The three little words you DON'T want to hear.

Warning: this is a rant. If you came here for sunshine and puppies and sparkly unicorns, this ain’t your day, girlfriend. Try again tomorrow. 


Since getting pregnant, the response I seem to have encountered most isn’t the usual “congratulations!” or questions about when the baby’s due or how I’m feeling. No, it’s been something much more personal, invasive and, let’s face it, downright offensive. 


Three little words: “Was it planned?”


Why do people think this is an ok question to ask? As far as I’m concerned, it’s ridiculously personal and not appropriate. At all. It’s like asking a friend who’s not as trim as they used to be “did you mean to get so fat or was it an accident?”, or going up to a less-than-pretty person and enquiring “horrific facial injuries?”. But worse, because you’re not just passing judgment on that person, but also on their unborn child. Thanks. 


Sure, some people couch it in different terms. I had a friend say, “big shock for you?”, which I actually think might be worse, as it actually presumes the baby was unplanned. I also had a conversation with another friend where she ummed and ahhed about how best to phrase the innocuous question “how far along are you?” for fear of saying the wrong thing, then followed it up with a gung-ho “was it planned?” - no umming and ahhing there. 


And then there are the thinly veiled ways of asking, by enquiring what contraceptive method we were using, or whether we’d just been pulling out and hoping nothing ‘bad’ would happen. 


I still don’t know how to respond to this question. I would really like to say “it’s none of your effing business”, accompanied by a side of face-slap, but instead I tend to settle for something bland along the lines of “it was a bit quicker than we’d hoped, but we’re very happy” with a smiley face to mask my outrage that someone calling themselves a friend would ask that. 


I wouldn’t ask someone whether they’d intended to put on weight, or if they’d ever contracted a sexually transmitted disease, or if they’ve had been monitoring their cervical mucous recently. Why is it ok to question me on when and how I decide to start a family? 


I seriously doubt that people would ask me this if Matt and I were married, but I’m shocked that in this supposedly modern, liberal society people think it’s ok to assume that unmarried and pregnant = a chance that the baby was an accident. And even if they do, why can’t they keep their speculation to themselves? 


I mean, what are people hoping to gain? Am I going to use the word ‘accident’ or ‘unplanned’ or ‘unwanted’ about my tiny, defenceless baby? Hell no. 


Maybe I’m being over-sensitive, but this is MY CHILD, not the impulse purchase of a Mars Bar at the supermarket. Not an ‘accident’ that should/could have been avoided, nor something bad that anyone should regret. Of course we had thought about whether or not to throw caution to the wind and bring a life into this world. Between us we have four university degrees and more than a healthy amount of risk-aversion. This wasn’t a decision we took lightly. 


I’ve given up answering the dreaded question, unless it’s face to face and, therefore, almost unavoidable. So, for the record, here it the answer: 


Were we using contraception? No. We’re both pretty anti me pumping my body full of unnatural chemicals on a daily basis to actively avoid the miracle of life. 

Are we so stupid that we hadn’t realised that sex + the absence of contraception could = a baby? No. 


Had we discussed having a child and were happy in our decision? Yes. We had taken the view that we were open to our relationship expanding to include a baby, whenever that came along. It didn’t happen instantly, and we’d had plenty of opportunity to think about the potential consequences of our decision. 


We are very happy that we’re becoming a family this autumn, and believe that now is when we are meant to start our family. A family that includes a baby – a real, live human being with feelings and thoughts and reactions, not a Mars Bar. 


Right, I’ll step off my soap box, push to one side the hurt and anger that I’m feeling, and hope that the next person who wants to ask me something incredibly personal that is none of their businesseither reads this first, or engages their brain before their mouth. 


Rant over. Normal fluff and bumf back tomorrow.

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