Things we Should stop Asking Women

Story by Rebecca Roberts / January 28, 2022

By Dr. Cici Carter

“When are you going to have a baby?” And other things we should stop asking women

As someone that has struggled with fertility, I hate this question, “when are  you going to have a baby?” and it’s sister, “when are you having another baby?” In fact, most women do. So why do we keep asking it? Let’s all help each other out, and just never ask this again. The truth is, we have no idea what the other person is thinking when it comes to answering this question, but it’s usually never a positive thought. Most women are thinking, “it’s none of your business,” or “we’re trying and it hasn’t happened yet, thanks for the reminder,” or “I love my childless life right now,” or maybe you are pregnant and you don’t want anyone to know yet. Instead of saying what we’re actually thinking, we’re all too polite and don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings; that they’re just being nice and taking interest in little ol’ me. 

But dammit, what about our feelings?

 Why do we feel the need to bend over backwards and thank this person we barely know (usually it’s an acquaintance at best who’s asking) for inquiring about such a personal thing? The only person you should be having this conversation with is your SO, your doctor, or maybe the receptionist at the doctor’s office doing the intake form. This question might also be acceptable if it’s coming from a close friend with whom you’re having a deep conversation and they truly want to know what’s on your heart. Would-be grandparents get to ask it once, but after that, you need to initiate conversation about it. Grandparents can’t be treated too harshly though, I’m fairly certain it’s part of their biology that shifts them into this mode after age 55. Just like when we turn 30, we get more excited about a vacuum cleaner and staying in more than anything else and can’t handle more than 2 glasses of wine at a time, but I digress.

Perfect journey to motherhood?

Honestly, have you ever met another woman that just waltzed into motherhood as she had planned with everything in her life lined up and perfect for this very event? Anyone? Well I have not, nor have I been that woman. And for those women who may have experienced this rare event, good for you! You are a unicorn, a great white buffalo, we just ask that you use your powers for good and keep it to yourself or be mindful of those around you. For the rest of us experiencing issues becoming with-child, I hear you! What our physiology has to do to result in a pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle. It may not seem like it for many people, but it’s a numbers game. If there’s enough people in the world trying to get pregnant at the same time, we will see many pregnant women and they will be all around us at every turn because that is what we’re focused on and so it shall be. “Everyone is pregnant, but me,” is how each woman walking this path feels. 

Let’s talk physiology for a second (and this is the VERY abridged version).

 In order to get pregnant a female must develop a follicle, a follicle that is to become dominant over the other follicles in the monthly cohort (even in the follicular stage we’re competing against each other). This follicular growth is stimulated by follicle stimulating hormone (FSH, appropriately named), until this dominant follicle produces enough estradiol to signal to luteinizing hormone (LH), “release me!” Once released from the ovary, aka ovulation, this dominant egg floats on down the fallopian tube which then gets bombarded by semen, hoping to snag the best of the bunch to fertilize her. Then as a united front, the sperm and the egg become the zygote, continuing to work it’s way down to settle into the nice home (the uterus) for implantation. Our body then gets signaled from this zygote by way of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)  to continue to produce progesterone (pro-gestation) so we can maintain the pregnancy. Then this little alien-looking thing develops on to become a full fledged human that comes flying out of the vagina and into our arms. 

Quick plug for the males.

 Our male participant in all this has to have viable sperm with good motility, volume, count, morphology, with limited defects of the head, neck, or tail. There’s more involved for the men, but that’s a different article. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right? How everyone isn’t pregnant all the time is beyond me! (That’s a joke.)

Tons of things can go wrong.

Even in my meager understanding of this process (I went to medical school and residency and delivered babies and I’m still not 100% sure about everything), there are so many steps where shit could go wrong. I can’t even list everything that has to happen. Here are some more things that come into play:

  • You can’t be too stressed out about everything
  • You have to exercise, but not too much
  • Your hormones have to pulse at the right time
  • The egg has to be released at the right time
  • You have to time intercourse at the right time
  • Your cervical fluid has to be just right so that the sperm can swim up there
  • You can’t be too old (and preferably not too young)
  • Your genetics have to click between the egg and sperm
  • You need estrogen, but not too much that it overpowers progesterone 
  • You have to eat well and not have caffeine, alcohol, sushi, tobacco, anything fun, etc…

You get the picture, right?

This isn’t as simple as we think or would like it to be.

If we do desire a child from our own loins, we put enough pressure on ourselves knowing that this is what we want without someone we hardly know, prodding into our lives asking, “when are you going to have kids?” Lay off me Karen, we’re humping like rabbits over here and still no baby. Then doing “it” becomes a chore; we lose the lust we once had, there’s no intimacy. It’s a task. We may as well ask our SO to empty the dishwasher; that’s about as excited as he gets to do it after a while, getting more and more turned on at the sight of the ovulation prediction kit. Now, we’re not only NOT pregnant, we’re growing distant from our partners during the thing that’s supposed to bring us closer together.

So what do we do about it all? 

The pressure, the stress, the depression, the feats of science we’re putting our bodies through if we’re going through IVF or IUI, the disappointment with every “moon time” that comes around, the anxiety, the strained relationships when it comes to having a baby? First, we all agree to stop asking that mother f-ing question. Then we cut ourselves some slack. The trending term is “give yourself some grace.” Everyone’s journey to motherhood, should they choose to accept it (except if you’re in Texas), is going to be different. And while it may be different, please realize it is not a solo escapade and there’s a community of women walking alongside you. Let’s build each other up, before those babies we so desperately want, tear us back down. Find your community, be present in the moment, and take some deep breaths. We see you, we hear you, we’re with you, we are you. 



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