Society, the media and even the elders in our families have led many of us to believe that by time a woman hits 30-years-old, she should not only be married, but also have children. It is this concern over "having children" that I'd like to discuss now.

When I was young, I loved playing with dolls. I would pretend that they were my children. I would "feed" them, "change" them, coddle them and even throw birthday parties for them. When my parents would allow me to bring one or more of my dolls out of the house, I would get so excited when people would tap into that playful place in their minds and acknowledge my dolls as if they were as human as I, instead of inanimate objects. 

My favorite doll was Arriane. Although she had beautiful, dark skin, Arriane had a wonky eye, matted hair and had lost one of her arms in a flood that damaged our home; but she was mine. No matter how tattered she looked, I loved her as though she were a part of me. I slept with her, and once when I was "feeding" her, I got a piece of bread suck in her mouth and it grew stale and remained logged in her mouth for years, but that was my baby. 

As I aged and stopped playing with dolls, I never forgot the role of "mother" that I'd loved playing for her. I looked forward to becoming a mother in the future so that I could have a baby, take care of it and love it the way I loved Arianne. I know that I am not the only woman who as a child anticipated the day that I would become a mother. The thought never crept into my mind that there were women who struggle daily with infertility or carrying their babies full term. 

However, with that being said, I want to ask you to please STOP ASKING WOMEN WHEN THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE CHILDREN! What many don't realize when they ask that question is that you are likely conjuring up feelings of anxiety, frustration, fear, depression and discomfort in some women. Despite what you may think, they may very well be trying to conceive; you don't know. And do you know why you don't know? BECAUSE IT'S NOT YOUR BUSINESS!

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I experienced a miscarriage a year after giving birth to my first child. The miscarriage occurred on a Saturday afternoon. My doctor's office was closed so I had to wait until Monday to visit my OB/GYN. After my examination that Monday, my doctor told me to wait 3 months before trying again and that I SHOULD be able to conceive again — not WOULD, but SHOULD! That meant that there was a possibility I wouldn't be able to and that was extremely scary and nerve racking. That thought was with me every day for three months. During that time span, my sympathy heightened for women who have had issues conceiving.

If you are reading this and you are one of those people that torment or badger women with no children about the amount of time they have left to conceive, or if you are simply one of those individuals who consistently asks women when they will have children: STOP IT! NOW!

Here's why: First of all, making a baby takes work. I'm not talking about the fun work in bed; I'm talking about what goes on in that woman's body that you don't see or feel. There may be something in her body that, unbeknownst to her, is causing infertility. Those ovulation apps are great, but if your body does not ovulate in a textbook manner, it may be difficult to track unless you see a fertility specialist, which is very expensive. There could be a medical issue that she is knowledgeable of, but unable to control. That within itself is stressful enough and being stressed can make conceiving a child even more difficult. So do you really think asking a woman when she will have a baby or why she hasn't had a baby yet makes it any easier on her?

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Second, some women have experienced a horrible or traumatic event in their childhoods that may have either scarred them mentally or steered them away from being mothers. The fear that they may become the "Mommy Dearest" that raised them may be the reason they don't want to have children. Someone could have violated them in such a way that they may be fearful that they won't be able to protect the innocence of a child.

Third, not every woman has a desire to have a child. Some women may want to focus solely on their careers, on their money or just on themselves. And that's okay because IT'S THEIR CHOICE! It's 2018, and the world needs to learn and accept that not all women need children to feel validated.

Finally, IT'S SIMPLY NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. None! You won't be paying for prenatal care. You do not hold the key to their minds, souls or hearts which unlocks the reason why they don't have children. You don't have to deal with the emotions that stir up in them when they see a pregnant stranger or a mother soothing the cries of her newborn baby or hear the innocent, infectious laugh of a toddler. You don't have to deal with the disappointment some women feel monthly when the pregnancy test results reflect "negative." You don't have to deal with the guilt that some carry because they can't give their spouse or partner the one thing that means the most to both, the one thing they equally looked forward to at some point. You don't have to deal with the unanswered prayers she's made for God to open up her womb. You don't have to deal with the fear that some feel because they worry they may lose their spouse. You don't have to deal with the anger they feel when a news story flashes across their phone or TV screen referencing a newborn baby or child being murdered by the hands of their own mother. 

All you should do is mind the business that God gave you. If you are truly concerned, keep them in your thoughts and prayers — if you can even get a prayer up. But then keep your opinions and questions to yourself.

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To all of the women who are experiencing issues with infertility, to those who have yet to find that special person who they want to conceive a child with and to the women who choose not to have children: Understand that this post likely won't reach the people that need to read it. I apologize on behalf of those who are uncouth and those who don't understand the pain and tears that you cover up daily with a smile. You are not forgotten. I think of you often. I pray for you often.

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