It seems like once you reach a certain age, family, friends, and even strangers feel like they have the right to know what you are doing with your uterus. From asking when you plan on getting pregnant to how many children you want—and even arguing with you if you do not want children at all—people seem so comfortable casually asking about such a personal decision.
When my husband and I first decided we wanted children, struggles with infertility meant my fantasy of a house full of babies was something that would never quite be in reach. By the time I was pregnant with our first baby, I was just happy we could even have one child. But as soon as our baby was born, family and friends who’d questioned my decision to have kids in my early 20s were now asking when my husband and I were going to have another child.
After having our two kids 16 months apart, my body and mind went through some very intense changes. I coped with pregnancy-related health problems and postpartum depression. By the time my second child was born, my husband and I both knew that it wasn’t feasible to even consider putting our family through another pregnancy down the line. After some heartfelt discussions, we permanently made a decision that our family was complete.
By the time my second child was born, my husband and I both knew that it wasn’t feasible to even consider putting our family through another pregnancy down the line.
People decide not to have children for many reasons. Here are a few reasons never to ask someone when they’re going to have another baby.
You don’t know how difficult the decision can be
Sometimes, the decision not to have another child can be very personal and painful. My decision not to have a third child is not solely because I didn’t think I’d have the energy to parent three children but also because I had a very high risk and complex second pregnancy. Several health problems would make another pregnancy dangerous for both me and the child.
While some people (particularly beloved older family members) think I should try for another to have a daughter (I have two sons), I know I can’t put myself or my family through another pregnancy where I cannot be sure of the outcome.
“Why not adopt?” is a complicated question
Some people may suggest adoption or fostering in situations similar to mine, but as an adoptee, I have a very complicated relationship with adoption. While many view adoption as a “happily ever after,” I have found it is much more complex for the child and the adoptive parents. Adoption is hardly ever an easy or simple solution to infertility, high risk pregnancies, or one’s desire to expand their family. Plus, someone seriously considering adoption has already thought about it, so no need to bring it up.
Having one or more children can strain families financially
While many friends and family members understand theoretically that money is a factor in deciding to expand one’s family, many forget the real cost when asking someone about having more kids. For the older generation, housing costs, education, and medical care were not as high as they are today. Many families not only need both parents to work but also require outside help from grandparents or other family members to offset some of the childcare expenses.
As of 2015, the cost of raising a child until the age of 17 is about $233,610, which is an astronomical amount for many families in the United States. It is no longer feasible for many couples to have multiple children, especially as childcare costs rise and few jobs offer flexibility for parents.
Sometimes, the decision is permanent
My husband and I have made the decision to not have more children permanently; he had a vasectomy. We knew that some family members would be against the decision, so we’ve avoided sharing this personal news with them. We still get comments like “oh, well, you’ll change your mind” when we know that would be pretty much impossible. When it comes down to it, though, we shouldn’t feel guilty for choosing not to have more kids, nor do we owe anyone an explanation—even our family—for our very personal decision.