A year after meeting at work, my husband Graham and I had not one but two weddings; the first at a registry office in Marylebone, London (after which we went to a hotel with friends and family and got rip-roaring drunk) and the second involved a three-day event in Austria.
People started asking about babies pretty much from the day we got engaged. Comments are divided between polite ‘babies next?’ and more pointed ‘do you think you’ll want to have kids soon?’. I’ve been asked by friends’ parents, people my age, even ex-boyfriends. What’s more apparent, however, is the nature of the questions we both receive – I’ve been asked as if it’s all down to me and when I’ll make time for it.
I tend to offset the question by asking why they ask; pointing out I have a busy/social life, a panic disorder, and a dog who takes up any free time. (Invariably, bringing up my dog leads to remarks how it’s a good way to ‘test the waters’ before having a baby, which had so little to do with my motivation in adopting him that it’s laughable).
When I drink or don’t drink alcohol, or say my period is early/late (I suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome) it’s always met with an assumption about pregnancy, without any context about my life. I find it extraordinary that the contents of my womb are suddenly so interesting to people.
The pressure of having children has made me recalcitrant – I don’t want to please anyone by having a baby. Marriage is a leap of faith and something you do because you love someone; bringing a baby into that environment is lovely, but not a prerequisite. The attitude that it is makes me so angry.
There are scores of reasons not to have a family; financial limitations, infertility, a poor sex life, impotence, the dawning realisation that perhaps the marriage is a mistake, a fear of having one’s body taken over by a baby, the fear of birth, the fear of pregnancy. The many explanations alone should provide more than enough reason to think twice before asking.