I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for a long time and something made me think more about the question recently. As a parent, you’re asked so many questions by so many different people. It starts from when you’re pregnant: “Are you planning to breast feed?” or “Have you thought about co-sleeping?”. When your baby is born, you get asked a lot about their development: “Can they lift their head yet?” or “How long are they sleeping through at night?” There is one question though that’s asked about a parent’s intentions in relation to their family. This one is usually asked of those with newborns and quite little ones, though I expect to still hear it as Bruce gets older. If you’re a parent, somebody has probably said this to you and maybe it wasn’t hard for you to answer. Your answer may have felt positive. Maybe you took it as the standard question it is. After all, it’s the most common one I’ve ever been asked. But it’s also the hardest.
I’m talking about this question:
“So would / are you having any more?” – children, I mean.
You’re possibly looking at the question now and wondering, why is that the hardest question? Why does that question cause any pain when it’s asked? The answer, for me, is that no matter how I answer that question, it’s always negative. Because the answer is quite simply:
I have tried many times to get away with the simple, “no” response but it quite often leads to the general follow up statement / further query:
“One’s enough isn’t it?” – Usually said with a smile, with all good meaning, as a light hearted joke about the complexities of parenting and ultimately the huge life changing experience.
But no. I wanted 2 children. That’s not the reason. The reason is because I don’t want to risk my life or that of my unborn child. I don’t want to take the 50/50 chance that I may or may not develop severe pre-eclampsia at 28 weeks pregnant again. Neither do I want to take the risk of the potential implications that would have on my unborn child.
This uneasy response doesn’t just happen for neonatal parents like me, but also for those who had difficult births, struggled immensely with their mental health yet never told anyone, experienced the loss of a child, have additional needs of their child / children that they need to consider on top of their own desire to have another. Or simply, no, they don’t want another child.
I don’t believe anybody says or asks these questions with ill meaning, but it doesn’t make them any easier. I wanted to share this as I feel it’s such a common question to ask. One that was certainly asked of me as a new mum but also one that I still get asked now. Before becoming a mum, I even asked it myself. It sounds like such an innocent and well meaning question, and it is. Well, in a lot of circumstances it will be. But in those where the answer is no, it’s hard and it can trigger painful thoughts.
So before you ask someone, “would you have another”, just pause for a minute. They might want to say “yes” but circumstances can force the answer to be “no”.