It feels like it happens overnight.
One day you wake up and all of the girlfriends that used to be right beside you closing down dance floors and eating MacD’s at 3AM suddenly have babies. As if the transition from birthday parties and stagette weekends to baby showers and gender reveals isn’t shocking enough, you now have people unabashedly asking you when you’ll be following in their footsteps. I’m not just talking about parents, who are so desperate for granbabies that they bring it up at least once a week at the dinner table. It comes from all directions; close friends and virtual strangers of both genders. You’ll probably hear it at work too, regardless of the fact that it’s a major HR faux pas.
I’m fascinated by this because although reproduction comes more naturally to humans than pretty much anything else (I mean look how many of us there are), it’s a complicated topic with a lot of layers that can bring up some tough emotions for the woman on the receiving end of the question.
Here are some things to consider before you go brazenly asking people an incredibly personal question as though it is any of your business;
As women, we possess the physical anatomy to create human life. It’s amazing, and magical and one of many traits that separates us from our masculine counterparts. That being said, we have a lot of other really cool skills, talents and capabilities too. So to assume that a woman is going to have children just because she has ovaries is about as silly as assuming that she is going to run a marathon because she has legs. It is an incredibly personal decision that will impact every single minute of her life moving forward. It is a decision that should not be made lightly, should not be rushed and it definitely should not be made to avoid being on the receiving end of shame from the people in her life.
If and when a woman has confirmed that children are something she would like to see in her future, a very preferable, although not completely mandatory prerequisite to having kids is finding a partner to undertake the process with. This takes time, and most of us have to work through a few failed trials before we find the right man. As a recent divorcee, I can attest to the process of separating from a partner being extremely challenging. Sharing children with someone is a lifelong commitment to collaborating with them as a parent regardless of where your romantic connection stands. Unless one parent decides not to remain involved which brings a whole new set of considerations. The point is that by making someone feel pressured to create offspring, you are oversimplifying the partner selection process and simultaneously undermining wherever they stand in their romantic journey.
If there is one thing I have learned from watching the women in my life over the past 5 years it is that fertility and conception is something that can be unpredictable, difficult and incredibly stressful. This is one of the most under-addressed stresses that females deal with and I am amazed at how quietly most women cope. Most of us have never done fertility testing, and after spending years focused on not getting pregnant, the female body has to undergo a big shift to get into conception mode. It can take time to flush the remnants of hormonal contraception. Many couples have to try for a long time before a successful pregnancy, even years. They read books, eat certain foods and adhere to a strict sex schedule with bizarre positions that can be a lot less romantic than you would imagine. A positive pregnancy test is only the beginning of the journey; many women experience anxiety inducing complications and between 10 and 20 percent of known pregnancies miscarry. This loss can be devastating, often dealt with privately and brings a whole new level of pressure when the trying resumes. Can you imagine the identity crisis that could result from not being able to conceive after receiving messaging throughout our lives that this is the only thing we are good for?
All of this is to say that the bluntness and repetition with which this question is asked is inconsiderate. Not only are you assuming that a woman has chosen this path for her life, but you are not considering the possibility that, even if she has, it may not be an accessible option for her. So don’t make assumptions, and if you do decide to broach this with someone make sure you have the appropriate connection and standing in her life before doing so. Choose your words carefully, refrain from judgement of any kind and make sure she feels safe and supported in discussing this incredibly sensitive topic with you.
Let’s normalize safe and healthy discussions around this topic, Girl Gang. May the women in our lives never have to suffer in silence.
This blog was written by Jillian Kruschell, Regional Vice President for Crowned for Success (Canada West) and Founder of Hype Girl Coaching, a Life Coaching Practice exclusively for females focused on empowerment, self love, and smashing goals!