Open Thread: No Kids… Yet


What to expect when you're NOT expecting

by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

Open Thread: No Kids... Yet | A Practical Wedding

Last year I turned twenty-seven. This year Michael and I will celebrate our fifth year as a married couple. Which means, of course, that the questions have started. For the first time since Michael and I started dating, the conversation in my family has shifted from “Dear God, please just don’t get pregnant” (My mom was eighteen when she had me, and Michael and I started dating in high school. It was pretty much the only rule in our house) to “When are you going to have babies?!” In fact, this past Christmas, I found out at dinner that my sister and aunt were placing bets as to whether or not I was already pregnant, supported by the evidence that I was the only one not chasing my McGriddle with mimosas (even my unrefined taste buds can’t stomach André before 1PM.)

To be fair, I haven’t been helping myself in the situation. (I think I told Michael’s mom that all I wanted for Christmas was to hold a baby. Whoops.) While we’ve talked at length on APW about the decision to have kids, or not, we haven’t really dug into what it feels like when you want kids, just… not yet. Longtime APW reader Brooke, sent us this email:

I can’t tell you how often I’m being questioned or forced to justify the fact that we haven’t made children a priority yet. Actually, I can tell you. At least once a week on a good week, sometimes as frequently as daily.

Initially, I brushed it off. “Haha, we just got married. Everyone is excited for us. They want to see us take the Next Step.” As time went by, it became a little more uncomfortable. Why were people still asking? Why did we need to keep them updated as to whether or not our plans had changed? What if we WERE trying and were having difficulty? Would I have to tell them that? Do I owe ANYONE an explanation?

Just this week, I was reminded yet again as a family member announced her pregnancy, and was met with cries of elation and my own mother running out to the store to buy baby gifts. My mother, who has expressed nothing but a lack of understanding and displeasure at our choice to wait to have children.

For some reason, it felt like a complete betrayal. Why is it not acceptable to ask a couple to justify their reasons for bringing a child into this world, but it’s fine to subject couples who wait to an inquisition? And then, as happens so frequently and is even worse, to attempt to invalidate their reasons for waiting or choosing to remain childless. The imbalance in our cultural dialogue regarding childfree couples is disheartening, bordering on disgusting.

As for us, Michael and I have never waffled on our desire to have kids. We’ve hit a point where we feel emotionally ready for children, and are giving it some time for our finances to catch up and to get in some solo travel. In the meantime, I offer up my babysitting services to Meg and David so they can have date night and I can get my kid fix. And we’re okay with this.

But in the meantime, what do you do about everyone else? On the one hand, I can understand. Nobody gets more excited about the possibility of loved ones having babies than I do. But do we really have to spend the next few years of our lives giving the pat line about how I’ll have a baby when I get all the laundry off my floor? (A feat I haven’t accomplished since I left home for college, so it buys me time.) I’m not sure there is much to do except grin and bear it, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. (And don’t get me started on when people ask these questions and you’re actively trying to have a baby and it’s not working. I seethe.) So let’s talk about how we’re dealing. Come with your most hilarious anecdotes, good advice, and coping strategies. I don’t think we’re ever going to succeed in getting people to stop asking, but maybe we can make it feel a little less invasive when they do. I want cheeky ways of telling people to eff off, y’all. And maybe a little mutual solidarity.

Photo by Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • Carly

    I’ve realized over time that most people just need something to fixate and comment on. Either “When are you getting married?” / “When are you having kids?” / “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” , etc. Right now I’m 36.5 weeks pregnant and am daily fielding questions about my size/shape/weight/closeness to “popping”. For example- the colleague today who told me I was “fat and beautiful”
    or the stranger at Costco who asked if it was twins or triplets.
    Seriously?! It’s annoying at best and at times downright hurtful (especially since I’m a totally normal size for 36 weeks pregnant!) I have learned that many people are just totally oblivious of how their comments can be unwanted and unnecessary. I try to make my responses short and not-so-sweet, to make it obviously that the comment was unwanted. But yeah, it sucks, and I feel ya.

    • swarmofbees

      oh my goodness, the “haven’t you had the baby yet?” questions. I was HUGE with my 9.5 pound baby, so I looked like I was moviestar-ready-to-pop at about 6 months. I know many people were just excited and making small talk, but really guys, you are scrutinizing my body. Take a step back.

    • Elena

      For real, people. Can we just stop making comments about pregnant women’s bodies? (Really, women’s bodies in general.) So not OK.

      • Carly

        Exactly! Why on earth would you think it’s appropriate to comment on a woman’s body, especially a stranger’s, regardless of whether or not she is pregnant? Blows my mind every time.

        • SarahG

          The worst experience I ever had with this was bridesmaid dress shopping for my cousin’s wedding. The very sweet, very old lady running the teeny weeny shop assumed I was pregnant (hey, I gain weight on my abdomen, I admit it) and patted my belly and asked when I was due. MORTIFYING for all involved. I was so embarrassed for her (she was trying really hard to make a sale, since the store hadn’t been updated since like 1979 and we were the only customers) that I almost lied, but all my cousins burst into giggles, so that was that.

          • Lizzie

            As one of my relatives ones stressed, “Do not ever, under any circumstances, ask a woman if she’s pregnant. I don’t care if she’s in labor at that moment. DO. NOT. ASK.”

          • ItsyBit

            Hah! A good rule. I always thought the Brian Regan bit about assuming a woman is pregnant was perfect:
            “I met this woman, I could’ve sworn she was pregnant, let me tell ya’. I believe the rule is, don’t guess at that ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever. Something like that. I don’t have enough evers memorized.”

        • moonlitfractal

          It’s because pregnant women aren’t considered people in our society.

        • Kayjayoh

          Women’s bodies are considered public property, pregnant ones doubly so.

      • anon

        while we’re at it, can we please also stop groping strangers’ pregnant bellies?

        • Meigh McPants

          YES! I’ve never even been pregnant but I always cringe when someone feels up a belly in my presence. Let the pregnant person be in charge of who touches them, plzkthx.

    • anon today

      People like to treat pregnant women like they are public property. It is totally bizarre. On
      the one hand, from a 1000 foot level, it is nice to see people acting as
      though they are part of a community and excited that a new life will be
      coming into it. But it gets expressed in the most rude and
      inconsiderate ways sometimes. Do they not realize that you already feel even larger than you look to them, you can’t see your feet and they can, after all. I think wearing the pregnancy suit from the movie 10 things I hate about you should be mandatory middle school assignment for people of all genders (accompanied by some sort of pill that induces the fatigue and nausea, for the full effect). That way we as a society would just know not to mess around with the pregnant lady.

    • Sam2

      Terrible. I had a friend who when pregnant was asked if she was having twins. When she responded no, he asked if she was sure! I can’t even… ugh.

      • Kathleen

        Here’s the thing – at 8 months pregnant, I’m measuring small for my dates and I constantly get told “you’re so tiny!”* People STILL ask if I’m having twins. I don’t look big. I don’t look super-pregnant. People just like twins, I think.

        *For the record, you might think, “You’re so tiny!” is a compliment for a pregnant woman, but between the appointment where the midwife said my slow growth “needed to be watched” and wasn’t anything to worry about . . . “yet,” and the appointment where I was told by her much more reassuring colleague that everything looked fine, I had to fight back tears every time I was forced to thank someone for the “you’re so tiny” “compliment.”

    • carolynprobably

      I really think you’re on to something, Carly, re: needing something to comment on. I think for too long these have been treated like “safe” discussion fillers. (See also: “When will you have kids?” “When are you getting married?” “Can I see the ring?” “What are your colors?” etc etc.)

      Instead of assuming everyone is a misogynistic, backward-thinking asshole, I try really hard (and sometimes fail) to assume they are just trying to be nice. That takes me off the defensive and gives me a challenge to move the conversation elsewhere, “Have you traveled recently?” “What do you think of the Olympics?” etc. But also, how exhausting for the burden to be on all of us to reframe what constitutes appropriate friendly chit chat…

    • Laura

      This is true! I can remember it back to high school. “What are you going to do after high school” translates to “what are you going to do now that you’ve dropped out of college” and on and on and on… I usually say something like “Ah, the million dollar question.” And most people get that and back off. The rude ones get an equally as rude short answer: “Don’t know.” And then I walk away.

  • Sara W

    A co-worker had one guy that we worked with CONSTANTLY ask her when she was going to have kids. She tried to be nice, tried to be funny, tried to change the subject, but he didn’t get the hint. One day, she got to the end of her rope. When he asked if she was pregnant yet, she spun around in the middle of the crowded lunch room and said, “Well, Jack, as soon as husband and I start having unprotected sex, you’ll be the first to know.” Shut that conversation right down.

    • Elena

      This is *so* good.

    • LN

      This is basically what I ended up telling my MIL

    • Kara

      I do have an annoying coworker that kept asking me when my husband and I are going to have kids. My husband and I have been married for 5 years and we’re in our 30′s. This male coworker is my age, but he and his wife already have 4 kids. For a long time, I told him just the normal answers, “we’re not ready yet, we’re having too much fun, we have 6 cats and a dog, etc.”, but he never gave it up.

      So recently, I told him, “John, I don’t ask about your reproductive organs; please don’t ask me about mine.” Ta da!!! It finally worked, and he hasn’t bothered me since!

      • Sam

        Hints are just not enough for some people!

    • SarahG

      It is SO weird to me when people ask opposite-sex couples about whether they are “trying” (ugh that word), because essentially you are asking if you’re barebacking it or not. I mean, come ON. Do you normally go around asking coworkers in casual conversations if they use condoms or dental dams? Heck no, and it probably counts as sexual harassment. Back off!

      • moonlitfractal

        To be fair, ‘trying’ for us involved a lot more than barebacking, including mutlple doctor visits to see if we even could have a child safely, and later ovulation tracking and the stress and science that goes with that. For many couples, “trying” doesn’t involve intercourse at all.

        • SarahG

          Totally get that, to me asking about ovulation, etc is even more intrusive than asking about whether or not you’re doing it without a condom. That just seems like an even higher level of intrusiveness. And I have seen people ask like they’re asking gleefully about how much sex you’re having (you must be doing it all the time! ha ha!) which seems even WORSE when you consider how many folks struggle with fertility. Whatever your actual method/s are, it seems just wrong to ask about it unless people are offering the info.

      • Sarah

        again, advantage of being a lesbian comes in handy here. i never have to have a conversation with my parents about my sex life! whoo hoo!

        • SarahG

          Oh yes. As a bisexual who was with women for years, I got a lot more of “sooo do you guys get married or…what now?” than “when will you X Y or Z?”. Some queer folks find that offensive; I liked the lack of intrusive questions myself (appreciate it even more now that I’m with a guy and the questions are flying.) That’s just me; obvs it comes from a heterosexist place so one could certainly find it offensive.

    • Kate

      I will be using that one for SURE. It’s already started, and we’re only just engaged.

  • Becs

    Oh my goodness. THIS. After my sister-in-law got pregnant the questions never stopped for me. “Oh are you going to try to catch up?” “They’re having a baby, what’s wrong with you?” And the weird thing is that I have developed humorous deflection responses and some people will just not give up. Like they actually believe they have a right to intimate knowledge about my uterus. WTF? Even worse is the fact that I have a very different body shape than my sister-in-law, so when word got out that someone in our family was having a baby, everyone thought it was ME! After multiple panic attacks ensuing from being publicly interrogated on this issue, I am so fed up. My decisions and feelings about babies are so intimate and special to me — I feel absolutely no compulsion to have to divulge those hopes and dreams to close family members — never mind acquaintances and total strangers!

  • Krista

    One of my colleagues used to tell people that her and her husband had a put in an order for twins and that they were on back order. I always thought that was a funny way of dealing.

    • Laura

      THIS.

  • Lauren

    I’m in the same boat, but I’ll also take advice on how to reply to the question of having children as seriously as possible in the least offensive but forthright way as possible. In my years of experience, I found that if you don’t give some type of lighthearted answer, people get weirdly offended and assume that you think they are bad people for having children themselves. It’s such a touchy subject for the strangest reasons.

    • ktmarie

      Somebody recently told me to respond with ‘right now we’re practicing’

      • Amy

        That’s the style of go-to as well. It’s only been something husband and I have joked about privately (replying to my mom with “Oh, you want us to have kids? Well, let’s go get started!” and then leaving.) It has not yet become a reality, and I honestly can’t see myself saying that to my mom!

      • Meg

        “oh you’d like to hear something incredibly personal about me? Alright here are details on our sex life” bwahaha

  • Elena

    Ha! So we actually have a baby now, so the questions have slowed down A LOT (though we now get the ‘when is the next one’ questions… ugh.). That said, my favorite was to just always reply that we were planning on kids in three to seven years, and to make it clear that no matter how much time passed, we were still planning on our three to seven year timeline (AKA ask me in three years and the reply will still be the same). Three to seven years is a great window of time, guys, it says, ‘soon, but not that soon, so don’t get your hopes up!’

    At least, this was our reply to close friends and family who asked in a respectful way. Everyone else got the somewhat shocked/horrified look I practiced and the line, “Oh! I don’t like talking about my sex life with strangers/acquaintances/coworkers/whatever!” That one usually shuts people down pretty quick. Actually, anytime you remind people that babies come from sex, they usually quiet down…

    Weird, no? As if they didn’t know where babies came from…

    • swarmofbees

      I am thinking of going with “Oh, I don’t know when we will have another. But, thank you for your interest in my sex life!”

    • an academic

      This reminds me of a good friend who always told those who asked that she would be finishing her dissertation in 1.5 years — close enough to seem like there would be an end and far away enogh to stop pestering.

    • Jennie

      I second giving a number of years. When my best friend asked at Thanksgiving (making sure that both my mom and his mom were in the room), I said 5-11years. For folks who chronically ask this question the time period gets further away not closer (for this friend it used to be 3-5yrs, now 5-11).

  • Sarah

    Being a lesbian is a wonderful antidote to this, most of the time! Folks approach the subject cautiously, for fear of being offensive: “Are you guys… interested in having kids at all?” they ask with trepidation.

    • jashshea

      Begs the question: Why isn’t that the standard way to ask anyone in any couple about their offspring plans? (If, you know, people insist on asking the question at all :))

      • Sarah

        Right!! But sadly, people don’t work that way.

    • Moe

      I’m a little jealous. :)

      • Sarah

        I won’t lie, it has its perks! One can have a whole slew of doctors appointments during work hours, and no one even remotely suspects that Something Might Be Going On.

        • Alyssa M

          I cracked up at “Something Might Be Going On” cause that’s so how it goes! I’ve got one co-worker who is an older lady that is ALWAYS trying to guess which of us is pregnant now (in three years, nobody). I’ve always been very clear with her about my rheumatoid arthritis so I can have doctors appointments in peace.

    • InTheBurbs

      My response…”We’re having puppies!”

      • MC

        My fiance & I always say that our cat is the only baby we need right now :)

    • Alyssa

      Agreed. Plus when it does get too intrusive or the questions are unwanted, we can say, “We keep trying and trying but nothing yet!”

      • MisterEHolmes

        Hilarious! Great response. Now I wish I were a lesbian so that would work. :(

      • Sarah

        YES. The best!

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Haaaaa!

    • Christina McPants

      HA HA. I was home for a business trip (I live cross country from my folks) and spent a day hanging out with them. At about 8 o’clock, my mom started asking about our plan to make a family and if we were going to get a sperm donor on craigslist and get collections in Starbucks (I MAY BE PARAPHRASING BUT BOTH POINTS WERE MADE). I love my parents, but they can be very awkward about delicate issues, so I’ve deliberately decided to keep them in the dark with regards to family planning. I feel awful doing it, but I’m trying to avoid worse scenarios.

      My in-laws, on the other hand, have been campaigning for children since we got married. But quietly, at least.

      • Sarah

        WOW. Just… wow.

        I’m trying with my parents to educate them about stuff (much like I had to educate my mom about current wedding trends/feminist wedding options when we got married) — we’ll see if it works! My mom can happily spout a lot of literature about LGBTQ rights now that she couldn’t 10 years ago, so there’s hope!

        (Actually, this is a cute story: She went to a conference that had a panel about queer issues, and she came back and said, “Oh Sarah, I went to this wonderful panel at the conference. It was about people’s experiences in the (here she took a deep breath and said everything very carefully) L-G-B-T-Q-I-A community.” It was ADORABLE.)

      • Meigh McPants

        I really did wonder what a “Starbucks baby” was.

    • Meigh McPants

      I know, I used to get almost pleased when someone would just assume we would have kids. Like, I know it’s annoying to lots of straight folks, but for me it felt like being treated “normally”. Also, I definitely use the “we keep trying…” line all the time with nosy people.

    • Mezza

      Yes totally! I can’t remember ever having been asked when/if I will have kids, despite having been married for 6 months and in a relationship for 10 years.

      Though it does become a little awkward when we do in fact want kids at some point and my family is completely (backwardly) convinced that it’s not something that will ever come up, because obviously same-sex couples don’t do such things.

  • jhs

    Oof, I get this, and my fiance and I aren’t even sure we want kids. We’re not ruling out that one day we’ll wake up and want them, but they’re not something we’ve ever wanted.

    The only person who seems to be pushing this is my dad, who apparently said to my fiance’s dad that he expects me to be pregnant within a year. I have no clue where he got that from. But even talking about our ambivalence toward children brings weird comments from our family. We told some cousins with kids that we weren’t sure we would ever have them, and one responded that you have kids because “you’ll run out of things to talk about.” What a terrible idea!

    I’m actually curious, is anyone else in this ambivalent space? I have so many friends who, even if they are not at all ready for kids now, always felt like having kids was something they wanted to do with their lives. I never had that. But I’m also not one to proclaim myself “child free” quite yet.

    • jashshea

      Check out all the responses to Rachel’s Visitors post from a few months ago. Plenty of people are in the ambivalent camp.

      http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/12/thinking-about-future-children/

      But, really? “You’ll run out of things to talk about?!” I’ve never run out of things to talk about with my single friends or my parents or my brother and I don’t have children with any of them.

    • http://baltimorebeginner.wordpress.com abbeybecker

      Me! I am waiting for the day when all of a sudden, I want them. There are so many things I would rather do instead RIGHT NOW, but this could change someday. Glad we have the ability to decide later, even if it makes other people uncomfortable when they hear our response.

      While I do have a strange fear of feeling left out if I decide I never want kids and my friends all have them, I’d say that putting it off till I know for sure is still the best solution.

      • rys

        I actually feel more fear about being left out/behind if I decide I do
        want kids, since so many of my friends are married and have or having
        kids right now, and I am very single and very ambivalent (on a good day)
        about kids. I worry that in a decade, if I decide to have kids, they’ll have middle-schoolers and I’ll be stuck in newborn-land (teenagers > newborns in my world) and they’ll just be all “I remember those days but now I do other things and I’m busy and you’re plodding your way to me.” Now, these are generally nice people for whom there is no reason to think would say this, and yet I do…

    • Revanche

      Yes! We spent the last few years in that space and sometimes I’m still there. We knew we liked the idea of kids in the abstract but I’ve always done a lot of childcare so was familiar with the practical reality of them (which scared me half to death in some respects) & husband backed off his desire once he was exposed some of that reality via his family having kids. I don’t know if we can or will have them. We may try but I certainly don’t want to hear ANYone’s opinions on whether and when and why we should have them (there’s been maybe one friend who said I probably shouldn’t due to my health in case it wrecks me. Which makes sense.)

    • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

      We are in the ambivalent space, too. Every time we think we may be ready to be “child-free,” I get some existential angst. It’s a hard space to be in, because we both love kids. We both would be great parents, but we just don’t know right now.

    • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

      I’m deeply in the ambivalent camp right now, and that’s what worries me. I felt VERY strongly when it was time to get our puppy, and I guess I keep waiting for that same drive to hit regarding a baby… Part of me is worried that it won’t. I feel like there should be some deep certainty if and when the decision is made, and if that doesn’t come, than maybe it’s not right for us.

  • Megan

    I’ll be married in about 2 months, and we don’t even know if we’ll ever want kids, but I’m still surprised how many people just assume we will. “Well, wait til you have kids! Then…” and so on. My plan for when the questions start (and we know they will) is a “one-strike” approach, to start with, “We’re happy with the way things are now” or something similarly neutral, and to answer all follow up questions with, “That’s a personal question I’m not going to talk about.” I hope I’m strong enough put it into action!

  • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com/ Addie

    People ask all the time if my niece is my daughter and when I say no, they inevitably ask when I’m having kids of my own. Last time that happened my niece responded for me with “She my auntie. It’s a full time job.” To which I added, “What she said.”

    • a single sarah

      Adorable.

    • Meg

      your niece rules :)

    • anon

      can I borrow her?

    • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

      Best niece ever.

  • Amy

    You know what I’ve realized I’m doing without consciously planning it? Whenever I’m with my parents or my in-laws, I purposefully have at least one glass of wine. Because it feels like if I *don’t*, even though it’s not like I drank daily when we’re around them before the wedding, I’ll have to explain why I’m not drinking, and even then that they may still doubt me. So I’m having something to drink to mitigate even the possibility of having to respond to these questions!.

    • mimi

      Same here! I went out to dinner with my mom a couple weeks ago and didn’t really want to drink because of a headache, but I got wine anyway for this exact reason.

    • LikelyLaura

      I definitely do this. At least with my in-laws. At the very least, I make sure to take a big swig of whatever my husband is drinking. And you know what? I swear I can see them relax the moment I do.

    • AnnieP

      Relatives are driving the women in their lives to drink! My friend’s in-laws were certain she was pregnant because she didn’t drink at brunch a couple of times. Apparently you either have to have a drinking problem or a baby on the way.

    • Alison O

      Hm, I guess maybe it’s an advantage that I don’t usually drink anyway. So, people who know me will never think I am or am not pregnant based on my drinking. Sort of like how it was great that I started taking birth control for a hormonal issue before I was sexually active. So when it also came time that it was serving as pregnancy prevention, I didn’t have to hide the pill pack or feel awkward, etc. around my mom, aha.

    • Cara

      At a football party, I was drinking water between alcoholic beverages (it’s responsible…), and a friend who had been around the whole time, saw me take a drink of water and yelled “WATER?!?!?!?! IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL US?!?!?” I felt like I had to explain that I had been drinking, and now wish I had yelled back “I’LL PROBABLY HAVE TO PEE IN AWHILE!”…

      • moonlitfractal

        On a stick?

        • Cara

          Oh no, now maybe I’m glad I didn’t say that!

          • Alyssa M

            Can’t drink water, can’t make comments about having to per, can’t think babies are cute at all, can’t gain weight to your stomach or face, can’t get the flu or food poisoning, it’s a fucking mine field.

          • Kate

            My cousin lost a ton of weight in the first trimester of her second pregnancy because she was so sick…so yeah, add that to the list, can’t lose weight.

    • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

      My husband was incredibly thoughtful for valentine’s day and special ordered me a particular brand of Scotch that we tried in Scotland last year. (We live in PA. Liquor laws are archaic. Gah.) I shared the gesture with my mom, and got “SHIT, [Dad], they’re DRINKING.”

      So now we’re getting disappointment for that as well!

      • Sarah E

        Off topic, but my FFIL ordered four bottles of a very special Scotch, had them shipped to us in NE so that we could drive them back to PA over the holidays. PA liquor law fist-bump.

        • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

          Cheers to that! Best FFIL ever!

    • Liz V

      Same here! My sister-in-law and I both apparently set the whole family talking when we both happened to drink water instead of beer one family event. She was actually pregnant; I’m still defiantly drinking and trying to ignore comments about how we should be next.

    • Kathleen

      I did a lot of that before I got pregnant – before we were trying. I remember having had a late night one night (had too much to drink, I swear!) and when a family member invited me out for a happy hour the next evening, I declined, saying I wasn’t going to be drinking that day. Then I realized what a mistake I’d made. I had to make a big show of drinking mimosas when we all had brunch a couple weeks later, and a cousin joked that it was the new peer pressure – when 20-something married women are made to feel like they HAVE to drink because of social pressures.

      I found myself making a point of drinking at any event where alcohol was offered in order to prevent rumors. This had the unfortunate effect that when I actually DID get pregnant, after a year or two of this, it was quite noticeable whenever I declined a drink, and I ended up getting the 3rd degree the very day we found out we were expecting, LONG before we planned to tell anyone, and had to lie through my teeth. (I gave the interrogator a serious talking to when we finally revealed the news, and – silver lining – seem to have gotten the message across, as she recently wondered aloud if another relative was pregnant, but said she didn’t want to ask “because of how mad you got when I asked you.” I guess that’s one way to put it.)

    • Anony-ME

      I have deliberately stopped drinking in the presence of other people (who all know that we are Definitely Not Having A Baby Anytime Soon), so that when we do finally start ‘trying’ and (hopefully) conceive people will be so used to me not drinking that it won’t trigger any sort of reaction. It’s working surprisingly well. No one’s said boo about it for a while now, nor have they asked when kids are coming, though I do still get the “you’re next!” comments occasionally.

  • Moe

    I got married right on the brink of turning 40 and this conversation (I think) takes a whole different spin when you are north of 35.

    My in-laws who are totally awesome have not been pushy and only slightly inquisitive. Only my husband’s grandmother has asked directly. She signed our wedding guest book “GIVE ME A GREAT GRANDCHILD!” (I love her.) A few friends have asked if we will or not. Some of my coworkers do not realize how old I really am, and when I disclose that I’m 41 they’re usually so distracted by my age that the baby question never gets addressed.

    My husband and I are still trying to figure out what we will do. I do not feel the urge to have a baby. I work in an environment centered around childrens issues and babies are a big part of the work culture here, still I don’t feel the urgency to have one myself. It’s beginning to dawn on me, that perhaps I will not.
    I am afraid to tell people this. If you’ve had to break this news to family/friends I would love to hear about your experience.

    • Jacky Speck

      What if you just don’t tell people? I wonder if there is an age at which people just stop asking, and if so, when? Do you have to be 45, 50, or even 60 before people just figure you’re not doing the whole “kids” thing?

      It’s something I wish I could ask the handful of older couples I know who have clearly decided not to have kids for whatever reason. People don’t seem to bother them about it… Not even the people who are constantly bothering ME with “When are you having kids??” But there’s no good way to bring it up.

      • Moe

        yes, that is an option I didn’t consider! by the looks of this thread I’m going to guess that the questions would then change to “why didn’t you have any kids?” or “do you regret not having a baby?”
        not sure how it came to be that it’s ok to ask women such personal questions so casually.

        • Jacky Speck

          SERIOUSLY! Especially given that the people asking often have kids themselves. I wonder how they felt about being asked the same personal questions in the past?

        • Cathi

          I’m having a hard time imagining anyone asking those things of an “older” woman or couple, but then again I am constantly surprised by the things others do.

          My favorite relatives (my dad’s cousin and his wife) never had children, and I’m so ridiculously curious to find out why. Did they choose not to, in order to live the amazingly rich and interesting life they lead? Or were they unable to, and have since lived life to the fullest? But I would never, ever ask, because I have no idea if the topic would be painful for them or not.

          • Kate

            I found out about my aunt and uncle by asking a cousin if *she* knew. She’s a little bit older than me, and has always both lived and been closer to the aunt than me, so she had an educated guess. My curiosity was satisfied, and I didn’t have to ask a rude question. Just a, “do you know…?” of my cousin, which, if one needed to justify, could go down as a medical history query.

        • Teresa

          I have found that the reason for older couples that I know was that they tried and could not have kids. In my aunt and uncle’s case, it is a subject no one really talks about, but is kind of obvious that it is painful for my aunt. My mom’s cousins only have one kid. In talking about how everyone is bugging my husband and I to have kids (when we don’t know if we want them) she explained that they knew that they did, but that even though they tried to have more kids, they couldn’t get pregnant again, so they just accepted that was the plan for their family. We also have family friends who are childless–after I vented that people were asking us, but we just didn’t know, she told me that we could be happy either way. She said that she and he husband wanted to have kids, but they could not, so they just decided to be okay with that. She said that when their friends all had young kids, things were lonely, but that they often became the people that their friends came to for non-child fun nights and now that everyone’s kids are grown, they feel like they have their friends again. So, I guess, be open about how you feel about having kids and what a life without them might look like. Most people will be honest with you.

      • Jess

        I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask older couples who haven’t had kids, and that is totally one of them. I’m more on the no kids side right now, and am wondering what to be prepared for if I stay that way. I haven’t asked because what an icky personal conversation that would be!

        I know this reasoning isn’t the case for most people who ask those “When are you having kids?” questions, nor is it for the “do you regret not having kids?” questions. Those people drive me insane.

    • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

      Oh, this. This would be hard. I’m 50/50 right now. Thanks for articulating.

      It’s beginning to dawn on me, that perhaps I will not. I am afraid to tell people this. If you’ve had to break this news to family/friends I would love to hear about your experience.

      • Moe

        It’s a little like discovering something about yourself. I don’t have a maternal drive, and maybe I never had kids before because it wasn’t a priority for me.

    • ferrous

      I’ve been scrolling down to find an age comment, and here it is! Yes, the conversation totally changes when you’re over 35. In my previous marriage (in my 20s), we got the baby question all the time. Now, we get more surprised silence over our ages (we look younger than we are), occasionally followed by a concerned remark or scary age-related anecdote about how we’d “better start trying soon.” It’s pretty annoying.

      So annoying that we decided to start trying this year but (if successful) we won’t tell anyone until I’m obviously huge. I’m super against a Facebook announcement too, for reasons I can’t articulate right now. I just don’t want to talk about it with everyone… but my nosy cousin, whose sister-like baby pestering is somehow not offensive, is ok.

      • Moe

        I look younger than I really am too. Which sometimes leads people to comment “but you look so young, you have plenty of time!” Ummm, but my ovaries are still 40+. Hello!
        IF I was to get pregnant I would not want to announce on FB until I had cleared the first trimester, notified my employer and told family in person first. There are just some things that deserve face-to-face time.

      • Kara E

        I’m officially of Advanced Maternal Age and just had my first (hopefully not only). My husband is early/mid 40s. When I took our baby in to my husband’s office for introductions, they already were asking about the next one (since, you know, we’re old!)! I said something like “she doesn’t sleep for more than 3 hours yet! How the heck is that going to work?” But yes, the age thing is annoying/hard to field questions on. We’re moving in our our second anniversary and I’m hoping year three of marriage is a little less insane than 1 and 2.

    • KW

      I always wanted kids but I turned 35 single with no prospects. I have PCOS and a history of pathetically laughable attempts at dating. I went through a painful self-evaluation that year about my likelihood of getting married and having kids. I decided single-parenting-by-choice was not for me. I also decided that I was not willing to go very far down the road of infertility treatments should they be necessary, Clomid at most. I did not want the pursuit of a baby to take higher priority than nurturing a marriage. I also knew that if I ever did get married, I still wanted that time to really get the foundation before starting a family. In the end, I realized that there was a good chance I would never be a mom after all, though I do really like kids and think I’d be a good mom. I was very sad about this at first, then resigned, then accepted it.

      Then! A friendship blossomed to something else and now we are married. He is 47, I am 40. He is awesome with kids, but we are both still on the fence about intentionally starting a family. Our respective ages are a big part of it (especially how old we’d be by the time said child was 18), and again, the likely fertility issues. I think all that mental/emotional work I did before we started dating is also partly why I am on the fence now, because I don’t *need* to have a child to have a fulfilling life, something I didn’t realize until I was 35. In any case, we are OK if it does or does not happen, but I am also on the pill to control the PCOS symptoms and haven’t been willing to go off it yet. A surprise pregnancy is highly unlikely.

      We occasionally get questions but not what we’d have gotten had we met and married when we were younger. It’s hard to know what to say, most people who ask nowadays aren’t close enough to get even as much of the story as I’ve told above. Mostly we give a non-specific answer and change the subject.

      • KW

        I forgot to add that my mom would love more grandkids (she has 14) and I’m sure his mom would as well (she has 17), but I shared my struggle with my mom that year and so she doesn’t push now. His parents haven’t really said anything either, at least not to me, and at most I think they would make a light-hearted comment and let it go.

        • Moe

          In many ways, your story sounds like mine. Except my husband is a few years younger than me (37). Right now we have so many other challenges that the discussion of children has taken a back burner. I think maybe I’m in the place you descibe as: I was very sad about this at first, then resigned, then accepted it.
          Like many things in life you have a choice in how you respond. So I think that the important thing for me to remember is that whatever decision we arrive at, I will just have to resolve that I will be at peace with it.

  • K

    How does one handle the pressure from family members when the comments take a turn from annoying to scary? My future MIL hinted that maybe she should start poking holes in all our condoms…

    • Moe

      Set boundaries. Don’t entertain the “funny” comments by laughing politely etc.

    • MC

      Ugh, even reading that comment makes me shudder. I would probably ask my partner to talk to MIL and let her know that bringing the subject up, even as a “joke,” is not okay.

      • Jessica

        My face at that comment is one of pure horror. Definitely ask your partner to talk to her.

    • K.

      Agreed with Moe. Comments like that need to be shut down, with no mercy. I’m very empathetic to the idea that waiting for grandchildren is difficult sometimes, but stuff like this makes any sympathy vanish hard and fast.

      Ideally, your fiance would be the one to say, “Mom, that’s inappropriate” (or whatever is most natural but still conveys that she needs to cut that shit out). But you both need to keep the poker face. And your fiance may have to repeat again and/or have a private chat with her if it continues or worsens. And obviously if you think there’s any chance it’s not a joke or an idle threat, you would have to handle it a lot more strictly – such as not having her at your house.

    • emilyg25

      Have your fiancé tell her firmly that that’s not funny. You might have to set firmer boundaries, but that’s a start.

    • K

      Oh, believe me, I’ve tried to set boundaries with her, with no success. I’ve communicated clearly that I’m not interested in children, that I’m not amused by her comments, etc. Fiancé has attempted to talk to her, but she’s one of those people who doesn’t listen & just keeps behaving the same way. And this isn’t the only comment she’s made that is shudder-worthy. She kept pressuring me to wear her wedding dress, even after I politely refused (it’s a ball gown with a train, and we’re getting married at a nature preserve…just isn’t gonna work). The last time she made a passive-aggressive comment about the dress, I firmly told her thanks, but no thanks…then she said if I wouldn’t wear it, she was going to wear it to our wedding! Also, when I chose my wedding party (sisters only), she announced that she’s going to be a bridesmaid too, and said she will just walk up there & stand at the front, even if we won’t invite her to be part of the bridal party. Unbelievable.

      • Lizzie

        Ugh, talk about a need for boundaries! What if you started responding to her awkward comments as if you were taking them literally? As in, pretending to not get the joke. If you looked at her with a confused expression and asked, “What do you mean, poke holes in the condoms? Why would you do that?”, making her explain in detail what she’s talking about, she might be embarrassed enough to stop. And if she says “I was just joking,” that’s a prime opportunity to reply, “I don’t think this is something to joke about.”

        (This is the same idea as defusing bigoted jokes in public–act confused and ask the “joker” to spell out what s/he means. They’ll usually get chagrined enough to avoid telling off-color jokes in your presence again.”

      • Moe

        Oh lordy, she sounds like a piece of work. The politeness, boundaries, talking and other rational methods won’t work with this kind of person. I’m sorry. You might have to take the kick-ass approach.

  • LM

    At our wedding when we were going around chatting with people, my cousin’s husband asked us if we were going to be ‘trying right away’. Granted, that is what they did and they were super-ready to have a kid but I was totally taken aback. Our immediate family doesn’t ask any questions, but I do feel like if I didn’t have a drink with dinner, they might start to wonder.

  • Ali

    All of this. We’re engaged and deeply ambivalent about having kids, and sometimes I feel like I can’t even express a liking of babies (like cousins’ babies! and friends’ babies! who are freaking adorable!) without people making comments like “soon this will be you!” and “it won’t be long until you have one of these!” Not even asking if kids are in the future, just assuming that not only are they, but they’ll be here soon.

    And…seriously, people. I like lots of things (giraffes! dolphins! roller coasters!) without wanting to be responsible for them.

    • Jacky Speck

      I actually toned down my expressing-a-liking-of-babies because of those comments… But it didn’t help much. If I talk about travelling internationally, I hear “Good idea: travel now before you have kids.” If I’m trying to put up a safety gate so that my mother-in-law’s puppy doesn’t fall down the stairs, they say, “It’s good practice for when you have kids!” Nobody ever asks if kids are in the future: they’ve always just assumed… to the point that it almost makes me want to not have kids out of spite (out of spite: clearly the most responsible way to make major life decisions).

      • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

        Yes, this! I’m at the point where I can’t even have a discussion about children around my parents without them starting to pressure or acting disappointed if we add, “someday.” I feel like I have to downplay my eventual joy at the possibility of starting a family because of the drama it causes.

      • Alyssa M

        I maybe kinda sorta avoided getting engaged for a while out of spite… It’s the dumbest solution, but it really helped stop the baby comments lol! My future father in law actually responded to my mother’s comments by saying “ssshhhhh… every time you say something like that you make us wait another 5 years!”

      • Granola

        I don’t really drink because it gives me migraines, but I’m now at that point where I think I have to say that every time or people will start assuming “Oh she’s probably pregnant.” Though then I think it might be a good cover for when I am and don’t want to say anything yet.

        • granola

          crap, replied to the wrong comment! Silly disqus…

    • Kate

      I got the “You look great holding a baby!” a year before my fiance even proposed. That’s a really great way to lose me (and my fiance) as a friend, fyi.

      • ferrous

        Yes. My husband and I went to a party with a baby a few months ago, and everyone kept trying to get me to hold it. I would just point at him (he used to be a nanny, HE’S the natural). It was very awkward. If we ever have one, I’m counting on him, heavily.

    • Jess

      I was at an extended family get together seated next to the only child in the room. Who consistently and loudly mandated that I listen to her and go along with what she was saying (sample of things I said:There are sharks under the table? Wow. That’s exciting. How many? [she leaves for the next five minutes to count, and I get to talk to adults])

      That evening, my uncle, her grandfather, goes “So, Jess, you’re getting into kids now?”

      Um. No. I don’t even really like them. I had to sit next to one, so I treated it like a person and then tried to get it to stop bugging me as often as possible. Please don’t make this a thing.

      • kimchi2014

        Why does society think that just because I’m being nice to a child means I actually want to have one of my own? Do they expect people who don’t want children to be rude, ignorant people? I’m a nurse and part of my training was holding babies, bathing them, and sticking them with needles (NOT FUN). I’m good at my job, with adults and with kids. Doesn’t mean I actually want one.

        • Jess

          I’m pretty sure that they do, in fact, expect people who don’t want children to be rude, ignorant people. And that’s silly.

  • K.

    We have sort of a different case – we know we don’t want to have biological children (for a variety of reasons, some selfish, some not). We’re still in our mid/late 20s and won’t be married for about a year, but we have begun looking into international adoption. There’s no way any agency would adopt to us anytime soon, but we want to know how much money we need to save and any bureaucratic hoops we need to be able to jump through when the time comes (probably 5-7 years, with a goal of adopting when we’re 35 or so). Neither of our families really accepts our plans, telling us that we’ll change our minds or asking us if we’re going to have at least one “real” baby. His side of the family is Latin American and they tend to take it hard because (culturally) blood ties mean quite a bit, whereas my family thinks I’m just irrationally afraid of pregnancy (which isn’t inaccurate, but is hardly the only part of the decision) so I get a lot of side-smiles and “You’ll seeeeeeee”s. Which we can handle right now, but I imagine after we’re married and once we start really coming up with an adoption timeline, the pressures will intensify.

    • Crayfish Kate

      As an international adoptee, this just gives me warm fuzzies all over my heart! Thank you for considering international adoption! It can be a long hard road, but good on you for looking into it now. And the ‘real’ comments – those just burn my potatoes. Stay strong, feel free to contact me if you ever want to talk :-)

      • K.

        Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words – they tend to be few and far between, sadly. To be fair, we haven’t really worked on building a supportive community yet, but it still sucks to have our genuine hope for adopting children be seen as a weird pipe dream or something we will give up on once we realize it’s not “simple” (which, of course, we already know). Really, we think we would be incredibly lucky to be able to adopt and we really want to work towards making it a reality for our family, since we’re certain it’s the right choice for our values and how we envision our life.

        As for the ‘real’ comments, yeah, they really, really suck. I’m worried it foreshadows issues down the road, but we’re hoping that as we learn more, we can help educate our extended family as well so they will be as on-board and excited as we are at the prospect.

        • Crayfish Kate

          Yeah, they do suck. If I’m in a decent mindset, I’ll remind myself that (hopefully) they don’t intend to be insensitive, they probably just don’t realize a better term to use is ‘biological child’ and ‘biological parents.’ I think you’re right in the ‘learning more & education’ aspect – they may be scared b/c they’re not familiar with the process, which is understandable. They may come around more once they see how excited you are & become more familiar with what’s going on. FWIW, I’m super-excited for you! My email is kpc4s at yahoo dot com – feel free to drop me a line anytime :-)

      • MerlyBird

        I’m going to start using the phrase “just burns my potatoes” as soon as I can. It’s amazing!

        • Crayfish Kate

          Please do! I stole it from my awesome 60-something, gardening, feminist boss :-)

    • Jess

      Dude, pregnancy is some freaky sh*t. I get you on that.

    • snarkyteacher

      This is the first post I’ve made with APW but had to reply to you! My finace and I plan to adopt (though we’re hoping for a child/children 3-6 years old out of foster care) and the comments! Most people think we’re crazy and are shocked we don’t want a kid “of our own”. It drives me crazy. It is still 6-10 years off at least but something we’ve discussed in detail for a couple years, like what ‘issues’ are we open to, ages, sibling sets etc. Anyway, just wanted to say that I am excited to finally see someone else who had adoption as the primary plan, not the back up plan :)

      • lady brett

        the “back up plan” assumption drives me crazy. but (i think ’cause we’re queer, so adoption is kind of on the table as a “plan a”) at least we don’t get a lot of commentary on it (we get a lot of side-comments for being foster only at the moment, though).

      • Lizzie C.

        High five, snarkyteacher- my husband and I plan on the same thing, even with the same timetable. It’s also our primary plan, not a “backup” or something. We haven’t told many people about it, but when we get comments from friends and relatives assuming we’re going to have biological kids, I feel really awkward. Like, do I open that can of worms right there, or smile and nod and tell them once we apply with the adoption agency? Gah. In any case, I feel ya.

    • Fiona

      My youngest brother is Guatemalan, and he has been a constant joy to everyone in our family, and I can’t imagine not adopting. I have four biological siblings, and we are all much older than he, and after our dad died, Mario kept us all sane by just being his precious self.

  • Jessica

    My husband has been deployed for four months and I still get the question “are you pregnant??” when I say I’m not feeling well or just had a touch of food poisoning.

    I’m not fucking pregnant because we are not fucking, though we would really like to be. And even then, I’m not fucking pregnant because we have contraceptives, you fucks *shakes fist and ignorant people*

    • Catherine McK

      It seems like we could brainstorm some really excellent responses to this type of question…. “your phone sex must be different than ours,” comes to mind. Ridiculous.

      • Jessica

        That made me laugh really loudly. Thank you.

      • Moira Katson

        Brilliant! I wish I had thought of that at the time … !

    • jashshea

      “Oh, that question reminds me – When was the last time you had sex?”

      • Jessica

        Four score and seven years ago, it seems ;)

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I. Hate. This. This literally drives me insane. I have a friend who, anytime I mention I’m tired or not feeling say, who immediately asks “are you sure you’re not pregnant?” And then she says “well, you’re always so tired” like it’s the mystery of the universe when, in fact, I have a two year old, run my own firm, work insane hours etc. Like, looking at my life it makes perfect sense why I’m tired all of the time. It irritates me that people think I don’t know when pregnancy could be a possibility for the ailments in my life.

  • Samantha

    I hear ya!!! We got married October 2013 and the questions started even before that! One of his co-workers assumed we were getting married because I was already knocked up… RUDE! Things are about the same in my work place… my boss has asked me if I was pregnant every day since we returned from our honeymoon… and she doesn’t even like kids!! I’ll be turning 30 the end of this month and I am sure it will only get worse. I just say things like “practice makes perfect”, roll my eyes, and hope they leave me alone!

    • AnnieP

      Seems really sketch for your boss to ask if you’re pregnant. Granted, you’re already employed and this isn’t an interview question, but really??

      • anon

        We got married in December and out of nowhere, on a conference call with a consultant, my boss mentioned that I just got back from my honeymoon and was already pregnant. So inappropriate and not at all true. I don’t know where it came from, but it really made me uncomfortable. Why is he so concerned with my fertility and sex life? ugh!

        • Erin Rafferty

          I hope you corrected her IMMEDIATELY!

      • Cara

        The HR person at my work (who has no tact) the other day told me I should think about what my plans are and if I want to take on more responsibilities, or if I was planning to have kids and stay at home I could maybe work part time… my boss found out and begged me not to sue! I think HR should probably know better….

    • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

      One of my friends rang his parents to tell them he was engaged, and their first reaction was “When’s she due?”

      • Samantha

        So sad… but that’s the world we live in today! What ever happened to getting married to someone because you LOVE them!?!?

  • MisterEHolmes

    I’m not even married yet, and my coworkers started in on it–in front of my (male) boss! Like, does no one else realize how that might be an extremely dangerous thing to bring up in the workplace? I don’t want to make myself seem like I’m eyeing the door out–and it doesn’t help that we have a mediocre maternity leave policy and conservative coworkers who believe women *should* quit when they get pregnant. It feels like such a minefield that I’m worried about it even though I know I don’t want kids for several years–if at all.

    • Molly P

      When I started to announce in front of my former coworkers that I was leaving my temp job for this one, the first thing one of them shouted out was that my secret was that I was pregnant.

      Um– no. Not quite married yet, and I don’t think babies will be happening for a couple of more years.

    • Jacky Speck

      I felt very uncomfortable at a social gathering with coworkers when my boss asked if my fiance and I were going to have kids. He was just making conversation after talking about his own kids, but still. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to have kids at some point, I responded with an awkward joke like “I don’t know, I’m not really looking for a second career.” It’s hard to answer that question when it comes from work people. Either they assume you’re going to quit, or they assume that you’re going to stop caring about work and just put in the minimum amount of time you need to continue getting paid.

      • Lawyerette510

        Ugh, as an attorney who works in the field of employment law and internal complaints– shame on your manager. Not appropriate for a manager to ask! Even if prefaced by talking about his own kids.

        • Alyssa M

          They talked about this SO MUCH in my human resources classes in college that I’m continually shocked by it in the workplace. SO NOT OK.

  • Fiona

    My MIL is Haitian, and Tony is her only living biological child, so when I went to visit for the first time, she frequently giggled my boobs and stomach to see if I might be toting a miniature hitchhiker. She kept asking if my babies would have blue eyes (UmmmmNo this is not possible with our particular genetic mix)…

    …My response to the question has been “five years until the days before, and then it’ll be tomorrow.”

    • Heather

      Your MIL…. she jiggled your boobs?

      I…. I just….

      wow.

      Well managed, Fiona.

    • Rebekah

      Okay, first of all: Love the phrase “miniature hitchhiker.” I’m borrowing it.
      Second, is your MIL the grandma from Sixteen Candles? Yikes!

      • Fiona

        I don’t know that reference….who is the grandma from Sixteen Candles?
        My MIL is pretty traditional, village Haitian. I don’t know enough to tell you if the boob jiggling was strange or not. I just tried to roll with it. :-)

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/DIYIDo Laura

    OMG, that graphic is the BEST. Has anyone else found that you have the same people asking you this question over and over again, even if you gave them a clear answer the first time? Like, for example, my answer is “We’re looking to start having kids in 2-3 years. We just got married last summer, so we want to take some time to enjoy it just being the two of us.”

    So, logically, one would not ask me about kids again for at least a year or two, but aside from close friends and family, I get the same people asking again and again. People really do seem to be asking just because ‘asking people when they’re having babies is like, the best conversation of all time.’ I think it’s just one of those go to things when people don’t have anything else to talk about. It’s like when you were in high school and your great aunt Beatrice (or whoever) would ask about your college plans every time she saw you. People grab on to whatever life stage you’re in, and lob the most (seemingly) relevant question at you with the intention of showing interest and making conversation.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Maybe they mean to wear us down, like when Michael and I go to Chipotle, and he REALLY doesn’t want to eat inside, and I REALLY don’t want to take the food home, and so I just ask him over and over if he’s sure he wants takeout, like he might not know, until eventually he buckles because he’s tired. It’s a terrible habit, but sometimes I think if I just ask enough, he’ll realize he always wanted to eat at Chipotle anyway.

      Except, you know, babies and not burritos.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.ca/ Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

        The last line about babies not burritos cracked me up. :)

    • carolynprobably

      People grab on to whatever life stage you’re in, and lob the most (seemingly) relevant question at you with the intention of showing interest and making conversation.

      YES.

    • Emily

      For this reason, I’m sort of glad I’m getting married, because it deflects the annoying “sp, what do you want to do with your life” career-goal questions, as people just ask how the wedding plans are going! I’d rather tell someone about my napkins and flower arrangements than try to explain for the gazillionth time that no, I don’t really know where my career is heading at the moment, but as soon as I do you’ll be the first to know!

  • Christina McPants

    So funny story, my stepfather-in-law asked my wife and I which one of us was having the first kid while we were drinking and we ro-sham-bo’ed for it. I won, which was actually the plan. It’s a non-question at work, which is going to make it really awkward if/when I have to break the news to them.

    • Jessica

      Just one day show up: “SuRpRiSe! Pregnant! Boom!”

      • Christina McPants

        That’s… that’s kind of the plan, actually.

        • Jessica

          I like it.

          • Christina McPants

            I’m pretty sure my super-supervisor’s head will explode and then I’ll be subject to some uncomfortable questions (made even more uncomfortable by the fact that he’s my boss).

          • Jessica

            Then maybe I like it less.

          • Christina McPants

            It’s gonna be rough no matter what, oh well.

          • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

            I feel like there’s a fine line between keeping it private and helping work prepare for your (potential, future) absence. So unless you’re sharing, I’d think that’d be how it goes. Am I
            missing something?

          • Christina McPants

            My office culture is… not the greatest and I think this is going to exasperate some things. We’ll see, though.

          • Alyssa M

            Maybe they need a reminder that workplace decisions made based on employees reproduction is GROUNDS FOR A SERIOUS LAWSUIT. :)

          • Christina McPants

            Oh, if it gets bad, I’ll be there. We all had to take a harassment training last year and pregnancy discrimination was featured.

      • Guest

        It’s really no one’s business at work if you’re trying to get pregnant or not, so unless you’re sharing I’d think that’d be how it goes. Am I missing something?

    • lady brett

      that is only the best family planning story ever.

      • Christina McPants

        About 6 months later, my mom asked me about the logistics of our family planning and wanted to make sure we didn’t get sperm donors from craigslist. No, mother. No, we won’t.

        • lady brett

          after all, i hear that can cause all sort of legal complications.

          (this is also reminding me to be grateful about pursuing a path to parenting that doesn’t involve invasive questions about anybody’s bits.)

          • Christina McPants

            This is exactly what I told her.

            (But doesn’t fostering kids make you want some of your own? (KIDDING))

          • lady brett

            haha! oh hell no, i’m in it for the breaks ;)

  • APracticalLaura

    “We’ve been practicing.”

  • Rebekah

    I’m not getting the question yet, but based on my immediate family and the culture I grew up in (heavily LDS, and I’m practically the spinster of my high school at 26), I know it will be asked often. My planned response goes something like this:
    “I appreciate your interest in my sex life, but we’re doing what’s best for us right now.”
    Or perhaps just that first part, full stop.

    • Rebekah

      I wanted to add my fiancé’s favorite response:
      When Tom Brady was asked about having another baby with his wife Giselle, he said “we’re having fun trying.”

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I want cheeky ways of telling people to eff off, y’all.

    Haven’t had to use any yet (thank god), but I’d probably opt for what I did when all and sundry were asking when I was going to get a boyfriend: outrageous statements that are so clearly over the top that they say “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” without me ever having to actually say it.

    As for example: “Well, I’m only really interested in marrying a Bolivian opal miner. So, if you know any Bolivian opal miners – over six foot, blond, muscular – please let me know.”

    It seemed to work.

  • Price of Tea

    I have encountered the exact *opposite* of intrusive baby interrogations from my family…I was talking with my step-MIL and mentioned how we loved that our house is near a great elementary school for when we have a kid in a few years. She looked so excited and said that she and my FIL had been dying to know if/when my husband and I planned on having children, but didn’t want to be rude and ask.

    I don’t mind family asking what our baby-having plans are or sharing our thoughts/plans with them. I was really floored when I found out they had been been wondering but were reticent to ask. We’re all on good terms, though, it would be a totally different story if things were more hostile or if it was an acquaintance or coworker asking. But honestly, as long as they don’t badger me, I don’t really find that too intrusive either.

    • carolynprobably

      My family is verrry hands-off, too. And I totally appreciate them respecting our private decisions. BUT- if this thread had shown us anything, I think there are important difference between being asked by strangers, harassed by family, and being asked with care and sincerity. I think it’s totally within bounds for certain people to ask me about my life any my choices, just, they know who they are.

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

      I think maybe the reason no one in my family asked is that they know, from the get go, that we want children. And having a cousin who recently experiences a slew of miscarriages, I think no one really asks because they are hyper aware of this at the moment. Perhaps were I to have gotten married without this happening to my dear cousin family would be more prone to ask, but no one has.

  • cassy

    I’ve been fortunate to only have been asked about whether we’re having kids a few times since getting married last summer, and thus far I’ve been successful with replying “We’re planning on having lots of furbabies.” ;) However, literally 15 minutes after I got married and was walking away from the ceremony next to my mother, she informed me that I would be having twins first and then went rambling on about my having lots of kids. I was just sort of stunned into disbelief and told her to slow the heck down. We’re not planning on having children, and are quite happy with just having lots of kitties.

    • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

      Furry children are the best.

    • Cathi

      My MIL is extremely excited for us to have twins. She’s an identical twin, so my husband is the “skip generation”, and his older brother has four amazing, but non-multiple, boys. So she’s convinced we’re the ones it’ll happen for. This also started immediately after the ceremony.

      • Cara

        My MIL is a fraternal twin, and I was a little freaked out about the possibility of having twins someday, but from what I read identical twins aren’t genetic and fraternal twins are passed down from your mother. So your MIL can wish all she wants, but it probably isn’t likely!

        • Cathi

          That… is such a relief for me, ha! I can barely tolerate the thought of one baby inhabiting my insides, and the thought of two is just….euuugh.

          (and my resulting search on multiple birth and hyper-ovulation was super interesting! Thanks for occupying my afternoon)

          • KH_Tas

            I don’t like the idea of carrying twins either. Of course, the twin tenancies in our lines are on my mother’s side, so I just have to hope to be ‘lucky’

    • Kaitlin

      I’m with you on the fur babies response! We currently have 2 sweet kitties together. My mother refers to them as her grandchildren, which just comes off as passive aggressive given that she is pushing us to have children like yesterday. I told her we weren’t considering children for 5 years (I’m still in school, won’t get a full time job for another 2 years at best, no desire to have children in these circumstances, etc), and she just gives me this “uh huh, suuuuure, 5 years, I’ll write that down” (I guess so she can remind me of that when I inevitably get knocked up in 8 months?). Meanwhile, I’ll happily snuggly my kitties and fiancé.

      • Sarah

        My mom also refers to our cats as her grandchildren (and her cat as the aunt, hahaha). I just think it’s hilarious, but I also know she’s not jonesing for grandkids yet.

        • http://www.devabydefinition.com/ Deva C.

          My mom does that as well, and it’s really sweet. She’s not pushing for us to have kids at all and is firmly “when you are ready, if you want them.” camp, which is nice.
          right now, we’re happy just being cat-parents.

      • cassy

        We currently have 2 kitties and a dog. However, we want to have a lot more kitties when we have the room, although the stray cats we feed outside seem to have been knocked up before we had the chance to spay them, so I think we’re going to try to coax them inside before they have their kittens (with the blessing of our similarly cat-obsessed landlady). Got to love those cute kitties! :D

  • Cathi

    My best friend and I have both agreed to wait to have a baby until the other one does first. This excuse works out excellently when we’re together, and less excellently when apart.

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    You know what’s nuts? When I got married, no one, and I mean no one, asked me that day “so when are you going to have kids!?” My two other friends (who are the same age as me) got married the same year and were asked numerous times at their own weddings. Perhaps it’s because my sister/MOH was visibly pregnant at my wedding, but I just never got this question.

    Now, the shitty part is this: now that we are pregnant, before our one-year anniversary, some people are SHOCKED that we decided to take the parenthood path this early. I’ve learned, as with the “when are you getting married” question that you can NEVER WIN. EVER. This is why I think it’s so important to have a strong marriage so you can rely on each other in these moments when other people try to judge your decisions.

    • Catherine McK

      Yes to the never winning. We got pregnant 2 weeks after our honeymoon. Many many comments about 1) our fertility 2) not wasting time. Eh. I practiced smiling and nodding and saying how lucky we felt.

    • carolynprobably

      damned if you do, damned if you don’t….

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    This is one of those conversations that never goes away. It’s like the “so when are you getting married” question. Even after you have a kid, immediately everyone wants to know when #2 is coming. Then after #2, people will say “you’re not gonna have more kids are you?” It never ends!

    • Alyssa M

      Oh no, you forget, if both children are of same sex then the harassment is to have one of the opposite sex. Because obviously that’s the most important thing about children and something you can totally control.

  • Esther

    My “coping strategy” was losing my cool and snapping at my husband’s grandmother in the middle of Christmas dinner after I’d heard one too many not-so-subtle comments about my getting pregnant (we’ve been married less than a year). I’m not terribly proud of that, but trying to politely deflect questions wasn’t doing the trick…

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    My goal with this topic became to make the asker feel as awkward as possible. I might not be able to stop everyone from asking, but if I can stop one person I’m making a difference.

    I pat myself on the back for actually responding with “Did you want to help?” and “You sure are interested in my sex life,” when asked.

    Ask a stupid question. Get a stupid answer. And yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question despite what they always say in school.

    • Kat Robertson

      Ooh yes. For some reason I used to have some idea that I was responsible for smoothing over awkward situations thrown at me by other people’s rudeness. Getting over that was pretty liberating – someone who asks a rude or invasive question should be the one who feels awkward, not me.

    • Sarah E

      “Did you want to help?” is awesome.

  • BB

    My (female) boss likes to quiz her (female) employees about when they are going to have children ALL THE TIME. For example, she came up to me after a work party and said “I noticed we aren’t drinking any champagne, is that for any particular reason?” **wink**wink** (Did you notice she said “we”? Ugh!) My response was (hopefully a nicer version of) “I don’t like champagne. I didn’t drink it at the last party and you gave me shit about it then, too.” But I find it so hurtful and infuriating because 1) it’s none of her damn business, and 2) it’s inappropriate, and 3) what if I couldn’t have kids? This is rather closer to the truth than I’d like to get in to, but due to my husband’s health, we are pretty seriously considering that we won’t be able to have children and keep him healthy and happy, and I feel SO angry every time I have to laugh this crap off. Not that we would be having children right now even if we were in the right financial and health place, but it feels violating nonetheless. I swear, sometime I am going to be in a really bad mood and just dump the TRUTH on her and she likes actually being privy to knowledge about my reproduction status.

    • Lizzie

      “You may not know this, but that’s actually a really rude thing to ask.” My favorite dressing-down for when a cheeky response isn’t appropriate.

    • Kate

      I might drop by HR and ask them to remind everyone, and maybe your manager in particular, that asking about personal issues is harrassment, and, as such, is inappropriate both at work and at work functions. oh, and illegal and sue-able.

    • Alyssa M

      Seconding Kate’s recommendation for a trip to HR. Cause it’s super duper sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Asking female employees about reproductive decisions is a big fat legal NONO.

      • Caroline

        This! Your boss absolutely has no right to be asking you whether you are planning to have kids. Indeed, given how frequently women have a harder time getting promotions because they are perceived as potentially wanting kids someday, and thus potentially working less, it’s a very very inappropriate question.

  • anon

    This is so amazing. First, I am totally with you on babysitting-to-get-my-kid-fix. It’s the best! And second, I think it depends on who’s doing the asking. Usually if it’s family or friends I’m polite but firm– “we have goals we need to accomplish before we’re ready for that.” If they ask what the goals are, I say “we’re still figuring them out together.”

    However, if it’s someone who has literally no right to ask, like an over-inquisitive older lady at my work, I just stare for a minute and let the silence get REAL uncomfortable. And then I say “I’m not comfortable discussing my sex life with you.” I know that sounds harsh, but it’s super-effective and I truly think it makes them think twice before asking other people the same question.

  • Cara

    ” Why is it not acceptable to ask a couple to justify their reasons for bringing a child into this world, but it’s fine to subject couples who wait to an inquisition?”

    I love this. I want to start asking people why they are having kids, since so often all you see is why people don’t want to have kids. Right now, the only reason I can see having kids is because it’s what you do next, and that doesn’t seem like the right reason. I think people should have to justify having kids, because the reasons there seem to be so much more emotional and might make people stop and think about whether they really are prepared.

    • Alyssa M

      I super disagree with this, and there have actually been several recent discussions on APW that fleshed out the logic here. Choosing kids just because you want kids is valid. Having kids because your partner wants them and you want to make them happy is valid. Choosing not to have kids just because you don’t feel like it is valid.

      Instead of making EVERYBODY justify their life choices to the peanut gallery, let’s stop making anybody.

      • Caroline

        I agree with this. When we were getting married, our rabbi gave us homework to talk about WHY we wanted kids (having said in a meeting that we did want kids). It was so stressful, and the only answer we came up with was, well, we want kids. We just picture our family with kids.
        I do think it’s important to think about whether you actually want to have kids, or feel like that’s just what’s done, but I think asking people why they are having kids is really really not the way to go.

  • jbryant6

    Oh, the timing of this. One of my bridesmaids is literally in labor THIS VERY SECOND. My DOC just announced her pregnancy, as did two other people directly related to my wedding. Not to mention one of MOHs had to leave immediately after my bridal shower to go to the hospital to be there for one of her friends who was in labor. Babies are EVERYWHERE right now. My fiance and I have had the kids convo (we’re basically waiting until I turn 30 to seriously consider kids) but all the babies make me wonder if I want to wait that long…until people start asking if we’re next! I just laugh it off and say we want to get married first, but that excuse will only last a couple more months.

    Though last night, while waiting for my car to be detailed, a man sat down next to me and began questioning me about my fiance and when we would have kids, telling me not to wait too long. “You don’t want to be 50 when your kids are graduating high school.” I just kind of started at him awkwardly and went back to my Kindle. I mean, who does that? Of course, that’s not nearly as bad as some of y’all’s comments!

  • Molly P

    I’m pretty sure this conversation is going to start as soon as we get married in May. My mom was hinting about wanting grandkids at our engagement party in November, for goodness sake. We are waiting a couple years to really get serious about it. I am going back to school in a couple of semesters, so that is going to take precedence for a while. Gonna have to get good at the “we’re just practicing” line, when appropriate.

    • Erin Rafferty

      Boyfriend’s mom has been quietly hinting at wanting a grandchild from him for a while now. We’re not even engaged yet, although we’re planning on it and we’ve been living together for almost three years now. The most irritating thing is that both his older siblings have kids–and with a really good spread of ages for her to grandmother at! The oldest is 15 and the youngest is 2. I mean, come on. That’s pretty good. And she’s never asked me, because she’s really far too sweet for that, but if she ever does, I’m going to politely tell her we have a few steps to go through before we get there, and in the meantime, she can play with the grandchildren she already has.

  • missladyj

    My granddad asked/teased/prodded us at least once a day over the Holidays. He even told me I was getting too old (almost 31) and fat (ummm hellooo I’m pretty average for my weight and height and I have muscles). I get that he does have dementia but whoa it was a little rough. I coped by drinking wine and then I got cheeky and told him that he could write me a check for existing student loans, future student loans, and about two years of salary….coming out to the tune of nearly 120K. He just chuckled. Maybe I’ll get a big check for my birthday! ;)

  • http://www.pinterest.com/katerees711 kater711

    I want to hop in here with an undecided question. What are thoughts on only wanting to having children via pregnancy? As in, Is it logical to wait to decide we’re ready, until we’re brave enough to adopt or foster as well?

    I kind of have this feeling that if we decide we want to have kids we should want to have kids via adoption or fostering or pregnancy. The first two scare me. So, is it logical to wait…

    • Catherine McK

      I’m interested in your thought process. I think if many people held themselves to that standard they would never have kids. All are three, of course, valid and wonderful paths to parenthood. However, I don’t necessarily think they have to be tied together. See Lady Brett’s awesome post about becoming a foster parent, and the comment in this thread about pursuing international adoption in lieu of having biological children. I think you guys should decide what makes sense for you, and pursue that, but you may be putting extra pressure on yourself by saying you have to be ready for all 3 to take on one.

    • Lizzie

      I don’t think there’s a “should” here; whatever route you choose is your right. In terms of logic, though, you have a point: you might decide to foster or adopt, get that ball rolling, change your mind, and then find out you have trouble getting pregnant. That’s a sticky pickle for sure.

      If you have bio kids now, you can still foster or adopt later if you want. So logically, I guess that order makes sense. (Pregnancy scares me way more than adoption, though, so I’m not one to take my own advice!)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I don’t make decisions like that. That’s crossing a lot of bridges at once. Each way has its own requirements and preparation, are you going to do all that simultaneously? Does committing to any one path mean committing to the fullest degree possible? Like, if you can’t adopt domestically, are you pre-committed to trying internationally? If pregnancy doesn’t come easily, are you ready for all possible infertility treatments? That’s a million situations that I don’t think you should try to sort out your feelings about until you get there.

    • lady brett

      there are some really substantial differences between those three options, so i think it’s only reasonable to have different feelings about them. which doesn’t mean you can’t be interested in all three, but i think the mental legwork is different, so it’s really fair to be in different places.

      (full disclosure, if i were to wait to have kids ’till i wanted to be involved in pregnancy, it would never happen.)

    • Erin Rafferty

      I wonder, does it have something to do with having a backup plan? To know, going in, that if your first choice method of baby acquisition doesn’t pan out, you’d be ready to pursue whatever other paths necessary in order to become a mother? Because if that’s the case, I get the logic there–if you know that you’d be willing to do whatever it takes to be a mother, then it’s pretty clear that, yes, you do want kids. No ambivalence there. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to be okay with adopting or fostering–I know people who have gone down both paths, and they’re so, so hard and require such different preparations and struggles… Or maybe trying to have biological children would be an undue burden/risk–reproductive limitations, genetic traits you’re not willing to pass on, etc. I think it’s important to have an idea how far you’re willing to go in the pursuit of parenthood before you start to try, but that doesn’t have to include the most difficult options. And if you’re put off by the idea of a teenage foster kid but not a baby that came out of you, that’s really okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re not still qualified to be a parent.

  • JenClaireM

    I feel like this question is even weirder and more aggressive having married “late.” My husband and I are in our first year of marriage and both 37. Our immediate families are great about not asking us when we’re going to have kids and just letting us live our lives, but other people… less so. I’ve had several family friends give me the “helpful” talk about how we really don’t have a lot of time and how, even if we’re not ready, we need to start trying now now NOW because it might be Our Last Chance (or already Too Late).

    And while I have read enough articles on the Internet and talked to enough friends in my age range who’ve had fertility struggles to know that this may very well be true, it actually doesn’t help at all to be reminded of it. All it does is create more anxiety over our semi-ambivalence about having kids. I’ve always thought I wanted to have kids and I’ve also always thought “But later.” Now that “later” is getting closer and I still feel the same way – that I want to do it later – while understanding that there’s not much later left, having people ask me – and then often tell me that I need to make later sooner – is a source of great anxiety. It’s crazy to me the degree to which people clearly don’t realize they’re asking about a deeply personal and possibly sensitive topic.

    • Moe

      I’m always ever so grateful to people who point out the biological clock and the urgency to get pregnant after a certain age. Because…seriously….I had No Idea. *eye roll*

      • NB

        Right? ZOMG YOU FOUND THE INTERNET, RIGHT WHERE I LEFT IT. THANKS.

        Sigh. My father in law announced over Christmas that “the right way to do it” was to have 4 kids before you were 30. All 4 of his sons are childless, and 29+. Statistically, the whole crew is going to have to do it the wrong way, apparently.

        Then again, he also announced that “he couldn’t imagine being pregnant and giving birth when he was in his 30s! So exhausting!” Yes. That would be difficult to imagine. Or, would at least require imagining life with a totally set of equipment, so, you know. Helpful.

      • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

        Totally. And when my boyfriend and I were going through a seriously stressful do-we-want-to-get-married thing, and I was freaking out that maybe he never would, people pointing out that my biological clock was ticking were just STELLAR, thanks.

    • anon today

      Do they really think you don’t know how old you are? Or that you haven’t read any of the widely available information about fertility after 35? You should just turn around and say, while we are on deeply personal topics, how much money do you make? Do you pay your bills every month? Because you know if you don’t, there is something the banks charge called interest….

    • 39bride

      I had (am having) a very similar experience, having gotten married at 39 (we also have a couple of physical complications that make successful reproduction unlikely, so I do not even allow myself to consider what i do/don’t want because we really don’t have any control over it and I’m genuinely afraid to find out I really do want a baby; we may end up with some young relatives in our care, as well). One pretty good older male friend was so insistent, though. Even telling him with a smile and in a casual tone, “It’s unlikely, considering my age,” was not enough to shut him up. He’d just talk about all the people he knew who had kids later, and ask if we were going to try and why we weren’t pregnant yet since I didn’t have a lot of time. In order to avoid completely losing my temper with him and further damaging a relationship I deeply value, I finally had to point out to him that “theoretically speaking,” such things were very personal discussions because they can involve things like sexual function, emotional health, and how people feel about their biology, their future, their fundamental values and their relationship, “It’s not always simple and straightforward for everyone, so it’s really not wise to press the issue with people!” He got the message, but I worry about what he assumes about our sexual relationship. Ugh.

    • Superfantastic

      We got married at 35 and I get plenty of this too. I’ll never understand how people feel it’s their right and responsibility to educate me about my waning fertility, increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, etc. Especially when it comes from people who are aware that my husband IS A DOCTOR. We really are all set for information on this topic!

      • Rachael

        YES. My cousin feels the need to continuously tell me how my window is closing and regurgitates crap she read on the internet or in pregnancy books to me. I have a Ph.D. in a biomedical science, I am well versed in the actual scientific literature and can find the actual studies to answer any questions I may have. Please stop thinking you are explaining biology to me!

  • anon today

    Maddie, I seethe about this especially when the person being
    questioned is actively trying. I was able to successfully brush of the
    question for our entire 1st year being married simply by saying “well we just
    got married!”, the response was “oh enjoy this time!” We started
    actively trying around the 1 year mark, which I found out is also when
    the honeymoon grace period ended. I still would say we were hoping to
    start a family, just not right now, so I could avoid any uncomfortable
    conversations about how it wasn’t working yet.

    The worst was
    fielding questions from one of my husband’s younger cousins, 5 months
    into unsuccessfully trying, at Christmas, whilst she had her cute and
    unplanned baby on her lap. She wouldn’t take my fake excuses as a cue
    to change the subject, and instead kept pressing, saying things like
    “but you don’t want H to be an OLD DAD, do you?” as if I hadn’t
    considered any of the factors that she, a distant relative, had figured
    out about the life I was living every day. I finally gave up and said
    “I have a calendar, and I know where babies come from, so I think I’m
    set, thanks!” Lying about the fact we were trying probably made it
    worse for me, and kept it comfortable for her for the most part, but I
    can’t imagine I would have felt better admitting I was having trouble
    getting pregnant to someone I had met a total of 3 times and was so
    obviously successful in the fertility department. The whole
    conversation just made me feel defective, maybe more so because it was
    one of my husband’s relatives and not my own.

    The story has a
    happy ending though, thankfully, I am 7 weeks pregnant. Annoying cousin
    will be the last to know when I hit the 12 week mark!!

    • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

      Congrats! And sorry about your husband’s cousin.

  • Katriel

    We’ll be married 4 years this summer and don’t yet have kids. We’re in the late stages of adopting a 10 year old through foster care, but that’s not widely shared information. The foster care system is a maze from hell, and there is so much uncertainty and private information about these kids’ lives that we don’t want to set up our friends’ expectations. Because we might have a kid as soon as May, or maybe not til fall, or maybe winter or…because even when you’re really close to matching with a specific kid, sh** can hit the fan. SO we get tons of questions about when we’re having kids, and we have to give vague answers instead of being like, “Oh yeah, we actually might have an elementary schooler by May. Or not.”

    • Lizzie

      Way to be! Fingers crossed it works out for you guys. “You’ll know when we do” might be a pat response for nosy people.

  • j

    YES! I love/hate this whole thread. I work as a consultant and am asked by clients and colleagues regularly if/when my husband and I are going to have kids (my husband and I have been married for a few years, so . . .). I try to give them the benefit of the doubt because I think they’re just trying to connect with me on a personal level, and when you spend the whole day with someone killing time between meetings, you tend to hear their life stories. I usually deflect by talking about keeping two adults and one dog happy and healthy taking a lot of work.

    But I find it so maddening. Until it happens for the 3rd time that week and it goes from infuriating to funny back to infuriating. What makes me even more crazy is that my husband has NEVER ONCE been asked by someone in a work setting whether/when we were having kids. I’ll come home from work and tell him one of these stories, and he goes “Well, sorry you had such a gendered experience today.” Which, again, makes me laugh and mad at the same time.

    I also drink more around my family and his than I would otherwise. It doesn’t help that I am short and carry my weight in my stomach, so I always fear that people think I’m pregnant anyway.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I still hardly drink, but towards the end of my engagement and in my marriage, I’m more likely to have a “so they don’t think I’m pregnant” drink.

      • Eh

        We announced to my husband’s family that we were engaged at a family get together. My FIL and MIL already knew (we told them when we arrived at their house before everyone else got there). After everyone arrived my FIL wanted my now husband to announce that we were engaged because he couldn’t keep it secret any more, so my FIL said that my husband had something that he wanted to say. My husband doesn’t like public speaking or being in the spotlight so he pretty much said no, he didn’t have anything to say. My BIL then knew that something was up so he checked my hands for a ring (which I wasn’t wearing because it didn’t fit) and then offered me a glass of wine. When I turned down the drink he was positive that I was pregnant. After a few more minutes of people trying to figure out what my husband was going to announce I turned to him and suggested that he say something before the rumour mill goes crazy.

    • Kara E

      My husband’s office is WAY more inquisitive than mine. Just saying.

  • moonlitfractal

    My father in law has been pretty terrible. While we were still going to doctors trying to figure out a safe and effective set of meds that I could take during pregnancy, I started hearing second hand that he was hoping my husband would get me drunk so he could have more grand kids (gross). While we were trying I started hearing more and more passive aggressive comments from him regarding grand kids. Finally, at the family’s Christmas Eve dinner he made a comment about how one of his kids was getting a dog, and then he’d have more grand dogs than grand kids! Isn’t that awful, moonlitfractal? Isn’t it? Aww, come one, it was just a joke! At this point I nearly broke down in tears because we had been trying unsuccessfully for 10 awful months and he was just rubbing it in. My husband had to take him aside and tell him we were trying (even though it was nobody’s business and we hadn’t planned to make it public), just so the comments would stop.

    • anon today

      Oh that is the worst, sorry you had to go through that. Comments like that coming from the in-law side I think sting even more for some reason.

    • malkavian

      That is awful, I’m so sorry you had to deal with that.

  • Jennie

    The questions were constant for us (married 1.5yrs & in our late 20s) until I started announcing I’m applying for grad school. Now everyone is saying, ‘I guess that pushes babies out a few years’. I hope it doesn’t, I’d like to have a baby and then go back to school. But if it doesn’t work out that way, at least people won’t be disappointed. So telling people you’re going to school or back to school seems to shut that question down pretty quick.

  • Mia Culpa

    It’s funny, when three or four of my friends were pregnant last year I kept being asked the babies question and when I said I was ambivalent and didn’t feel ready, they kept saying things like “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” Now that those babies have been born, they still ask. But when I express my ambivalence and lack of feeling ready again, they say “Oh that’s really smart.” Especially when I start talking about my travel plans to New Zealand next week.

    From “Y U NO WANT BABBIES?!” to “holyshitimtiredandneedanapyouarethesmartestpersonever”. Babies! They are tiring and crazy-making!

  • NB

    I heard a very good friend respond to this question with: “We’re actually holding auditions next week. Do you know any babies that want to try out?”

    It still makes me giggle. My response has been the much more boring: “When we’re ready. But we promise to tell you before they’re in kindergarten,” or the weird and inappropriately intense “We’re trying to time it for the right Olympic year, but we haven’t settled on a sport for the kiddo yet.”

    This question is just awful. Well intentioned, generally, but icky. Babies are great! Babies are wonderful! Babies for everyone who wants them, please! Now, can we pleasepleaseplease not talk about my uterus like its something the general public has a say in?

    • Erin Rafferty

      Oh my god, your responses make me want to start a document somewhere on my computer that I can have on hand JUST IN CASE I start getting this question. I need to keep them! For reference!

  • MuchAdo512

    Maybe I’m from a different culturally charged environment but even after we were married, aside from immediate family and a small handful of others, most people kept “joking” that we better not ruin our lives by having kids/ that we were only happy newlyweds because we didn’t have kids yet etc. etc. etc.
    Then when we finally announced we were pregnant everyone wanted to know if we were trying or if this was an “accident” (ALWAYS tempted to respond, yeah, I tripped and landed on his penis. weird.) The most offensive response by far was “Oh… so you decided to keep it?”
    All that to say assuming things about people’s sex lives and familial intentions is frustrating/offensive whatever side your assumptions land!

  • Claire

    “Don’t ask me. Ask my body.”
    “That seems to be the question of the day. I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you.”
    “I don’t know if or when kids are going to be in the cards for us. For now we’re enjoying our family of two.”
    “Time will tell. For now, our dog is enjoying her only child status.”

    • Emmers

      “That seems to be the question of the day. I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you.”

      I love this & may start using it!

  • Anne

    One of my good friends asks all the time! I find it irritating because I would never ask her, “When are you getting married?”

    My standard response when she asks when we’re having a baby, “Time will tell.” She might be my friend, but I’m not comfortable sharing in a very personal, multifaceted family decision. This conversation is between my husband and me.

  • Nina

    On my graduation day from college (I was single and about to start grad school), my mother said, “Traditionally, people meet, fall in love, get married, and have babies… But that’s not necessary anymore. You can start having babies now!”

    Uh, thanks Mom?

    • Catherine McK

      Oh moms. I will never forget my mother handing me a Time Magazine cover story about women postponing childbearing until it was too late. This was 2002. I was 19. Thanks mom, I’ll try not to forget.

      • Meghan

        I think it says something about societal pressures that I remember exactly what Time magazine cover you’re talking about. Even though I was only 16 at the time it came out…

      • KH_Tas

        When I was 19 (and very single) I had an uncle ask me why I was ‘bothering’ to go to uni when I’d just have babies and never work again – I’d never planned to stop working for kids – family, sigh

  • Another Meg

    I’ve been (legally) married for less than a year, and these kind of questions are why I pour myself a drink as soon as I walk into a family party. Then my aunt won’t ask me if I’m pregnant and if she pushes why we haven’t had kids yet, at least I have a drink to keep me from punching her.

    My go-to line when someone asks why we haven’t had kids is that we’re enjoying each other too much to share just yet. Or, if I’m pissed off, then I tell them we’ll start trying when people stop asking. Shuts them up…

    • Alyssa M

      I love “we’ll start trying when people stop asking.” Apparently that’s how my attitude about engagement came off, so when my mother started hinting about babies, my future father in law told her to be quiet because “everytime you say something you push it back another 5 years!”

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I’ve only been asked this by a stranger at the gym. I’ve avoided it at church by periodically getting distraught at the mention of babies/marriage. No doubt some of the wonderful people at church think I’ve suffered two miscarriages by now. At church, I keep my mouth shut.

    But to the lady at the gym, I told the truth, “We’re dealing with health problems, and I don’t think we can have kids.” “You’ll adopt.” “No. Given our mental health history, I don’t think they’d let us adopt.” She pressed, and I kept explaining we were sick.

    But next time, I’ll tell more of the truth, “My husband can’t keep it up.” And to the right person, I will say, “We haven’t figured out how yet.”

  • KH_Tas

    Oh, the babies question. My FI’s cousin basically ordered us to have a baby when we’d been dating one month. Last weekend I heard my FFIL telling FI about how ‘cousin X had had babies (in her very early 20s), and now she has a new lease on life at 40, while cousin Y had babies (at 35) and is now stuck at home with kids at 40, therefore babies early is better’. I’m 26. And never mind that I won’t be ‘stuck at home’ at any age (and now I’m in a situation where I’d be able to keep my career at more or less the same rate even if we had a ‘surprise’.
    For extra existential angst, I’m now feeling ‘maybe in 18 months’ rather than ’5 years at least’ which terrifies me, and last night I dreamed I was pregnant. Oh the feelings…

  • Lea

    At my engagement party, mom-in-law raised her glass and said, “and hopefully grandchildren, very VERY soon!!!!” My response was a loud, prolonged, awkward-as-hell laugh. Ha. Ha. HAAAAAA. Hoo. Hee. Then crickets. I (unintentionally) turned it into such a mortifying moment that no one’s been brave enough to ask me about kids since.

  • JGL (now)

    I tend toward the sarcastic/punitive response. One of my 2 bosses likes to ask all sorts of annoyingly personal questions. What shut him up (for a bit):
    I really only talk about my uterus with my husband or my doctor. Speaking of, how is your prostate health?
    I haven’t come up with the equivalent for a woman yet, but if anyone has suggestions…maybe asking if they’ve had an STD test lately? Last regular bowel movement?

    • Caroline

      How about just, “How’s your uterus?” or “How was your last Pap smear?”

    • Erin Rafferty

      Period questions. All the way.

  • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

    Maddie, thank you SO much for sharing this. Reading these comments was exactly what I needed to get a better perspective on my angst regarding the subject, and to be able to look at further prodding or questioning with a sense of humor.

    It’s been a difficult few months with a LOT of discussion between my husband and I, because our parents have let us know in no uncertain terms that it would be very disappointing if we chose not to have children, and that it was “sad” that we weren’t decided on the matter yet. It’s beyond hurtful to feel that our personal choices would be questioned in that way, and that the message that they’re sending is that we’re really only of value if we choose to procreate. The discussion has crossed the line from dialogue to condemnation, and we’re working as a couple to figure out where to go from here.

    • Charise

      I’ve had some of this, too – at first, our families were all “oh, you’ll change your mind” while rolling their eyes. Now they get sad and disappointed and want to know WHY (and my mother I think believes it is all my husband’s doing and I am just going along with him – since when has she EVER known me to be that way about ANYTHING?). They sometimes even seem to take it personally, like we aren’t having kids because they were bad parents or something.

      It’s frustrating, but I remind myself I can’t completely change my life just to please them. Best of luck figuring things out!

      • http://TxtingMrDarcy.wordpress.com/ Brooke

        ” They sometimes even seem to take it personally, like we aren’t having kids because they were bad parents or something.”
        THIS!
        And while I HATE that they feel that way, I simultaneously resent them because it is NOT about them. Please don’t act like there’s something wrong with us for waiting, just because it is different from your life choice. Plus, we haven’t really even chosen yet. We just need the space and respect to do it without judgement.
        Thank you Charise. :)

        • Heather

          One of my dearest friends does want kids, just not at this very second. She’s great with them, and watches her nieces all the time, but has this very same thought- because she’s not a mother (or pregnant, or talking about “trying” with her own mother), she’s not valuable as a person. Her folks are great, but everyone has their weaknesses, and this is definitely one of her mom’s. It’s so sad how hurtful people can be without acknowledging the effects of their behavior on others.

          Although, I suppose her mom might say that VERY SAME LAST SENTENCE. Which, would be ridiculous, since she already HAS grandkids, and it isn’t her own uterus she wants to use.

  • MS

    We are getting comments about this from one particular person. My brother in law “really wants a baby to play with” ( and yes, he’s said that to both myself and my husband several times) I’ve tried pointing out that he’s awfully interested in our sex life, but his only response was to suggest we name our baby after the city we’re going on vacation to in March…because obviously I’m going to get knocked up after staying in a hotel with my husband for a week…

    • Emmers

      Ha. I don’t know how I’d respond. If I were brave, maybe “I want a baby that you take care of. When are you making that happen?”

      • MS

        The problem with that is I have no desire to make my not quite sister-in-law super uncomfortable. Plus I’ve already tried a similar response with no luck.

        • Jess

          She’s not uncomfortable with him pestering you about having a child? Odd. That would be a deal breaker for me.

  • La_Venus

    Well, we have a different experience here. My parents appear to be terrified of us having babies. Or possibly in denial, I am not sure. No one in my family has brought it up and when I was discussing the use of pitocin with my Mom over Christmas, my Dad whipped around and said sternly, “Is there something you need to tell us?” It was the exact same tone he used when my brother got in trouble and the school called our house. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? We have been married for 4 years and are 27. Most of our friend group consists of married couples with new kiddos. And we have recently decided to prepare to conceive (for however long that takes). So I am not anticipating squeals of delight so much as hesitant questions in quivering voices from people who chose to get an abortion a year and a half after my brother was born. It is a weird feeling knowing that it might take them a bit to come around – probably not as long as I think, but any length of time will feel uncomfortable and disappointing to me.

  • Beth R

    My brother has been married for 10 years, so anytime anyone in my family brings up kids, I point to him and say, “He’s first in line, I haven’t even been married a year!” The reality is that my husband and I probably will have kids before my brother and SIL, just because of where they are with school and jobs, but I don’t feel the need to discuss this with most people. Sorry for throwing you under the bus, brother.

    I have a friend who asks me all the time when we’re going to have a baby or if I’m pregnant yet (ugh) and usually I say, “We already had one, didn’t you notice!? He’s right over ther– oh crap, where’d he go?” Last time I answered with a short “Nope!” and then my husband piped up with, “I’m actually pregnant right now. We decided it would be best for me to carry the baby.” <3 For random people who ask if we're going to have kids, I usually give the noncommittal answer of, "Uhhh, at some point…." and leave it at that.

    • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Row

      Whenever either of our parents bring up kids we always say “you already have 3/2(respectively) grandkids, don’t be greedy!” Thank god both of our siblings reproduced on time!

  • Not having kids

    I am a frequent reader, and I cannot help but notice that while all the “pro-children” columns (an imperfect name, I will take alternative suggestions) are always preceded with the disclaimer that “APW frequently has posts on the decision not to have kids”, or something like it, I don’t think I have ever seen one of those posts. Maybe it is just because having kids is the majority decision, but I don’t really feel like the other position — the decision not to have kids — is fairly represented, or represented at all. Just food for thought, and I am happy for anyone to point me to older posts that I have overlooked.

  • notquitecece

    Thanks for this — we got engaged at New Year’s, and a family member immediately sent an “engagement gift” (apparently that’s a thing?) that hinted heavily at babies. Hold yer horses there, team!

  • Jillian

    High-fiving this post. Thank you! My FIL helped us buy our house and on some of the papers we had to give to the bank, he wrote, basically, “I helped so they would give me a grandchild.” He asks nearly every time he sees me if I’m pregnant and my favorite, right after we got married, was when he asked when I was giving him a grandson. My jaw practically unhinged after that. I was too stunned to say that I didn’t realize my womb was Burger King, where you could have it your way. It’s so intrusive and hurts because I do very much want to be a mother, but we are still recovering financially from the recession and me being unemployed for 2+ years.

    I can’t wait to tell him that any future squidlets will have both of our names, since he refuses to acknowledge the fact that I kept my name when I got married, but that’s a whole other barrel of apples.

  • Kisha

    I really hate this question, but it comes up so frequently. I like to tell people that we’re still having sex for recreational purposes, but we’ll let them know when it gets serious! :)

  • Helen McConnell

    I know it’s not very helpful, but I just wanted to say that this almost never happens to me, in the UK. I work in the fairly left wing public sector, which may explain it, but this is just very alien. We have the same issues with a lack of privacy for pregnant women, but I have very rarely had anyone other than my closest friends ask me about when we plan to have a child. I just flag this because it might be interesting to consider what it is in the prevailing attitude to children, families and women in the US which is causing this.

  • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

    We are very, very firm that we want kids, just not right now. We need our finances to catch up, and we have big hairy career goals we want to tackle now, when we can pack everything up and move cross country, or switch to a single income while one of us chases down something we really want. Also, we are firm that we want to adopt, probably in the next 3-4 years.

    Our closest family members all know this, but I still get “is there something you want to share with us?” whenever I turn down coffee or wine, or occasional comments about how my eggs have an expiration limit. I know they love us and mean well, but I always find that frustrating.

    • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Row

      I’ve found using the line “When there is something to know, you’ll know” works really well. Maybe try that with the repeat offenders? If you turn down coffee and wine often enough it will become common place and eventually won’t raise any eyebrows. For me, if I turn down wine it is like a huge blinking sign!

      • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

        That’s sound advice. And I used to drink coffee and wine like it’s my job, but have recently toned it down quite a bit, so I get why people who really want us to have babies anyway would see it as a sign.

        My response to the egg expiration comment was to say, “We’re adopting, so my eggs can shrivel up completely, and we’ll still be golden,” to my (very sweet, well-intentioned) mother-in-law’s dismay.

  • Eh

    My husband and I were married in October. We bought a house and moved in January. Even before we were married people were asking when we were going to start having kids (my response was let us get married first). Then when people found out we bought a house they started to bug me more (my response was let us move into our house first). After we moved in (we’ve lived there a month) people started bugging me more. They were bugging me so much I did give away our “timeline”. We’re not trying until after my sister’s wedding this summer (I now use the excuse that I’m a bridesmaid and I have my dress already – plus I want to “celebrate” with her). My MIL was one of the people that mentioned it before we were married (she’s backed off since). Two of my close friends have toddlers and they bug me all the time (this doesn’t bother me because I know where it’s coming from – including both of them having difficulty getting pregnant). On the other hand, almost every day at work someone asks me. I think this is a bit weird.

  • Charise

    I was getting questions/looks at work often, because I am the only one in my work friend group who doesn’t have kids now – basically at least one of us has been pregnant at all times for the last 5 years. When I was picked as the spotlight employee for our dept. newsletter, I answered the family question with “husband Ryan, and our little family is likely complete as-is,” hoping that would stop the questions. They chose not to use that bit, of course, hah! But I think enough people know now that I don’t get asked – although last month when I had multiple eye doc and dental appts, I was sure to specify that when asking my boss for the time!

    I know people are usually well-meaning, as they are picking up on your life stage and trying to make conversation. But seriously, once you HAVE gone to college, picked a career, gotten married, and had kids, what do people ask you about?

    • Heather

      “I know people are usually well-meaning, as they are picking up on your life stage and trying to make conversation. But seriously, once you HAVE gone to college, picked a career, gotten married, and had kids, what do people ask you about?”

      THIS! WHAT DO THEY ASK?!

      • Kara E

        They ask all these things about your kids…

        • Heather

          Oh. I guess that makes sense.

  • butternut b

    I would absolutely love to start a family but can’t for another couple of years at least (back in education, blah). I have the opposite problem with my parents- they don’t want me have a baby until I’m at least 30, because that’s what they did (therefore it’s definitely the only way, right?). I can’t even really announce we’re engaged comfortably because they’ll just be freaking out that I am pregnant, or will be once the wedding is over. My sister got married at 21 and got pregnant on the honeymoon- I’m so glad she had the confidence and self assurance to do that (to my parents) but it doesn’t help my case out.. We’d definitely have got engaged by now if it weren’t for my family. We’re still building up the confidence. His parents are so excited for us already, and they’re just waiting for us to announce it.

    http://www.butternutb.wordpress.com

    • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Row

      Good luck standing up to your parents! It is hard for sure, but a real marker of being a grownup. When you realize that your parents can be unhappy with your choice, but since it is your choice, they will have to deal!
      My parents, dad in particular, also has the “we did it this way so it is the only way to do it” mentality. They know we are planning on having a kid (were on the fence for awhile) but only one kid. This is not acceptable since he had two and he has already started with the “the best gift I ever gave you was your sister” bullshit. I just smile and nod. I am happy for my sister, but one kid is right for our family.

  • Rachael

    Oh boy. We were married this summer, both of us are in our early thirties. Apparently there were wagers going around at the wedding as to when we were going to have kids. When asked, AT MY WEDDING, when we were going to have kids I replied, “Not today!”

    Two of my husband’s brothers already have kids (4 and 3, each). One brother started asking us before we got married when we were going to have kids. The other brother’s wife started asking my husband years ago, when he was single, when he was going to have kids. She has asked me a few times since we got engaged if we were planning on having kids.

    My husband’s parents are great – they have 7 grandkids already so they don’t say a word about it. My parents have never directly pushed the topic. But, my mom will occasionally say ridiculous things to this effect. Once she offered to drive the 5 hours down to where we live to watch our dog while we were away for the weekend. My mom hates dogs and hates driving, so I was appropriately confused. But then she added in that if we had a baby she would be happy to drive down to watch him/her for a weekend so we could get away. Hahahaha, she’s setting it up!

  • Granola

    Yay mutual solidarity! *fistbump*

  • Iz

    After I got married last year, my 2 (female!) bosses assumed that I would be having babies asap – to the extent that they’d even discussed how to cover my absence from the company for the 1-2 years I’d take off. So I told them that my husband and I had decided not to have children. “Oh, you’ll change your mind!” was their response. So I reminded them that I will be turning 40 soon and so don’t have that much time to change my mind (not that I’m going to anyway, and how dare they assume that they know better!). It hasn’t been mentioned since….

  • http://fourfeeteightpaws.blogspot.com/ Row

    I’ve taken the route of assuming the best of people and answering honestly. If it is a nosy acquaintance at work I might be vague but if it is a family or friend I have said “maybe eventually but they’re not in our five year plan” or “A couple of years” or now “We aren’t using birth control so really any month!” If they continue to ask about it and I don’t want to talk about it I may say, “hey, how about we leave it as when there is something to know, I’ll let you know.” This has definitely worked for my mom and close friends.

    I do believe people are just making conversation or genuinely want to know what is going on in your life. Sometimes I really hate the “what not to say to [fill in the blank].” For the most part, people are not judgmental assholes and really are asking just because they are interested and care about you. Or maybe are socially unaware and deserve some kindness. For the few who are judgmental assholes, feel free to answer in my absolute favorite way:

    “When are you having kids?”
    “Well, we tried really hard last night but I don’t feel any different today.” Pause, shift around. “Except a little sore.”

    I’ve never been brave enough to actually use it but if you do, please message me and let me know!

    • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

      I will totally be using that if the situation arises. I’ve basically already decided that anyone who asks about our procreation more than “showing interest” (The first three times someone asks me something, I always assume that people just think that I want to talk about it? Kind of like wedding colors- people want to show interest and have no idea what to ask about.) will get sarcastic and awkward responses.

  • Anon

    We don’t know if we will have kids but we are leaning towards probably not. And if we do, we have already decided on adoption (I’m adopted as are several other family members and it feels right for us). Fortunately, my parents aren’t pushy (though I know they’d love grandkids) and when we told his mom’s side that *if* we have kids, they are getting my last name, his brother immediately announced that he’d have to have some boys then. *barf* Anyway, we haven’t dealt with too many annoying comments yet, but they’ve been increasing (we’re both 30 and married 6 months). So far, we’ve had success with telling people we don’t know if we’re having kids or just telling people that we aren’t.

    • Eh

      My BIL has three girls. Every once and a while my MIL will mention that she really wants a grandson. My BIL and his wife have considered having more children but financially and medically its not in the cards right now. I kept my last name so my husband has joked that our kids should have my last name. That would pretty much kill his mother.

  • malkavian

    I’m lucky that we live pretty far from family and mostly socialize with grad students (where not having kids yet is the norm) so we don’t get these questions very often. I think I’ve been asked when I’m having kids maybe a total of two times by people that are not my mom.

    That being said, I take a teratogenic medication for an autoimmune disease and would have to do the med shuffle (and risk reactivation of my illness) if I ever got pregnant (assuming I don’t have to have a major abdominal organ removed due to the disease by then, lowering my fertility), plus I had an episode of PID in undergraduate which might have left me infertile, so there’s a decent chance I won’t ever have biokids. My husband and I are definitely considering adopting kids, but I have a LOT of issues to work out (mostly around my fears of screwing them up due to growing up in an abusive household myself) before that ever happens.

  • Rachel

    The other day while on vacation with my in-laws, my sister-in-law (who has a 6-month old baby) asked me if my husband and I were getting the question about when we would have kids. I looked at her directly and said, “No, I think most people know better than to ask that” followed by a slow eyebrow raise. She got the point.

    • Rachael

      Hahahahahaha! Perfect answer!

  • Rachelle Reese

    I mostly get asked by close family members who know we want children and reply that we’ll talk as soon as they move to Colorado and are willing to babysit! I don’t mind too much, but I’m also a very open person.
    I tend to ask others if they think they want kids – leaving it open ended to a yes, no or not sure if that’s all they want to divulge. Does anyone find that rude? I feel like that’s much more appropriate than asking “when.”

    • Jess

      For what it’s worth, I’m a pretty private person.

      I would find anybody I didn’t know well conversationally asking me if I want kids to be rather rude, unless it was somebody I knew well. But I do feel it is less rude than somebody asking when. The only time I would find it somewhat ok would be if we were talking about family or plans.

      It still allows people an opportunity to openly judge my life “Oh, you don’t want kids? What kind of monster are you?”, opens the possibility of not moving ahead in the workplace if I say yes OR no, and in general isn’t something they need to know because it doesn’t affect their life or their interaction with me. And in the case of those TTC, it’s one more reminder that they haven’t yet.

      Just my 2 cents.

  • Miss C

    Before I got engaged, or married, I thought I was lucky, that my parents had finally realized that (a) I’m not into discussing what I consider personal business, including major life “next steps” unless I bring up the subject, (b) that asking about such topics uninivited was a sure-fire way to make me contrary about them, and (c) it was annoying enough to get all the “are you dating/in love/engaged?” comments from grandparents and others who showed by these questions that they didn’t know me at all. On my now-husband’s side it was easy – his older sister already had a kid, thereby helping put off the types of questions that make me cringe. However, apparently now that I’m married, my mother has joined the rest of her family in the casual comment-dropping exercises about grandkids (or great-grandkids for my frail grandmother), even going so far as to suggest that if I’m not careful, my sister (who is a year younger and has been married two months longer) will beat me to it, as if that is a reason to rush into having a kid (or a legitimate “competition” to be worried about). I’ve even gone as far as to very directly tell at least one uncle that it isn’t anyone’s business and the questions and hints are unwelcome, and to tell my mother she’s getting ahead of herself.

    Why isn’t it acceptable to be uninterested in pregnancy and babies?

  • Duckminster

    We’ve been ‘trying’ for six months now. No dice so far… and my gut wrenches every time someone asks me when we will have kids (or tries to tell me I’m too young/too busy/too something to have them). The funny thing is, all my close friends and family know better. The only people who seem to want to weigh in are people who aren’t even close enough to know my middle name!

    • Anonymous

      Right there with you. Best of luck.

  • Chasity Grome

    A couple of months after our wedding my boss’ wife stopped by the office and while she was there she turned to me and asked, “Why aren’t you pregnant yet??” I was floored. I could handle the questions from friends and family but I barely knew this woman!

    • Erin Rafferty

      WOW, inappropriate! Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of inappropriate stories in this thread, but this is so bold from basically a stranger!

  • Sarah

    Relatedly: I am very on the fence about kids. Not because I don’t like them, or even don’t want them, but latent body image problems seem to have reared their ugly head at the idea of pregnancy and all that it entails — does anybody else have this problem? It’s a problem I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody talk about.

    • Lizzie C.

      I’m with you…I feel selfish for this, but the #1 reason I want to adopt is that I don’t want to be pregnant. I feel like I finally have my body how I like it (-ish) and all I hear is how having babies changes your body forever. No wonder I don’t want to sign up for that. (It helps that adoption is rad…if it weren’t I might strong-arm myself into deciding to have biological kids.) When I made the mistake of admitting that to my mom, older sister and sisters-in-law (all moms), they made me feel like a whiny child. Good thing there’s a safe space like APW to get this off my chest!

    • Erin Rafferty

      Definitely! It’s always freaked me out, especially the idea that my hands and feet will expand and never go back. I don’t think it’s enough to put me off pregnancy altogether, but I do feel the need to go in with my eyes totally open about what *might* happen, even if some of it probably won’t.

  • Laura

    At my workplace, I was an intern before I was employed there, so the question was always “What are you going to do after you graduate?” (Answer: I don’t know) I graduated, I work there, and the next question was, “when are you getting engaged?” (Answer: I don’t know.) So now I’m engaged and the question is, “Have you set a date?” (Answer: No. And I don’t know when we will.) Once we’re married, they WILL start asking about kids. I wish there was a way to say, “See answers number 1, 2 & 3″ that people would understamd, but they won’t.

  • Bri

    The questions are just so much harder when you’ve been trying in secret for a long time. We’re getting close to 3 years this summer and I just turned 35 so I’m officially “Advanced Maternal Age” now. I’m slowly switching from “who knows?” to “We probably can’t.” It makes me want to collapse in a heap of tears every time I just think about it, especially if I’m menstruating.

  • mimi

    My husband and I went out with a big group of friends the other night. He wasn’t feeling well and didn’t really feel like drinking, but I made sure to warn him that people might ask if he was pregnant if he didn’t have a drink.

  • Jessica M.

    I’m 95% sure I don’t want kids and I never really had the desire (I’m 30 now). My boyfriend’s family is pushing hard for it. Key word: boyfriend. We aren’t even married and his sister is already stating how I should “just stop thinking about it and just get pregnant….because if you think about it too much, you’ll never have them…and there will never be a good time, you just have to do it.” This, of course, leads to his whole family chiming in on the subject about how there needs to be more children in the family and how we should have them while his sister’s children are still around (they are pre-teens now) so they can babysit. Etc, etc, etc.

    I hate it and haven’t been able to find an effective way of cutting them off. I’ve tried all of the “I’m really not interested, but thanks.” and the “I’m really glad having kids young worked out for you but it’s just not something I want.” It doesn’t even phase them. It’s never occurred to them that someone might not want to have children.

    My family, thank goodness, is the exact opposite. Neither of my siblings want kids either and my parents are perfectly happy without grandkids and, as my mom says, “even if she did, it’s none of her business”. Thank goodness!

    For the boyfriend’s family, I think it’s time to pull out some of the snarkier comments found here. Many thanks!

  • Ambaa

    Mmmm. Good topic. We are trying and we’re struggling. It is rough. I don’t mind forcing people to confront that pain, though. If people ask when we’re having kids, I tell them we’ve been trying for almost a year.

  • Della

    “Thanks for inquiring about our sex life, but we like to keep how often we have unprotected sex to ourselves.” Tends to be for those who are pushier about it.

  • http://theartofhintz.blogspot.com/ Jenniferjuniper

    My go to line is usually a quip about being able to reliably feed a third human. oddly enough that’s the same line I used when animal rescue fanatic friends tried to get me to adopt a cat/dog. (once I could, I did adopt a cat, so there!) I’ve never been shy about sharing the fact that I consider myself to be underpaid/underemployed though, so I don’t feel embarrassed by making such a blatant money-centric come back. I generally count on the fact that talking about money is often just as uncomfortable for the other person as talking about sex is for me. I have yet to have any one offer to buy us groceries or hire me as their resident artist :-p

  • Mo

    Ah! I can not believe that co-workers feel they have the right to ask about family planning. One of my friends with a two year old informed me that even when you have one child the questions do not stop. She said that people immediately started to ask when she will have another.

    I was at a baby shower last week and the grandmother-to-be was handing out prizes to people who were “thinking of having a baby” in a large group setting. Somehow I ended up getting one of these prizes which I found mortifying. When she put another (single) friend on the spot about whether or not she was planning to have a baby I jumped in and jokingly said “no, but I think that she has had sex before if that counts.” I should add that all of this was in a light-hearted way and I know that she did not intend to make anyone uncomfortable though I am sure that she did!