The Problem of Being a Woman of Childbearing Age

There comes a point in every woman’s life when the question of babies starts to rear its sweet-smelling, downy head. No, I’m not talking about those relationship-changing moments when you sit down with your partner and have an often nerve-wracking conversation about whether you want to have children or not. I’m talking about all those other times when the question of babies comes up. For when you’re a woman of child bearing age, it comes up regularly. And often when you least expect it.

In the supermarket, on the train, at your slimming club. From friends, from family, and, often the most disturbing of all, from complete strangers.

This can make certain situations feel a little bit tricky. Take, for example, a recent outing to the pub with my WI friends. I’d not been feeling too well with a migraine all day, but I really wanted to go out and see them. The WI doesn’t meet in August, and I hadn’t managed to get to the July meeting, so it would have been three months between seeing them had I waited until the September. But this begged the question of, what should I drink?

A simple question for many, but when you’re a woman of childbearing age? Not so much. Why? Well, if I was to drink anything alcoholic, I’d be likely to make the migraine worse. But if I gave in to what I really wanted to do and just order a lime and soda water? Then everyone would start to question whether I was pregnant.

No. When you are a woman of child bearing age, things are not simple. Take for example the fact that I recently liked an article that my friend Abi of Something About Baby had written for pregnancy magazine Emma’s Diary. All very well and good: I’d liked it because she is my friend and I wanted to support her (and well, you know, help her beat those pesky Facebook algorithms). But then you start getting people asking you, “is there something you need to tell us? Are you going to be reading Emma’s Diary again yourself soon?” Actually, I’d quite like to have another autumnal day sat tucked up cosy on the sofa in my sweats reading Emma’s Diary, like I did one time when I was newly pregnant, but more for the fact that I’d like to be tucked up on the sofa, warm and cosy, reading something, than for the fact of being pregnant again! I actually worried about the comments from this simple Facebook action so much that I messaged Abi to tell her that in future, she was to share the articles on her own Facebook page so that I could like them there instead!

Of course, if you are actually pregnant, this also poses its own challenges. If you normally like a drink or a cup of coffee and then you stop drinking either, the questions start again. I have a certain set of drinking buddies close friends who noticed I wasn’t drinking when I was newly pregnant but hadn’t yet announced it. And when I did finally announce my news, they said that they’d known all along but hadn’t wanted to say as we’d had quite a difficult journey towards parenthood thus far. This was obviously great for us, but sometimes your friends do call you out on not drinking, and many people don’t want to announce their pregnancy until 12 weeks. We actually decided that if people asked us outright before our 12 week scan, we’d tell them, but this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it should be respected. But when you’re a woman of child bearing age, it often isn’t.

The Problem of being a woman of childbearing age

Bump!

Of course, many of these examples are minor annoyances. Little things that a bit of honesty can put straight, even if you’re annoyed at having to do so. But what about those times when asking a woman of childbearing age about their baby plans can do more harm than good? What if you can’t have children? What if you simply – shock horror! – don’t want children?!

I’ve heard stories of friends of child bearing age being asked if they want to lose their baby weight, for example, when they haven’t even had a baby. Not only is this completely embarrassing for the woman in question, but it’s also really quite upsetting if you’d love a child but can’t have one.

I remember, when we desperately wanted a baby more than anything, being asked by someone at a children’s birthday party when we were going to start a family of our own, because, and I quote, “I wasn’t getting any younger” (I was 30 at the time). I brushed it off as “oh we need to finish our house renovations first,” but inside I was incredibly hurt by the comment. The person that made it didn’t know we’d been trying for a baby for the past 18 months at that point. And in this instance, it wasn’t just the woman of childbearing age that had a problem with the comment; I’d never seen Mr Lighty get as drunk as he did at the 30th birthday party that followed that night, reeling from the casual remark.

So although I’m being a little flippant, because let’s face it, in many, many ways, being a woman of childbearing age is a wonderful thing (just look at all of the beautiful babies many of us have produced, not to mention the careers we’ve created, friendships we’ve forged and the overall fabulousness of being who we all are!), I guess the point is, if your friend isn’t mentioning baby plans, don’t call her out on it unless she wants to talk. Or if she isn’t drinking alcohol for whatever reason, don’t question it. She might well be pregnant but not ready to admit it to the world; or she might just be harbouring a migraine. She may want a whole brood, or she may want none. Or you may need to remember the sensitive issue of those people that can’t have children for whatever reason.

Or it may just be that she had one too many glasses of prosecco the night before, and hair of the dog is not on the menu! Either way, go easy on her; she, is, after all, not just a woman of childbearing age, but she’s also simply a fantastic, fabulous, phenomenal woman.

The Problem of being a Woman of Childbearing Age

Three fabulous women of childbearing age! I *may* have written this post after sharing a bottle of Prosecco with these lovelies…oops!!

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26 thoughts on “The Problem of Being a Woman of Childbearing Age”

  1. Yes I totally agree with you here. I was being asked about when the babies were coming along for years before we had our two. As soon as I had popped out my first, people were asking when I would be having a second! #dreamteam

  2. I was only having this conversation with my husband yesterday. People insist on asking us when we are having another and it really annoys me. What if we can’t? What if we don’t want another? Who’s business is it anyway? People can be so opinionated when it doesn’t concern them. I am so with you. Unless we bring it up. It shouldn’t be mentioned. #dreamteam
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  3. This seems to have become accepted in society and used to drive me insane. My sister once asked me and my husband-to-be (at the time) when we were going to have kids. It took all my self control not to reply with when we are ready and in a position to support one financially ourselves and not through benefits like you!

    I’m glad you wrote this post, people need to know that it’s not cool. #DreamTeam

  4. #dreamteam thinking about it, its a blooming personal question to ask. i often want to reply with ‘stop worrying about what my vagina is doing/ not doing’ but obis don’t…maybe ill try it? 🙂

  5. The pressures that society puts on women when they reach a certain age to have kids – is unbelievable. My eldest daughter was barely 4 months old, when people started asking so when is the second one coming. And now that I have daughters and in my early forties – the question is still being posed when are we making a boy. I just pretend not to hear those questions and don’t answer.#dreamteam

  6. I never understand why people feel they have a right to ask when you have having another child? If you are trying etc? You wouldn’t go up to anyone else as say ‘are you having sex at set times of the month?’ So why do it to women of a certain age?

  7. This has been the bane of my life for so long. I got all defensive and went down the “don’t want em” route even when it was more of a “I have no clue”. Now I’ve concentrated on me and my relationship with my husband and guess what… 17weeks pregnant and counting. Also complete bricking it! People should NOT ask ladies of any age. I’ve been quizzed since 16!! Not fair. #dreamteam

  8. Recently I’ve had a few people ask me if we’re planning a third, and when I tell them that no, we are definitely NOT planning a third they have the cheek to smirk at me “hmm, we’ll see..” #dreamteam

  9. Oh my god yes, it is impossible to not drink alcohol on a night out without pregnancy suspicions starting to run wild! I don’t think lots of people just speak without thinking though a lot of the time. Love that you wrote this after a girlie night on the prosecco!xx #dreamteam

  10. Yes this is very true! I was even drinking one small glass of prosecco at a wedding recently as I had a 3 hour drive home that evening and a friend started saying, ‘I bet she’s pregnant’. And I can tell my family is watching me like a hawk and waiting for the announcement of another. It’s ridiculous and intrusive being ‘expected’ to pop out babies – I’ve even found myself trying to ‘act’ not pregnant when I’m actually not pregnant… how confusing is that!? #dreamteam

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