So… when are you having another one?!
Anyone who’s had a baby will surely be familiar with this phrase!
As a reflexologist specialising in fertility, I always wince a little when I overhear this question being asked. There is so much people are contemplating and going through when they make the decision to start a family, and many journeys are complicated. I know that most people are making polite conversation and would never intend to cause any discomfort or upset in the other person. However I do wonder whether the question should be asked at all…
I first started hearing this question around my eldest’s first birthday… probably as soon as she’d blown the candle out! Then it didn’t cease… it was as if someone had opened the ‘Second Baby’ floodgates.
Friends, family members, colleagues and people I had just met at baby classes were all keen to know when I’d be pregnant again. Most came straight out with the titled question. Some people attempted to be discreet and skirted around asking questions like “Are you enjoying being a mum?”, “Would you like another?” or “Do you think you could you fit another baby in your house?” The rest were very direct, selecting questions such as “You’re not getting any younger!”, “Surely you don’t want to wait too long?” or “She needs a sibling to play with”. At times these were even accompanied by a raised eyebrow and fingers tapping on watches!
We’re All Different
Now I understand that people are curious and may be wondering these things… but it amazes me how acceptable it appears to be to ask the questions aloud! There seems to be no consideration for the factors that will affect a couple having another baby, nor any consideration for their feelings.
So I’ve compiled a little list of things to consider when you see a parent with ‘just the one child’ (I’ve heard that a lot too!) and feel the questions rising in your throat. The parents you’re wondering about will probably have the following (amongst other factors) on their minds:
Choices & Circumstances
Different people choose different things and it’s no surprise that this applies to families too. Some will choose to have several children and others will have one child and that’s perfect for them. Just because someone had a baby doesn’t mean they’re going to automatically want another – even if they’re loving every minute of parenting! There are also many factors such as finances, living space, schooling (if they choose private education, maybe they can only afford this for one child) and personal experience, for example whether they were in a large family and enjoyed it. Added to these are a far more complex web of experiences and emotions each individual has, which will affect their feelings and choices surrounding parenting and building their own family.
People become fascinated with age gaps between siblings and often believe around 2 years to be the ideal (hence the pestering around a child’s first birthday!) Two years is considered long enough for your body to recover from the first pregnancy but short enough for the siblings to share interests and play together. However some parents prefer a larger age gap and like to have one child starting school so time can be given to the new baby more easily. There are many different reasons. Pros and cons for varying age gaps can be found at www.whattoexpect.com/family/child-spacing if you would like to know more.
Some couples go through traumatic birth experiences that put the mother and/or baby in danger. This can be terrifying for everybody involved and makes a lasting imprint on their lives. It’s no surprise that many couples who experienced this trauma make a decision not to go through pregnancy and childbirth again, even if they would really love to have more children in their family.
You never know if someone has already been trying for their second child and has miscarried. Miscarriage is a heart-breaking event but isn’t something people always share openly. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage and the likelihood of “When are you having another?” being said to someone who has miscarried is sadly very high.
Around 1 in 7 couples experience infertility. Therefore conceiving a first child may have taken a lot of time, resources and emotional energy. This might lead parents to have one child and not feel the need to go through that journey again. Even if someone is going through fertility treatment a second time, it doesn’t make it any easier on them and their family. They certainly don’t need any additional pressure or questioning about their next baby.
It isn’t just people who had difficulty conceiving their first child who may be going through fertility treatment. Secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility and can affect couples who had no issues conceiving their first child.
Of course for some people, infertility treatments may not have proved effective and they might have adopted their baby or toddler. As with all the other cases above, hearing questions about subsequent babies may not be welcomed.
How I Handled It
I did what most people do and smiled politely then ignored them… and I did this for 3 ½ years! I was fortunate not to be going through any difficulties at the time, although nobody knew that for sure. The truth was that I was so grateful for my first baby that I wasn’t thinking about another.
I’d had cancer treatment years before and been told it could affect my fertility. I went through fertility treatment to freeze eggs before my chemotherapy in-case I needed them. 2 years later I fell pregnant naturally but it ended with a missed miscarriage at my 12 week scan.
So when my second pregnancy resulted in a healthy baby girl I was over the moon and just felt so lucky to have her. I was completely immersed in my new role as a parent and was very happy to ‘just have the one!’ It wasn’t until she got older and was heading towards school age that we decided to have another baby, and that age gap suited us just fine.
I think it’s great that people are interested in each other and ask questions – I love striking up conversations with people at baby classes, in shops etc. However with all of the above points in mind, I think we could all tread a little more carefully when it comes to questions surrounding pregnancy and baby plans; not everyone’s plans are straightforward. Next time you feel the words “So… when are you having another one?” rising up maybe do a last minute switch and change the question, I’m sure they’ll thank you for it!