People have this horrible habit of asking couples when they're going to have a baby, especially in Asian cultures. It doesn't matter if the couple are newly married or a decade into their marriage -- the question inevitably pops up: So, when are you going to try for kids?
To those who insist on asking this question, perhaps you'll stop doing so after I tell you this little personal story.
I was in my late twenties when, with the blind optimism that this age brings, my husband and I decided to try for our first baby. So began our trying to conceive journey.
Month after month we tried… and failed. We kept trying though because I had read that for some couples, it can take up to a year for pregnancy success. But as the year went by, I realised something was wrong.
One year down - no double blue lines, no baby joy.
So we saw a fertility specialist. And so we went through the barrage of tests that are a precursor to actual treatments. Nothing was wrong my husband. It was my system that was flawed somehow.
OUR VERY TRYING, TRYING TO CONCEIVE JOURNEY
I tried fertility-boosting drugs. Fail.
Three rounds of IVF. Fail. Fail. Fail.
Second year down - still no double blue lines or baby joy.
By now, I had pretty much lost all hope of ever having my own biological child. We started researching alternatives, like adoption. At the same time, my fertility specialist recommended that, a. I try naturopathy and acupuncture to "cleanse" my system. And, b. I come back after this for a laparoscopy to check my faulty reproductive system.
The laparoscopy revealed I had tiny growths on my ovaries - endometriosis - that were affecting the quality of my eggs. The growths were removed and almost like magic, the very next month I became pregnant.
These two years of my life were the toughest, from multiple points-of-views: financial, because of the cost of three rounds of IVF and other procedures; physical, because of all the invasive procedures that were carried out on my body; and perhaps the hardest of them all - emotional.
Seeing my baby blastocyst alive, watching it transferred into my womb, then knowing it did not survive took its toll on my heart and soul.
SO, WHEN ARE YOU HAVING KIDS? THE BARBED QUESTION YOU SHOULD NEVER ASK A WOMAN, TRYING TO CONCEIVE OR NOT.
During these two years and even before them, no one knew we were trying for a baby. Yet, many people felt they had the right to ask that most irritating of questions: "So, when are you having kids?"
Before we embarked on our trying to conceive journey, this question when asked only made me mildly irritated and I usually brushed it off with a laugh and a joke.
But in those tough two years when people continued to ask this question, I felt a myriad of emotions ranging from grief and sadness, to agony and anger. How could I possibly answer this question, when it really had no answer?
To all those people out there who insist on asking women when they're having babies, I need to tell you this.
Perhaps she's truly not ready to have a baby yet; maybe she hasn't even thought about it.
Maybe she's thought it through and decided she wants to focus on building her career for a few more years. Perhaps she doesn't have the finances yet to support a baby. Or it could be that she doesn't want to bring a child into this already over-populated world.
Did you ever pause to think that maybe she could be in an abusive relationship and doesn't want to include a child in her pain-riddled life? Perhaps she was abused as a child and still suffers from the trauma, not wanting to bring a child to this world because of it.
Or like me, she could be going through the painful process of fertility treatment. The day you asked her that question could have been the day all her hopes were washed away, yet again, by a flow of blood.
"When are you having kids?" is such a barbed question, you see, especially if the woman you asked the question from is struggling to get pregnant. For her right now, her world is crumbling. She even hates going out, because the sight of a baby reminds her of what she is missing in her life. And when you ask her that question, she really doesn't know how to reply, because it highlights the empty spot in her life.
So, dear aunties, uncles, parents, friends and strangers who insist on asking this question at random. Please think twice before you do this again.
Deciding to have a baby is a deeply personal decision and one that should not be of concern to anyone else.
Remember -- you don't know her story.
This story was first published in theAsianparent.