Six months ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. She is the final addition to our family and after two boys, having a girl was a wonderful surprise. However, had I been blessed with a baby boy, he would have been loved no less deeply than her. It was during my pregnancy though that I became uncomfortably aware of how nothing is off limits to ask and comment on when it comes to when you will have children, how many you will have and what gender pairs are ‘acceptable’.
It started as early as our wedding day when even the priest discussed the children we were expected to have. One child would obviously not be enough as the ‘children’ of the marriage was the reference in his sermon. Family members added to this in their speeches with ‘can’t wait to one day see their marriage result in children’. Luckily, we did see children in our future, but is it really okay to make this assumption? Is it really a free for all topic for everyone and anyone to discuss?
After several years of not falling pregnant and then suffering a miscarriage, the future of our family seemed like it may be just a dream and not a reality. The questions continued. ‘Are you going to have children?’ ‘Do you have any children yet?’. ‘It’s your turn next’. I would cry sometimes thinking that these questions may continue reminding me of my failure and that each uncomfortable and awkward time I would have to come up with some lame answer like, ‘one day, but we are happy traveling at the moment’ or ‘we are so busy working we don’t have time for children’. Is it really okay to make someone feel like this?
Eventually, I did fall pregnant with our first baby. We had a baby boy. He was healthy, perfect and beautiful. Of course, with him came a love I cannot describe. I was in love with my baby and totally consumed by his presence. But did the comments stop. Absolutely not. ‘Are you going to have another baby?’ ‘You don’t want them too close together’. ‘You don’t want them too far apart’. ‘Maybe you will get the perfect pair’.
Two years later, I did fall pregnant with another baby. When people saw my expanding belly and I would happily inform of the imminent arrival of my second baby boy, I was met with comments like ‘oh, well at least they will be best friends’ and ‘you’ll just have a try again for a girl then’. Huh? Was my expecting a second baby boy not acceptable to some. I remember walking away slightly hurt that the joy I felt was not matched by others.
When my second beautiful boy was born I was again engulfed with love for him and consumed by these two little beings we had created. Now you would think that the questions and comments would have stopped. Oh no way! ‘Are you going to try for a girl?’ I was asked this pretty much every time I left the house, predominantly at the grocery store or butcher. I was pretty content with my boys and shrugged these questions off.
I did however, find myself pregnant again, much to my surprise. I was hopeful that I might this time have a baby girl but healthy was the goal. I was told early on that I was expecting another boy and boy did the comments kick into hurtful over drive. I remember vividly saying to somebody I was pregnant with another baby boy and they said ‘oh no’. It was truly devastating to have people suggest that my baby was not ‘the right sex’. How can people so flippantly make such hurtful comments, when did this open door policy become okay?
To my surprise my baby turned out to be a little girl. I was congratulated about ‘getting the formula right’, something I heard just today. I was congratulated for the two older brothers to look after their little sister. Well, maybe at last I had gotten it right, maybe now I could go to the grocery store and just get smiles, or maybe comments on their lovely eyes or cool shoes.
Ha, your kidding right? I feel like maybe I have ‘tipped the scale’ in the wrong direction because now I get the continuous ‘oh you have your hands full’ comments or ‘ two boys and girl, you wait until they are teenagers’.
So, if you read this please be mindful of the journey others may take in their lives. Be mindful that personal comments are hurtful. And finally ask yourself, is it really okay to ask that?