I’m Not Pregnant (but I am sick)

Once and for all: I'm not pregnant
Once and for all: I'm not pregnant

Once and for all: I’m not pregnant

I am nauseated, tired, have headaches, a metallic taste in my mouth, have gas and have been getting stomach cramps. I know where your mind is going, so let’s get this out of the way right now: No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, I did get married about 3.5 years ago. I am under 30, and my husband & I own a home. We have two cats and both have stable jobs… But I’m not pregnant.

It didn’t take long after getting married for the pregnancy jokes to start. In fact I think a couple of people started before we were married, and I’m sure a couple made cracks as soon as we were back from our honeymoon. It’s now reached a stage where I am too scared to mention being sick on social media because I’m so sick of people jumping to that conclusion.

In the last 2 weeks I’ve been sick with giardia. Despite not complaining about it much because I’ve been trying to avoid the inevitable assumption, I have made a couple of references. From those references alone I have had 10 different people ask if I’m pregnant. Yes, you read that correctly: TEN. In two weeks. Let me do some math, that’s five people a week. And, worryingly, that’s not entirely unusual.

Yes, I’m sick of being asked because it’s annoying that it must immediately be assumed I am intending to have children (OK, maybe I’ve said publicly a few times that I am). It is also annoying to be constantly asked if you’re pregnant, especially when you write something like “I feel so sick” and you’re asked, but in fact you have the flu, or something completely different. Yes, it is annoying because my uterus is nobody’s business but mine (and possibly my husband’s).

It can also be quite embarrassing, particularly for those carrying a couple of extra kilos who have it assumed they’re over 3 months in. Or me, when I eat a big bowl of pasta. I actually had a colleague walk up to another colleague last year, put a hand on her belly and exclaim “I wondered how long it’d be!” when she wasn’t, actually, pregnant. I have other colleagues who play who-got-married-and-isn’t-drinking-bingo with my other colleagues who got married in the last 12 months. And don’t even get me started on people nosy enough to ask “So when are you planning on having kids?” as if you can actually predict these things. But here’s why it really bothers me:

What if I was?

Sure, I could have all the early signs of pregnancy without actually being up the duff, and I have had the past few weeks while my body has been inhabited by an entirely different form of parasite, but what if I was? What if it turned out I was actually 6 weeks pregnant or so. And I knew. What then?

A handy guide on when it’s OK to ask a woman if she is pregnant.

You’re not supposed to tell people you’re pregnant until you’ve had the 12 week scan. Now, whether or not that’s the right thing to do aside (personally I think you should tell the person/people you’d want to be there if something went wrong), that’s what is assumed. So what if you were pregnant and somebody asked? Are you supposed to lie? I’m a pretty bollocks liar. Are you supposed to say yes purely because that person was nosy enough to be the one to ask? If you do say yes, what happens if you miscarriage? Do you then need to put that on twitter too?

Worse – what if you were feeling sick because you had just miscarried? Would you really want someone asking?

I could come back with some smart ass answer “Why, are you saying I’m fat?” or “And how’s your sex life going?” but I don’t, I continue answering. I guess because I don’t want to add any fire to the already raging rumours. So, once and for all, I’d like to advise, for the record: I’m not pregnant. And in the words of Detachable Princess, I will continue vehemently stating I am not pregnant right up until I’m in labour.

Do you get a lot of people asking if you’re pregnant? Do they ask if you’re trying? Does it bother you? 

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  • http://Hutchiesabroad.wordpress.com carohutchison

    That window when you know you’re pregnant before you tell people is really tricky. It was christmas time for me with lots of work lunches and family catch ups when I wasn’t eating much or drinking. In most cases I think people figured it out but were good enough not to say anything out loud, those who did speculate were laughed off.

    Yes it’s no one else’s business, but babies are just about always good news and I think people just want to be excited and happy for you.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      If I was pregnant and someone asked me I’d probably go “No” and look about the most suspicious anyone on the planet can possibly look…

  • Jess88

    Oh god, The Question. I’ve been with my partner for five years, he’s 12 years older than me and we have no plans to have kids. Every Christmas his family ask us when we are planning on getting pregnant, when I say we’re not they then go on about my partners age and that we better hurry up before he gets too old. It’s amazing how stressed and under pressure you can feel from a simple question. When asked if I am pregnant I always reply with “no, do I look pregnant?” It usually tends to pull people back into line.

  • Mandi Aylmore

    It amazes me how the second you say “Geez I feel sick”, just because you are the owner of a vagina, it automatically means you have to be pregnant.

    Um what? Really? Women are quite capable of feeling sick for other reasons. It may be that time of the month. They may have a virus. Or they may have eaten something that disagrees with them.

    Why is it the FIRST THING OUT OF PEOPLE’S MOUTHS is “Are you pregnant?” It shits me because I’ve been single for 3 years, and haven’t tangoed horizontally for 8 1/2 years, so it’s physically impossible for me to be pregnant. But people STILL ASK. So usually I laugh at them and say “Seeing as it’s been 8 1/2 years since I’ve had sex, I would guess not”.

    Ugh. Plus it’s really no one’s business.

    • Monique Fischle

      One of the doctors that I would see at uni, I would go in about a cold, first question “Are you pregnant”. Like WTF!! It’s ridiculous!

      • Jess88

        Don’t doctors generally have to ask that though? Although they’re usually a little more tactful, as in ‘is there any possibility you might be pregnant?’ My regular doctor doesn’t ask me anymore as she knows I’m on contraception but any new doctor I see will always ask straight away.

        • Monique Fischle

          Every other doctor has asked, but it has never been the first question asked. That’s my issue with it.

      • Mitchell Osmond

        I think that may be just a typical doctor question so they can rule out giving you certain medications if you needed something.

      • Maree Talidu

        Standard doctor question, have to ask.

        • Monique Fischle

          It’s not that I don’t think they should ask, it’s the fact that it’s the first question.

          • Maree Talidu

            True. Especially if you’re seeing them about a cold!

  • Michelle

    I love that top picture. And now I feel bad. Anyway…

    I hate this question too. I’ve taken to not answering either yes or no, and rather turning it into a conversion about how difficult it is to answer that question. Like the other week, a new staff member at work asked me, as part of a general conversation over lunch where families were being discussed. I actually brought up that article (I think you have seen it?) about how asking if someone is pregnant is like asking how their finances are going. I think the new person got the point. I agree 100% that this shouldn’t be a question anyone asks, except for in very private discussions between close friends – the friends you’d tell anyway because they’d be the ones who help you out if things go bad.

  • Mitchell Osmond

    My wife had this happen – she used to work in a plus sized store and was asked by one of the customers when she was due, simply because she was wearing one of the shirt styles they sold.

    Even as a married man, I get the ‘pregnant’ questions from friends and work colleagues. The best one was when we knew we were having our second (due really soon!) someone asked me, jokingly, ‘so when are you having the next one?’ I came back with a straight faced ‘Novemeber, hadn’t you heard?’ – knocked them right off their feet!

  • Carla May

    I completely agree with everything you just said. I have had Giardia and feel your pain! I hope you get better soon. :)

    HOWEVER, I am so sick of people being so nosey, asking when im going to have a baby… like it matters? Firstly, i don’t even WANT children. If i have some sort of happy accident, fine, but i’m not planning on it. I don’t want to be asked, “Oh why don’t you want children?” because maybe i’m just made differently and i don’t have that yerning that everyone seems to get. When my niece was born, the general populice was convinced i was suddenly in the mood for children. They don’t realise that A) She was not my baby and so i have the benefit of giving her back which doesn’t constitute fantastic mother material and B) i love my family… if that means a baby… so be it! I wouldn’t trade little Charlotte for the world, but that doesn’t mean I want a baby.
    Secondly, what if I can’t have children and all these nosey people are just making it that much worse? Rubbing it in, if you will. Learn boundaries, people! I get Acid Reflux and i’m on the Pill, both of which simulate the symptoms of pregnancy at some point. I had Glandular Fever for four months when i was engaged and people were giving me pregnancy crap when i was at my lowest point (your body gets so run down you start displaying symptoms of depression). Tact and boundaries are your friends, society!

  • Melissa Savage

    Oh gawd, this old chestnut. Most of our friends are pretty good, but there’s one guy, who has kids and loves being a dad and can’t wait til we have kids too. Bless him, he means well.

    You’d think people would know better, though – what if people are struggling with infertility or miscarriages and would really love to have a baby? Or happily childfree? Or unable to have kids due to a medical condition? Or just, I don’t know, getting on with their lives and enjoying their life with their partner before taking the really big plunge that is child-rearing?!?!

    I agree with Mandi, when she talks about how underlying it all is the assumption that women’s highest purpose is to birth children. Urgh. And fuck off out of my uterus!

  • An Idle Dad

    Hmmm, ever considered this is just a sub-post to your oft-posted opinion that other people are hell and all non-official interpersonal interaction must be banned? (Apologies for the question format, I know you hate that too!)

    I’ll admit that light-hearted banter may not be particularly funny, it may often be trite and quite often it’s repeated a million times a day, but it’s not offensive, surely.

    It a way people pass time, break ice, and in this case, make light of sickness and discomfort. No one ever expects you to say “Yes”, in fact, they joke because they’re completely sure you aren’t pregnant.

    Sometimes, it’s just you. :)

    • Mandi Aylmore

      But surely Idle if it happens to most women it’s not just one person’s issue? Is someone’s plans for a family anyone else’s business? Why to people feel it necessary to comment on something like this?

      Some people just can’t see past themselves. They just HAVE to find out your family plans. They just HAVE to find out whether you are pregnant. Well really, it’s no one’s business!

      And surely it IS offensive if the couple are struggling with fertility, or have had miscarriages and don’t want to endure the bazillions of questions that those issues raise?

      Your comment seemed a little all over the place Idle . . . OMG are you pregnant??

      • An Idle Dad

        I read an article once where the writer hated the question “How many kids do you have?” because the writer had lost a child and didn’t know whether to answer two or three and opined on how inconsiderate was this person who dared the question.

        I’ve lost a kid. And if someone asks how many kids I have I say “I’ve got four kids” because I have four living kids. The asker doesn’t know my baggage and frankly, I don’t need to unload it onto them. My problem isn’t their problem and their question isn’t an issue with society today.

        People aren’t really asking if you’re pregnant – they’re joking that your sickness may be pregnancy. There is a big difference.

        It’s exactly the same as the question when someone says they have a headache “Maybe it’s a tumour?”. No, it’s not a tumour – and everyone smiles.

        Sometimes light-hearted comments are just light-hearted comments.

        I could take offence every time someone asks me how many kids I have. You could take offence every time someone suggests your nausea is morning sickness.

        That ends in one place. Silent offices where no one dares make a quip or enquire after my personal life for fear of triggering some emotional issue.

        We live in a society. That means other people. I’m cool with other people. Rather than the issue being that I “just can’t see past myself”, I ACTUALLY see past myself, and recognise the problem is mine, not society’s.

        • Mandi Aylmore

          There is a big difference between asking whether someone is pregnant and joking with someone about the possibility of being pregnant. I can guarantee that the majority of the time, people who you don’t know you very well, are genuinely asking whether you are pregnant.

          Hell, I joke with my friends, the people who know me well and know my situation about it. I can handle that. My answer in that situation is “Absolutely. Tom Hiddleston can’t wait to be a father”.

          But people you don’t know well? It’s none of their business.

    • http://thrbjrn.com RupertG

      I have always likened it to asking someone about their sex life. It is much the same as asking “are you breeding?”, or “have you had sex recently?”. It’s just not done in polite society.

      If you look through the other comments on the page here, you’ll see that this is a fairly common complaint. People are quite entitled to feel that personal questions of this nature are intrusive and I have to say, I am a little surprised that you called T out like you did Idle.

      • An Idle Dad

        My point is it is not someone asking if you are having sex, it’s a common joke in response to people complaining about nausea.

        Here’s the conversation:

        Person One: “I feel sick”
        Person Two: “Maybe you’re pregnant!”
        Person One: “Ha! Nah, just sick”

        That’s idle banter.

        The other conversation mentioned in the comments is usually
        Person One says nothing.
        Person Two makes massive call based on physical appearance: “Are you pregnant?”
        Person One feels shit about themselves.

        That’s offensive.

        See the difference?

        • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

          Everyone hold up for a moment here: When did I say I was offended by people asking?

          • An Idle Dad

            I wasn’t saying you were offended (though I did read your article that way), I’m just suggesting it could be another example of your dislike of casual interaction with office mates and strangers.

          • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

            Really? I’ve always thought the opposite of T – she’s really sociable and friendly and involved…way more than I am…I know this for a fact, because I’ve met her…and she hugs me…it’s awful! (I’m the anti-social one on this site :) )

          • An Idle Dad

            Hey John,
            I’m more referring to her online persona, more than her actual personality, which, of course, could be different.

            But there’s been a few articles here on Kiki that always give me the impression of disliking casual interaction.

            Twitter gives me the same impression you get in person.

        • http://thrbjrn.com RupertG

          I see what you are trying to say. I also think that you are missing the point entirely. The majority of comments on this post show that it is not just idle banter. They fact that people say it as a joke makes no difference, it is still insensitive. People don’t like the comment being made full stop. You may make the comment as idle banter, meaning nothing by it, but remain completely oblivious to how you are making the target of your comment feel. That is the point.

          • Carla May

            I’ve only ever experienced the offensive version of the conversation.. never the banter.

          • An Idle Dad

            The scenarios are completely different, you are associating them together when they shouldn’t be.

            One is an inappropriate invasion of privacy, the other is a off the cuff bog standard joke.

            If every word you say needs to consider all the potential ways it might make someone uncomfortable (while the vast, vast majority take it in their stride) shall I compile a list of no-no phrases?

            Let’s start with “How are you?”

            The future is silent offices full of strangers.

    • Maree Talidu

      Wow, Idle Dad, that’s pretty rude- do you know Tamsin? Because I don’t get the impression that she feels that “other people are hell” as you so ineloquently put it.

      Yes, asking if someone is pregnant may seem like light hearted banter to you, but until you’re the woman being asked I really don’t think you can understand how it feels. I’ve been asked more times than I care to count, and I CAN’T HAVE KIDS. So whilst playful questions such as “wow, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” may seem harmless and amusing to the person commenting, they can be hurtful and awkward for the person being asked. A person’s pregnancy is a personal issue and for some women is an extremely sensitive subject. It is not a question to be thrown around, with the expectation that the person on the receiving end will just laugh it off. Some women don’t WANT to laugh it off, nor should they have to.

      • An Idle Dad

        Yes, I know Tamsin and Cupcake and John in this digital realm for many years.

        The rest of your argument I’ve addressed a few times above.

        • Maree Talidu

          No, you really haven’t, but that’s fine. It seems to have gone straight over your head.

          Quote by RupertG:

          “I see what you are trying to say. I also think that you are missing the point entirely. The majority of comments on this post show that it is not just idle banter. They fact that people say it as a joke makes no difference, it is still insensitive. People don’t like the comment being made full stop. You may make the comment as idle banter, meaning nothing by it, but remain completely oblivious to how you are making the target of your comment feel. That is the point.”

          RupertG, you nailed it on the head.

  • http://www.strongerbraversmarter.wordpress.com Lucy

    I’ve been asked if I was pregnant in public, had women and MEN come and touch my stomach and say “congratulations”, ask when I was due, tell me I look great pregnant.

    I’m 19, and a little fat. The shape of my tummy in no way gives you the right to touch it and assume a tiny human is growing in there!

  • Maree Talidu

    I get this REGULARLY. Granted, I have a rounder belly, but I still think it’s incredibly rude to ask. IF I am pregnant, I will tell you.
    JUST. DON’T. ASK.

    Due to my endometriosis and polycystic ovaries, and the medical intervention from my specialists, my belly is always bloated. Recently I was sitting with colleagues (only one male member, rest female) and they were discussing the way they felt during their pregnancies. This person turned to me and said: “Have YOU ever been pregnant?” to which I responded, “yes.” The next question levelled me: “so what happened?” umm… “I had a miscarriage at 19 and don’t want to talk about it?”

    I’ve put weight on all over due to my Fibromyalgia- the pain, the fatigue, the inability to undertake proper, regular exercise, so I eat well instead. But people see a fat person, not a sick person. More judgement.

    The other thing I hate is the assumption that at the age of 32, with me being single and childless, that there is an urgency- a need for me to quickly find a man and procreate. “So, Maree: when are you going have a baby? The clock’s ticking you know!”

    Well, here’s the show-stopper. I want babies of my own. Always did, from a young age. I am incredibly maternal. But I have had a long time to digest the fact that I CAN’T HAVE THEM. So when people leave comments on photos where I’m holding a friend’s baby “Oh, aren’t you clucky? Hurry up and have your own!”, it cuts me to the quick.

    When I first started teaching, the kids would murmur “Is Miss pregnant? YOU ask her! I’m not going there” etc so every time I got a new class I would introduce myself, have a chat about classroom expectations, boundaries, all the behaviour basics etc and would end with “and in case you were wondering, I’m not pregnant. I’m fat.” Teenagers can accept that I’m unwell and have struggled with my weight as a result. They often tell me how proud they are of me for losing weight, they are great motivators. My seniors know I want to be a long term foster parent down the track and often tell me how much they think I have to offer.

    So why can’t adults afford me the same respect?

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I sometimes find that kids, especially young kids, are more adaptive to people’s differences than adults are.

    • Carla May

      Really respect this post. I like the honesty of the post and i completely agree with everything you just said. I really also respect the child fostering aspect. If you ever want to do this in your life, consider this some encouragement. I have looked into that myself actually. My hubby and i have talked about it for an option ‘down the track’. Maybe i’m put on this earth to give a homeless child a home? I don’t know.

  • Chantelle Dalgarno

    This has always been a tricky one for me… Over the last few years, I have indeed spent a lot of time pregnant. But I have also spent a lot of time recovering from yet another pregnancy gone wrong.

    Normally, by the time my body starts to show symptoms of pregnancy, such as bloating, morning-sickness and that oh-so-fabulous “glow”, I’m already in the process of miscarrying.

    And I can tell you from experience, there is nothing worse than being asked “Are you pregnant?” whilst losing a pregnancy.

    It’s all I can do to squeak out a timid, shaky “no” but that’s not enough for a lot of people. They keep pressing…
    “Are you sure?”
    “Just wait, you’ll see – I’m never wrong about these things”
    “Oh you just don’t want to tell anyone yet… Don’t worry, I can keep a secret”
    “Are you trying though?”
    “But Squiggle needs a little brother or sister”

    I feel like yelling at them. I feel like verbally laying into them for insensitivity. I feel like telling them I’m miscarrying/just miscarried/not trying anymore.

    But I’m too polite in those sort of situations.

    I don’t want to upset them.

    So I utter something about being lactose intolerant instead…

  • MrsGinger

    As one of the ten, I’d like to share my thoughts…

    EVERYONE gets this. Try being married for 14 years before birthing your firstborn – it’s not the comments so much as the obvious looking down at your tummy 0.33 seconds after you walk through the door!!

    So to the pregnancy question: You know, I’ve been offended by it…I’ve laughed at it…I’ve struggled with it especially after my miscarriage and now I’ve just come to accept it. You know the INTENT of the person asking the question or making the comment! And I have to agree with Idle Dad, mostly it is in jest and most people aren’t seriously expecting a response, most people know it’s none of their business. Personally, I’m not keen of living in a society where we’re not allowed to joke with our friends and say, “hey you’re TOTALLY preggers because you’re eating musk sticks! Bahahaha!”

    After all these years I’ve learnt that the best response is always, “haha! I wish!” It is neither confirmation or denial, so it’s not lying – plus it’s not saying that you don’t want to have children (as someone who didn’t, life’s much easier when you say you do.) It is a response that stops the conversation, usually. Some people are dumb enough to ask, “so why aren’t you?” and I usually tell them I’ve got my period – and that’s TOO much information for anyone! Pregnancy questions over.

  • Hayley Ashman

    I don’t get this too often. Also didn’t when I was in a relationship. Maybe people don’t think I get laid all that much 😛 But when it has been said I’ve always assumed it’s a light hearted joke.

  • Ozgirl

    Interestingly I can’t get on board to be annoyed about this… I have never ever been asked it! EVER.

    Not sure what that says about me! – I am def not thin!

    Maybe its is my perpetually single state? (Cuppy you should be flattered people think you have a sex life clearly no one thinks i get laid!)

    • Casey

      I’ve never been asked either. Ever. I’ve had the casual joke type query often, like when I’m sick, but I’ve never been mistaken for being pregnant. I was starting to think I’d been missing out on a valuable right of passage :-)

  • Bradley

    I hate being asked when I’m going to father a child…..to prove that I’m a man.

  • MJG

    I find this really difficult. Because of reading so many articles like this on Mamamia over the years, I’m so, so, so careful about asking anything about pregnancy. But it does make it awkward sometimes to be so overly PC. E.g. Living in a new country and just starting to make friends, husband and I are invited to afternoon tea at a colleague of my husband’s house. We meet his girlfriend there and she is obviously pregnant but we didn’t know, so neither of us mention it while giving them our gift of a bottle of wine. Still not mentioning the pregnany because we don’t want to be offensive and it takes talk of drinking the wine for the girlfriend to say she can’t because she’s pregnant. It was such an unnecessary awkwardness that if we’d just done the, ‘Oh you’re pregnant, congratulations!’ thing when we arrived it would have been so much better.

    I have two children now and because of other people’s politeness, I would always have to say I was pregnant to people even though I had a very obvious belly. Then that makes me one of those women who talk about their babies and being pregnant all the time (which I also read about on Mamamia as being annoying people!)

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      To be honest with you, I put in the second picture because it made me laugh. I think sometimes it is quite safe to ask. But possibly that’s because I’m the daughter of a midwife and I know the shape & position of a pregnant belly.

      And sometimes it just is obvious. On me, for example, when I finally am pregnant it will be highly obvious as I’m extremely finely boned, so I’m quite slim and tall, a pregnant belly will stand out like, well, like a pregnant belly!

      For the record I’m not offended when people ask, and am pretty easy going with anyone who is not intending to offend.

  • Rachelle

    Casual interaction with others should be just that – casual. That is why people generally have the sense not to bring up topics that are likely to be sensitive or social consensus deems them to be private.

    Is your life actually meaningful?
    What is the consistency and frequency of your faeces?
    So, how’s your marriage going?
    Boy, you really reach for the food when you’re stressed.
    Is your prostate function normal?

    For the reasons stated above, these questions tend to be avoided.

    General social interaction, with individuals we don’t know that well, only works comfortably when we have the respect to reflect on our words, taking into consideration that the less we know a person, the more sensitive topics should be avoided.

    I would say from most of the opinions expressed here, that pregnancy is not something that people (particularly women) want to casually discuss. I would agree with that personally.

    I don’t think society would lose anything if could find other topics to ‘casually banter’ about. Topics that don’t hinge on women’s bodies and reproductive health, sexual activity and couples’ private relationship decisions.

  • peterrrr

    I am glad your two cats have stable jobs. Would not want them to be lying around the house all day, sleeping and watching daytime TV.

  • NotTheMrsKennedy

    I get this too and it’s extremely painful. And stupid. My husband & I were very honest about our infertility struggles. In the end we chose to walk away. THEY KNOW THAT! THEY KNOW NO LITTLE KENNEDYS WILL EVER GROWN INSIDE ME! And yet, less than a week ago I was admitted to the hospital overnight for vomiting & dehydration, you can guess the comments. (It was related to stress, insomnia, & chronic pain)

    Aaallll most as annoying as “Are you going to adopt?” Sure! Could you loan us 40-100k?