I honestly don't think there was anything wrong with the "who's going to be next" joking. It's not specific, it's not directed at anyone. And yes it may be difficult for someone to be around but that doesn't make it wrong. Just like the OP's mother who had to leave a baby shower because it was difficult. it was not wrong to throw the baby shower. It was just difficult for OP's mother because of what was going on with her. I view this conversation in the same light. It is not attacking. It is not personal. It is not specific to anyone.
I agree with this. We all have our tapestry of experiences that shape what may be a trigger for us. It is unfair to expect society as a whole to tiptoe around us, being careful not to ever say anything that, while intended as innocuous, is hurtful to someone else. Sometimes we need to recognize that everyone else is not thinking about us all the time. Not every comment is directed toward me. Not every comment is insensitive toward me simply because I am hurt by it. I need to own my insecurities and recognize that they are mine, and not the fault of people who are unaware of them.
I completely disagree with this. Why is it important to you to speculate about the reproductive plans of other people? What positive outcome could possibly come of that, other than your personal enjoyment at the gossip?
Let's consider a few scenarios.
Let's say the woman does want kids one day. It puts pressure on her to get started sooner, or to make excuses for why she hasn't tried to get pregnant yet.
If the woman is currently pregnant, it makes her uncomfortable because she doesn't want to reveal it yet, in case something happens, or perhaps simply because she's private. When she wants you to know, she will announce it.
If the woman doesn't want kids at all. It makes her feel like a bad person for not conforming to the norms of society that say every woman owes the world children. At the very least, it makes her feel left out of the conversation and uncomfortable. It makes her worry that revealing her childfree plans will make you think less of her.
If the woman is having trouble getting pregnant, it reminds her of her worries and fears that she'll never achieve what she really wants.
If the woman can't get pregnant, it makes her feel like a failure, and reminds her of something heartbreaking, that she'll never have.
If the woman has had a miscarriage or lost a baby, it reminds her of this tragedy at a time when she didn't expect to have to think about it and discuss it with you.
What does speculation contribute positively to the conversation? What about it makes anyone feel better? Nothing. So why not just delete it from your conversational repertoire?
Do you actually feel it hurts you more to stop gossiping than it hurts any of the women in the above scenarios if you continue gossiping?
I'm childfree and plan to stay that way. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of losing a child or not being able to have one if you want one. But I know how incredibly frustrating it is to have to answer gossip and justify my decisions, over and over again, to woman who think there's something wrong with me. And my situation is incredibly mild in comparison to that of women who do want children, and are experiencing problems.
It is never appropriate to speculate about someone else's desire or ability to have kids.