my coworkers are asking if my pregnancy was planned

A reader writes:

I’m a 23-year-old woman. I work as a teacher, but I have a second job that I work two or three nights a week. It’s a food service job, where most of the staff are 20-25-year-old women.

I am 12 weeks pregnant. I told my boss at the restaurant a few weeks ago because my symptoms were really impacting the quality of my work. The first thing she said after I told her was, “Were you trying to have a baby?” I know that because of my age, most people assume that I don’t want children yet, but my husband and I were, in fact, trying to get pregnant. I was taken aback, but replied that we were trying. My husband and I told our family a weekend or two ago, and many people who now know about the pregnancy have made comments or asked if the pregnancy was planned.

It’s awkward for me to hear these comments, especially from people who aren’t family or close friends. In my opinion, asking if my husband and I were trying for a baby is too personal for coworkers and bosses to ask. I’m planning to let my coworkers know soon, and I definitely think that I will continue hearing these comments.

Am I being overly sensitive? How do I respond to these sorts of weird/personal questions at work in a way that shuts them down politely?

Aggggh! No, you are not being overly sensitive. It’s no one’s business whether you were trying to get pregnant or not, and it’s especially inappropriate for anyone at work to ask you that.

There is a thing when you’re young where your peers will still be in the mode of “pregnancy is to be avoided, not sought” and so they will assume “oh no, what are you going to do?” is what’s called for, not congratulations — or at least will be uncertain about which of those would be appropriate. (And this stage can last longer than you might think!) That’s probably what’s happening here, although it doesn’t make it any less awkward.

You can ward off some of it by explicitly framing the news as positive when you share it with people — like by beginning with, “I have some happy news!”

But if anyone still asks if it was planned, some options:
* “We’re really excited.”
* “Wow, that’s personal!”
* “What a question!”
* “That feels like a very personal question.”
* “Did you really just ask me that?”
* “‘I’m going to pretend you didn’t just ask that.”

Or a combination of them — “Wow, that’s personal! We’re really excited.”

Read an update to this letter

{ 487 comments… read them below }

  1. Jo*

    Agh, I’ve been asked this before. My response was usually pretty flippant. “No, we were trying for puppies, but I guess this is ok too.”

    1. Aspiring Great Manager*

      LOVE THIS! I found it so intrusive when during my pregnancies people asked me things like: “oh do you know what it is?” Or “what are you hoping for?” So I started answering along the lines of “pretty sure it’s a baby”, or “hoping for a human!” Or “a giraffe would be so much fun”. I figured people are going to ask weird questions, ill give them a dumb answer ;)

      1. 3DogNight*

        I did this too, but with the puppy comment, “I’m hoping for a puppy! I’ve wanted one for so long!”

      2. Moonlight*

        I feel like this is the problem though; people are genuinely interested and don’t really know how to express their interest in a way that isn’t invasive and being pregnant/having a baby can be very consuming, so people may want to show an interest in the things they know about (did you plan it? are you getting sick? how is the pregnancy going? do you want to know the gender? have you picked any names? are you getting the baby’s room ready? what kind of things do you need gifted to you? are you feeling ready to be a parent?) some of these questions are more or less ok depending on how close you are to the person and how open they are (e.g., I for one would basically just supply that information because I am a really open person, but I have plenty of friends who would not be so open)

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Yeah, I think it can be interpreted as “should I be giving congratulations here or…”. Which I can kind of understand, because my brain can sometimes go into a loop of “WHAT SAY MOUTH HELP”. But it does come out sounding rude. If anyone has better suggestions I’d be open to hear them!

          1. Hlao-roo*

            The best way is to match the other person’s energy. A clearly excited announcement = upbeat, positive replies (congratulations, that’s so exciting, yay!). A clearly unhappy announcement = some expression of support.

            If you have trouble getting a read on how the other person feels, the next best thing is to ask “how do you feel about that?” Then react appropriately based on their answer.

            1. Lydia*

              When friend of mine called to tell me she was pregnant, she was pretty neutral announcing it and I had NO IDEA how to respond. I knew she wanted a kid, and I knew she wasn’t too concerned about being in a relationship to have one, but she was also in the middle of a graduate degree and living with her sister and not getting along. So I opted for a surprised sounding “Wow!” followed by, “How do you feel?”

                1. si*

                  (And then if they don’t want to talk about their actual emotions, they can just say ‘Oh, a bit queasy but not too bad so far’ or whatever.)

                2. Birdie*

                  This is often my approach, at least in person (it’s harder over text when there’s no tone/body language signals). Can be applied to their emotional or physical feelings, and how they interpret and respond to the question tends to make it clear whether “that’s great news, congratulations!” is the appropriate follow up.

            2. katkat*

              My go-to answer is, if the other person doesnt show clear emotions toeards big news like this, is neutral/slightly positive “okay!” and then wait for clarification. Usually people read me right and it turns into at least a short conversation, and its clear what their stance is. (though might be cultural dependant. “okay” might seem rude in america/elsewhere?)

              1. Anonym*

                To this American’s ears, it might sound a little odd, TBH. I’m trying to imagine it different ways, but it sounds kind of “I’m uncomfortable with this info, but am trying for positive”. Then again, if it’s a normal way for YOU to express neutral/positive in your regular speech, that will matter more than anything broadly cultural. Presumably someone telling you such personal news has spoken with you before. :)

                I’m currently pregnant, and most people responded to the news with congratulations + some version of “how are you feeling?” which comes across as caring but making no assumptions. Then again, I’m in my late 30s and with my partner several years, so I’m not getting the bizarre “was it planned” response that OP is getting. (OP, Allison’s advice is great. And congratulations! Wishing you all health and happiness!)

                1. matcha123*

                  I’m American and I respond with “okay,” or “How are you feeling?” because when people tell me they are pregnant tf am I supposed to say?
                  It’s always people that I am friendly with, but who don’t tell me about their desires for kid or anything that show up one day like, “Hey, just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant.” And they are super monotone and to the point about it. No, “I’ve been wanting to get pregnant and now I am,” no “My partner and I have been trying for kids and I’m so happy to let you know we are going to have a baby.”

                  Just dropping the baby load on my lap when I’ve been very open about my not wanting kids, ever, do to a number of factors. Like, wtf, do they want me to say?
                  I’m late 30s, too and I feel weird about friends in my age group wanting kids. I always have. I am uncomfortable with hearing that. Especially from people who have made little to no effort to get to know me as a person, who’ve made little to know effort to allow me to get to know them better and just kind of drop it on me.
                  Many people get pregnant and don’t want to be and feel forced into pregnancy because they were “wrong” to have unprotected relations. They could be telling me as a heads-up for why they’ll be missing work, quitting, moving, whatever, rather than telling me something they are happy about..

                  Just to give some perspective.

          2. Free Meerkats*

            My go to for this announcement, unless the person is giving off massive positive or negative vibes is, “Congratulations or condolences, whichever is appropriate. If you need anything from me, I’m here for you.”

          3. Sbc*

            I like “Wow! How are you doing?” which leaves space for “thanks! So excited!” or “sick as a dog and completely exhausted” or “terrified; we weren’t planning this and I don’t know what I want to do about it” or anything else someone might say.

            1. Anonymous Koala*

              This is my favourite reply too! It gives the recipient the option to be as open, closed, positive, or negative as they like. Plus the point of these discussions is usually to show support for the pregnant person and this does that without making assumptions.

            2. tamarack and fireweed*

              Yup, that’s what I do. If they aren’t making clear by the announcement that they’re thrilled (or shaken up, as it may be), I opt for a response that lets the go in either direction. “How are you feeling?” “Oh, wow, I imagine that changes things!” “So are you and X terrified about the next steps?” (Depending on the relationship I have with them and if applicable their partner, of course.)

          4. Gray Lady*

            But that knowledge can’t be derived from the answer to that question. People can still be thrilled about a pregnancy that wasn’t specifically planned.

              1. whingedrinking*

                Yeah, that’s my response here too. Like, if the information you’re fishing for is “are you happy about this, so I can react appropriately”, then as we’ve discussed, there are better ways to express that. If it’s just “I am curious about whether you were actively trying to conceive”, it’s like…well, you can be genuinely curious about my financial situation or my sex life, but it is still inappropriate for you to ask me about that unless we have a very specific kind of relationship.

                1. tamarack and fireweed*

                  Exactly. And sometimes we have to point out, gently or less gently, that something someone genuinely desires to know is not the kind of thing they are entitled to know.

              2. Gray Lady*

                I’m talking about the knowledge of whether to respond positively or sympathetically. I’m not defending the question, I’m saying it doesn’t even *work* as a way of finding that out, because whether or not a pregnancy was planned doesn’t tell you whether or not the mother is happy about it.

          5. COHikerGirl*

            My good friends and I do “Wow! How are we feeling?” And then we discuss the news.

        2. AllTheBirds*

          I don’t think ANY of those questions are appropriate with coworkers.

          My standard comment when told by a woman/couple that they’re expecting is, “How wonderful! You look great/happy/excited.”

          The rest is really NOYB.

          1. Sally*

            Right, and I can’t get my mind around the imaginary scenario where someone is pregnant and doesn’t want to be and then goes around telling everyone, including coworkers, that they’re pregnant. That doesn’t happen.

            1. Flower*

              If they didn’t want to be pregnant but decided to carry to term, they’re still going to need to tell coworkers. Whether they ultimately choose to parent or not.

              Someone planning to place a child for adoption is still going to need some leave and might have limited job duties.

              1. Lydia*

                This. It’s still a thing that is happening and will be visible at some point, and will impact some things around work.

                1. Jolie*

                  On the other hand, as someone pointed out in a different AAM post with a similar topic, reacting in a very pointedly neutral rather than positive way may make the expectant parent worry that the company will not be supportive of them through maternity, so that is a consideration to balance.

        3. starfox*

          I didn’t know asking about the gender was so invasive…. I don’t even really care that much, it just seems polite to ask about someone’s pregnancy/kids…. Like it seems to me like it would be ruder to just ignore someone’s pregnancy, even though tbh I would prefer NOT to talk about it because the thought of being pregnant makes me queasy….

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Although you might then get TMI if you try to sound enthusiastic for them…

          1. metadata minion*

            It’s not rude, especially with a coworker! Treat pregnancy like you’d treat any other health condition.

          2. CCC*

            I think there is a large chunk of folks (myself included) who find the whole caboodle around the sex of babies to be odd/rude/antiquated/generally icky. It’s not that it’s invasive, I just kind of find the idea of asking about a child’s sex to be… not great. I think most folks don’t think that boys/girls should be limited by their sex, and yet sex is the first thing we ask about/celebrate over/label. Like it’s 2022, maybe we should care less about the genitals of babies.
            Note– I get that baby stuff is deeply cultural, and my intention isn’t to insult or convince. Just explain why some people may not like being asked the sex of their baby.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              ^Yeah. Personally, it’s weird that the first thing someone would think to ask is “what genitals will your child have when it’s done cookin’?” There’s many other more light-hearted and less personal questions that one can ask regarding tiny humans.

                1. Penny*

                  What an apropos topic! Read all the comments but didn’t see anything about this. Am a single 45 F who is 3 months pregnant after 3+ years of fertility treatments. Finally! About to share the news at work but not sure how without people questioning who the dad is. Up until now my answer has been, “Me!” or “Flying solo!” but I understand what they’re really asking is where is the sperm from. Wondering if anyone has a good response to this that is not adversarial. I’m not wanting to shut them down from asking questions all together as I imagine people will be shocked. The people I would be sharing with are people I’m pretty honest with on a day to day basis and I’m okay talking one on one about how I got here because I’m pretty proud that I’ve gotten this far. Any suggestions would be incredibly appreciated! Thank you

                2. Old single mom*

                  Reply to Penny: as an old single mother who did not care to reveal details like this, I usually went with “the father is not in the picture” , you can substitute “bio-father” or whatever term you prefer. “He relinquished his parental rights” if it’s true or close to it. This along with. I’m a single or solo or unmarried parent is usually enough to shut all but the boldest down. For those: “I don’t share that information” or “nunya bizness” or a direct stare until awkwardness is returned to sender.

                3. JustaTech*

                  And yet my in-laws won’t stop asking and are super mad that we know and haven’t told them yet.
                  Oh lord they’re going to be so stuck in the gender binary, ugh.

                  (Conversation with my MIL: “Ugh, there aren’t any cute gender-neutral baby clothes, just tell me!” “But what about this website and this website, look at all the cute, brightly colored clothes!” “I guess…”)

                4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                  @Penny: You could try something like “a volunteer from the studio audience!” when they ask where the sperm came from. It’s clearly false, but in that silly-false way that, depending on delivery, can both make it clear that you’re not upset that they asked but that no more reality-based answer will be forthcoming.

            2. Critical Rolls*

              Yep. It’s one of those “opening the door to nonsense” things. There’s really no place for that conversation to go that I want to participate in. And if you’re trying to keep people from giving you highly gendered stuff, you cannot tell a soul.

            3. many perspectives*

              As a trans person myself, I totally get this! I also want to offer a different perspective: a baby is so new and unknown, and asking about details of what they might be is a way to reify and express excitment that there is a real person on the way! At the fetus stage, there’s not a ton you can ask about — though I’d encourage folks to be creative (“do you think they’ll have your eyes?” )– but gender (even if it’s not assigned correctly at birth) is one thing you can latch on to in people’s imaginations! They’re not actually asking… about the genitalia. and I think it’s disingenuous to pretend that it’s a conversation about sex organs.

              1. biscuits in the oven*

                I really like this way of framing it! Thank you so much for sharing this, it really helped me understand why the default response tends to be “is it a boy or a girl” – I love how you put it, that it’s the person making the comment’s way of trying to make the baby into more of a “person” in their mind instead of an abstract entity.

              2. Pocket Mouse*

                I do like your framing, but still strongly wish people would avoid asking about gender or sex because pretty much the best clue you have at that point is the shape of the genitals… so it is ultimately about genitals. Which means when someone asks “boy or girl” I like the response, “Probably!” It’s true and doesn’t play by the genital-focused rules someone else sets forth.

                People can make the future child seem more like a person by actually commenting on/complimenting the parents, e.g. “You’re going to be such an amazing parent, and your child will have no choice to be an amazing person too!”

                1. Flossie Bobbsey*

                  You must not be aware that doctors can tell you the sex from a blood test long before it would be obvious on an ultrasound.

                2. Pocket Mouse*

                  Flossie Bobbsey, I am indeed aware that blood tests early in pregnancy can detect a fetal Y chromosome. I’m also aware that intersex people exist, and that a newborn with XY chromosomes and androgen insensitivity syndrome, for example, will be assigned a sex at birth largely based on the shape of their genitals. That’s why I said ‘best clue’ rather than ‘only clue’.

              3. si*

                Yeah, I think a lot of people reach for it because it is more or less the only thing you CAN know about this new person-to-be. I didn’t *care* what sex my kids were going to be and I knew they might not be cis (as indeed they are not), but I asked the technician to tell me at my ultrasound scan, just because I was so excited to meet them and I wanted all the information I could get. It’s not *about* the genitalia, any more than my colleagues were really thinking in detail about my reproductive organs when they wished me well for the birth.

              4. CoveredinBees*

                I was surprised at how excited I was when I found out my baby’s sex for this reason. I’d been doing fertility treatments and, prior to that had a series of pregnancy losses. It was the first thing that felt “real” about the baby. If they had told me hair color, right/left handedness, just anything about him, I would have had a similar reaction.

            4. tamarack and fireweed*

              Indeed. This focus on the sex of a child-to-be is something I genuinely want to *change* in society, so I act accordingly.

              (Example of the ickiness, I once sat in a gyn’s office after getting an ultrasound for something my doc wanted to check out. As a non-pregnant lesbian, pregnancy was not on my mind at all! The woman on the chair leans over, points to my folder that said “ultrasound” and asked “So, what is it?”. I was very much taken aback by the idea she was just blithely inquiring about the medical condition that brought me to the doctor, and made an inarticulate response. She clarified “well, a boy or a girl”. I said “I’m not pregnant” quite sternly, but I was too young to come up with something stronger.)

            5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              It’s the first thing they ask, even when the baby is born and wearing a pink frilly dress with pink tights with flowers on them and a pink bow in her hair.
              People need to know the sex so that they know whether to tell the baby that they’re a pretty little thing or look like they’re going to grow up into a good strong lad (groan).
              At one point I experimented eluding the question and people would get really insistent, they just couldn’t handle not knowing. I imagine the parents of intersex children must have a truly hard time.

            6. Like, you know, whatever*

              My husband and I didn’t tell anyone the sex of our first baby, and I drove my coworkers INSANE!

              1. KJ*

                We didn’t find out until our kid was born and you’d have thought we were torturing people.

                1. Mannequin*

                  My brother & his wife asked the doctor to not tell THEM what the gender was going to be because they wanted a surprise.

                  That was in the mid 90s, and while some people were curious why they didn’t want to know, nobody was actually rude or made a big deal of it. People have gotten weirder since then.

          3. Zephy*

            Well, for one, babies don’t have genders. You can make a good guess based on the external genitalia as to the sex (and even then you’re going to be wrong some small percentage of the time), but a baby cannot perform masculinity or femininity. It’s a baby, it performs the role of infant. If you’re asking a pregnant person if it’s a boy or a girl, you are asking what their baby’s genitals look like, and that’s deeply weird.

          4. HBJ*

            I don’t think it’s invasive, but it’s always struck me as a slightly odd question. If the person asking is a nice person, the only response to “it’s a boy/girl!” is, “ooh how exciting/how fun/that gender is so much fun, etc.” And the only other responses are rude – “you already have two girls, are you disappointed this one isn’t a boy?/I bet you’re happy to finally be having a girl after all those boys/you have one of each, so now you can stop, etc.”

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              Yeah, the response to the answer has to perform appreciation or desire around *something* associated with a specific gender.

          5. Lydia*

            I only ask family if they are going to find out or wait and by family, I mean I asked my sisters because that’s the kind of relationship we have.

          6. Lenora Rose*

            Gender and sex are being found to be more complex than we thought, and it can come across as overly focused on assigning stereotypical roles before the child is born (see: every gender reveal party ever).

            But when I was pregnant, my answer to “do you want a boy or a girl?” questions tended to end with… “but it’s not like I’m going to ask them to put it back if it’s the other one”.

          7. Lexie*

            My husband and I opted not to find out the sex of any of our kids. Strangers would ask what we were having and when we said we didn’t know we would be met with shock and a bit of dismay, like we were somehow wrong for not finding out.
            On the other hand medical professionals thought it was great we were waiting to find out.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              For our first, I didn’t want to know, but my partner did, so I gave in, knowing that I’d find out anyway by overhearing him talking about it.
              Then for our second I persuaded him not to find out, it’s my turn now. The woman who did my 5-month scan just wrote that it was a girl in the report despite me saying I didn’t want to know.

            2. Mockingjay*

              We did the same. We told people that we wanted to be surprised. I only had to push back a few times: “If I have to go through labor, I want a surprise at the end!” (Nothing squicks people out more than labor stories, so that ended the conversation quickly!)

              Ultrasounds 30 years were pretty fuzzy, so predictions weren’t always accurate anyway.

            3. Lenora Rose*

              my second child put (it turns, out, his) back to every ultrasound and would not show anyone. I had no great moral objection to learning the most-likely-sex but we just didn’t find out.

        4. GrooveBat*

          Literally none of those questions are appropriate. Simply say “congratulations” and move on.

      3. time4wine*

        Bahahaha! With my youngest I would tell them my daughter is hoping for a dinosaur and leave it at that.

        1. Kacihall*

          My husband started telling people he was hoping for a velociraptor. Somehow our son heard that Daddy thought he might have been a dinosaur so now he has one of those inflatable ‘Dino rider’ costumes that he likes to run around in.

          It’s hilarious.

          1. Dana Whittaker*

            OMG! That costume is the BEST! My niece had one last Halloween, and one of my favorite pictures ever is when she face planted in it and my sister and other niece were trying to help her back to her feet :D :D

      4. Third or Nothing!*

        I was always so tempted to respond to “do you know what it is?” with either “all signs point to a baby!” or “I don’t know but I’m really hoping for a velociraptor.” But I would chicken out every time and just say it’s a little girl.

        1. GrooveBat*

          I love the “velociraptor” response so much I want to run out and get pregnant right now just so I can use it.

      5. Migraine Month*

        I came up with a lot of fun answers for when I looked about 7 months pregnant, but it was actually a rare type of (thankfully benign!) ovarian tumor called a teratoma. Someone asked how far along I was and I answered “Two years!”

        Others I prepared but didn’t get a chance to use:
        —“Is it a boy or a girl?” “I’m hoping for benign!”
        —“When are you due?” “It’s getting removed on the twentieth.”

        I managed to resist sending out a faux-birth announcement announcing the weight as 8 lbs 2 oz.

        1. Beebis*

          I like your style and wish I could have seen how the person reacted to “two years”

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Wow! I’ve heard of small teratomas that are like cysts that have developed hair or teeth on the inside, but at 8lbs yours was trying to create an entire liver or something!

          1. Karen, but not that kind of Karen*

            Seriously; two of my three children weighed in at less than that at birth.

          2. Migraine Month*

            I’d been complaining of indigestion, bloating, weight gain constipation, and feeling full and hungry at the same time for about 2 years before I had an abdominal ultrasound that found the tumor. Halfway through the ultrasound, the tech asked me how far along I was, and I said, “??!!?”

            The first gynecological surgeon I consulted was pretty blasé about the size. Apparently he’d once removed a *fifty pound* ovarian teratoma.

      6. ecnaseener*

        You could always go for the I Love Lucy reference: EXTREMELY concerned face and “It’s gonna be a baby!

      7. Jess*

        My go-to was that we were hoping for a velociraptor.

        (Backfired on me once I actually was in possession of a human toddler and realised I’D GOT WHAT I WISHED FOR.)

      8. MT*

        When people ask what our baby is, we say “we’re not finding out, but we have our fingers crossed for another border terrier!”

      9. Princesss Sparklepony*

        The delivery time on the giraffe might be longer what with the neck!

    2. Mek*

      In my friend group, one woman got pregnant (on purpose) while the rest of us were in the avoiding phase. Someone asked her what she was going to do, and she said “uh, have a baby?”

    3. Luna*

      I joke that my y0ungest uncle’s daughter got super lucky. She got a puppy AND a younger brother! I think she even referred to the baby as ‘Bonus’ when her parents told her she was getting a sibling. XD

    4. KoiFeeder*

      I committed the cardinal sin of drinking while reading AAM comments and I have paid the price accordingly.

      (+1 internets to you)

    5. Petty Betty*

      I usually got the snarky “you know what causes that, right?”, to which I would drop to my knees and cry out “but the aliens just won’t leave me alone!” and sob violently. It was quite the show-stopper in Walmart when little Ol’ biddies got prudish about my uterus.

      1. baseballfan*

        I have a friend who has nine children (6 bio, 3 adopted) and with her last pregnancy when she was out and about with some of the other kids, someone asked her that question. She responded with a straight face, “You know, it’s the darndest thing, I have no idea and can’t figure it out! Do you have any insights?”

        1. Queer Earthling*

          Had a friend who would respond with, “It took us a while, but we’ve figured it out, and now we’re making sure to keep our toothbrushes in separate cups.”

    6. Sarcastic Spice*

      A female coworker was once asked the same question at a work event, and her girlfriend replied ‘She tripped and fell on a turkey baster. What are gonna do? *shrug*’.

  2. Former Young Lady*

    “If you’ll forgive me for not answering that question, I’ll forgive you for asking it.”

    1. RJ*

      A perfect response! I honestly cannot believe people would ask such an intrusive question, but some people really don’t understand the concept of overstepping boundaries.

      1. Former Young Lady*

        Haha. Of course! I couldn’t remember where I picked it up, but naturally it would be her.

        1. Hailrobonia*

          To be clear, I meant my comment as a “that’s a wonderful turn of phrase thank you!” and not in any way implying you were plagiarizing or whatever.

  3. FormerLibrarian*

    I just announced my surprise miracle pregnancy after conceiving twins with IVF last year. Every single family member asked about how we conceived. Does anyone ELSE have to answer questions about whether their baby came from really fun sex or invasive medical procedures? No, but because we struggled with inferility, it’s open for discussion. I even told my grandmother I didn’t want to discuss it and she told me she’d just assume that it was natural. People are rude. Don’t worry about their reaction when you point that out.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Well, Grandma. That’s great. I’ve always assumed my mother/father was left on the doorstep by the stork and will continue to do so because, EW.

      1. Artemesia*

        We had fertility issues in conceiving our first although we did not share them with family. Five years later I got pregnant by design with our daughter. My own MIL (herself a mother of 8) asked me if I was okay with that as if to commiserate. We were over the moon.

        What is so hard with: ‘That is great’, ‘how wonderful,’ or ‘congratulations.’

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That’s crazy. People don’t think. But that’s like, a total “wow, really?”

    2. Moonlight*

      Literally no ones business! I had a friend who was very open with me about her fertility treatments – partially because her first language isn’t English, so I helped her understand the medical jargon a few times. I STILL DID NOT ASK HOW THE BABY WAS CONCIEVED even after I was literally invited in much closer than a lot of other people.

      It’s weird how invasive people are about pregnancy. I have friends who’ve told me people just touch their stomachs and stuff? Even in my role where I’m supposed to act a certain way (health care provider), if someone, even a patient, TOUCHED my pregnant stomach, I don’t think I’d be able to refrain from jerking my body away; it’s so gross and invasive.

      What the hell is wrong with how people treat pregnant women? (Rhetorical question, I know the answer, I do not need this explanation.)

      1. Justme, The OG*

        My departmental admin just had a baby after some serious fertility issues. I know people treated her poorly or asked questions. I did once tell her that I really wanted to touch her pregnant belly but wouldn’t do it because I knew better. We laughed about it.

        1. Pennyworth*

          I’ve never understood the desire to touch a pregnant belly, can you explain the appeal? Just curious.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            hoping to feel the baby move perhaps, like you already have a bond with it?

      2. Ness*

        People lose all sense of propriety when encountering a pregnant woman.

        The worst was when I was pregnant and told people it was a (second) girl – they acted like it was a tragedy.

        “Oh, your husband must be so disappointed! Are you going to try again for a boy?”

        Uh, my husband and I are both excited, and we’re not even thinking about a third yet.

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          I got this twins in general! People at SAM’S CLUB would ask and APOLOGIZE. Excuse you, but these babies cost $30,000 and a lot of heartache to make, so you can save the apologies for the people who want them and can’t have them. It’s such a gross and offensive thing to assume and I will not be mincing words when people start saying that stuff where my girls can hear.

        2. Science KK*

          My parents went through the same thing. They were done after my sister and when people found out he was getting a vasectomy a couple weeks after she was born everyone told them BUT WHAT IF THE BABY DIES?!?!

          Because babies are like cars and if one goes bad you get another? And don’t get me started on the “do they have the same dad?” Comments from literal strangers.

      3. Miss Muffet*

        We adopted first – because we wanted to (never even tried to conceive) but when I did get pregnant (unplanned, but fine) a few years later, I also got questions about how it happened. I usually just responded with “when a man and a woman love each other very much” in that same voice you’d use to explain it to a 5 year old.
        I also got myriad versions of “you must be SO HAPPY” as if my adopted child was some sort of consolation prize and now I was FINALLY getting what I had obviously always wanted. Sigh. At least most of the dumb comments end once you actually have the baby.

    3. Is it sarcasm?*

      “Well, we f**** like bunnies. Do you want pointers on positions and toys? Or are you good?”

      1. FormerLibrarian*

        I actually told an aunt once that my husband kept putting it in the wrong hole, when she wouldn’t stop asking when we were going to get pregnant. She never did ask again.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Thank you. You are beautifully hilarious and I love you for saying this.

    4. Quinalla*

      Ugh, I had twins naturally 8 years ago now and got so many questions from folks who were not my medical professionals (there are good reasons those folks ask you) if they were natural or IVF. I definitely understand curiosity, but it is seriously a VERY personal question. I would answer that twins run in my family, didn’t not have a good snappy answer, but it is ANNOYING!

      Even having my first at 32, a few people asked if we were trying, so who knows what the “perfect” age to be trying for kids is for some folks LOL. I usually went with, “I don’t think you realize, but that’s a VERY personal question.” but I luckily didn’t get it too much. It really does help to announce it in a way that implies it is good news like, “I’m so excited to tell you I’m pregnant!”

      Some people will still ask silly/rude questions, just wait til strangers try to pat your belly without even asking (asking is weird enough from strangers). I am lucky that I’m tall, so most people were too intimidated to ask me. Short pregnant women it’s non-stop :(

      1. Sandy Beach*

        YES to announcing it in a way that gives us a clue how to respond! I wouldn’t want to gush “that’s fantastic!” to someone who is ambivalent about their pregnancy, so it helps if mom-to-be shows some feelings we can mirror back. People may not always be as nosy as it seems, they might be looking for cues to the proper response. Sometimes congratulations aren’t in order, rather some compassion instead.

        1. Dana Whittaker*

          A very dear friend found herself unexpectedly pregnant after being told by multiple doctors that it was physically impossible for her to get pregnant.

          My default reaction to baby news is “OMG that is the best news! I am SO happy and excited for you! That is wonderful!!”

          She later told me that my reaction in that exact moment completely changed her outlook. She was single, in a very physically demanding career, and everyone’s reaction was “what are you going to do?” in a vaguely horrified way. Pregnancy complications forced her to bed rest and gave her time to reevaluate things. She went back to school while pregnant and when her daughter was an infant, and is a very successful entrepreneur.

          She said it was almost like the (original) Murphy Brown series where Eldon was the only one who was excited and supportive when Murphy announced she was pregnant.

          Just be you and have the genuine reaction that is inside of you. The rest will figure itself out.

      2. Voldemort’s cousin*

        I just found out I’m expecting my first, and I am fully ready to fight anyone who tries to touch my belly without asking. People are so WEIRD about that.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Congratulations! I was lucky (?) to find out I was pregnant right when lockdown started in 2020. No one came within YARDS of my belly.

        2. Jzilbeck*

          yeah, that caught me off-guard. Like, do people assume pregnant bellies are secretly magical wish-granting genies or something??? It’s certainly not an invitation to come touch a stranger, but maybe hormones have secretly written “please pet my belly unsolicited” across my forehead.

        3. Tin Cormorant*

          I never had a single person try to touch my belly without asking when I had my daughter five years ago. I was so ready to fight them on it but it just never came up. I guess I’m just too intimidating? I can count on one hand the number of times random strangers have even spoken to me unsolicited in the past 10 years, so….

          1. Lightning*

            Lol same. The RBF finally came in handy, ha. (I am not otherwise intimidating in any way.)

        4. Not THAT Karen*

          I had a coworker touch my belly every.single.time she saw me. No matter how many times I told her to stop. I finally yelled at her in front of a bunch of people and she didn’t speak to me the rest of my pregnancy (we didn’t work in the same department and could just communicate about business via email).

          And congrats to you!

          1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            I felt so irritated at her on your behalf. I’m glad you yelled at her finally, she deserved it; also shows a lot about her that she responded not by apologizing but by not speaking to you.

        5. Midwest Manager*

          When I was pregnant I must have walked around with a killer resting b*tch face – nobody ever tried to lay a hand on me. >;D FWIW, was carrying multiples and looked full-term at 20 weeks. It was tough on my body and I was uncomfortable after the first trimester.

        6. Felis alwayshungryis*

          It never happened to me. I waited and waited so I could bite back with a snappy retort, and…I never got to. Same with public breastfeeding. I confess to being a little disappointed.

      3. Forensic13*

        I was a short pregnant woman and I get people touching me without asking normally so I was reallllllly worried about this.

        Then the pandemic started and that fixed that problem. The one silver lining for me, heh.

      4. They're in college now*

        I got “Did you plan to have twins?” I just said “How would I even do that?” It didn’t occur to me until much later that he might have been trying to ask about IVF.

        1. Observer*

          Hah! Most competent centers and doctors try very hard to avoid twins. So even if you were doing IVF, you probably wouldn’t “plan” for it.

          Shows how much people don’t have a clue.

      5. PhyllisB*

        When we were expecting our third we got that a lot. It’s like people can’t imagine having more than two kids.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          My third actually was unplanned, but I still didn’t tell people when they asked. Unplanned doesn’t mean unwanted.

          1. I take tea*

            This is what a fellow student told me when she was pregnant: Not planned, but very much wanted. (I honestly can’t remember if I asked, but I probably did. I didn’t have much of a filter in my twenties.) I was happy for her, even though it would have been a nightmare for me.

          2. Robin*

            My pediatrician apparently referred to my youngest sibling as the “bonus baby” because my mother had already had the “prescribed” two kids, so a third was a fun bonus for all. We used that nickname for years

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              That’s better than my dad who, after having had a few beers during a football match many years ago, referred to me in front of a packed pub as “our little surprise”. My sisters are eight and twelve years older than me so it wasn’t exactly this big revelation, but 13 year old me was utterly mortified by that!

      6. Bryce*

        When my brother and I were young my mother’s stock response to people asking if we were twins was “no, they’re three months apart” and then she’d make her escape in the confusion.

      7. Princesss Sparklepony*

        When my mom had her 4th baby in the mid 60’s at the age of 36, that was considered a late in life baby, a geriatric pregnancy!

        The perfect age seems to be never the age you are having your baby at.

    5. LGP*

      “ Does anyone ELSE have to answer questions about whether their baby came from”

      Yes, lesbians do. (And others in WLW relationships). They have to answer “how did THAT happen???” And “who’s the real mom??” And “why pay all that money for sperm; I woulda given you some for free hahahahahahah”
      You’re definitely not alone. People suck.

      1. LGP*

        Sorry the original quote got cut off:
        “Does anyone ELSE have to answer questions about whether their baby came from”
        really fun sex or invasive medical procedures?”

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          I had an old coworker who just went into detail about her donor sperm and menstrual cup. Don’t ask the question if you don’t want the answer.

      2. Blue Moon*

        I get that sometimes.

        “I’m gay.”
        “But…you have kids?”
        “How does that work?”
        “I have a uterus and they grew inside it.”

        1. Lizzie*

          I love this response! I have a friend from HS; he and his husband have a son. We aren’t super close, so all I know is the baby was born in another state, and they brought him home shortly after. Was he conceived via surrogate? I don’t know. Was it a private adoption? Again, I don’t know and will never ask as its none of my beeswax!

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            You can assume that someone, somewhere, got pregnant and gave birth, because science has not yet advanced to the point where we can avoid that part. Any further details aren’t important at all.

      3. Yoyoyo*

        Yeah, I’ve gotten “who’s the mom” before and I just say “we’re both the moms.” It’s annoying.

        Weirdly, I’ve only had one person ask me about the mechanics but it was a very close friend who knew we were trying and was thoroughly amazed that we just ordered sperm from a bank and “invented a baby,” which I thought was a hilarious turn of phrase.

      4. I take tea*

        That’s unfortunately very true. I really don’t understand why it’s important to know whether one night stand or a Moomin mug was involved (that’s the standard joke in Finland, that every queer baby is concieved using a Moomin mug, you would probably talk about a turkey baster). If you are very close, you might some day have a discussion about alternatives, if it’s relevant, but as a general conversation piece it just is nosy.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          This is a charming bit of information, and I’m glad I know this now.

      5. Onomatopoetic*

        I have a single friend who got pregnant out of the blue. Of course I am curious as to how it came about, but I would never ask. She might tell me some time, if we ever meet up in person (we live quite a bit apart and haven’t met since this happened because of the Corona.) I just congratulated her and coo over the pictures.

      6. tamarack and fireweed*

        Followed by “So *she* [the non-pregnant one] is the man in your relationship?”. SMH

      7. Former Young Lady*

        why pay all that money for sperm; I woulda given you some for free hahahahahahah

        Oh, ew! Sure, Brad. I’ll bet they’re lining up around the block for YOUR contributions.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          We chose the sperm of a NASA techie with the body of an Olympian athlete actually. He even had blue eyes in the catalogue.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      Queer pregnant people get asked this a lot. Not to mention there are methods that aren’t sex and aren’t medically invasive! Like, people can’t just think in their heads “well, these are the options… guess it’s one of them” and leave it there.

    7. Bluebell*

      Yep, adoptive parents also get stupid and offensive questions. I heard “why didn’t you get a Chinese girl?” among other things. I really improved my smiling through clenched teeth skills.

      1. Anon for this*

        My aunt has the best/worst awful question she was asked re: adoption. For context, my aunt and uncle are very white and adopted my cousin (at age 5) from Central America. Someone literally asked if they would tell my cousin that he was adopted. She was shocked as 1) he was 5 and has memories of his hoke country, 2) he literally spoke another language, 3) it would be pretty obvious!

        People ask all kinds of rude/invasive questions surrounding children!

        1. Beebis*

          Some people need to get the memo that adoption isn’t to be treated like some big shameful thing you keep hidden from the adopted child. I think it would be a huge disservice to your kid if you went years and years pretending they weren’t adopted

          1. Anon for this*

            Right? Outside of the practical impossibilities, it would probably be deeply traumatizing to find that out years later.

          2. Princesss Sparklepony*

            Although in the past it was. So if the person asking is old, they may be from the time when you didn’t tell kids they were adopted (although that would be pretty old.) It was sort of some big secret that most of the family knew but everyone pretended they didn’t know about and yet gossiped about it like crazy. (I had uncles that were adopted, they would be in their 90’s if they were still alive.) It wasn’t as bad as they talked about people with the Big C (which seemed to always be their fault somehow) but adoption was looked down upon in some ways.

        2. Someone else*

          Yes! I’ll admit I hadn’t given much thought to the nosy questions directed at adoptive parents until I met my husband. He has a much younger adopted sister, and even as the brother he has fielded some weird ones! My personal favorite: “Is she in cultural/language courses to retain her culture of origin?” Uh, no, I think in hillbilly country USA that would be very hard to come by. Also “is she being raised bilingually?” Again, “no, we don’t speak Mandarin…”

          1. Miss Muffet*

            someone – an otherwise pretty well-educated person – asked us if our <1yr old adopted infant came spoke her home country's language. I was like, she doesn't speak ANYTHING right now. She's a baby.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          There’s a French film about a black couple who adopt a white baby and the mother is always assumed to be the nanny. It was supposed to be a comedy, but I found it heart breaking.

      2. Zephy*

        YIKES on BIKES, can you imagine being a human person who thinks and then says those words in that order out loud to other human persons

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I’m just going to write this down and say it verbatim to the next person who comes at me with some crazy talk.

    8. Cambridge Comma*

      There’s enough stupidity and rudeness to go around, so plenty of stupid questions for all pregnant people

    9. Katie*

      Well when I was pregnant with twins I was asked this all the time too. How does it matter???!!!

    10. bamcheeks*

      Yes, lesbians do.

      (Although it’s also adorable how often people forget and are genuinely surprised when I point out that we aren’t both genetically related to both children…)

      1. marvin*

        Haha, that would be me. I’m trans and gay and so are most of my friends and I honestly never think about things like this. The straight world seems very genital obsessed to me.

    11. Midwest Manager*

      I also experience something similar when people find out that I have triplets. I will frequently get comments like “Wow, isn’t IVF expensive??” and “Are they natural?” the ever-insulting “Ah, you must have done IVF. Good for you!” and my personal favorite if they know we worked with a specialist “Oh! Did he have low counts?”

      My responses (in order) have been: “I wouldn’t know.” “I guess we should have them tested for alien DNA” “What are you talking about?” and “That’s none of your business/Why would you ask that?”

      Seriously, we had help, yes – but not every infertility problem jumps immediately to IVF as the solution. It’s often the last stop on a fertility journey. I have no idea why any random person/coworker/family member feels like they have the right to know anything about my/my spouse’s medical/fertility information or our sex lives. It’s really quite horrible what people feel comfortable saying!

    12. TeacherMom*

      As a mother of twins, I also got the “how were they conceived?” question…not from family, but a random woman at work who I barely knew! She asked if I was “trying for twins” and when I told her I didn’t understand the question, she just plain asked how they were conceived. I told me “we were pleasantly surprised to find out we’re having twins”, smiled, and walked away

  4. Rose*

    This is the kind of question I would ask my brother or my best best friend. Even someone who is a close friend I think it’s an overstep. Asking a coworker is atrocious. OP stay strong in your knowledge that this is a then problem, NOT you being somehow overly sensitive.

    1. The Original K.*

      I could see asking a friend “how do you feel about it?” if their feelings weren’t obvious when they told me, like if she just said “I’m pregnant”
      with no emotion behind it, but I can’t imagine asking anyone if they’d conceived on purpose. I suspect one of my best friends conceived accidentally but I’ve never asked her because it’s none of my business.

      (I actually did have a coworker who was really open about the fact that her pregnancy wasn’t planned, but she volunteered the information – no one asked.)

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Yeah, please don’t ask, regardless of how close you think you are! I’m currently expecting and three of my four closest family members asked, “Was this planned?” And this was after I headed off the commentary with, “I have some wonderful news I’m so excited to share with you!” (thanks AAM commentariat for the rec ;) ) Rule of thumb, as implied above: Follow their lead!

        1. The Original K.*

          Oh, I have no intention of asking. We are very close and the reason I suspect it was unplanned is because of other very personal information she HAS shared with me, but I’m still not going to ask her. It’s none of my business; her kid is here and healthy and loved and looks cute in my onesie gift, end of story.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          Yeah, there are people I would be comfortable talking to about the unplanned-ness of a pregnancy, but I can initiate that conversation myself, its still rude to ask.

      2. Moonlight*

        Also, I feel like even if a pregnancy is unplanned, it doesn’t mean it’s unwanted, and if a pregnancy was planned, it doesn’t mean that all is well (e.g., complications, maybe it’s the first pregnancy after a miscarriage). So asking if it was planned means… nothing?

        1. Observer*

          Assuming you are being REASONABLE not just NOSY.

          For all the people who are saying that they are asking because they are trying to gauge if it’s good news or not, the standard “How is it going?” will give you everything you need to know.

        2. HBJ*

          This, this, this! Plenty of people were “not trying, not preventing” or just didn’t expect it to happen or even were actively preventing but are still ultimately happy to be having the baby.

          There are also people who really didn’t want a(nother) baby and were/are upset about it but decided to have the baby and still don’t want to say their child was unplanned or unwanted because they just don’t want to put that into the world where their child might someday hear it.

      3. Lady Danbury*

        This is exactly what I asked when a close friend who I know isn’t in a serious relationship confided that she was pregnant. It opened the door for her to share if she wanted. We ended up talking about how she wasn’t sure if she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue the pregnancy and I was able to provide support for her throughout the process of her making what ended up being an extremely difficult decision for her.

        I would never presume to ask anyone if they’re pregnancy was planned or to respond anything other than congratulations unless I was close enough to the person that they might want to confide in me.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          This meaning “how do you feel about it?”, in case my original comment was unclear.

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, this. When a friend who I’d known to be uninterested in having kids announced she was pregnant initially (by e-mail, so hard to infer tone), I NEVER would have asked if it was planned. I did ask how she felt about it.

      5. bamcheeks*

        “Oh wow, how are you feeling?” leaves the door open for both, “Not too bad! Been a bit tired and a bit sick, but getting better!” or “Well, not great actually, I’m still considering my options.”

    2. Moonlight*

      THIS!!! And I think the relevance of it being your brother or best friend is that you were presumably invited into the conversation in some way already, and you’re not presuming that they’re willing to share this information. For example, if a close friend shared with me that they’re trying to get pregnant, then it is much different if I inevitably broach the subject than if someone has not routinely discussed it with me.

    3. Not Today*

      One of my closest friends texted saying “I’m f*ng pregnant AGAIN”. I knew her, and how incredibly awful the first pregnancy was, and also that she DID want more kids – and even then my response was “I’m sorry. Congratulations!”. Because I knew it would make her laugh and while she was upset she was also happy? And asking about is it an accident or whatever – NO. But like, I would never do that with anyone else – always proceed as if its good news!

  5. Ann Lister’s Wife*

    My petty self WANTS to overshare on purpose— “oh yes we tried X number of times in 5 different positions and this one was the most effective”

    Just really make them squirm and regret asking

    In reality I Would Never. But I would want to. LOL

    1. mairona*

      I totally would, but I’m also totally over trying to shield other people’s feelings when they’re the ones who are out of line. It’s kind of the approach I took to people asking me if/when we were planning to have kids, even after we’d explained that we weren’t planning on it at all. My PCOS diagnosis made it pretty easy – I’d just get into a long, drawn-out, overly-detailed explanation about the metabolic and reproductive/menstrual affects of PCOS. I’d keep my tone very matter-of-fact and my wording very clinical and discovered quickly that being very candid about reproductive medical conditions makes a lot of people really uncomfortable lol.

      Of course, pushing 40 and having your husband wind up in a wheelchair tends to get people to stop asking about kids, too! Just for entirely different (though likely just as offensive) reasons.

    2. WellRed*

      Seriously. Have you and your husband been actively and frequently engaging in sexual intercourse?

    3. Posilutely*

      I was asked at work if my pregnancy was planned so I said, ‘Yep, we wanted a baby so decided to stop using contraception, have as much sex as possible and see what happened.’ My colleague was horrified and shrieked, ‘Eurgh, too much information!’. Then don’t ask!

  6. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’m 30 and I still assume I need to start making calls when I hear it lol. I try so hard to sound neutral but it always comes out something like “Oh! Congratulations….?” But luckily at work I usually hear from other people first.

    But yes OP that’s SUPER no one’s business and feel free to return the awkwardness to sender.

    1. Rose*

      When I was in this phase (before basically all of my friends were known to be trying) I found a warm/enthused “wow!” Followed by “how are you feeling?” Worked really well. Then you can instantly follow their lead.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        That was EXACTLY what I was going to suggest! I think it’s good to recognize that a pregnancy isn’t always happy news for someone, but there’s a better way to be sensitive about that without asking an invasive question.

      2. introverted af*

        Ah, I love this. Also gives them room to be honest about any kind of feelings that fall between, totally excited and totally dreading this.

      3. mairona*

        Yeah, the few times I’ve been unsure about how the other person feels about their pregnancy, I’ve used that sort of script. I might ask how far along they are and follow it up with “How’s it going for you so far?” That way I’m not making assumptions, and I’m also showing interest in the welfare of the person who’s actually pregnant which I’m told doesn’t happen nearly enough (since most people want to focus on the baby). So far it seems to be well-received!

      4. Cercis*

        Or even a more neutral tone and “that’s big news, how are you doing?” Because it is big news, even if it isn’t wonderful and exciting to them. Both of my pregnancies were planned but happened so much sooner than I had figured (basically we decided we wanted to start trying and I missed my very next period), so I was happy, but I was also in shock and a bit unprepared. I got to have the whole “wow, they’re really close aren’t they?” conversation a lot along with a lot of preaching from my mother about “stealing” the babyhood from my older child (they are 22 months apart, so it’s not that close, but it is close, we were wanting more like 2-2.5 years).

        1. emphatically_bisexual*

          I am absolutely borrowing the “that’s big news, how are you doing” script (most of my peer group is definitely in the “is this a good thing or a bad thing or working through it” life phase right now). But also, omg, “stealing” babyhood? What? What???? Not only is it extremely rude, it doesn’t even make sense!

          1. Migraine Month*

            Just wait until that woman hears about *twins*. Or quadruplets. She may faint from shock.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          My 2nd and 3rd are 23 months apart. Stealing babyhood is nonsense. My 2yo is not a baby anymore. (My 3rd went like “well, honey, if we’re going to have a third we should probably do it soon, we’re not getting any younger, so lets start thinking about if we want quit or keep going” followed 3 weeks later by “so… I’m pregnant.”)

      5. Rural Juror*

        I think this works for close friends, but I’m currently pregnant and am SO TIRED of people asking how I’m feeling! So I would say don’t use this for colleagues/acquaintances. There are a few pregnancy symptoms that are widely known and acceptable to talk about (e.g. tiredness, light nausea), but…I’m not tired or nauseous but have been super constipated and having some other symptoms that are not really considered appropriate for small talk.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I got pregnant via fertility treatment, so some PRETTY DETERMINED TRYING. And every single night for the first couple of weeks after I finally and amazingly got a pregnancy test, I dreamt my parents, my teachers and my grade school headmaster (??) were Very, Very Disappointed in me. Each night I would have this utter panic and “omg a baby what am I going to DO” and then gradually through the dream I would go, “Hold on– I’m a grown-up– I’m actually 35? and gay-married? and I have a mortgage? and a job with maternity cover and maternity leave? I think — I think it’s probably OK?”

  7. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I’d add, ‘Why do you need to know that?’ to the list above.

    No, OP, you’re not being sensitive. Also, in several months when you’re showing, you can expect more insensitive behavior. People will come up to you, hands outstretched, ready to touch your stomach. Maybe even some strangers will do that. IIRC, Miss Manners once suggested stepping back and gasping in alarm.

    1. Lynca*

      I’d modify it to “Why would you even ask that?” That one always worked when people asked me invasive pregnancy questions.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I wouldn’t modify it, and here’s why.

        ‘Why would you even ask that?’ has gotten me these responses: ‘Because I care…’ or ‘Because we’re family/friends/co-workers!’ or ‘I tell you everything, you can tell me!’ or ‘Oh, you know I ask everyone these things!’

        Asking ‘Why do you need to know?’ is a lot more pointed and usually stops people short, in a way the other question doesn’t. But that’s just my experience.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          “…and what will you do it that information once you have it?”

          (From an xkcd cartoon about a guy asking two gals if their periods were synchronized. One responded ‘that’s an interesting question, Alex. What will you do it that information once you have it?’)

    2. soontoberetired*

      I warned my nieces about how intrusive people at work would be when the pregnancy news got out. Plus the horror stories they were going to hear about people’s birth experiences. Pregnancies and weddings bring out the strangest behavior in otherwise sane people.

      It is also valid to pretend you don’t hear those obtrusive questions.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I HATE when people dump their horrific birth stories all over a pregnant person. “You’re about to go through a scary and painful medical experience, allow me to tell you all the ways it might go wrong!” is a terrible way to interact with other people.

        1. Gumby*

          Right!?!?! I have a nephew who was born at 29 weeks. He is fine! It’s a happy story even if he started out teeny tiny and it wasn’t clear from the start that things would end up as they have. You know what I never ever mention to friends who are pregnant? That I have a nephew who was born at 29 weeks. Because they do not need that in their heads at that point.

        2. No name for this*

          I did warn my pregnant sister the other day that IME birth plans are a waste of paper, but it came with the hopefully useful advice that she should get a doula if at all possible. But not in a “birth is traumatic and scary” way. Just in a “neither you nor your husband is really prepared for this* so if you can get someone on board to advocate for you that would really help” kind of way.

          *No shade intended. We don’t see childbirth these days so I think basically no one is prepared for their first birth.

      2. Lily Green*

        I am on the short side, so I really had a distinct (and prominent) baby belly with both of my previous pregnancies. The comments from coworkers and others were unbelievable. I had one woman at work who was a bit older than me (and had kids of her own) who was the worst offender when it came to comments on my body. I tended to shrug her off until she made a comment about how “You can tell it’s a girl because with girls you gain the weight all over, not just the belly.” I was so shocked I just stared at her in disbelief. She turned red and got very busy with some paperwork after that, and the comments more or less stopped.

      3. SoloKid*

        You ‘warned’ your nieces about intrusive coworkers but consider it strange for other mothers to warn about birth experiences?

        I’ve heard so many “I wish someone told me about XYZ” that I suspect mothers are trying to be more open with things former generations were ashamed to talk about.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          And yet, stories about one’s reproductive organs should be AT MOST on an “only if requested” basis.

        2. Jora Malli*

          I agree that there’s value in our society becoming more open about the labor and delivery process. But “Hello visibly pregnant stranger on the bus, let me tell you how many stitches I needed for my episiotomy” is not the appropriate way of going about it (and yes, this is something that happened to a relative of mine while she was pregnant).

          1. Free Meerkats*

            “Hi there pregnant stranger! Did you know the chainsaw was originally invented as a medical instrument for difficult births?”

        3. soontoberetired*

          When I said horror, I mean horror, told in a horrific manner meant to scare, not inform. Like everyone should suffer the way they suffered. Its bizarre.

        4. Anonymous Koala*

          I think today’s internet age is making this a bit redundant; most pregnant people can get all the warnings and “wish I knew”-isms they want whenever they want them.

          1. eastcoastkate*

            YES I’m 7 mos pregnant and I feel like every person around me is trying to scare the living daylights out of me about labor + having infants/having a child. I also had a coworker ask me last week how long it took us to conceive….it’s like when you’re pregnant people’s semblance of what is appropriate to say just flies out the window.

        5. GrooveBat*

          It’s fine to respond candidly and honestly when someone *asks,* but if they don’t request the information, don’t volunteer it.

  8. Moonlight*

    I have to wonder if people just don’t know what to say and are utterly clueless, which I really do not get in this day and age. People say obnoxious stuff about pregnancy. It’s widely becoming more common not to ask people if trying to have a baby because they may have infertility issues, not want children, or recently experienced a miscarriage, in addition to the general sexist notion of this; for example, I’ll literally have family members tell ME to get pregnant/ask if I am going to get pregnant soon when my husband is literally right there. Then there are the obnoxious things people say if you have a miscarriage (e.g. “at least you know you can get pregnant… at least you have another kid… it wasn’t meant to be… basically a load of meaningless tripe that doesn’t help with the pain). And asking someone if they MEANT to get pregnant is in the same catagory if thoughtlessness. Why would it matter if you meant to get pregnant or not? I know tons of people who got pregnant by accident but are still happy about it (most of my friends who had a babies before 22 it was an accident… by 23, it was more likely to be intentional, but even then I have tons of friends who got pregnant by accident and are still happy about it), so even if was an accident, I don’t know what purpose this question could possibly serve. I genuinely want to know what they are thinking. It is overly invasive. Now, I suppose that if you talk about travelling, having a care free life, etc. people might be like “huh, I wonder if this was an accident cause it seems inconsistent with everything else I know about Anna” but even then it’s not really their business.

    I do like Allison’s scripts for how to talk about it. Another option is “oh why does that matter?” (the “oh” for me would make it sound less like you’re snapping at them, and more like “huh that’s a weird question…”… and then just proceed not to answer them).

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, and the “at least you know you can get pregnant” really doesn’t help much if you can’t carry to term. (I was 37 when my son was born, and I got pregnant at 36 the first cycle we tried. He was a fairly easy baby and I didn’t have any complications in my pregnancy, but he was 3 years old before I was willing to try to get pregnant again. It wasn’t to be, I had 2 first trimester miscarriages and at least one chemical pregnancy before we decided to stop trying.)

      1. Sally*

        Yeah, I have a friend who had miscarriage after miscarriage. It was heartbreaking. Getting pregnant and staying pregnant are not the same.

    2. GrooveBat*

      I actually think pregnant people should be WAY ruder in response to some of these questions. It’s horrifying to me the way pregnant people are viewed as community property – subject to scrutiny, intrusive questions, unwanted touching, horrifying anecdotes, as if pregnancy somehow negates any right to privac…oh.

      1. Moonlight*

        Yeah I think pregnant women should 100% get to be ruder… and not even rude per se, just more assertive, but we all know that women tend to be viewed as rude for being assertive, exponentially more so if you’re a woman of colour. It’s bonkers.

  9. MK*

    OP, if you are in the US, I wonder if the fact that the issue of reproductive rights is probably at forefront of people’s minds right now might be playing a role. Not that it makes it ok that they are prying, of course, but the first thought in m6 head when I read the title of the post was the recent Supreme Court decision, though, objectively, there is no real connection there.

    1. DataGirl*

      That’s what I’m thinking. It isn’t their business, but they may be coming from a place of concern for people who may be pregnant and don’t want to be.

      1. quill*

        I’m guessing that even with this extra context, people who asked probably would have asked anyway.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        As my mind tends toward the ominous, I thought it could also be coming from people fishing for information they can use to report you.

    2. Pop*

      This has been happening for a long time because people are nosy and inappropriate, way before the most recent reproductive rights convo, so I suspect that is not likely.

    3. Skates*

      i also assumed it was maybe coming from a place of heightened panic about state of healthcare in the US. obviously, that doesn’t make it an OK thing to say to LW, but it might just be genuine, misplaced concern.

      1. Observer*

        Sure. This is a food service job – the kind of place that often doesn’t even give ANY paid sick leave unless required by law. Even assuming that this is in one of the states with bans, you think this supervisor is going be offering the least bit of help?

        If you can’t offer help, keep your “concern” (or rather concern trolling) to yourself. Which is to say, no I do NOT think that this is coming from genuine concern.

    4. Susan Anderson*

      As Really? says, people have always been this rude! I had my first child 32 years ago, after five years of marriage. During all of those five years family members and friends – and my creepy boss – constantly asked us when we were going to have a baby. My uncle kept remarking that he and my aunt conceived their first child in their wedding night (ew! TMI!) Anyway, when my son was born I thought that people would stop asking – but oh no! “When will you have another one?” “Are you hoping for a girl next time?” started almost immediately! Now I found this both amusing and annoying – none of these people had any idea whether we had been trying for a baby, didn’t want children, or had infertility issues. How insensitive! I never ask my sons’ partners about if / when they will have children even though I would love to be a Grandma one day.

      1. Data Analyst*

        Exactly, the rudeness just knows no bounds. I have a friend who had kids very close in age and multiple people implied or outright asked whether the second one was a mistake. Another friend who’d had one girl and one boy was asked whether their third pregnancy was an accident since “you already have one of each.” Rude people will speculate on the details of your family planning regardless of your age, whether you have had children already or not, etc.

        1. I take tea*

          “You already have one of each” – wtf? What a weird comment. I think I would answer along the lines of “always good to have a spare in a pinch”.

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            Ha! I like this! If you’re trying for “one of each” after all, then ALL genders need to be represented. Next go for gender fluid, then agender…

    5. Esmeralda*

      Nah. My kid just graduated college. I got those questions when I was pregnant 20+ years ago. I was almost 40, too.

      Fortunately, no one tried to touch my belly. I have walking RBF lol, on occasion some stranger would start walking toward me, hand out, and then get a look at my face.

    6. Observer*

      OP, if you are in the US, I wonder if the fact that the issue of reproductive rights is probably at forefront of people’s minds right now might be playing a role.

      Unlikely – this is not a new phenomenon.

      And if someone WAS thinking of that, it makes the question even MORE invasive. I mean if you didn’t plan this, and are worried out of your mind because you don’t have access having to calmly answer questions about it to people who you have no real relationship with is not exactly useful.

    7. no ducking on the dance floor*

      Expect the comments to get worse as our climate becomes more challenging. Some folks think bringing children into this world by any method is a bad idea, for already existing humans/planet and for the child that will have to grow up in hard times.

    8. PaperWriter*

      This was my thought too. There are lots of people asking, some of them _are_ probably nosy who should myob, but I also think there are some who are genuinely concerned. Another thought is, as an extrovert I enjoy chatting about pregnancy journeys and my initial assumption is that others want to share. Though usually these days I preface with…. “Is it okay to ask you about…” so that I don’t trample over boundaries that I don’t know about.

      I’ll add one more. When friends tell me they are pregnant, my response is often “….congratulations—- right? just checking!”
      Because, honestly, in today’s climate I don’t want to make assumptions about whether this is good news or bad news until I know how they feel about it. LW doesn’t really specify how she’s conveying the information.

      That said— a bright cheerful announcement like Alison suggests would forestall most concerns of mine, and I would take my cue from them.

    9. Kesnit*

      I had the same thought, though from other comments, I see this isn’t a new thing.

    10. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Nope. I got asked this every single pregnancy…..I have 3 kids AND I was in my 30s for each child. People are just nosy and rude and suddenly feel that it’s okay to ask pregnant women all sorts of personal questions, comment on their body, and assume it’s appropriate to touch their bellies. I once even had a much older male coworker inform me that I needed to purchase a special stool for going to the bathroom as it put me in the best position for pushing and would help me immensely when I later had to give birth to my child. None of that comes from the concern of anyone’s reproductive rights.

  10. Kassie*

    When I announced my pregnancy at 43 I got the same questions. People are so nosy and inappropriate.

  11. AlsoBeth*

    My cousin asked the same thing when we announced our second. I gave her a blank stare and said, well, we were having ***. People also wanted to know “what is it?”, as in boy or girl. I always said we were hoping for a velociraptor, but it’s a baby.

  12. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I read a tweet in a collection on Buzzfeed:
    I’m 23: The age when your friends say they are expecting you don’t know whether to say “what are you going to do?” or “Congratulations.”
    Apparently awkwardness is a universal.
    I really don’t get it at work though. Like do these other women think you don’t have friends and family? Why would they think you’d want input from people at your part time job?

    1. Despachito*

      I have always gone with “Congratulations!”, as I think it is much more likely that if a person announces in a work setting she is pregnant, she considers it to be a lucky thing rather than a disaster.

      And if it happens to be a disaster, it would be much easier to rectify and commiserate than the other way round.

      (By the way, I’ve heard people commiserating when someone announced A WEDDING. They probably thought they were funny. They were not, they just came across as boors. I definitely do not want to be that person)

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Agreed. If a work colleague with whom I don’t have a deep friendship is telling me, especially IN THE OFFICE, about a wedding, a baby, I will defer to Congratulations!
        And if it turns out the person is unhappy and wants sympathy, OK.
        Definitely easier to go that direction.

  13. Jean*

    I bet not one single person has asked your husband such a nosy, invasive question. Feel free to tell people to mind their own business. You’re not being rude, they are.

    1. Artless*

      Eh, I definitely asked a male coworker this when I was young and clueless and horrified by the idea of getting pregnant myself.

  14. Really?*

    Generally speaking, questions about pregnancy are to be avoided. Unless you are the OB/GYN and talking to the patient. Also questions about why you’re NOT pregnant “yet” or those that imply that you appear to be pregnant. There’s no polite way out of these.

    Perhaps we need a helpful and catchy reminder phrase? Example: “If you see a bump, don’t act like a chump.” Other thoughts?

  15. Betty*

    I also love the classic Miss Manners “Why do you ask?” for those moments, said in a politely puzzled tone. Non-confrontational, but “returns awkward to sender” as Captain Awkward puts it.

    1. Liane*

      Miss Manners also wrote, “One can hardly exaggerate the rudeness of inquiring into the contents of someone else’s womb.”

      But congratulations, OP, to you and your husband!

  16. Mike*

    Objectively, people aren’t entitled to those types of detail about your personal life and reproductive planning. But sometimes it’s easier just to say something up front to ward off the invasive questions. I like Alison’s “I have happy news” but you might still get follow up questions. Maybe you can frame it just like any other big life event. For example, buying a house: “I’m so happy to share that our plan to buy a house has become a reality. We’re moving in August!”
    Turns into: “I’m so happy to share that our plan to start a family is becoming a reality. We’re due in January!”

    1. one l lana*

      I think this is the right move, especially when announcing at work. Most people don’t share news about their pregnancy with coworkers until they know it’s likely going to result in a baby*, so it’s extremely rude for coworkers to inquire into how said baby came about. I can sort of understand why your boss might have been unsure — which doesn’t mean it was OK for her to lean right into the super-personal question — but might as well clear up any ambiguity.

    2. NotARacoonKeeper*

      I agree that Alison’s scripts leave too much room for people to ask more dumb questions, and I think these are great options to shut that crap down.

  17. Madame X*

    It’s very strange that people are asking that question to the LW. I find it even more strange that people asking that of her knowing that she is married. Obviously, there are people who intentionally decide to become single parents, but that is clearly not the situation the LW is in.

    1. Filosofickle*

      It’s rude and shouldn’t be asked at all, but I do get it the question because she’s young. It’s certainly not the case across the board but in my family / community, this is very young to have a child — young even to be married — and among my friends at that age a baby would most likely have been unplanned.

      1. Observer*

        So? She is married and apparently not a caricature of a hillbilly. Do they really think she doesn’t know how to avoid a pregnancy? And if they really think that there was a failure, do they really think she wants to discuss it?

        The answer is that they are not thinking. Period. Not about her nor about the community norms.

        1. Calliope*

          Obviously nobody should ask full stop. But it is not uncommon for people to say their pregnancy was an accident so I think that makes it seem less sensitive than it actually is for many depending on the norms in their social group.

    2. Raboot*

      Eh, just because someone is married doesn’t mean they necessarily planned on getting pregnant ever or at that point in life. It’s still rude to actually ask it of course, but especially when someone is 23, I understand the curiosity.

    3. Esmeralda*

      You’d think, but no. I was almost 40, married, when I got pregnant. Didn’t stop the dumb ass, work-inappropriate questions.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        obviously, the only acceptable time to be getting pregnant is between the ages of 25-35. ANything outside that and you must just be doing it for the attention. (/s, obvs)

        1. Princesss Sparklepony*

          It seems to me that to society at large, the only acceptable time to be getting pregnant is never the age the pregnant person is…

          Seriously, people are always looking for something to criticize. You are either too young or too old, too happy or not happy enough, too sick or not sick enough…

    4. Adultier adult*

      I thought the same thing- out of college/working, married— very weird question to ask

  18. MustardPillow*

    I am in my late 30s and my internal reaction to people my age having pregnancies is “omg aren’t you a bit old for this. Like you understand biology right?” But I’ve reached the age where I know not to say that aloud! And smile and congratulate.

    In my early 20s, definitely guilty of, “but you want to be right?” I never wanted children myself so it was difficult for me to think people are actually happy about it!

    On behalf of your coworkers, I apologize!

      1. Stevie*

        Yeah, late 30s isn’t really that unusual for a pregnancy! Even if some risks for baby/mother are increased, it’s still not nearly the norm to have issues.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        Kinda reads like MustardPillow still internally reacts like all pregnancies are accidental, and someone in their 30s ought to know how to prevent them? Hoping for clarification.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “Aren’t you a bit old for this” reads as a reaction to a geriatric pregnancy (which is technically the classification of any pregnancy where the pregnant person is over 35 but is really not uncommon or as high risk as it once may have been).

    1. Thanks though*

      Mid-30s seems to be the standard age of having children in my group of peers and friends. To each their own.

      1. The Original K.*

        None of my friends had their first kid before 30. For those with more than one it was first kid in their early 30s, 2nd in mid-30s. I have a friend who had her first/only at 41, without medical intervention.

    2. AnotherSarah*

      Definitely you’ll want to read some updated studies about age and conception.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure people who have actually conceived at that age have taken in some relevant information, and seemingly more than MustardPillow has. Good for keeping it unsaid, though, I guess.

        1. FNR*

          Yeah, as someone who is currently trying to conceive in her late 30s, I can reassure MustardPillow that most (if not all) of us are pretty informed about what is and isn’t likely, and that our ovaries don’t drop out of us the instant we turn 35.

          Though I guess I can now add “people silently pitying me for what they assume will be a miscarriage or other health issue” to my list of Things To Have a Paranoid Spiral About.

          1. AnotherSarah*

            Yuuup. Conceived for the first time at 37, now trying at 40 again, and very up on the studies! And hopeful. Good luck to you as well! Indeed, people who are trying to get pregnant are often very informed (sometimes over-informed!).

            Also I’m seeing that the original comment had to do with *being* pregnant in late-30s, not *getting* pregnant, which seems even odder, as physical difficulties vary wildly, and not really by age. (There are good/okay studies on that, as well.)

          2. Jennifer Strange*

            I’m 36 and just had my first this past December (and hoping to have at least one more, though not for a couple of years). Don’t panic, you can do this! Sending you good vibes!

    3. Jora Malli*

      I just googled “median age menopause” and the result is 51. Your friends and coworkers in their late 30s are not too old to get pregnant.

      And as a person in their late 30s who would still like to have a baby someday but has yet to find the right person to create said baby with, I’d encourage you to be a little less judgemental about that, even if you’re not expressing the judgement out loud.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was reading a thing online about breast pain and ovulation a few years ago and someone in the comments said their grandmother had her last baby at fifty-nine. FIFTY. NINE.

        Yes, I know that’s extreme, but everyone’s body is different.

        1. Esmeralda*

          I feel tired just reading that. LOL. Not even the being pregnant part, the having to take care of an infant at 59.

    4. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      3o’s are a normal time to have a child. I could see late 40’s being more problematic, but even then its not something you should react to, even internally.

      1. Empress Ki*

        As much as I disagree with MustardPillow, people are free to react internally. There’s no harm anyway.
        Thanks we don’t have a thoughts police yet.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Sure, but internal reactions betray biases and assumptions and if people are freely sharing what their internal reactions are others are free to call them out on it. That’s the whole two-way street behind free speech.

    5. no ducking on the dance floor*

      The pregnancy isn’t the hard part. It’s the next 15-20 years that are grueling. My mom had her last baby at 41 (no, it wasn’t planned) and was caring for her mom while working full time and going to school. Lots more ‘adulting’ complications at that age, then rearing a child…it was tough and my mom was also terrified to end up raising a grandkid or grandniece/nephew to do family problems at the time.

  19. Ellena*

    When I was a student assistant back in the day I had a boss who was very difficult. When she got pregnant and told me I somehow also didn’t manage to ask a better question than “but it was planned right?” To this day I cringe at the memory. On the bright side she would also ask me many personal things so didn’t seem to mind but still I can’t believe I asked.

  20. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    I think my 23-year old would say, “Dude, No” in a tone that would make clear that the “no” was referring to the question having been asked.

  21. Junior Assistant Peon*

    I usually see the opposite extreme, where my coworker looks like she’s shoplifting a basketball and we all pretend we don’t see the obvious because she hasn’t announced it yet.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That happened with one of my bosses. She finally told our managers and then said to me, “You probably noticed that I’m pregnant,” and I replied, “I didn’t see shit.” We are still friends, lol.

      1. we're all friends here*

        *dying laughing*

        After going through all the rude comments with my first pregnancy (also at 23, and 100% planned), I just….opted not to tell people with the 2nd and 3rd. It worked itself out eventually.

        By the way, OP, my answer to that question at 23 was “Yeah, my husband and I don’t have any hobbies.”

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      You coworker might actually not be pregnant. My neighbor looks like she is about 8 months pregnant but she actually has a medical condition where fluid builds up in her abdomen. It’s definitely best not to comment because people can be dealing with all kinds of issues and the best thing to do is let them be in control of what information they share.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Yeah, and sometimes it’s just fat. BTDT, returned awkward so hard to that sender.

    3. Observer*

      where my coworker looks like she’s shoplifting a basketball and we all pretend we don’t see the obvious because she hasn’t announced it yet.

      Because is may not be a pregnancy. Or it may not be a healthy pregnancy. So, yeah, better no congratulations unless and until she announces.

  22. PeopleNeedManners*

    *cracks knuckles*
    As a mother of 5 that includes a set of twins I got ya covered with responses

    I’ll answer that if you wouldn’t mind answering a question regarding your sex life/fertility

    We decided we wanted to build our own (insert sport) team.

    When did my sex life become an OK topic?

    Wow that’s extremely rude and personal!

    That is something that is only discussed with my partner and myself, we did not invite a 3rd party into a conversation that has nothing to do with them.

    How does that information have any bearing on my job performance?

  23. Snippy*

    When I’ve been asked this question, I responded with “We had reason to believe it could occur.” Which is true, but can be interpreted by the asker in a number of ways, so you’re not actually sharing any information (unless you believed sex/fertility treatments/etc do not lead to pregnancy, which would be a whole other issue).

  24. CLC*

    In my experience asking overly personal questions and generally talking about personal matters is also a common restaurant/hospitality business thing. I waited tables for a while in my early 30s after only having experience in corporate and academic settings and was truly amazed at how everyone was all in each other’s business and involved with each other personally. I remember on my first day a coworker just point blank asked me how old I was, if I had kids, if I was planning to have kids, if I had a boyfriend, if I wanted to date anyone on the staff, etc. It was like a different world.

  25. Dr. Rebecca*

    If they’re persistent, a flat “why are you so interested in my sex life?” should suffice…

  26. Quality Girl*

    Coworker who I talked to rarely talk to and don’t know well at all upon finding out I was pregnant: Oh wow! I didn’t even know you were trying!
    Me: *incredulously while staring at her with A Look on my face* Uh yeah, we kept that part private.

    She never said another word about it. Don’t be afraid to let rude people know they’re being rude.

    1. we're all friends here*

      “Oh, you missed the videographic evidence I sent around the office?”

  27. Ann Onymous*

    My coworker and his wife chose to not to find out the gender of their kids until they were born, and they had to put up with a lot of people giving them grief about that. “how will you buy clothes?” “how will you choose a name?” etc. I’m not sure why so many people take pregnancy as an open invitation to make comments on other people’s personal choices, but it definitely seems to be a widespread phenomenon.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My old boss was pregnant and the amount of people who commented on every little thing she ate, or wore, or if she was standing too long…ugh.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      Psst, you can only find out the (likely) sex that will be assigned at birth ahead of time. Despite all the hype around gender reveal parties, no one really learns anyone’s gender for sure until years after they’re born!

      1. Ann Onymous*

        I actually thought about that before posting, but I’m used to some other forums that automatically moderate out posts with certain words, i.e. “sex”. I got a bit overzealous with my self-censorship, but I can see how my use of the word gender was incorrect in this context. I will endeavor to do better in the future.

      2. Dahlia*

        Also it matters not one whit to your newborn what you dress them in, as long as it’s appropriate for the weather and not itchy. Put your AMAB baby in dresses. They don’t care.

    3. Anon for this*

      I was shocked to see folks get bent in the social media comments of a friends post when she mentioned they would not be finding out the sex of their baby. First, it’s none of your business and second even if you think it’s odd/strange/not what you would do, why on earth would you comment that publicly/ online?!?

    4. Purple Cat*

      We didn’t find out for either pregnancy and so.many.people were very offended at the notion.
      Me – it’s one of the few surprises left in life. Let us enjoy it.

  28. MissTea*

    I was almost 30 & married when I got pregnant. We had been trying for over a year. But I look young, and I was working a second entry-level job at the time. I was also incredibly sick and had to sit and take breaks a lot.

    One of the security guards saw me taking a breather and asked if I was okay. I was so excited about being pregnant that I could not stop telling people, so I said, “oh yeah, I’m fine, just pregnant,” with a little laugh.

    He looked at me with alarm and whispered, “Are you… in trouble?”

    I didn’t even know this man’s name! I don’t know what he expected me to say to that – was he gonna drive me to the clinic? It was so weird! I just laughed it off, but yeah, people get Real Weird about other people’s pregnant bodies.

  29. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    When I was pregnant, I was unpartnered, and folks who had any depth of knowledge of my personal life (which was not a huge percentage of the office) knew that I am some category of queer. It was also 25 years ago, when these questions were slightly less intrusive.

    I armed my work buddy (who everyone was going to go to for the actual gossip) with the phrase “This is a welcome child.” Which is just awkward and non-specific enough to forestall further conversations. It worked like a charm.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I love “this is a welcome child”! It gives enough that people know that you’re happy and they can express happiness at your news. And only the pushiest people will pressure you for more than that.

    2. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      “This is a welcome child.”

      This is beautiful! I’m never going to need this phrase for myself, but I’m going to hold on to it for friends who will be looking for scripts in the coming years. :)

      And it’s sooooooooooo much better than my mother’s “We didn’t want you at the time, but you didn’t turn out to be a crazy person, so it’s okay that we kept you, haha!!” that she loves to break out on my birthday every year. (Guess who’s having a birthday soon and is NOT looking forward to hearing this for the 40th+ time.)

    3. Filosofickle*

      What I like about sentiments like “welcome child” is that sometimes it a child planned and wanted and sometimes unplanned and still wanted. How we got here is irrelevant. You are happy about the baby, and knowing that helps me respond appropriately.

      I’ve known a lot of folks ambivalent about pregnancy, so i am not one to jump straight to CONGRATS. I want to meet you where you’re at and appreciate all clues that get me to the right response faster.

  30. Juicebox Hero*

    I really don’t know why someone else having a baby short-circuits peoples’ brains.

    Every pregnant person is too young, too old, not married, not married *long enough*, too skinny, too fat, not eating enough, eating the wrong stuff, a criminal for not breastfeeding, a demanding prima donna for wanting pumping accomodations, doing this wrong, doing that wrong, seeing the wrong doctor, decorating the baby’s room wrong…

    I just hope they don’t start trying to pat your tummy once you start to show.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I agree. I have a friend who is married but doesnt wear a ring. at the time she was pregnant she was a waitress and so many people would comment on her being pregnant. Even as rude as calling her names and saying she doesnt know who the baby daddy was. And this wasn’t behind her back, straight to her face. She also got talked to on the bus about being pregnant and not married. Just because someone didnt see a ring on her finger. Even if they did wear rings she couldn’t wear one in her job per health codes.

      I wish i remember what her bad@ss phrasing was when she would get these comments but it was over 5 years ago.

      1. Jora Malli*

        A lot of people have to stop wearing rings at a certain point of the pregnancy anyway because hands swelling up is a common side effect, so those comments were extra ignorant.

    2. Mewtwo*

      This should be the top comment. As a 30-year old woman who doesn’t want to have kids, I also get interrogated. If you’re a woman, you’re doing it wrong, no matter what.

  31. JJ*

    Oh no! My husband and I also started trying to conceive (and did) when I was 23. I was asked this question a few times by coworkers and always answered “well, we were having sex without any protection.”

    They always turned red and apologized for asking. I only had one who laughed at my “joke”.

  32. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Cosigning all the WTF reactions people are having. Unfortunately, it seems to be a pretty common experience to have invasive questions about women’s reproductive choices at work (BARF), but that absolutely does not make it OK.

    Feel free to redirect that awkward back to sender.

    Best wishes for a pregnancy that’s as easy as possible, OP!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      A couple other options?

      Excuse me?!

      Excuse YOU.

      Some kind of super inappropriate question about their sex life/reproductive choices. (Serious risk of backfiring if they now want to talk to you about it all…)

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        I certainly got some ideas how to counter, even on behalf of coworkers who may be too embarrassed to find a good comeback right away. I noted “I’m not sure we need to draw you a diagram,” “this part is usually private in my culture,” and the Dorothy Parker quote for future use.

  33. Little Miss Sunshine*

    I think the Yiddish proverb “Man plans, God laughs” is an appropriate, yet cryptic response. You can modify this to suit your personal belief system if needed. You are basically saying, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t plan, the grand scheme worked out to send you a little bundle of joy. As many have noted here, you should steel yourself for inappropriateness of all kinds for duration of your pregnancy (and beyond, tbh) and start stockpiling responses for all the nonsense so that you can focus on you and your growing family. Mazel tov!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I love this. Give them something, but make it confusing so they don’t know what to say next, then peace out to get back to work.

    2. Raboot*

      I have never heard it used as you say to mean “it doesn’t matter if you plan or not”, only in situation of plans being derailed. I would interpret this response to mean “this pregnancy was not planned yet here we are” with no ambiguity whatsover.

  34. BoyMom*

    Ahh, *sips tea* the ole’ “was it planned?” routine. First, you get pressured for the first kid, BUT only if you’re of the right age. Then, when that kid is like a newborn to 6 months old, it’s “so, when’s the sibling coming??”. If you dare to have more than 2, then those questions revert back to childless status, “Omg, was that planned??” Ask me how I know as I sit here halfway through my third pregnancy :)

  35. Ness*

    I was 27 and married with a professional job when I announced my first pregnancy, and I still got the “were you trying” questions from coworkers.

    While I find the question rude from everyone, I especially dislike it from coworkers, because it feels like they’re asking, “did you create this situation that’s going to majorly inconvenience me and our organization on PURPOSE?!?”. That’s probably not how they intend it, but that’s how it comes across to me.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah it’s definitely not the most inclusive or relaxing question to ask a working woman. I still remember the (female) colleague who said she thought it was selfish so many people got pregnant at the same time.

    2. CG*

      Yes! This was my first thought about why a boss would ask. “…so you were planning to inconvenience me and you didn’t warn me?!” There is no appropriate context for this question! Argh.

  36. NoMoreOffice*

    I would be really, really tempted to be super snarky with my answer in this case, “Yes, and before you ask, I also know who the father is. Thanks for the concern.” Then I would flounce away on my high horse while the asker just stood there feeling stupid. But that’s just me.

  37. Overit*

    Had the same problem when I was pregnant af 32. Also had coworkers make comments on
    1. The size of my boobs. All. The. Time. Even though I told them to STOP.
    2. Paternity of the child. Was it really my husband’s? Winkwink.
    3. Was I really throwing up that much?
    4. My trips to the reateoom amd how to cure any constipation I might be having.
    5. My slow walking speed and how inconvenient it was for them.
    6. How I had better NOT ask for any accommodations becauss that is “unfair” ans makes women look weak.
    Best part is that I worked in a 90% woman profession in am academic setting. No one had less than a masters with many PhDs. Lesson learned: people are AHs aboit pregnancy regardless of maternal age, status, profession, gender, education.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      WHO THE FATHER WAS?!! When you’re in a presumably het-cis standard relationship and would therefore theoretically have all of the ingredients and parenting humans in a single handy package?

      People just WANT to stir crap up.

      1. Overit*

        Yes, it was startling and proof of how many people like to stir the pot. Even people you would never expect. It was especially egregious since my husband worked at the same site and was therefore known to all, we both wore wedding rings, referred to each other as husband and wife, and had juat celebrated an anniversary with an exotic trip rhat was the topic of many conversations.

      2. Observer*

        People just WANT to stir crap up.

        Yup. There is absolutely no other way to read that one.

    2. PollyQ*

      All of that was gross, but some of it was flat-out illegal. But I know people who worked in academia, and faced a variety of discriminatory & harassing behavior, all from fellow Ph.D.s who would have likely described themselves as politically liberal. I’m sorry they put you through that.

    3. we're all friends here*

      My [tenured professor] boss announced to our research group “So you know what *she’s* been doing!”

      I reminded him years later that he said that and he was appalled at himself.

      1. Observer*

        That sounds like the punchline about a kid who doesn’t know about double entendres, not something a mature adult would say.

        That’s just jaw dropping. At least he had the grace to be appalled in retrospect.

  38. Curmudgeon in California*

    I like the “Well, we were hoping for a litter of puppies, but I’m the wrong species for that.” But I would make it kittens, and consider making one of the middle names “Cat”. Then again, I’m weird like that.

    1. Madtown Maven*

      Late in my first pregnancy, I dreamed I gave birth to kittens. By that point, any kind of baby would do!

  39. Leems*

    My go-to response to folks sharing pregnancy news has generally become “Aw! Babies are the nicest way to start people!” Good for a smile, non-invasive.

  40. ScruffyInternHerder*

    I probably tossed my pregnant cookies on someone’s work boots over such a question once.
    Definitely told someone “my belly no touch or I break fingers”

    Still not sure why pregnant folk are open season for questions and gossip.

  41. Roeslein*

    I’m a 35 year old married woman pregnant with my *second child* (oldest is 3), so, you know, prime candidate for a planned pregnancy, and I *still* got this question from my boss, so don’t blame it on your age! No idea what makes people think this is an acceptable question, I didn’t even ask this when my friend got pregnant while we were both students!

  42. The Original K.*

    “How strange that you feel comfortable asking me that/saying that to me,” in a neutral tone with a quizzical expression, has worked for me when faced with too-personal questions or comments. And then just sit there silently – don’t follow up at all. It transfers the discomfort back to them.

  43. Luna*

    “What an ODD question to ask… Anyway, regarding the order from table 3…” beandipping.

  44. Retired (but not really)*

    Before my hubby and I had kids we kept getting “when are you going to have a baby”, once we had the third “don’t y’all know how to stop this” or “guess you’re hoping for a girl this time”.
    For context my first was at 27 which was “late” for that era. And my last was at 37 which was when some of my contemporaries were starting to be expecting grandkids.

    1. we're all friends here*

      I love the “Aren’t you going to try for [opposite sex]?” question. I have three daughters and I just tell people, “No, I really can’t risk having a fourth daughter.”

  45. Hello From NY*

    Those types of comments are wildly inappropriate. I remember I was about 23 and due to some personal stress, had been spending a lot of time with my good friends Ben & Jerry. I started to gain some weight. One day my 40 year old coworker pulled me aside and asked if I was pregnant. I was so taken aback that I responded “No I’m just fat”. She apparently didn’t believe me? She kept going on and one about it “Have you taken a test? It can happen even if you are careful. It’s nothing at be ashamed about.” I got so angry I snapped and said “How about you? Are you pregnant? A lot of people can get pregnant in their 40s, even if they are careful. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” She never brought up the subject again.

    1. Jora Malli*

      I did once answer a nosy acquaintance with “If I am, somebody better call the Pope!” She did not ask again.

    2. PollyQ*

      Good for you! That’s exactly what she deserved, and I bet she never brought it up to anyone else, either.

    3. tamarack and fireweed*

      Well, there is the woman-paired-woman-at-the-doctor conversational gambit that happened to SO MANY of us.

      – Are you sexually active?
      – Yes.
      – Are you using contraception?
      – No.
      – Are you pregnant or trying to be?
      – No, I’m sure I’m not pregnant and not trying to be.
      – Well, you can’t know / you should know that… / we should do a pregnancy test …
      – Um, my sexual partner is another woman. We don’t have the kind of sex that could get me pregnant.
      [Embarrassment all around.]

  46. Been There*

    Uggh. I just flashed back to the mid-80s when I found my 22 yo married self having to tell my IT manager that I was very early pregnant and would need to have lots of extra appointments (usually early before work) due to some complications. His response with a horrified look on his face: “Are you planning to keep it?” In hindsight I realize his ~27 yo single male brain could only see the scenario as his worst dating nightmare. At the time though I was just horrified by his response and shocked speechless. In the end had a healthy baby, before FMLA laws changed, and had to go back to work before my OB cleared me to drive post hemorrhage-Ha! Can you even imagine me asking where to pump in the nearly 100% male company? I quickly decided I needed a new career and left programming for healthcare where there was more support for motherhood and future pregnancies/breastfeeding.
    My point in this was not to have a misery contest, but to say that in many ways nothing has changed in 35 years. If there are that many people responding so rudely, you are not in the right environment. Find someplace with a more supportive culture. They ARE out there! And congratulations

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      Aaaaand we have a case study or data point to illustrate why-the-tech-industry-has-trouble-retaining-women.

  47. Macaroni Penguin*

    “I have some happy news to share. I’m pregnant and due in Insert Month!” I announced.

    “Was this baby a surprise?” They asked.

    “Well, aren’t all babies a surprise really?” I responded.

    “But was this baby planned?” They pushed.

    Sigh. At least no one tried to touch my stomach without permission.

    1. irene adler*

      If you answered either “Yes.” or “No.” what exactly are they gonna respond with?

      “That’s nice!” or “Oh dear!” -or are they wanting to know the details of the planning/lack of planning? Maybe tell you how to plan better?

      People, think before you ask stupid questions.

      1. Macaroni Penguin*

        I know! Like, why does it matter? I’ve already signaled that this is a wonderful life event.

        Pretty much I just filed these experiences in the category of people making *awkward/ inappropriate* small talk with a stranger. The whole, “Was it planned” question was usually asked by individuals who didn’t know me. Whenever I did confirm that Baby was planned, the conversation usually wrapped up after that. But really people, stop asking irrelevant questions!

  48. H.Regalis*

    Ugh, yeah, go right ahead and tell them that is super not okay to ask. You are not being too sensitive.

    People are ridiculous about pregnancy:

    -I was at a spa and a couple, two guys, who were regulars brought their newborn son in to show off. After they went around and were like, “This is our son, Baby Name” and everyone is oohing and ahing over him, one person was like, “Yeah, but whose baby is it?” and there was a beat while they extremely quickly formulated a civil-but-stern response.

    -Old coworker is a public service job who repeatedly had total strangers trying to touch her belly, reaching across a several-feet-wide counter to do so, and then flipping out at her when she backed away; because no, pregnancy does not make it okay to go around touching random people without their permission.

    1. Mannequin*

      Going out of their way to reach OVER A WIDE COUNTER in their efforts to touch the pregnant person?! WTAF is WRONG with people?!

  49. PollyQ*

    Yet again, I lament the fact that it is considered rude to say, “None of your f****** business.”

  50. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    All of those questions are just one or two degrees removed from, “So, what are the details of your sex life?”

    Which means, no, you don’t ask those in the office.

  51. GreenDoor*

    Yea, women cannot win. While I was STILL pregnant with #1, I had people asking me if we were going to try for #2. Then….when I announced I was pregnant less than three months after #1 was born, I had people commenting, “Sheesh, don’t you know anything about birth control?” Followed immediately by, “Well, you have two boys. You gonna try for a girl now?” It was like the cycle that never ended.

    1. iglwif*

      Basically as soon as you announce you are pregnant (sometimes as soon as people suspect you might be pregnant), the flow of assvice cannot be turned off. And no matter what you do or don’t do, it is always wrong. It’s obnoxious.

  52. Daisy-dog*

    This comment section is demonstration of why I haven’t wanted to have a child. (one of many reasons) Too many people think they own the process.

  53. DD*

    I’m not excusing people for asking such a stupid question but they may be trying to pick up clues on how to respond – super happy for you or empathetic and supportive. It’s not your job to do this but adding a comment about your state of mind – ie “I’m expecting and we can’t wait to be parents” should stop some of the forehead slapping questioners. If they still ask the question after you’ve expressed your state of mind then they deserve however you choose to respond. My recommendation would be something like “Bless you what an awkward question to ask”

    1. Despachito*

      I second this – it is not your obligation, but it hugely helps if you give the other party some hints how you want to be treated.

      A lot of people are just clueless but not mean, and giving them come clues can spare you some unpleasant interactions, and it is worth some extra effort.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I think that when someone is announcing their pregnancy at work, to people they’re not especially close with, it’s pretty safe to assume that at least relatively happy about it.

  54. Cheesehead*

    I vote for the “happy news” line, or anything else to convey that you’re happy about it, and hopefully if you have the right tone, it will shut down any other questions. I have 3 boys. When I was pregnant with #2, I refused to tell anyone the gender (once we found out) because I didn’t want the comments about having another boy. However, in separate times of weakness from a couple of people who wore me down, I did break down and tell them that it was a boy. BOTH of them responded right away with a disappointed sounding “OOOoooohhh”, you know the tone that you use when just get some bad news? The moments were so uncomfortable that I found myself apologizing to these people because of their reaction, saying “well, he’s healthy”! Like I should even have to apologize for having a healthy baby of any gender?

    So when I was pregnant with my third and we found out pretty early that he was a boy, I decided to do a preemptive strike. If anyone asked, I just put the biggest smile on my face and said “I’m having my third little boy!” And wouldn’t you know it, NOT ONE person said anything with a “disappointed” tone, or even said anything about not having a girl or “trying again”. It was such a different reaction than those other two people, that later on, I started thinking that perhaps my demeanor came across as ever so slightly deranged, like I was giving off “don’t F&#* with me” vibes. LOL But whatever….it worked. I admit to having the same types of thoughts before this, if I’d hear of people having multiples of the same gender. But they always remained inside my head, and I never actually said anything to convey that I was sad or disappointed for the mom who was carrying a healthy baby that was the same gender that she already had. And now, I just don’t comment at all unless the mom brings it up first.

    1. BoyMom*

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m pregnant with my third boy right now and the comments have been unbelievable: “Ohhh, three boys, a trifecta/a hat trick!” (lots of elbow slamming/high fiving ughhh), “Well, you’ll have your hands full!”, “Ohh, a real life ‘My Three Sons'”, “Guess you’ll have to go for four now [to have a girl], “Are you happy [about three kids?]/was it planned?”. :/

  55. Mageee567*

    I like using, “why do you ask?” It makes people realize that, duh, it isn’t any of their business!

    Bonus is that it works for almost anything: “are you breastfeeding?” or “when are you getting married?”

  56. CCC*

    When I was a senior in high school one of my classmates, we’ll call her Jane, got pregnant and started slowly telling folks once she decided to carry the baby to term. I was there when Jane told a few girls in a little huddle. Ofc Jane looked scared and tired. One of the girls in the group turned to her, looked her in the eye, got a big smile on her face, and told Jane “congratulations! you’re going to have a wonderful family,” and gave her a huge hug. Jane looked confused for a split second, and then looked so so much better. Relieved, a little hopeful. I’m 34 now, and I still remember that. If someone is telling you mixed news, lean into the good. And if the news isn’t mixed at all, then leaning into the good bit will be way less weird than the other way.

  57. Ana Gram*

    I wouldn’t be hugely surprised to hear this from peers at that age. Somewhere in my late 20’s, I realized I’d gone from thinking “oh no!” to “congrats!” when my peers got pregnant. Even though you’re married, most women your age aren’t so I kind of expect this response from them. That said, they should consider what they’re about to say to someone who’s a coworker, not a friend.

    I always like Carolyn Hax’s response of a bright and cheerful “thanks! We’re excited too!” regardless of what awkward thing they just said.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Yeah I would blame a lot of this on age. In my early 20’s pregnancy = panic. If someone tells you they’re pregnant the first thing you think is Oh my god what are you going to do? I just turned 30 and that feeling is starting to wear off, although with current US events and the fact that most of my friends are childfree, I still don’t really know how to respond.

    1. Despachito*

      “Scientists seem to have discovered that pregnancy might be one of the consequences of sex – they are still investigating but perhaps this could be it?”

  58. Despachito*

    Whether it was planned?

    Actually, not really. One morning, there was this strange dude with wings on his back appearing from nowhere who hailed me, told me I was blessed, and some more things I do not remember… and here we are.

  59. Eww*

    Is it ok to bring up the US situation here and consider that if for any reason the baby is *lost* that an answer to this question could bring certain US states laws into play?

    Definately starting with the “happy news” should help erase too many qustions in that regard. I do wish people wouldn’t ask though…

    1. Observer*

      What exactly are you asking?

      This is a question people have been asking for years and decades. It’s not new, and it’s always been rude.

  60. Liz T*

    On my honeymoon, a cab driver asked us, “Was it a shotgun wedding?” We stared for a second before I said, “Are you asking if I’m pregnant?!” The cab driver laughed and said something about ME being a character.

    People are absolutely wild.

  61. nnn*

    In addition to Alison’s suggestion of leading with “I have some happy news,” another small scripting option is, instead of saying “I’m pregnant”, say “I’m going to be having a baby in December!”

    That helps take the “Oh no, what are you going to do?” response off the table, because you’re already answering the question of what you’re going to do.

    Actually, saying “We” instead of “I” (“We’re going to be having a baby in December!”) might help too, because it adds the idea of a settled, established relationship, which (rightly or wrongly) is often associated with the baby being wanted and welcome.

  62. AnonyNurse*

    I’ve worked in both abortion care and prenatal clinics. When people tell me they are pregnant, friends or clients, I ask, “how are you feeling?”

    This allows for a response related to emotions or physical health or next steps. “Nauseous but so excited.” “Kind of overwhelmed and not sure what we’re going to do.” Etc. They can go deep or brush it off. It leaves all the doors open and doesn’t make any assumptions. There’s a reason the person is disclosing the information but I don’t try to guess what it is.

    1. June First*

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Your last line is key–why is the pregnant person disclosing?

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        My read is that would be anyone who’s pregnant telling AnonyNurse they’re pregnant. Presumably they’re doing so because they want to share that information with AnonyNurse. I can imagine a friend telling them because they’re excited and at some point you kinda need to tell friends, and I can also imagine a friend telling them because they know AnonyNurse worked in abortion care and can likely provide nonjudgmental info and insight. If the person is a patient, same deal.

  63. Sarah*

    My colleague told me she was pregnant recently. I was like “Congratulations!” And then for some reason she hesitated, and then I panicked and thought maybe she wasn’t happy about it, so awkwardly was like, “um um…, I mean, if that’s what you wanted because you can never be to sure these days.” Face palm. We’ve worked well together since, so I’m assuming she took it in the spirit intended.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        If it’s her first pregnancy (that she’s telling people about) it does take some getting used to. Even when it feels like a goal has been met, it might not feel like an achievement as it does in other situations where people congratulate you. Usually expending effort to develop or use or receive recognition for a skill is involved, and that skill piece is not quite applicable with a pregnancy.

  64. Robyn*

    I’m 37 and people asked me this too. People are just… Rude about pregnancy. See also “was it a natural conception?”

    1. Luna*

      “No, I was lying in a very unnatural position during it. My leg still cramps because of it.”

  65. Caroline Bowman*

    If it makes the 23-year-old-pregnant person feel any better, when I, at 28, got pregnant with my first child, LOADS of my colleagues (who were really nice and we all got on well, they weren’t being mean or sarcastic) asked if I had ”always wanted to be a young mum” and ”do all (my nationality) women have their kids really young, like, is it a cultural thing?” and so on. My first child was born when I was 29. I don’t think that’s very young!

    The point is, there are always, always, always going to be people who A/ Have Thoughts and B/ express them in bizarre, overly personal ways. Being pregnant – as you’re finding – means you are now subject to the Pregnancy Police and Their Dictats. Don’t be shocked if you get a lecture about drinking coffee, being somewhere Pregnancy Police Officer deems Unsuitable, doing something like, say, jogging or, I don’t know, eating a muffin that might have nuts / chocolate / FODMAPS in it. On and on the list goes. Later, you will get this about the baby and How You Could Parent Better.

    That first baby is now 15 and the policing continues ”oh he is on the spectrum?? Wow, he seems *really normal*… you don’t DRUG HIM DO YOU??”. I expect it to continue for a good long while yet.

    Welcome to the club by the way, the policing is irksome, but it’s a lot of fun!

    1. nnn*

      That’s hilarious, because my mother was 30 when she had her first child (back in the 80s), and the whole narrative she got was that she was SO OLD!

      1. Sally*

        My mom had me when she was almost 31, and hers was a “geriatric” pregnancy. But this was in the ’60s, not as common then for pregnant people to be a wide variety of ages.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Geriatric is a term that is still used. I was a geriatic primagravidae – due to my age (early thirties) and it being my first child.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes, I’m Irish and there are cultural reasons why we tend to have children later than average (it goes back to the Famine, after which people started not having children until they were sure they’d be able to feed them and I guess somewhere over the last 200 years, it just became a “thing” that people didn’t have children until that bit later) but even here, 29 is pretty average. I’d say 27-36 would be the norm for having kids here. I know the average is around 31 or 32 and 29 is pretty close to that!

    3. iglwif*

      “Young mum” at 28, are you kidding me?!

      I had my kiddo at 28 also (was still 27 when I got pregnant, after almost 5 years of trying), and I was all maaaaan I am so OLD … until I got to the hospital’s prenatal class and apart from me and another person whose birthday is literally 2 days after mine, everyone was in their mid- to late 30s. I was absolutely gobsmacked.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      It’s hysterically cute that they think you have to go to another country to find young mothers. My friend moved back north (in the UK) from London when pregnant in her late thirties and everyone else in the prenatal classes was half her age.

  66. Happy*

    I agree that preemptively framing it as positive new is likely to help. I feel like their first thought is that it must be unwelcome (due to your age) and then they realize that might not be the case so they ask if you were trying, so that they’ll know whether to congratulate you.

    It’s still incredibly prying and inappropriate to ask.

  67. RagingADHD*

    Not overly sensitive at all.

    Totally none of their business. And even if they were trying to offer support in case the pregnancy were unwanted, whether or not you were “trying” is still irrelevant and none of their business. Happy/unhappy and planned/unplanned are entirely separate from each other, and the only thing that could possibly matter to them is whether you are happy. People have surprise pregnancies all the time that they are happy about. And they have planned pregnancies that they wind up being ambivalent about or that have problems.

    People being rude and intrusive about pregnancy is sadly commonplace, but it’s still very, very rude.

  68. Suzie SW*

    The best response I ever got to telling someone I was pregnant: “And how do we feel about that?” It sounds silly, but I loved that there was no automatic positive or negative reaction pushed on me by someone else…my feelings about it were most important to them in that moment.

  69. Dr. Hyphem*

    The response is inappropriate, full stop. Given the number of people who made that comment, I wonder if you could proactively add Allison’s “We’re really excited” when you tell people, it might cut down on the question. Like, you shouldn’t have to do this, but it might be helpful… Like “I am expecting, [husband] and I are really excited about this news!”

  70. Beanie*

    Ugh, I’m reminded of a co-worker that asked me, “Aren’t you ashamed to be having a baby when you clearly aren’t financially prepared for one?” I told him my finances weren’t his business but he kept on it. “But you recieve the child care benefit right? Don’t you feel embarrassed that you’re taking advantage of the government and people who don’t have kids?” Yuck. For the record, I was 22 and also in college.

    1. Beanie*

      I suppose I just want to add, I’ve learned people are really weird and inappropriate about the subject of children. Especially if you’re a younger woman.

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      GRRRRRRR. You should not feel embarrassed to use a benefit that is specially designed for people in your situation. However much the government itself is trying to make it stigmatizing.

      1. Beanie*

        Interesting thing is that the government doesn’t try to stigmatize it here. I’m in Canada. My response to him was that I’m not a smoker but I’m not going to ask a lung cancer patient if they’re embarrassed to be receiving publicly funded health care for treatment.

        He also made the comment that if you have an unplanned child, that is you can’t support it, first you should get support from your own parents. Then your friends. Then the church, before you even think of applying for benefits of any kind. And he finished off by saying society shouldn’t be held responsible for my “mistake”.

        Lucky me, he quit shortly after, and management let him go even earlier due to complaints, not just from me, but a few other coworkers as well.

        1. Mannequin*

          I really do not understand why people think that it is not the business of government to support ALL of their citizens.

  71. JacqG*

    Why do people do this?!
    The weird thing is the comments never seem to stop.
    My husband and I had our child at what I thought was a ‘meh’ age (as in: I didn’t think that anyone would comment. I was…so very wrong).
    We were 24 and pretty young looking so we got asked the question ALL THE TIME. Even got asked if we were planning on keeping our child while I was eight months pregnant. It was very frustrating, especially because I have an autoimmune disorder that makes getting pregnant easy but staying pregnant a challenge. I have had over ten miscarriages. I know that people can’t know that when they ask but my reaction is such a visceral one: “A child? Nah, man. Tracking my ovulation, scheduling my sex life, spending a bunch of money on fertility doctors, medications, and having my uterus examined so much I can practically draw it for you ten years later is actually my fetish. DON’T KINK SHAME ME!”
    Even now, when people find out that I have a child and how old they are I get asked if my pregnancy was planned. I just stare at them and say:
    “Oh, ‘Child’ isn’t mine. Just followed me home one day. I fed them once and now I can’t get rid of them.”
    I used to feel the need to explain myself or defend the age I had my child but now I just say: Screw that.
    I refuse to give a straight answer to such an invasive question. Unless I feel like someone is coming from a genuine place then I might just say something like: we just knew what we wanted but as soon as they are a teenager…
    Side story: When I had my T-Rex (doctors told me that it was a human baby but I know a dinosaur when I give birth to one) the delivery room nurses mistook us for the teen parents in the same ward. It caused a misunderstanding when the overnight nurse was incredibly rude and started giving me a lecture on birth control. Post-birth, hormonal me ripped her a new one on how that was inappropriate no matter my age and how I had better not overhear her talking to that young lady in the next room like that. That poor new mom had just given birth and was going through enough without the nurse’s judgmental ass making her feel worse.
    I guess the point here is: just don’t be a dick? Let the pregnant person set the tone for the conversation about their pregnancy? Offer support for the situation on a case by case basis?
    Don’t be a dick? Yeah… that.

  72. Patty Squarepants*

    I’ve used “I didn’t hear you” often with great success. They repeat the question and I repeat the answer until that light goes off, and it’s quite obvious when it finally does.

  73. Claire*

    I had my first at 22 and my second at 25 and got planned questions for both (but mostly the oldest). I found that framing it as positive ie “I have some good news to share, my husband and I are having a baby in [month]” did seem to ward off some nosy questions. Best of luck from another young-ish mom!

  74. Pidgeot*

    I really like “why do you ask?” With a confused look as a subtle way to remind people that that isn’t a polite or necessary question.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy, I hope it is nice and boring the whole way through.

  75. Dhaskoi*

    My personal favorite for these kinds of questions: “Wow, I had no idea you thought we were close enough to ask a question like that!” delivered with maximum wide eyed sincerity.

  76. Anonymousse*

    I am so sorry you have to deal with this. I also got this question with #1 and #2 and they are 8 and 6 now. People are clueless idiots.

    I would just act flabbergasted, or just repeat, “I’m sorry, did you just ask me if this was a planned pregnancy?” In a slightly incredulous way with a good wide eye. And then if they nod or act like they still want an answer, chuckle, shake your head and walk away if at all possible.

    And go to HR and have them train everyone on how to speak to other people about their bodies.

  77. gltonwry*

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so my apologies if this is a copy, but to ‘Was it planned?” I’d love to answer with: “Oh, my god, yeah, we’ve been (doing it) like bunnies!”

  78. Roja*

    I actually got this question a TON in my pregnancy, in part because it was very much a surprise. I was extremely unhappy to be pregnant, and was not at all shy about letting people know that. I have a solid social circle and no one was weird about it. I think I got asked so much because people could sense I was unhappy and were checking in on me. If people are just being nosy, snark away. But if you sense the question is coming from a place of very-awkwardly-expressed-but-sincere care, tactfully answer what they’re really asking, which is, “Are you okay? Should I say congratulations or offer my support? Do you want me to be excited or sympathetic?” I was honest in my replies, which meant I got a ton of support and kindness from people around me.

    Hope pregnancy treats you well! I have found having a baby to be super fun, way more fun than I thought it would be (I was prepared for the worst, after hearing horror stories). I hope you love it even more than I do, if that’s possible!

    1. Roja*

      Addendum: a few of my friends found a better way to express that care by asking, “Congratulations! How are you feeling about it?” when I told them. A much less intrusive way of expressing concern. Highly recommend for those of you who have people in your life who you suspect might need a little extra support.

      1. MT*

        I think this is important! When I told someone at work that I was pregnant, she asked how I was feeling about it. I let her know it was a planned pregnancy, and she said “yes but even planned ones, it’s normal to have mixed emotions!” – and I nearly hugged her, it was so validating and important that someone understood that you aren’t excited all the time, and sometimes you think “what the **** have I done?”.

    2. tamarak & fireweed*

      I call this a proof-in-the-pudding situation. An empathetic friend who can correctly sense your emotions may be free to say even things that are generally big no-nos.

      1. Roja*

        Exactly! It’s all up to the relationship, timing, and tone. “Was it planned?” coming from your manager with a disapproving look is going to land VERY differently than “Was it planned?” coming from your best friend with a concerned look, because she knows you just decided to move internationally or something.

  79. Stephthetrav*

    This sucks and I don’t understand it. I got pregnant right before I turned 30 and had been married for four years and everyone asked me this too… Like WTF. Also I look my age and I don’t look crazy young. It bothered me so much too and I never thought to answer with something clever like the previous comments. One nice thing about COVID and being pregnant the second time is that even I working from home I didn’t get stupid comments because I only told people I needed to and kept everyone else in the dark.

  80. Waving not Drowning*

    Aaaarghhhh – I had that question so many time when pregnant with twins! We already had 2 children, so I suppose we weren’t supposed to have any more. My response was how can you plan twins??? I think what they were trying to ask was if they were IVF (where multiples are more common). I never quite had the courage to say they were SEX, not IVF.

    I also had work colleagues asking me if I knew what a TV was. I did give some not normally suitable for work responses about they must be doing something wrong if TV watching is more pleasurable for them. It shut them up.

  81. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    There’s something about being in possession of a uterus that makes others feel they have a right to comment on everything you do (or don’t) do with it and at what age they consider your actions ‘appropriate’

    (I recently had mine removed. You would probably believe the pushback from that)

    For all inappropriate questions I’ve resorted to saying ‘that’s a bit personal!’ in a voice of slight disbelief like someone just asked how often I go to the bog. Coupled with a quick subject change. People generally get that they’ve overstepped.

    For those who don’t….well I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. Getting angry isn’t working…

  82. not neurotypical*

    Maybe this is my autism asking, but why do people tell you about their pregnancies if they don’t want to talk about their pregnancies?

    When I was learning the rules of conversation, I was taught that the thing to do to show interest in people is to ask follow-up questions. If someone says, “I’m pregnant!” in an obviously excited tone, I say “Congratulations, when is the baby due?” If they say, “I’m pregnant!” in an obviously distressed tone, I say something like, “Oh no, what are you going to do?” And if it’s unclear, I usually just ask, “is that good news or bad news?” — which I guess is straying into that invasion of privacy territory. But why are they telling me, if they don’t want to talk about it?

    1. Ellis Bell*

      There isn’t anything inappropriate about those examples. The inappropriate example OP refers to is mentioning her pregnancy but then being asked about her sex life/fertility, which were not offered as topics of discussion! If her boss has congratulated her or asked if she was okay that would have been fine.

    2. Mewtwo*

      In this particular letter, I think the OP mentioned it to their employer for logistical reasons (planning maternity leave etc). It’s possible that her coworkers just found out on their own – I’m not sure if she told them.

      In my experience, people don’t tell people about pregnancies they don’t want to talk about (or any other topic), but sometimes at work, you do have to mention if you’re going on maternity leave so that people can prepare accordingly.

  83. MT*

    Trust me – it’s not only an age thing.

    I’m 33, and am currently 21 weeks pregnant with a very planned baby. My partner and I got engaged pre-pandemic, but have been unable to actually have a wedding with both families in attendance and it doesn’t matter to us whether we are married first anyway. SO So many people (including my colleagues!) have asked whether we are “ready” for a baby, whether we were trying, whether it was planned, whether it was a surprise, whether we were going to quickly have a wedding etc. I actually snapped at one person who was a bit TOO intrusive and said “well I managed to avoid being knocked up until now, I didn’t suddenly forget how and accidentally get pregnant in my mid-30s”.

  84. Vira*

    * “Did you really just ask me that?”
    * “‘I’m going to pretend you didn’t just ask that.”

    I don’t wish to seem rude, but I’m not sure it would be wise to say these two to one’s boss.

  85. iglwif*

    This is an incredibly rude and invasive question to ask someone, *especially* at work.

    But I’m particularly struck by the fact that LW is in her 20s (a PERFECTLY NORMAL baby-having age), gainfully employed, AND married, and yet people are just … assuming she couldn’t possibly want to be pregnant??

    Half of my friends were married within a year of graduating from university and had babies by age 25. I only didn’t because getting pregnant was … medically complex for me, and it took almost 5 years to happen. How did we get to a place where having a baby on purpose at 23 is considered weird?

    1. Just Me*

      I’m going to side with Allison in that in some areas, many 23 year olds are still in the mindset of “I’m too young to intentionally start a family at 23” rather than “Now is a great time to start a family” or “I may not be at the stage to start a family but my peers might be.” It varies so much based on a million cultural/religious/political/regional factors. Many people in the town where I grew up were intentionally starting families at 23, but it was Not A Thing in the town where I went to college and it’s Not A Thing where I live now. I agree that LW shouldn’t be shamed or treated weirdly for intentionally starting a family, and these decisions should be dictated by the future parents and not societal pressures, but it IS true that in many parts of the US 23 year olds are still thinking they’re too young to start a family.

  86. Just Me*

    Alternatively, at my fiancée’s work a few months ago, a woman (in her early 30s, married) announced that she was having a baby and was laying out what the transition would be like while she was on maternity leave. One of her coworkers said, “Congratulations! That’s so exciting!” The expectant mom said, “Well, not really, but whatever.”
    Ooooooof. Even if it’s NOT a planned pregnancy, if someone says they’re pregnant and there’s good reason to believe they are planning to raise the baby, the only appropriate response is, “Congratulations–let’s talk about how we’ll accommodate that.”

    1. Mewtwo*

      Yeah – I feel like “Congratulations” as a default isn’t bad? It’s better to assume the positive outcome, because if no one wants to admit it was an accident they can just go along with it. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it but it’s just the polite response. If you’re the employer, you should just ask the relevant questions surrounding how to accommodate the pregnancy.

  87. Kms1025*

    I have been in this same situation where someone very neutrally announces they are pregnant and I’m not at all certain how to respond. What is polite to say? I’ve danced around it with “oh, that will be a big change” and other neutral statements trying to draw out if this is happy news, or not. It’s difficult sometimes.

  88. zerwin*

    This happens when you get pregnant at 42 as well…So obnoxious and annoying. As with most pregnancy, body, medical, questions JUST DON’T ASK. Resist the urge.

  89. marvin*

    I’m really enjoying “What a question!” I might keep that one in my back pocket in case coworkers get weird about my upcoming surgery.

  90. 1-800-BrownCow*

    My vote is “Wow! That’s really personal! Why would you ask that?” That would hopefully help shut down future personal questions as you go through the pregnancy. My personal experience is if you’re too nice about it, it opens up the floodgates to continue asking/commenting/etc. Best put a stop to it immediately.

  91. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    The meaning of Alison’s suggestions are good, and absolutely build off of them. However, I think it’s important to translate them into your usual register. A tonal, vocabulary, or phrasing shift is going to come across as scripted and odd, and possibly smug. This won’t do you any favors within your work-life.

    Think of it like direct copying of Alison’s cover letters.

  92. Rachel*

    Congrats on the good news! Being older and pregnant myself I kind of bat away rude questions by answering whatever the hell I want. I realised lots of people don’t know what to ask appropriately. One example is, “Are you planning on having more kids?” (I’m 39, so this is it for me). I just answered honestly and said, “No, in my own personal experience siblings are over-rated.” No comment after that. I think most people are happy to hear good news and the novelty will wear off soon and they won’t ask the planning question as OP advances through the pregnancy.

  93. CountryLass*

    My husband used to have a policy when a member of staff came to tell him that they were expecting, I don’t think it would fly now, but he used to ask them if they wanted a congratulations or not. Mainly because he had a varied staff age range (youngest 18, eldest 70’s). If they indicated they were happy about it, he gave them their congratulations, talked about when I was pregnant to offer advice (if appropriate) and talked about their plans. If they indicated they were not especially happy, he would skip the first 2 bits and simply keep it as a business conversation. He didn’t want to force someone who may not be happy about it to act as if it was the best thing EVER, so he basically asked them how they wanted it to be treated. He would either announce it to the staff for them, get them to announce it or let them tell people one-to-one, depending on their choice.

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