OK!'s Deputy Entertainment Editor Kat Romero is expecting her first baby and her weekly column offers a funny and frank insight into the highs and lows of pregnancy, and every surprise and bump (no pun intended) along the way.
This week, Kat reflects on the taboo of asking whether or not a woman's pregnancy was planned and why the seemingly innocent question is actually way more personal than you may think.
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I can see the words forming in their heads. I can feel the question on the tip of their tongue. I can tell from their curious expressions what they're dying to know. What they cannot wait to ask me.
"So…was it planned?"
Yep. Since I announced my pregnancy, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of people who feel the need to ask whether it was something my partner and I had been expecting.
I always thought asking if a pregnancy was planned was one of those taboo questions, like questioning a woman's age or asking some of your mates how they afford their champagne lifestyles on lemonade wages.
But the question has practically flown out of people's mouths. And whilst it may seem like an innocent enough thing to ask, it always feels like you're just asking whether my baby was an accident.
Just FYI, my pregnancy was planned. And I didn't think it would come as such a shock to certain people. I'm 33, I've been with my partner for five years, we own our own house and are already parents to one very manic cat and a sad looking houseplant. Why wouldn't we have planned my pregnancy?
The only thing I can assume is that people think it's OK to ask because we're not married. We got engaged during lockdown last summer but with the pandemic putting so much uncertainty around weddings, we decided to thrill our elderly grandparents by having a baby first and living together happily in sin.
Falling pregnant did happen a little sooner than we had expected (which may have caused my partner to chant the phrase 'super sperm' for 10 minutes after the test turned positive) but it was something we had fully decided on.
And even if it had been a slight surprise, is it really anyone's business whether or not we planned it? And it seems such a weird thing to ask mere seconds after celebrating the news that I'm growing life in my tummy. "Oh congratulations! Did the condom break?" they might as well say.
Turns out I'm not alone in facing this awkward question. Mumsnet even posted a whole thread on how to politely respond when faced with it.
"I say "pleasant surprise" now because I don't like the idea of people thinking we were at it like rabbits (we were)," one woman said.
Fair enough. I also don't want to conjure up the thought of my partner and I doing the dance with no pants in people's minds. Especially not when I'm sharing the news that I'm going to be a mother.
"People's boundaries seem to shift when it comes to pregnancy," another woman pointed out in the thread.
And my god is this accurate. It's like when people reach out to grab your bump without permission. Erm, I'm not a dog on the street so please do not pet me.
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I know deep down that most of the people who asked me this question mean well. Maybe for many of them, they still remember me as the girl who would down two bottles of white wine in a night and wake up next to the remnants of a Chicken Cottage bucket meal. I mean to be fair, that was pretty much me right up until we decided to start trying.
But I've grown and I'm really ready for this next chapter of my life. And even if pregnancy has taken someone by surprise, just note that if they're telling you the news with a smile on their face than it's clear that it's probably the happiest surprise they've had.
So next time someone tells you they're expecting, just smile, congratulate, send a card and mind your business about the ins and outs (pun intended).
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