*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand.
I married young for reasons that had nothing to do with having babies.
When I was planning my wedding, my cousin told me that her father would not be attending.
"Why not?" I asked.
"He said he doesn't go to weddings that are taking place for 'that reason,'" she replied.
My cousin had gotten married earlier in the year for "that reason."
She was pregnant; I was not pregnant.
It was the first time I heard that someone assumed I was pregnant just because I was getting married--at nineteen.
When you get married at 19, everyone thinks you're pregnant.
One week after the wedding, my husband and I visited my mother-in-law. I knew I wasn't pregnant, and I didn't think it was something I'd need to address so soon. Unfortunately, I had a stomachache, and that got tongues wagging.
My mother-in-law graciously offered to make me a cup of tea to soothe my stomach. Then she inexplicably walked next door to tell her neighbor about my stomachache while the tea was still heating in the kettle. She returned with a homemade pie on an antique pie plate and a casual comment courtesy of her neighbor.
"I told the neighbor about your stomachache, and she said, 'Oh, maybe your daughter-in-law is pregnant." My mother-in-law looked at me expectantly.
"No," I replied. "I'm not pregnant; I just have a stomachache."
"That's exactly what I told her," she said.
It didn't end there.
When I returned to work, a man I barely knew asked me if I had gotten married so young because I was pregnant. He could barely conceal his disdain.
I noticed he seemed to relax visibly when I told him I wasn't pregnant. The look of contempt melted from his features. It was strange. Why would he care whether I was pregnant?
Why would anyone care?
I can understand my mother-in-law's curiosity, even if it was piqued by a neighbor I'd never even met, but no one else in this story had a dog in the fight.
It's not uncommon to see people make assumptions when a couple is in the early stages of planning their wedding.
A common assumption is that if a young woman is getting married, she must be pregnant. This isn't always the case, and it can be hurtful when you don't know why this person would assume something like that about you.
One way to handle this situation is politely to tell the other person you're not pregnant. Another possibility is to leave the conversation and let it go uncommented on. If you want to educate someone or address their hurtful comments, you can just say no.
"No, I'm not pregnant" is a simple response that will stop most people from asking additional personal questions about your body.
It's an awkward question, but it happens to a lot of women.
If you're not pregnant and someone asks if you are, this is what you can do. Ask them if they think your stomach looks bigger than usual as opposed to just saying “no.” It can help end the situation more quickly by shifting their focus from pregnancy to weight gain and body image, which are topics that most reasonable people are going to avoid.