Why don’t you try other routes?”  At the age of 28, I never thought I’d be in my current situation and often feel like I’ve let myself, my husband and my parents down. I always wanted children by the age of 23 but I wasn’t in
the right relationship. After I was married, my husband, Dale, and I were fincancially ready, with careers and a house of our own, however I knew he still wasn’t mentally ready and our relationship too new.

Not our time
We were planning to try for children after we got married (I would be 25 and Dale 29) but the year before, my health had started deteriorating. I was in the hospital close to death and in the space of a year had four major bowel operations. This, along with my gynecological problems, makes my fertility questionable. I wonder if I will ever be able to conceive and I’m often asked, “Why don’t you try? Did you know there are other routes?”

I’ve always said I’d adopt if I couldn’t conceive, but my health has continued to deteriorate. I am unable to get out of bed most days, so it would be impossible for me to raise a child. I’ve also had to give up my career, so financially we wouldn’t be able to manage the additional expenses related to having a child. Yes, I find this extremely hard to accept…knowing I may never have children is soul destroying because it’s something I’ve always dreamed of and I was ready to achieve. But right now, it’s not our time.

None of your business
So, my friends, it’s not all right to ask. It’s also not okay to ask when someone is getting engaged, married, moving out, changing jobs, etc. These are all personal and couple-related goals and, as such, are none of our business.

As I see it, we should think before we blurt and instead of simply asking, work on waiting until we’re told and supporting friends, family and colleagues on whatever route they choose. It’s their journey, not ours.

Jessica Mary Logan lives with three invisible illnesses and disabilities (IBD, CFS and Mental health). She raises awareness of invisible illnesses and disabilities to one day stop discrimination. Jessica runs projects through www.makingtheinvisiblevisible.org.uk.

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