Babies. Let's talk about them. Everyone wants to. Paul and I have been married for 2 years so we are now right in prime "when are you two going to have kids?" territory. We understand that we are not getting any younger and that we aren't really spring chickens anymore. My knee reminds me of this daily. But here is the catch - for the next 4.5 years babies are not an option. It would be very, very bad to get pregnant while on tamoxifen. And it is entirely possible that once I'm done tamoxifen, I won't be fertile anyway (thank you chemo).
The baby question was annoying enough before I was diagnosed with cancer. Not everyone wants children (I'm firmly in the "maybe, probably, but I don't know for sure, oh maybe not" camp, by the way) but apparently that isn't a thing people actually admit to. When I say I'm not sure if I want children, the horror that crosses peoples faces....it's like a murdered a puppy before their very eyes.
I mean, I fully understand that people with children love their own children, that they learn about life through them, that they believe that because of their children their world is fuller and more awesome. I get it. But I don't believe that I have to have them. Sure, not having kids means missing out on some stuff. But guess what, having them means missing out on other stuff. In the kids debate, I'm a firm believer that there is no right answer, there is only the answer for you.
However, it has become very clear to me that this is not the way many other people feel about children. Many people feel YOU MUST HAVE CHILDREN. NOW. I've actually had it suggested to me that I will never be a fully actualized person until I've had children. Yes, someone said that to me once, knowing about my diagnosis, although maybe forgetting about my current inability to breed.
So, pardon me while I roll out my pulpit and lecture you all about what I think you should do, if you like to ask young-ish ladies about their sexy times habits (also, seriously people, asking about babies is basically asking about sex. Yep, I went there.).
1. Ask "are you thinking of having kids?" not "when are you having kids?" if you want to ask. It is a subtle but important difference in the phrasing. One that allows room for the "we're not having children" option.
2. If you get an evasive or indecisive answer to the questions above, do not tell the person "oh but you have to have kids" or "why aren't you trying now" or "you know fertility declines after 35." Sometimes, I don't want to talk about why I can't have kids, and I hate feeling pressured into bringing it up because I have to defend my "choice" to not be pregnant at this moment.
3. Don't assume that because someone is female and married that they must be desperate for children. Also, don't assume that even if they are desperate for children, that those children are an option.
4. Cancer aside, it is totally okay for a lady not to want babies. That doesn't mean she isn't a real woman, or that she is a bad, selfish person. I can't believe in 2012 I have to write that out but honestly, you would not believe how much I have had to talk about, heck, defend our lack of children since being diagnosed. I sometimes actually feel lucky in that I have an easy out - thanks cancer!
But seriously, number one is probably the most important. You can still totally ask, just don't assume every married couple you know without kids is just one romantic evening away from making a baby. You never know what is really happening in their lives. This world is full of people who don't want children and people who want children and can't have them - I'd bet they all have a very hard time answering questions about "when" not "if".