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Mary Kate Sheridan Headshot

The Question You Should Never Ask A Woman

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My biological clock is ticking like crazy. At least, that's what nearly every person I meet tells me.

Now that I'm 30 and married, I seem to be popping up on everyone's baby radar, attracting unsolicited questions and advice about my sex life and fertility. Some of my favorites are:

"Gotta beat that clock!"

"When are you two gonna get started?"

"Want one yet?" (always accompanied by a stupid grin)

and

"You may want to think about getting that third bedroom because you never know ...."

Heck, I've even had a five year old pat my stomach and ask me if I have a baby growing in there yet (which certainly made me rethink the delicious cupcake on my plate).

The baby inquisition isn't spearheaded by close family and friends. (In fact, they rarely participate.) Nope, the baby-dar more often emboldens acquaintances and even complete strangers to ask (pry) about my plans for a future family. Dental assistants, concierges, coworkers, athletic trainers, spouses of distant relatives, friends of friends, even people at the vet's office: I've gotten 20 Questions: Fertility Edition from just about everyone.

I smile, laugh and try to change the subject as quickly as possible -- not because I haven't thought about babies or have no interest in ever starting a family, but because whether or not my husband and I decide to bring a life into this world is a very personal conversation and is completely inappropriate as casual chit chat. Not to mention, the longevity of my eggs isn't exactly my favorite ice breaker.

I don't even tiptoe near the question, even with my closest friends (unless they bring it up) because I understand that trying to conceive is an emotional, unpredictable journey, starting from the moment you even consider heading to the preggo-zone.

While some gals hit the pregnancy jackpot right away, many aren't as lucky and struggle for months or even years to get pregnant, sometimes to no avail. As a type-A perfectionist, the thought of trying month in and out for something I can't really control is stressful enough -- I don't need you reminding me of it while I'm out doing my daily errands or relaxing at a cocktail party. What if a woman physically can't have children, is undergoing fertility treatments, had a miscarriage, has been trying with no luck, or is on a wait list to adopt? You don't know people's situations, and asking them such a personal question can cause far more stress than you may realize.

There is also the reality that having a child will change everything: career, finances, housing, social life, sleep, body, partner dynamics and who knows what else. Not to mention, some people have no interest in having kids and may not feel like discussing -- and possibly defending -- that life choice to you. Tell me, complete stranger inquiring into my baby-making plans, do you want to hear my deepest fears and concerns about bringing a little one into my life? Even if you did, do you really think I'd want to tell you?

Here's some advice: Back away from the biological clock conversations. We women are well aware of our reproductive expiration dates. If we want to talk baby, we'll give you a rattle.

Follow Mary Kate on Twitter: @MaryKateVS

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