Imagine attending a wedding with your sweet rainbow baby and a Nigerian Aunty (not by blood, but it’s a title we give to our elders) cavalierly asks “when will you have baby number two?”. To her it may have been an innocent question, but to you, it’s much deeper than that.
Do I think she had a deep understanding of the struggles I had before conceiving Chidera and had malicious intent behind her words?
Do I think she was she trying to conjure up the complicated emotions I associate with child rearing that trigger me?
Do I think she was trying to make small talk and was ignorant about the weight of her words especially to a woman who has experienced loss?
And I will stand on my soapbox for as long as I can to say STOP DOING THIS! Don’t ask women about their child rearing status, because for a lot us, it’s just not that simple.
So how did I respond to this Aunty’s seemingly innocuous inquiry? I half smiled and said “eventually” while tactfully changing the subject. If I didn’t hear my mom’s words in my ear reminding me to respect my elders, I may have told her to mind her own uterus, carried my daughter, and left. I just couldn’t do it though, as much as I wish I was bold enough to do so. Imagine what impact that would’ve had on her and her desire to ask a similar question to another woman in the future.
I get that the assumption may be that now since I have a living child I should be “over” all those feelings of loss, but grief is weird and can look different for everyone.
Yes I am happy that my daughter is here and gratitude is the prevailing sentiment surrounding motherhood, but in an effort to protect women regardless of where they are on their motherhood/healing journey I think it’s safest to just mind your own uterus. And if you don’t have one, even more reason to focus on other things instead of a woman’s child rearing status.
There Can Be Exceptions
I do want to note there is nuance to this conversation. For instance, my baby sister who was there physically wiping the tears from my face after a miscarriage asking me about my plans for expanding my family is very different than a nosy family friend unthoughtfully asking as small talk. One has an intimate understanding and will proceed with compassion and empathy, while the other probably doesn’t really care that much and may even go as far to use your situation for the latest gossip.
Similarly, a woman wilfully sharing her desires to one day expand her family with her Bible Study friends, like I did, is also a different situation if/when they inquire about your prayer request. Asking fellow people of faith to pray for you, and them waiting in faith and expectancy with you is vastly different than a stranger on the street feeling entitled to a response to such personal and intimate question.
I understand that there are countless women who have no issue with these types of questions, and obviously, they’re entitled to feel that way. Many of those women are blessed to have never experienced loss or infertility, and because of that may have a very different frame of reference.
On the flip side, however, there are several women who may leave a conversation about babies, and cry themselves to sleep as they reflect on the difficulty of their waiting season. I’ve been there before. And it’s not fun.
Words have impact, and I want to remind you of that.
With October being Pregnany and Infant Loss Month, I want to send love and light to every single person who knows that pain first hand. Both women and men are impacted by pregnancy and infant loss, and know that each and every one of you are in my hearts.
October 15th, which just passed, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Even though I did think of the babies I lost in the past, I do acknowledge that the day felt a little different now, versus before I had my daughter. I hugged her a little tighter to show my incredible gratitude for her life, and how she represents that God certainly does answer prayers.
It’s my prayer that every single person who is longing for the fruit of the womb gets their blessing, and that it exceeds every single expectation.
Even though sometimes easier said than done, please keep the faith, and trust that things will work out exactly how they’re supposed to.