To the nosy person who asks “How far along are you?” or anything similar,
I wish you knew how invasive this question is. I wish you understood that for many of the women you ask this question to, you are bringing up a hard and painful topic. I wish you were able to grasp that although society acts like people get married and BAM! they are pregnant the minute they want to be, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Some people get married and simply want to wait to have children. I know. To you, it’s absolutely crazy. Why would they wait? What’s the problem?
Well, to list a few reasons, they want to finish their education. They may have just gotten a good job and realize companies often don’t like to hire a freshly pregnant woman. They may feel like the foundation of their relationship needs some more work before they begin raising impressionable minds. They may be afraid of motherhood and need some time to mentally and emotionally prepare for this change. Each woman who chooses to wait (not for medical reasons) will give you her own personal explanation. There could be countless reasons, and you need to understand that they are ALL valid. It is not your place to judge.*
It could be that a woman you are approaching to ask if she’s pregnant could have just miscarried, G-d forbid, for the first or fifth time. This one question can easily cause a woman who has forced herself outside during this difficult time in her life to experience anxiety or depression, or make her doubt her self-worth. The impact this question has on a woman who is struggling to stay pregnant, or get pregnant in the first place, is devastating. You may have asked someone who, after a long time of trying, has gotten pregnant, but is so afraid to say it out loud just yet, because she’s expecting the worst.
I wish you understood that curvy women may look pregnant when they aren’t.
Women who have some medical conditions which cause them to bloat may look pregnant when they aren’t.
Women who have various diseases which impact their fertility may so badly want to be pregnant, but can’t get pregnant so easily, or at all.
I wish you understood that if someone is pregnant, but they haven’t publicly announced it or made an effort to tell you, it’s because they feel it’s not your business. They feel it’s the business of their family members and maybe their closest friends only. If you don’t text or hang out on a consistent basis, you can safely assume that you aren’t hearing such personal news first. “So…when are you guys having kids?” is not a conversation starter or the way to open an exchange with someone you haven’t seen since high school.
I wish you understood that pregnancy, and the decision to grow one’s family, isn’t about you or your opinion, or the timeline you think everyone should live by. Pregnancy is a personal—very personal—topic which is meant to be kept between a husband, a wife, and the doctor of their choice. If and when they decide to take this HUGE life-changing step is up to them and G-d, not you. If and when they choose to share this news, it’s their right to bring it up, not yours. It’s their right not to feel pressured into having to tell someone if they are pregnant, or about their struggles if they aren’t. It’s their right to have their reasons for waiting, and they shouldn’t ever be made to feel like they owe you an explanation.
I wish this wasn’t a letter that had to be written. This is the type of discussion topic that when you tell someone a story about the time you asked a woman if she was pregnant, the listener almost immediately responds with “Oh. My. Gosh. You NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant.” Yet, here I am addressing all the people who are still asking.
Please, stop asking. Catch yourself. Think about what someone may be going through. This question is not a nonchalant opener like “Hey! How was lunch?” This is a loaded question. An emotionally-packed question. A question that way too often invades the privacy of many women and their significant others.
Rachel Sara Safer
*This discussion is between you, your spouse and your rav, and no one else.