My husband and I have always shared the exciting news of our impending arrivals the second I peed on a stick. We figured extra prayers and good thoughts were welcome regardless of the outcome. Also? I can’t keep a secret to save my sorry self.
We kinda sorta thought people who knew and cared about us would be, oh what’s the word?, happy for us to start a family. Or at the very least they would offer well wishes and be miserable about it behind our backs. Needless to say, we were genuinely surprised to find that that wasn’t always the case.
When I got pregnant with our oldest, I was in my first year of teaching at a new high school (my fifth year total in the profession). I distinctly remember approaching my principal to share the news, wringing my hands together to avoid the applause I was about to give myself for getting knocked up. I did hop up and down twice, but at least I didn’t clap for myself. In public.
Anyway, I told my principal that I was expecting my first beautiful bundle of baby, and a look of sheer panic immediately spread across his face. And then he said it:
“Congratulations! But…what about that Advanced Placement curriculum you’ve been writing?!”
“Uh, I’ll finish it.”
“Are you coming back to teach it?”
“I plan to.”
Listen, I understand that maternity leave can throw a monkey wrench into professional doings, but really?! P.S. You know what they say about the best laid plans…I didn’t go back. So suck it.
Mostly, though, our family and friends were thrilled for Baby #1. Everyone wanted to know how I was feeling, what it felt like when the baby move, was I nervous at the idea of childbirth?, etc. And the moment I went into labor, life stopped for our loved ones because they were waiting with bated breath for the arrival of this perfect human being who would bring so much joy into our lives. And he did. And it was wonderful.
And then, 13-months later, I got pregnant again.
Before you ask, it was planned.
Shortly after that perfect boy celebrated his first birthday, we announced the impending arrival of his brother or sister. And holy cannoli was the reception different. Instead of enthusiasm, we got questions. In fact, someone actually had the gull to say, “How can you do this to your son?! He’ll have no time to just be him.”
Slow. Your. Roll.
I took out my earrings and Vaselined my hair back after that noise.
How could we do what to our son? Give him a sibling? A best friend? A forever playmate? How dare we continue expanding our family based on a silly little dream we had to be parents?
There weren’t as many enthusiastic inquiries or phone calls from some of the formerly-excited-about-Baby-#1 pals. I actually found myself trying not to talk about the pregnancy because I knew not everyone was ecstatic about it like my husband and I.
Unfortunately, the transition from one to two kids was, in short, hard as hell. Our daughter was a difficult baby, constantly crying and/or nursing, refusing a bottle, and rarely sleeping, which left this Mama frazzled and exhausted. (Fun fact: it was at that time I started this here blog, and the title When Crazy Meets Exhaustion came oh-so-easily. Bathe yourselves in the history, friends).
In large part, our baby girl was shunned. Someone in my own family actually refused to hold her because she would cry. I was told I was spoiling her because she wouldn’t cry when I held her. Ummm…I had the boob full of milk, so…
Others called her names like Sour Puss and made comments like “that’s a woman for ya!,” when she was overly fussy. I hated, I mean loathed, that my beautiful, although stubborn, daughter was welcomed into our world that way. Then, around 6-months, she started being a regular human and smiling and sitting up and interacting with people. Still, she preferred me to, well, everything, but somehow the husband and I slipped away for one over-nighter and everyone lived to tell the tale.
And we conceived Baby #3 that night.
It took at least another year.
Fast forward and the boy is 4 years-old, the girl is 2, and the husband and I are in talks to have a third. (Biology lesson of the day: it takes more than talking to make a baby. From me to you, with love).
As I sit and type this, memories of Third Baby Conversations infuriate me because of the way a few people made it their job to list the reasons why we were insane to want another kid:
Kids will outnumber the parents. (I’m bad at math, but duh).
That’s another college tuition.
Your free time is dwindling.
Who will watch THREE kids?!
Date nights are a thing of the past.
Don’t you have enough to do already?
When Kid 1 has practice and Kid 2 has a recital and Kid 3 has a doctor’s appointment, how will two parents manage it all?
Then a near-and-dear to me offered: Just because you have this dream to be a family of five doesn’t mean you have to make it come true.
Funny. I thought that’s why we had dreams: to achieve them.
So, I did it. I got knocked up. And despite popular opinion that we are insane, the husband and I shared the news right away. It was sad yet amusing to watch as some tip-toed around our announcement, like they were waiting for me to go bananas if their reaction was anything less than ecstatic. In all honesty, I would have done the bananas things. I was poised like a hangry tiger ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Only my “prey” knew what was up.
Some were absolutely thrilled for us; others reacted with lukewarm congratulations. We expected it, but it still stung.
Complete strangers have forced me to mentally punch them in the throat when they’ve blatantly offended me. Take this gem, for instance: my family and I are at a little girl’s birthday party and a woman whom I have never met asks if I want to hear her philosophy on having three kids. Before I can jab forks in my ears, she’s all, “With two parents and three kids, there’s always one child left unsupervised.” Obviously she has never stepped foot into a classroom where there is sometimes 1 teacher for 30+ students, but I digress.
Who in their right mind would say something like that to a hormonal pregnant lady whose daughter just accidentally smeared dog poo all over the host’s upholstered dining room chairs?
Friends, so sorry about those chairs.
Someone who was, as my dad used to say, cruising for a bruising.
As I enter the second trimester of what will probably be my last pregnancy, our last child, I find myself repeating the mantra, “to each her own.” The way I do things may not work for someone else, and vice versa, but at the very least, we can respect one another’s differences, right? Though, in the back of my mind, I am mulling over some random worries…
Are grandparents worried they’ll be burdened with another grandchild?
Are friends stressed at the idea of including another kid?
Is our bank account crying at the idea of three children?
I shake off those thoughts as quickly as they creep into my head because, at the end of the day, this is about me, the husband, the kids. Period.
So today, I vow to stop worrying about what others think. What others have said, to our faces and behind our backs. I refuse to think of my children as burdens or expenses because that’s how others see them. I am so over explaining to friends why we can’t attend every adult-only shindig, and apologizing for it.
My focus is D-Day (Delivery Day) and after that, we’ll see who is still standing beside us. For anyone who chooses to stay behind, they can kiss my whole ass while they’re back there.