A letter I wrote addressing those who ask "Are you pregnant?" for Nashim Magazine earlier this year:
To the nosey person who asks “how far a long are you” or anything similar,
I wish you knew how invasive this question is. I wish you understood that for many women you ask this question to, you are bringing up a hard and painful topic. I wish you were able to grasp that although society acts like people get married and BAM pregnant the minute they want to, it doesn’t always work out that way. For some people, they get married and simply want to wait to have children. I know. To you, It’s absolutely crazy. Why would they wait? What’s the problem? Well, to list a few reasons they can want to finish their education. They may have just gotten a good job and realize people often don’t like to hire a freshly pregnant woman. They may feel like the foundation of their relationship needs some more work before they begin raising impressionable minds. They may be afraid of motherhood and need some time to mentally and emotionally prepare for this change. Each women who chooses to wait, not for medical reasons, will give you their personal reason. There are countless of them and understand that they are ALL valid reasons.
A woman you approach asking if she’s pregnant could have just miscarried, god forbid, for the first or fifth time. That one question can easily cause a Woman who pulled herself outside during this hard time to experience anxiety, depression, doubting her self-worth etc. The impact this question has on a Woman who is struggling to stay pregnant or get pregnant in the first place is devastating. You may have asked someone who after a long time of trying, got pregnant, but is so afraid to say it out loud just yet because she’s expecting the worst.
I wish you understood that curvy women may look pregnant when they aren’t.
Women who have some medical conditions that cause them to bloat may look pregnant when they aren’t.
Women who have various diseases that impact their fertility may so badly want to be pregnant but can’t get pregnant so easily, or at all.
I wish you understood that if someone were pregnant and they haven’t publicly announced it or made an effort to tell you, its because they feel its not your business. They feel it’s the business of their family members and maybe closest friends. If you don’t text or hangout on a consistent basis, you can safely assume that you aren’t hearing such personal news first. Starting a conversation with “So… when are you guys having kids..” is not a conversation starter or how you open a conversation with someone you haven’t seen since High School.
I wish you understood that Pregnancy, the decision to grow one’s family, isn’t about you or your opinion or the timeline you think everyone should live by. Pregnancy is a personal, very personal, topic that is meant to be kept between a Husband, wife, and the doctor of their choice. If and when they decide to start this HUGE life changing step is up to them and god, not you. If and when they choose to share this news, its their right to bring up, not yours. It’s their right to not feel pressured into having to tell someone they are, or about their struggles if they aren’t. It’s their right to have their reasons for waiting and shouldn’t ever be made to feel they owe you an explanation.
I wish this wasn’t a letter that had to be written. This is a topic of discussion that when you tell someone a story about the time you asked a women if she was pregnant, the audience almost immediately responds with “Oh. My. God. You NEVER ask a women if she’s pregnant.” Yet, I am still here addressing all the people who are still asking.
Please, stop asking. Catch yourself. Think about what someone may be going through. This question is a nonchalant conversation starter like “Hey! How was lunch?” This is a loaded question. An emotionally packed question. A question that way too often invades the privacy of many women and their significant other’s.
Rachel Sara Safer