When Reggie and I married, we made a promise: while we both wanted kids, we would wait at least two or three years to get pregnant. At 24 years of age, we believed that we had ample time to enjoy marriage and one another before introducing a child into the picture.
Despite our desires, however, we constantly fielded the same question throughout our first two years of marriage: When are you two going to have kids?
At first, the question was simply annoying, although we knew that the frequent interrogation regarding pregnancy and parenthood was inevitable in a new marriage. Especially within a traditional Filipino family, where the formulaic College-Career-Marriage-Homeowning-Children timeline is not only an expectation but a mandate.
But, once Reggie and I approached our third year of marriage and began trying to get pregnant, the question about children elevated from annoying to hurtful.
As you could assume, our pregnancy journey wasn’t easy. For the record, I don’t have any known fertility problems, and Reggie and I didn’t actively seek assistance from my OB-GYN. But I was in relatively good physical shape, my diet was fine (I was even cutting back a bit on alcohol, which is a huge deal for me), and I always had maniacally tracked my period so I felt fairly confident that I knew when I would ovulate. Plus, I assumed that my relatively young age would work in my favor as I tried to get pregnant.
Of course, I was wrong.
We actively tried for over half a year — which, I recognize, is not a long time for most couples. Nevertheless, that span of time was physically and emotionally taxing. Every menstrual cycle was a huge red blotch highlighting my failure as a woman to reproduce. I began to make a laundry list of all the things I had done wrong that month that would have impacted my ability to get pregnant: I’m exercising too much; I had one too many glasses of wine; work is too stressful, and the constant traveling is adding unnecessary stress to my body.
On top of that, Reggie and I learned that our older siblings were expecting. While we were over the moon about our future niece and nephew, the annoying question about children now had an addendum: When are you two going to have kids? Your sibling is already having kids, and they got married after you!
A part of me wanted to scream: “We’ve been trying for months, and this isn’t a goddamn race, so can you just shut it?!” But, instead, I bit my tongue and continued my monthly journey of trying, waiting, and crying when my stained underwear signified that I could keep that at-home pregnancy test in the medicine cabinet for a few more weeks…
Thankfully, my emotional roller coaster eventually came to an end. On a stormy night in early December 2016, while on vacation in Chicago, I forced Reggie to run to the nearest Walgreens to pick up a pregnancy test. My period was late, I had been feeling off for weeks, and I just sensed that this month could be different… And, sure enough, we learned that I was pregnant with our son Micah in the bathroom of our Airbnb.
We were excited, but also curiously relieved. I felt as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders with that positive pregnancy test: I could finally answer that infuriating question (When are you two going to have kids?) with a definitive “NOW.”
But, in addition to my relief, I also felt compelled to make a vow. From that day on, I would never ask a woman about her pregnancy plans (because who knows what her journey is and if the question could trigger something particularly painful?). And, if I had the privilege of hearing her plans or thoughts on motherhood, I would cherish that she trusted me enough with something that personal, and I would listen to her with nothing but respect and empathy. No probing. No advice. No judgment.
So, if you’re someone who’s unable to withhold their judgment or advice when it comes to something like whether or not a woman is going to have kids, maybe refrain from asking the question in the first place.