Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Your Uterus

Aliza Hausman has a fantastic post up at BeyondBT titled My Uterus is None of Your Business. It is, unfortunately, right on the money.

Motherhood is hard. And I don’t just mean raising the babies. I mean having them. I mean trying to have them. There is just so much pressure in the Jewish community to have children.

The first year we were married, people - men and women - would ask constantly whether or not I was trying to get pregnant or was already pregnant. And if the answer was “no” and “no”, people hummed around me with sympathy and wished me luck having a baby. ...

At another Shabbat meal, a married woman whispered conspiratorially in my ear that people would stop asking about my womb once my husband and I survived our first anniversary.

“They’ll think you’re having problems,” she whispered.

“Problems?” I murmured, mystified.

“Getting pregnant.”

She's right on the money. Unfortunately, countless people in the frum community are just... rude! When we first got married, a few friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Serach wasn't feeling well at all - so of course, they assumed she was pregnant, despite her even saying "No, I not pregnant." (Not that it was any of their business.) In an insane twist, when she had to have surgery months later for something, a friend informed me that people apparently had suggested that she either miscarried or had an abortion.


She would also get questions such as "Oh, did you wait?" (Favorite response: 'No, God waited.') A close friend from Cleveland lamented to us when we came to visit once a couple of years ago how so many friends from New York would call him to say hi, and in the context of conversation, ask "So, is your wife pregnant yet?" He found it incredibly rude, and noted that if they wished to inform people if she was pregnant, they would. If they didn't, they wouldn't. At some point, it becomes obvious; and if she isn't pregnant, it is simply insulting and rude. Either they are trying and it hasn't happened yet, or they don't wish to get pregnant at this time, or perhaps they're having trouble getting pregnant. In any of those situations, it's not anybody else's business.

Thankfully, there are numerous organizations in the Jewish community and outside of it that help people who wish to have children and are having trouble for whatever reason. From a friendship side, if a friend wishes to confide in you, leave it to them to choose to do so and make yourself available. You probably should not, however, be asking questions unprompted.

It's just none of your business.