The Defiance of NOT Being Pregnant

Jessica Greenwood
Sep 9, 2016 · 4 min read

I am not pregnant.

Little did I know that the most popular question asked of a 35-year old after her wedding is not “How’s married life” (a begrudging 2nd), but “Sooooo, are you pregnant yet?”

Now, let me be clear. I fully expected this question. I am intimately aware of my age, the languishing status of my ovaries, and the overt pressure this society puts on women of childbearing age to, well, bear a child. But, I had no idea it would literally start weeks after my wedding. And continue. Relentlessly.

I am not pregnant.

I find that I respond poorly to this question. It’s invasive nature offends me even while I understand that those asking are well-meaning and probably just thrilled I married a man worth having children with. My natural aversion to this question probably comes from the years I spent counseling women who were trying to get pregnant, hoping to get pregnant, mourning the loss of their pregnancy, or preparing for a baby they desperately wanted despite the special needs we found out it would have.

I am not pregnant.

But I am a genetic counselor. That means I know that each year I age it becomes less likely I can even get pregnant. And I realize that once I do, the chance that that pregnancy will carry genetic changes that cannot be fixed go up not down. I’m fairly certain that responding to these inquiries with “Dude, I get it. I’m a genetic counselor, remember?!?” Is probably poor form, but I’m seriously tempted.

I am not pregnant.

When this question hits me the wrong way (nearly always), I want to not so nicely educate the inquirer on all the things that could be going on without their knowledge that I neither want nor need to disclose to them.

  1. What if I was trying to get pregnant and couldn’t?
  2. What if I had gotten pregnant and miscarried?
  3. What if I, like several of my loving, wonderful friends, had decided not to have children at all?

Fortunately, I have thick skin, a quick wit, and a big mouth, so I generally check people that ask with something less bomb dropping than the above, but I feel for those women whose souls are torn out each time someone asks and their truth is something other than a simple “No.” And if I’m honest, I worry that, one day, my reality might be more like the above and the vulnerability that must come with that will make me less kind in my response and more apt to unload the anguish, fear, and sadness that will follow that “No.”

I am not pregnant.

My husband is oddly immune to these inquiries. No one seems to care if he’s pregnant or if we might be. His people seem content with making sure we haven’t killed each other and that he hasn’t suffered some sort of emotional castration post wedding (he’s good, promise). And so, it really feels like the question is “Are YOU pregnant”, as if somehow spontaneous combustion might take over my 35-year old self and that whole searching-for-the-right-partner-with-which-to-have-children-for-the-past-15-years thing was wholly unnecessary. In case you’re wondering, my husband is ABSOLUTELY the most perfect person with whom to parent the child we might have…one day..

I am not pregnant.

I am blessed to know so many beautifully imperfect mothers who have…mmmm…artfully introduced me to the joys and pains of motherhood. I also have three younger brothers, a gaggle of younger cousins, and a nephew who makes my heart hurt he’s so stinking cute. All that to say, I have some semblance of what motherhood may be like. What I’m less clear on, what I’ve had fewer examples of, and need more practice with is how to establish a strong, secure, solid marriage. And so, that is my focus right now. The BEST question you could ask me right now is “How’s it going with that wife thing?” I’ve got a lot to say about that, and I’m happy to share.

When and if I get pregnant, I won’t tell you. Not until I’m good and damn ready. Not until my husband agrees it’s time. Not until I am literally doing that tacky not buttoning your pants so your belly can hang out thing. But when I tell you, I hope you’ll lose your shit! I hope you will help me celebrate one of the most exciting and terrifying journeys in a person’s life. I hope you will not be offended that I likely lied to you so you wouldn’t know until I wanted you to. I hope you will respect my right to not tell and understand my joy when I intentionally tell you.

I am not pregnant, and dude I get it. I’m a genetic counselor after all. But let me have my defiance and help me become the wife I’ll need to be in order to be the mother I want to be.

Submitted with love, empathy, and great respect for those women who have had to answer “No” when they desperately wanted to answer “Yes.” I salute you.

Jessica Greenwood

Written by

Digital health strategist, life enthusiast, defiance seeker. There’s more to see at…

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