The one question I hate being asked, as a pregnant woman…

WIll you go back to work after the baby?


I hate, hate, HATE conversations about last names. I have a LOT of feelings about name changing and anyone who asks me if I did (because it only inevitably leads to me having to justify keeping mine).

But wow, my hate for that particular question has serious rivalry.

“Will you go back to work?”

I don’t get a choice in that, and it’s really irritating to get asked this.

(See also: “Was it planned/expected?” Something about that also rubs me the wrong way.)

I get that it’s probably still rare for her to earn the bulk of the household income and to not take a full year off. But that’s changing. Thankfully, one of my fellow preggo coworkers is also a breadwinner and gets what it’s like when your household relies on your income. The other one in our Knocked Up cohort is in a much more traditional setup but I appreciate that she acknowledges she’s fortunate her partner can more than support them all financially.

It’s hard not to be defensive as my gut reaction, but I’m working on it. And  I’m reframing this for my own sake as an issue of equality.

I want us to be equal coparents. And part of that involves sharing parental leave. It’s a great opportunity for us to split leave – and responsibilities – from early on.

Not that this is necessarily uncontroversial either.

“Why do you want things to be equal?” I was asked. (Yes, in 2018. By someone my age. Oh how I wish I was kidding right now.)

I have to justify that too?! Even if we earned exactly equal incomes I would still want us to split leave. The only scenario in which this would change is if I was earning a significant amount less. Equality is both a financial and political issue in this case.

On that note, at some point we’ll have to decide what to do about Spud’s last name. Neither of us care about passing our surnames down (and neither of us particularly like ours anyway. And no, that was not reason enough to change them then or now, though I love love love when couples make up a brand new name together). Definitely not interested in hyphenation or combining. And I suppose it’s insane to make up a random last name for zir. It might just come down to whichever last name sounds better with the first name we choose.

Incidentally, I was stunned a couple of years ago to find out that my BIL’s kid has her mother’s last name. And funnily enough, T actually seems fairly keen on us possibly doing the same. It’s a far cry from years ago when we initially clashed over my intention to keep my name…


14 thoughts on “The one question I hate being asked, as a pregnant woman…

  • Reply Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life June 20, 2018 at 07:50

    If it must be asked, I’d like the question to be: Will either of you have leave to stay home with the kid? Or “What are your plans after Spud’s arrival?”

    I’m always interested to hear what choices people have, if any, in case I can pass on any knowledge that would help people.

    Names. I kind of wish I had spent more time thinking on what to do with JB’s last name.

  • Reply Leigh June 20, 2018 at 08:18

    As a childfree person, I have started answering “I hope not” when medical providers ask if I’m pregnant. Similarly, I hate that being on my spouse’s insurance means that every time I go to a new provider, they often ask about why our last names are different. People find it very bizarre that as a childfree person, it was important to me to marry a man to whom it wasn’t important for his children to bear his last name. That’s a question of values that goes beyond whether you will have children. I’m glad that T has shifted over time on these things!

    A better spin on “Do you plan to go back to work?” would be “What are you and your spouse’s plans for after the baby arrives?”

  • Reply Jess June 20, 2018 at 08:30

    I usually ask “how long is your leave?” and then commiserate with the mom-to-be that it’s not long enough.

    And I think I was one of the people who asked about the baby’s last name on twitter, I’m sorry!

    I promise it was not so I could judge that you didn’t change your name! I think that’s great. My bff gave her daughter her name and I think that’s wonderful. Her name is actually also her mom’s unmarried name (her dad is Jewish & didn’t want her to have a Jewish last name in the Soviet Union because discrimination).

    Some other of my friends smashed together their last names (dad is asian, mom is white, they have a weird theory about Ivy League admissions reverse discrimination with an Asian last name, I think the rational is kinda dumb but whatever, their kid). Think something like MaDurand (not the real names but similar syllables/flow/origins…just literally put them together, no spaces, no hyphens, both capitals…)

    • Reply NZ Muse June 20, 2018 at 08:56

      Ha I know we’re on the same wavelength about names, that was no worries at all! Twitter is my safe space for this, it’s IRL where the danger lurks… I think now that those annoying conversations about MY name have happened people are naturally curious about baby’s name and those conversations have all rolled out in a non judgey way which is great …. #progress

      I like that approach, it seems quite safe, I think most parents would agree they’d like more leave!

      • Reply Jess June 21, 2018 at 00:14

        Yay! That’s awesome that the judgey people have come around. 🙂

        When I told my grandma what my bff was doing with the name situation her reaction was “But isn’t the baby her husband’s?” LOL (I don’t think she was being judgey, per se, just confused….not in her scope of experience).

  • Reply Ellie June 20, 2018 at 09:45

    I also liked (loathed) the question ‘Are you sure you aren’t having twins?’

    Yes mate, I’ve just had too many milkshakes.

    But thanks for querying the miracle of modern ultrasound technology!


  • Reply SP June 20, 2018 at 10:49

    Despite being almost 20 weeks, my bump is still small enough that I haven’t been asked many annoying questions yet. There are much safer ways to ask the same question, as others have already offered!

    I can’t believe someone questioned your desire for equality!

  • Reply margann34 June 20, 2018 at 14:05

    My third is 7 years younger than my second. Lots of people asked if the pregnancy was an accident. It wasn’t! I am also the breadwinner and returned to work after 12 weeks. I found that I mostly took offense to questions about returning to work when they came from stay at home mothers. I guess I felt that I was being judged for not spending every waking moment with my children. I have decided over the years that I will NEVER apologize for providing for my children. I think the most important think is that they are loved and have a stable home environment. My children are happy, healthy and well adjusted.

  • Reply Sense June 20, 2018 at 18:27


    I can’t even deal with that equality question. Why equality? Seriously???

    That’s abhorrent.

    A US American female friend (Asian with a Spanish last name) and her Caucasian partner gave their 3 kids her last name instead of his. I think that is super cool! (However, she is now scrambling to get “acceptable” IDs for her kids because they are moving across the US soon. He flew ahead to set up their place and she and her kids are driving across the US soon, without him, and they are terrified that they are going to get stopped and separated somewhere. UGH that she has to worry about this even a little bit!)

  • Reply Prudence Debtfree June 25, 2018 at 22:30

    I was so thrilled/amazed to see that New Zealand’s prime minister just have her baby! That’s the way forward! I know a couple with two children – a boy and a girl. The boy got his dad’s last name and the girl got her mom’s last name. I kept my last name (which was a big deal) but our kids have my husband’s last name. All the best in figuring it out. How’s this for an answer: “We’re figuring it out. You’ll know eventually.” I think that people ask because they struggle with these decisions too.

  • Reply Thrifty Kat July 3, 2018 at 07:45

    We were going to keep our last names until we realized how much easier it will be on us/our future kids to all share a last name, so we picked a brand new last name that we will both take on, that is not a mashing of our given names, but something entirely new to both of us. Fun times! So much paperwork! We’re lucky that no one here bats an eye about it.

  • Reply Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor July 16, 2018 at 04:33

    I definitely didn’t love being asked if it was planned. What does it matter? The nurse asked this while I was in labor, I’m sure because she is required to for some reason, but I’m not sure what that reason is.
    I think in the U.S. it’s considered stranger not to go back to work within a 2-4 months.
    That’s tricky with the last name. Sounds like you’ll sort it out and it won’t be a point of contention, though.

  • Reply Diamonds in the Rough July 24, 2018 at 08:09

    We went down the shared parental route for financial reasons but it ended up being an awesome experience for hubs to bond with baby. We would definitely do it again. Does NZ offer shared parental leave?

    • Reply eemusings July 27, 2018 at 14:58

      It can be transferred to the dad, but basically nobody does it. A senior colleague apparently transferred a little to her husband with kid 1 (she did 9 months he did 3) and we had a senior manager speak to our team once about work/life balance, who said she took 6 months and then her husband took the next 6. I have one friend who was going to split equally, 6 & 6, but she got laid off while on leave and just took the full year while her husband stayed at work the whole time.

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