It’s wedding season, and although I’ve already weighed in with my marriage advice, there was one important topic I did not discuss, but should be disclosed to all you newlyweds. So listen up: the truth is, now that you are married, you need to be prepared for the semi-constant stream of questions regarding your plans or opinions on having your first baby. And although the subject is deeply personal and really none of anyone’s gosh darn business, it will happen, over and over and over again. (In fact, I’m looking for information on exactly how long you need to be married without children before they stop asking: 3 years? 7 years? 15 years? Anyone?)
You thought they would be satisfied when you got married, after all, that’s what they asked about for years prior to your wedding. But no, now that there’s a ring, they need a BABY!
So how can you avoid this shameless invasion into your privacy? Here is some advice, but beware: it can happen when you least expect it.
1. Never, ever, EVER under any circumstances hold a baby in public.
This is such a rookie mistake. You thought you were just meeting your new niece/nephew/cousin/best friend’s infant, and that the polite and desirable thing would be to hold the thing. Hahaha you are not just holding a baby, like any ordinary person, you are auditioning, you are modeling, you are displaying you parenting skills for the world to critique. So put that baby down and walk away.
The last public picture of me holding a baby, from 2010, a good two years before I started dating my husband.
2. If you must hold a baby, DO NOT TAKE A PICTURE!
Another sad, rookie mistake. That’s not just capturing a brief, precious moment in your life, that picture is going on the Internet, and the Internet is going to comment that, “A baby suits you!” and “Look’s like you’re ready!” Bad. Or even worse, “When did you have a baby?! Congrats!”
Exception: If grandma just wants the shot, and has no access to the Internet, nor can she pass the photo to someone else to post on Facebook, take the picture, and get rid of the baby before anyone else gets any ideas.
3. Have an ally with you at all times.
This could be your baby-phobic spouse or an empathetic friend or parent, but it really helps because for some reason when you say, “No, no babies for me now,” they don’t hear it, or forget it 25 seconds later. But when your friend or parent says it, then it is suddenly in a language they can understand. My mom is great at deflecting these. (Woot woot!)
4. Never, ever express your interest in children generally or in a specific child.
You can no longer say how much you like babies or that her baby is so cute. While I understand the difference between liking a baby and wanting to have one yourself, right now, this minute, adults do not understand this dichotomy. If you like children, or are good with children, then why aren’t you pregnant? Well, from my understanding it takes more than liking children to be prepared to get pregnant, deliver and care for the thing, and raise it for the next 18+ years. Just saying. But yeah, you can’t compliment another person’s kid. You will become a jerk, but that’s what it takes.
5. Do not decline alcohol, complain of an upset stomach, say, “I’m so tired and I don’t know why,” go to the doctor without explaining a non-pregnancy reason, wear empire-waist clothing, or gain small but noticeable amounts of weight.
These will all be quick indicators that you are pregnant! Only pregnant people don’t drink, only pregnant people get tired, and only pregnant people have stomach aches. You no longer will have any ailment or reason for acting weird other than pregnancy. Isn’t that exciting? That stomach flu you thought you had? It wasn’t – you are PREGNANT!
However, let’s say some of these fool-proof methods do not work, here are some possible responses when a stranger pops the question:
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you how I’m totally with child!”
(Danger! Danger! Only use with someone fluent in sarcasm. If not, it could spin out of control faster than you can imagine.)
“I can’t wait to get no sleep and clean up someone else’s bodily fluids all day.”
(This is a little more obvious, so it could actually work with someone not fluent in sarcasm. Be careful, though, because a very nice person will try to tell you how “It’s all worth it though.” Barf.)
“When do you think we should have a baby. We were looking for a stranger’s opinion.”
(A little rude, but it might just be the only way to get the message across. Or they will actually give you their opinion, which is….nice.)
“We’re looking into adoption, actually, would you be interested in donating?”
(This may or may not be true, because adoption takes so long, you could actually be in the pre-early stages and not even know it yet. But it is nice because it puts the buck back on them: will they give you a check? Bonus: you might get money.)
“I’m pregnant right now. Shhhh, it’s a secret.”
(If you are talking to someone who will forget your name when they turn around, this could work. But it’s extremely risky because they could blab and then you have rumors to kill by wearing super-tight clothes for the next three weeks. Use only if you are in a particularly snarky mood.)
“Hahahaha Me? As a mother? You must be crazy!”
(This is a little self-depricating, and a nice church lady might try to reassure you. But someone with a sense of humor might let it go here. Bonus: you get to call them crazy, even if you were the only one who noticed.)
“We really want to get a house first.”
(This is nice because it gives them a timeline: you can’t just buy a house tomorrow, it takes a long time to save up and find one. Suddenly that baby is looking like a good three years out!)
“Have you seen these pictures of my dogs?”
(This totally puts the baby subject aside, and may even get rid of them because, generally, other than puppies, no one wants to see pictures of your dogs.)
“How was your son’s graduation party last week?”
(Anything that is about them and will get them talking a long time will do: parties, trips, specific projects at work. Just make sure it doesn’t look like you are trying to keep a secret by changing the subject because they could start some rumors.)
5. What you really want to do.
“Why ONE EARTH would I take into consideration your opinion when trying to figure out if I want to become a parent?! I did not ask you when I got married, I did not ask you when I chose were to live, pick a job, or pick a restaurant for dinner. So why in all this green planet would I want to know what you think about my uterus and our decision to have or not to have children.
“FURTHERMORE, how do you know that I”m not pregnant now, and just waiting to tell you, or children are a super duper sensitive topic right now. Huh? How do you know? You DON’T! It is never ever enough for you people. Please go back to wherever you came from and never ask another person when they are going to have a baby.”