Mother-of-one Isabel Fay has some advice for anyone interested in her family planning plans: keep your questions to yourself.
As the parent of an actual human being who I made inside my body out of food and biology and man essence and magic (I’m not a doctor by the way), I think a parent asking another parent, “When are you having another one?” is a pretty blinkered, dumbass question.
In fairness, it’s a pretty forgivable enquiry coming from someone who has never tried to have a baby; our formative years are filled with adults seizing our lapels, shrieking, “For God’s sake DON’T GET PREGNANT! Wear a condom! No wait, they don’t even work three per cent of the time, wear two! Get an implant, take all the pills! Wear Ban the Bomb symbols and tiny bells on all your clothes!”
(OK, that last one wasn’t parental advice, it just proved a very effective form of contraception in my youth, being a sure-fire man repellent.)
With that in mind, why wouldn’t you assume that when the time comes and you do want to get pregnant, all you have to do is toss out the condoms and give your fella a saucy squeeze to get knocked up? It can be a huge shock if and when that doesn’t happen.
In reality, the likelihood is that if you’re trying to have a baby, you’re older, if not necessarily wiser. Statistics show that when you try for your first child you’re probably already using some sort of anti-aging cream, damnit, and there is no such thing as wrinkle cream for ovaries. Chances are you unwittingly shot out your best eggs when you were covered in glow sticks in Ibiza, using all the contraceptives known to man.
I should say here that I am one of the lucky ones; I got pregnant within three weeks of deciding to try, but that comes with the HUGE caveat that this decision followed the chance discovery that I had a rare (let’s call it) ‘physical hiccup’ that meant I probably had a few scant months left to have a baby, if I wanted one.
In all honesty we weren’t convinced we did want one; what we secretly wanted was to be able to say, “We tried, and it didn’t work out, ah well no babies for us then,” as we swanned off on another carefree holiday to the Island of Fire and Knives and Running With Scissors.
But in an unlikely twist, I got knocked up right away and now we have our wild, doofusy two-year-old who is the best human being ever created, fact. He’s the Indiana Jones’s hat of babies, snatched from a closing door in the final seconds.
“Statistics show when you try for your first child you’re probably already using some sort of anti-aging cream damnit, and there is no such thing as wrinkle cream for ovaries.”
I have witnessed so many friends suffer the misery of not being able to get pregnant; doing mind-boggling period maths, obsessively taking temperatures, scheduling unsexy duty-sex, month after month, only to draw a blank.
Some of them have had round after round of intense IVF drugs, discomfort and angst, ending in devastating negatives, or worse, thrilling positives that then were later lost, breaking hearts and spirits.
We can all tell one of those tales. If it’s not you, you know someone who has been through it. So, in the face of all of this, for a parent to casually say to another parent, “When are you having another one?” could reasonably be categorised as the dumbest question they could ask. Even dumber than: “Is your lunch now just whatever your kid trod into the carpet?” Of course it is.
It’s also a loaded question, suggestive that one child is somehow not enough; your family is incomplete, you’ve got into Parent Club but you’re only on Level One. You can’t do ‘hilarious’ banter about gleefully neglecting your subsequent children: “Ha ha we literally ignore him; I don’t even know if we’ve fed or washed him in weeks HA HA HA!” Er, cool?
When I first had to answer this stupid question, shockingly soon after giving birth, I used to say: “Maybe when my huge C-section gash has healed.” But that a) was a bit fighty; and b) a lie, because my scar is TEENY.
So now, when I’m asked when I’m having another one I simply say, “I’m not,” because I can’t be arsed to explain that another one is medically, if not impossible, as unlikely as the Tombliboos getting their shit together and all wearing trousers at once (did I mention I’m not a doctor?). And also, more importantly perhaps, I have no idea if I’d even want another one. GASP.
Here are some of the responses I’ve had:
“You MUST have another one; it’s so much easier with two!” Yeah lady, your two completely different shoes are testament to how easy it is.
“You have to have another; he’ll be lonely!” Wow, thanks for shouting my greatest fear in my face.
And, worst of all: “You can’t leave him all on his own; you won’t be around forever!” Oh. OK. I now have a whole new greatest fear, marvellous.
So I implore you, parents, please stop asking the dumbass question, because you’ve simply no idea what’s really going on behind closed doors. And frankly, if someone is going to have another baby THEY’LL LET YOU KNOW ONCE THEY’RE PREGNANT.
In future when I’m asked the question, I’ve decided I’m going to smugly say: “We’re too busy going on holidays to the Island of Fire and Knives and Running With Scissors. It’s so much easier with one.” And then show them my TEENY scar, just for attention.27335 Views