Why Are We Still Asking People When They’re Going To Have a Baby?
When I was unable to watch Netflix’s Love is Blind finale in real time, I dreaded the inevitable spoilers I’d see on social media the next day. But instead of spoilers, all I saw was criticism of the show and one of its hosts, Vanessa Lachey. Specifically, social media users were complaining about the host’s invasive questioning of each of the show’s married couples' plans for having “babies”.
Days later, I finally watched the finale and saw exactly what everyone was upset about: At several points throughout the reunion-style finale, Lachey mentioned that she was waiting for the first Love is Blind baby. Cast members were visibly uncomfortable through each of these exchanges (because…of course, they were?), but Lachey couldn’t seem to read the room. The topic of the first baby to come from one of the reality show’s seven happily married couples arose several times throughout the show — and at the end of the finale, it reached a fever pitch.
Lachey led a full segment of the show where she admitted that she wouldn’t point-blank ask the couples from the show if they were actively trying to conceive (because that would be “TMI”, the host acknowledged). But then she proceeded to ask the three couples who got married on the show’s most recent season what their family plans looked like, encouraging them to each provide an “update” in turn. It was beyond uncomfortable…and a pretty clear indicator that when it comes to getting rid of harmful fertility speculation, we still have an incredibly long way to go.
Vanessa Lachey is a woman in the public eye. She’s a mother. She obviously has at least some awareness of how complicated family-building can be. She has, without a doubt, faced intrusive speculation about her own personal life (because it’s pretty much impossible to be a woman in this world, let alone a famous woman, and not experience this). If someone like her has still not gotten the proverbial memo about what is categorically unacceptable when talking about a person’s plans for parenthood…well, clearly we’ve just got to issue the message over and over again until it's heard.
That doesn’t mean we, along with so many others, haven’t been trying; reactions to the host’s intense focus on plans for “babies” are proof of those efforts. They were, arguably, the salient reaction to the entire finale (criticisms of the fertility speculation even outshone outcry over the show not airing at its supposed live time slot).
“I really cringed at how many times Vanessa Lachey asked the couples about having babies. Kept pushing and asking if anyone of them were planning to have any soon,” one Twitter user posted.
"I don't know at what point did Vanessa miss the memo of which day and age that we are right now," a TikTok user wrote alongside a clip from the finale. "Where you just assume that every couple can just easily have a baby."
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Another social media post stated that “everyone knows to be delicate around motherhood and fertility issues” — because in 2023, we finally have discourse around how common and devastating fertility issues are. We also understand that not having children at all is a perfectly viable option. And we know that when people are ready to tell you about their plans for their family, they’ll tell you — there’s no need or reason to ask.
To those of us who have walked through family-building challenges, it seems so painfully obvious that these topics need to be handled with enormous sensitivity. But it’s pretty clear that everyone doesn’t know to be delicate around topics of fertility and parenthood. See: The Love is Blind finale, along with the many painful IRL conversations so many of us are still having, the invasive questions we’re still facing, and the total ignorance and insensitivity that exists around reproductive issues we’re still witnessing.
To be clear, Lachey’s actions warrant critique, but this problem doesn’t start or end with her. Even in this particular finale, she wasn’t the only person guilty of fertility speculation. The episode also included a clip of a Love is Blind star from a previous season and new dad, Bartise Bowden, who asked the three married couples who met on the show “Who is going to be the first to become parents?” Because that’s just totally something you can predict, right? *Note the sarcasm.*
There are still so many people out there who haven’t grasped that asking someone “when” they’re having children, telling a friend she “needs” to have a baby, or asking someone if they’re pregnant are just absolutely not acceptable. In some ways, what Lachey did was softer than what so many of us face on a day-to-day basis — she just happened to do it on a very public stage. If you’ve ever faced fertility speculation, especially while in the throes of fertility struggles or after a miscarriage or as you’re grappling with the decision of whether to have children at all, you know how common this is…and how deep it cuts.
This should be common knowledge, but clearly, it’s not, and Lachey’s on-air blunders are certainly not the only example of fertility speculation, which is still absurdly common even in 2023. This needs to change. And until it does, we’ll continue to get loud about how problematic it is.
Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like Parents, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.