It seemed like as soon as my husband and I returned home from our honeymoon well-meaning relatives would ask us when we were going to have babies. We'd roll our eyes and laugh, even though it was none of their business.
After the birth of our first daughter, who was a (happy) surprise and then a preemie, once again people were quick to ask us "when are you having number two?" "are you going to give her a sibling?" or "ready to try for a boy?" I hadn't even healed from my first child yet before I got those questions. Seriously, I was in the midst of new motherhood, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and in the early stages of postpartum depression and people asked me if I wanted another?!
As time went on, the questions seemed to slow down a little. Still, every time I'd go visit a friend who just had a baby she (and later, my mom) would ask if it gave me baby fever. Every time someone in my circle of friends would welcome a new son or daughter, it seemed that it opened the door for people to ask us about our future conception plans.
My husband and I are insanely blessed because our first daughter was a surprise, which meant we didn't have to go through the painstaking process of wondering if we were infertile like so many of our friends have. That's not something you broadcast at a family reunion, though. It's one thing for close friends to ask me my family plans, knowing that it's not a sensitive topic for me, but it's quite another for extended relatives who know nothing about our journey to assume all is well. There are so many women who aren't blessed like me, and I've seen the pain in some of my best friends' eyes when someone asks them if when they're having kids.
After a lot of thought, conversation, and reflection, my husband and I quietly decided to try for a second baby around the time our daughter was two years old. Once again, it happened fast for us and with the holiday season (and champagne for days) upon us, our news didn't stay a secret for long (what can I say, I'm a mom who likes her vino and bubbly so it's uncommon for me to turn it down at social events).
This time around, my husband and I opted to do a blood test at 11-weeks to find out our baby's gender rather than wait until the 20-week anatomy scan. We were thrilled to find out we were having another girl, because we so badly wanted our first daughter to have a forever best friend.
Once we shared our news, friends and family quickly jumped to asking us, "are you going to go for a third to try for a boy?" First of all, no, that's a very risky game and second of all, I hadn't even had to transition to stretchy maternity pans and people were already asking me about another baby! They had no idea what was to come for us, but they felt it was their business to ask us our personal business.
My second pregnancy was much like my first - miserable. Only this time, it had the added fun of weekly progesterone shots, extra ultrasounds, doctor appointments pretty much every day (okay, that's an exaggeration, but it sure felt like it), and multiple trips to the labor and delivery emergency department because of my risk of another preterm labor.
I ended up on modified bed rest at home, then hospital bed rest for a week, before a complicated labor/delivery, followed by a week-long stay in the NICU for the new baby who came into the world at 34 weeks. It was traumatic, exhausting, and draining from start to finish.
Somehow, despite having my second premature baby, people continue to ask us if we're going for number three. Thankfully, my close friends and family know our story at this point and know that my body physically can't carry another baby, so they no longer ask. It's, once again, those extended people who feel they have a right to know. Who don't take a minute to ask us how life is going before thinking they have the right to know our personal family plans.
It's the random neighbor who passes us on the sidewalk, the aunt whose only communication with me is through social media, or the coworker who thinks because we share an employer we should share intimate family details too - those are the ones that bother me. If you don't take the time to know my painful (in its own way) story, then why do you feel as though you deserve to ask about my long term plans?
My husband and I had already decided we'd be done at two kids before the eventful (to put it lightly) pregnancy and delivery of our second baby. What if we had wanted three though, and we knew that my body couldn't carry another, and we had to tell nosey people we were done with kids because we had to be, not because we wanted to be?
That's the thing, so much more goes into having a baby than just an idea in a couple's minds. People suffer miscarriages, infertility, premature labor, stillbirths, and so many other complications that affect them to their cores and may impact whether or not they'll have kids at all, let alone multiple. So, no matter how well-meaning you think you are, don't ask someone about their family plans because it's a loaded question and if they want you to know, they'll tell you.