by Brittany Holst —
“When will you have a baby? You aren’t getting any younger!”
“Your child needs a brother or a sister to play with, are you going to have anymore?”
Asking such questions most often reflect curiosity with no ill intent. However, for some the questions could trigger a flow of emotions for varying reasons.
Some women dream of having a basketball team of babies, while others are content with one or two. There are some women who want to wait until they are successful in their careers with financial stability, while others have no desire for children.
The list of reasons for not having a child can include those who may struggle with infertility or have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, infertility affects 10-15 percent of couples within the United States. And studies have shown 10 percent to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
No matter the case, simply asking questions about when one may conceive can stir up deep emotions.
One of my friends, who is not even 30 years old, told me that she was very offended when someone said to her, “What are you waiting for? You’re not getting any younger, your eggs are rotting.”
In a report published by the Center for Disease Control in 2016, “Mean Age of Mothers is on the Rise: United States, 2000–2014,” the average age of first-time mothers has risen from 24.9 years in 2000 to 26.3 years in 2014.
The statistics do not take into consideration those who have had unsuccessful pregnancies due to miscarriages or stillbirths. Individuals do not often speak openly about such situations.
However, Mishala Holmes, mother of a newborn, tells her story of issues she dealt with during her pregnancies.
A few years ago, she was expecting the birth of her daughter and preparing for her college graduation.
“At 31 weeks pregnant, my world and my life completely changed. After not feeling movement from my baby, I went into the hospital only to discover that there was no heartbeat (the child was still born) and there was what seemed to be a clot in her umbilical cord. A few years went by, healing took place and I finally was able to move on and life changed for me,” she said.
Mishala married Raimin Holmes, Sr. in 2019. When she discovered she was pregnant, she became really anxious.
“I immediately began to think ‘what if’ and lived everyday wondering if I’d suddenly stop feeling movement again. Three years after the day I lost my first born, I was finally diagnosed with Antiphospholipid Syndrome.
“Essentially, my blood clots every time my blood count levels are higher in my body. So, that meant that every pregnancy from this one to the next calls for daily blood thinner injections in my belly,” Mishala explained.
Many women experience several emotions after losing a child and later finding they are pregnant again. There are feelings of joy, cautiousness, nervousness and fear all at the same time.
“Though nervous at first, I was willing to do whatever it took to keep my child and myself alive and healthy. Many women are faced with the fear of not being able to conceive or not even being able to carry their children to term,” Mishala said.
“I was one of those women. For this reason, people must approach with caution when questioning the womb of a woman. Many are battling secret stories that nobody may ever know.
“Many are praying with their spouses for the strength to carry their baby to term. As I now sit and hold my son every day, I appreciate every battle I went through to get here,” she said.
“Though I would give anything to have my first born here with me, I know that she is in a better place and I am blessed with a beautiful baby boy that brings me so much joy.”
Is there anything wrong with having only one child or even no children at all?
Children are a big responsibility and I salute all mothers making a way for themselves and their child(ren). I understand why some women prefer to wait longer to have a child as it allows them time to establish themselves professionally and find stability.
Regardless of how many children a person has, be mindful when asking women about bearing children. It can be a touchy subject as one does not know the experiences others have gone through.
(Brittany Jackson was part of the first corps of iTeen reporters for The New Tri-State Defender. Now as Brittany Holst, her iMom column is a periodic look at motherhood through millennial eyes.)