Please don't ask me when I’m having my second child.

"What a gorgeous little boy! Must be time to go again soon?"

I paused, briefly processing the intimacy of such a question coming from someone I’d spoken with for just three short minutes. I’d chatted with the check-out clerk casually in between unpacking groceries onto the belt, and then replacing the ones my toddler had thrown back into the trolly. So far, we’d covered our shared despondence over the end of summer, our appreciation of the upcoming winter fashion, and how long she had left on her shift - 3 hours, 15 mins, but who was counting. 

After leaving the question floating in the air for an uncomfortable amount of time, I gave her an awkward smile, making a mental note to use self-check-out in the future. 

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My kiddo’s almost two, and as he moves further from babyhood and closer to becoming a little person, I’ve been confronted with this question more and more. Sometimes from a well-meaning stranger, other times a genuinely curious friend, and I can understand why it may seem like a perfectly reasonable one to anyone who hasn’t 'been through it' so to speak, when it comes to the process of childbearing. 

And that’s just it I think, that’s the issue - you just don’t know. 

There’s no way of knowing what the recipient of such a seemingly innocuous question has been through. 

Just this week, Bindi Irwin opened up about her decade-long battle with endometriosis, imploring, "Please be gentle and pause before asking me (or any woman) when we’ll be having more children." And hers is only one example of the many reasons why hearing those words can be such a knife in the heart for many of us.  


I developed a new lifelong illness during my first pregnancy. Then one year on, likely thanks to the hormones from breastfeeding, and the sleeplessness of first year motherhood, I faced a relapse of another one that had long been in remission. I’m currently two months on from radiation treatment as a result so I’m not exactly feeling anywhere near ready to sign my body up to that mess again. 

But even if I was - I couldn’t. Not for at least another six months, while the radiation inside my body still poses a threat to my theoretical foetus.

Despite this, I look perfectly fine. My demeanour reveals little outward hint of the past somewhat traumatic and at times, brutally debilitating two-year period. I appear just like any other slightly crazed and only semi-conscious toddler mum, being dragged their T-shirt to look at another digger on a construction site by their sweet little tyrant. 

It’s the same for many of the women I know who’ve been to hell and back bringing their little ones into the world.

A colleague of mine experienced complications with her eyesight during her first pregnancy, thanks to several genetic conditions, and she’s endured multiple surgeries in the years since. Like me, she can’t even consider a second child for who knows how long, thanks to the risk her treatments would pose to the foetus. She once summed up the experience of being asked about a second baby so beautifully, "Every time I’m asked, it’s like a knife to the heart as a reminder I currently can’t, even if I was ready (which I’m not!)."

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A friend, who you might mistake for the brightest, and most carefree toddler mum around, endured crippling morning sickness in her first trimester, followed by undiagnosed eclampsia during her birth with her now two-year-old. She very nearly died, and her recovery wasn’t exactly a cake walk either. 

Then there are those who ask themselves the question each time their child grows into a new size, or the next room up at daycare. Leigh Campbell recently shared her experience as a mum of one, and her conflict over whether she’s happy to keep it that way after battling so hard for the privilege of even calling herself a mum in the first place. 

Some of us encounter secondary infertility, or we simply wonder if we could handle two. Whether it’s due to our own health, an untenable work schedule or financial situation, there’s so much to consider and the decision can feel paralysing.

For so many women, the question of when they’ll be having more kids is not only presumptuous, but a painful reminder of what they can’t have, what they’ve suffered through, or what they may be gearing up to suffer through again.

There are many beautiful, insightful, and curious questions to ask young parents, and for the most part, we’re pretty keen to share some of the wild and wonderful experiences we’ve had.

But the question of when we’re going to have another baby needs to be retired. 

It’s not just a harmless query for so many of us, and you can’t know for sure which of us feel it like a dagger through the heart. Because as Irwin says, "Things may look fine on the outside looking in through the window of someone’s life, however, that is not always the case."

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