Yesterday I wrote about some things to say and not to say to someone you know is dealing with infertility. But what about if you don’t know? Because odds are you don’t. Are there things that are probably better left unsaid regardless of the situation? Oh yes, definitely.
Don’t ask a woman if she is pregnant. Ever. You are indirectly asking about her sex life, and that’s just awkward. A dear, sweet person asked me monthly the first year we were trying if I was pregnant. And always perfectly timed it with my menstrual period too. Talk about twisting the knife. Bill Cosby is known for saying you shouldn’t ask a woman if she is pregnant unless you see a baby coming out of her. Miss Manners takes it a step further and says even then you should only ask if you can get her anything, as in, “Do you need me to call 911 for you?”
The other day I was buying five small items at the store. The cashier stared at my belly and said “Wow! Lots of great deals.” And it was awkward. Yes, my five small items were on sale, but they weren’t in his line of sight at all.
Let women complain about being tired, nauseous, having a headache, craving a doughnut, etc., without jokingly asking if they are pregnant. Maybe they are and they’re keeping it secret for now, and you just made the situation awkward. Maybe they aren’t and the idea terrifies them, and you just made the situation awkward. Maybe they aren’t and they desperately want to be, and you just made the situation awkward. Maybe they just really want a doughnut, and you just made the situation awkward.
Also, don’t assume pregnant women don’t know how they got pregnant. Or make comments about their knowledge of birth control. Again, talking about their sex life makes the situation awkward. Don’t assume they don’t enjoy all their boys and want a girl or all their girls and want a boy. Making comments on the number of children a family has is never appropriate, always awkward. I love what Elder Andersen said about having children.
When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.
– Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Children,” October 2011 General Conference
Wise words. Notice nosy neighbors do not get to be part of the decision making process.
And with the possibility of secondary infertility (infertility issues after having children, because the reproductive system is constantly changing/aging), just because a family has children does not mean they don’t desperately want more, and don’t desperately love the ones they already have. Saying otherwise is awkward.
In short, unless you are privy to the details of a couple’s reproductive plans, pretty much any comment related to reproduction, and in turn their sex life, is going to be inappropriate, and make the situation awkward.