Friday, August 14, 2009

Pregnancy Joy?

I am roughly 3 months away from having my 5th baby. My 6th pregnancy. And I was just saying to my husband the other day, "I'm having a lot of cramps lately. Probably just round ligament pain. By the 5th time you carry a baby, it's kinda just old hat. But still, it's a brand new miracle, every single time."

Our path to have this child has been one of unexpected joy. I always knew I would love to have a lot of children. After meeting my husband and marrying him, and watching him be a father, this thought was only solidified in my brain. I try my hardest to be a great mom, but he is really an amazing father.

As our family grew, we were met with so many comments from well-meaning (?) folks. When Peppermint Patty was born after we'd been married 17 months, people said, "Well, you didn't waste any time now, did you?" and "You should have spent more time being newlyweds!" Then, 18 months later, her younger brother Charlie Brown arrived on the scene. We were met with the inevitable, "Now you have one of each. Are you going to stop?" and "Your family is just perfect now! A girl and a boy! What else could you ask for?" Then, 18 months after him, our second son - Linus - was born. As expected, the comments came in the form of, "So, you DO know what causes pregnancy, right? You two better start sleeping in separate beds!" and "How are you going to handle all those children, so close in age?" and of course, "So, are you going to stop NOW?"

I thought all those questions were a little presumptuous. I felt like saying, "Do you think it's really any of your business? I'm not asking YOU to babysit." But, truthfully, I did wonder some of the same things in my own mind. Would I be able to handle it? Was it crazy for me to want so many children? Was it irresponsible? It had always been my opinion that I shouldn't wait until we had enough money for a baby or we were at a good place in our careers or whatever plan was in the works. We just wanted a family, and that was priority #1, and we decided we'd figure out the rest as we crossed those bridges.

Then, as my 3 older Peanuts grew up, I knew it was time to have another. I just felt it... I'd like to say in my gut, but really it was more like in my uterus. Baby Sally was such a welcome addition to our family and I have enjoyed every moment with her. It's been almost like a new beginning of motherhood for me. So, when I got pregnant last fall, I was really emotional. I didn't know if I wanted the love affair with my new baby to end. I didn't know if I'd be able to handle having a toddler and a newborn. When I miscarried a month later, I was filled with so many new emotions: sadness, grief, relief, betrayal. I felt a loss I had never experienced before. But at the same time, a weight was lifted from me. I felt guilty for loving my baby daughter and being selfish about my time with her. At the same time, I mourned for the loss of a baby I would never hold in my arms. It was joy unrealized.

Having a miscarriage changed my perspective about childbirth forever. Every other time I'd been pregnant and gone through the motions of preparing for another baby, it was in classic textbook form. I never spotted. I never had gestational diabetes. I never gained a dangerous amount of weight (40 lbs each time). I bought maternity clothes, I read the Lamaze books, and I glowed. But this pregnancy has me feeling very guarded. Playing my cards very close to the chest. I don't tell people I'm pregnant if they can't guess it. I wear maternity clothes but I still suck in my stomach. And every single visit to the OB is like jumping off a cliff. Even my last one, at 24 weeks, nearly brought me to my knees. At first, he couldn't hear the baby's heartbeat. It was like I was rounding the top of the roller coaster and had begun the plummet to the bottom. Then he moved the doppler to the top of my uterus, closer to my rib cage, and right away I heard the quick thump-thump-thump-thump. I simply cannot escape the feeling that I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So, while this pregnancy was certainly unexpected, it was definitely not a disappointment. And when acquaintances do find out that we're expecting our 5th child, how should we respond to, "Oh my God. Are you crazy?" and "I can't even imagine that" and "Did you really WANT 5 kids?" Besides being complete asses and just saying, "No, we didn't want all these kids, but we're stuck with them now," how should we respond?

I got thinking about this because of a post I read. The author of the post writes beautifully about her struggle with infertility and how a couple who is expecting an adopted child gets a very different response than do those expecting a biological child. She writes that when we hear of pregnancy, the reaction is easy - joy; but adoptive parents are looked at in a different light and comments they receive range from questioning to offensive to hurtful. Her perspective strikes me as funny, because I would have to say that while I've been expecting my 5th biological child, I've received fewer joyous remarks than I have saying that I'm crazy. What happened to the joy of the birth of a baby? Why should the fifth child be any less miraculous than the first? I am excited to hold my new bundle of joy in my arms. But the trepidation I feel from my miscarriage, coupled with the sentiments conveyed by random people at the grocery store, keeps me from enjoying the anticipation of this blessed event.

So, while I will no doubt have my hands quite full for a long time, I like to say, "They are full of love." And anyone who thinks I'm crazy can go shove it.

24 comments:

Emily said...

wow...what a great post. Thanks for being so transparent. I have people ask me all the time if I planned my three kids. Drives me crazy. And then when they tell me that they don't think they could handle three, I always want to say something mean like, "that's probably because my children are better behaved than yours!" Just kidding (...a little!) ;P

Becki said...

Very well put! Everyone else always seems to know what the 'perfect family' is...
I'm on the other end. We have one and everyone says, "When will you give her a little brother or sister?" like it's any of their business...

BunnoGal said...

I had my two close together and got exactly the same responses from people as you have.

You have written a lovely post.


Stopping by from SITS. Happy Saturday Share Fest!

Eileen said...

Congrats on your impending new bundle of joy. I've actually been trying for 2 years not just one like you commented on my blog and I've had 2 miscarriages and 2 chemical pregnancies. I dn't think anyone would call my journey easy.

jori-o said...

Oh, girrrrrrl, I SO know what you mean! In fact, I wrote about one particularly special encounter I had here. Some people can be such idiots. Yeah, I said it.

lov said...

what a great post!

Bridgett said...

Oh I'm with ya. I never enjoyed Sophia's pregnancy after miscarrying. Maeve's and Leo's were so happy in comparison.

Although for whatever reason, I've never had comments about having three kids (of course, mine are spaced 3 and 4 years apart...).

robinpreg said...

Ignore the people at the grocery store! It's hard enough raising a large family and it sounds like you're doing it with grace and style...

As for the trepidation, I get it. It's like the innocence is being removed from pregnancy. I hope that you are able to find at least some days or moments of joy.

Gigi said...

Beautiful post. People are so insensitive and apparently don't have filters on their mouths. A good response might be; I've got enough love to give - so why not? Congrats & best wishes.

Jennifer said...

God never gives us more than we can handle, and all children are a blessing.

Parenthood For Me said...

I so understand this post b/c a friend of mine has 3 under 3. On the third pregnancy it seemed that no one was supportive. I cannot believe what people say sometimes. I think it is awful how free people feel to comment on pregnancy or child rearing. It is amazing that you have a lot of children. You have devoted so much to have a family. Maybe some people cannot imagine giving that much of themselves. I hope everything continues to go well with you sixth pregnancy! Come back and visit.

Scary Mommy said...

Wow-- are you 6 months already?! Other peoples pregnancies really fly by. It's funny, I get more nervous with every pregnancy-- once you know what's at stake, it's different somehow. I don't know if I have it in me to do it again, but I hope so. Sometimes.

Jen said...

this an awesome post. You are so right, there should be nothing but happiness for the fact that you are having a baby. No matter the number. I know that I am happy for you.

And I just so you know, I still expect you to blog even though you will have 5 kids. ;)

The818 said...

This is a great post! I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that - I'm on my first pregnancy, and I still can't believe how many people ask if it was planned. Whatever happened to plain old congratulations?

Happy Saturday Sharefest by the way!

the818.com

Dreamgirl said...

Congratulations!
5 babies are pretty awesome... I'm impressed!

Just dropping by from SITS to wish you Happy Saturday Sharefest!

Eva Gallant said...

My sister had 7 kids and they all have turned out beautifully. She's 690 now and a widow for the last 2 years, and her kids can't do enough for her!
Family size is a personal decision; I chose to have 2; my sister chose to have 7; neigher of us has question or judge the other. I think it's wonderful that you have a great family and good husband. More power to you!

Next time someone asks one of those dumb quesstions. ask them if they are writing a book, and tell them if they are, they'll just have to leave that chapter out!


stopping by from SITS to say hello; hope you'll find time to do the same.

Kaibee said...

I do dislike nose pokers as well, I mean it's your life, have one baby or a billion you are in charge!!! And I don't mind five babies at all!! I think babies are a real joy! I love 'em!! I wish you all the joy in the world with your fifth baby! :)

Night Owl Mama said...

I"m glad I read the whole thing.

Blessing to you on your 5th Pregnancy. I too was surprised with a 4th. Were done!

I have adopted too after 3 miscariages then went on to have 2 more children.

Happy Healthy last 16 weeks Blessing on the birth of your child.
Stopping by from the SITS to say Hello
http://nightowlmama.blogspot.com/2009/08/3-year-olds-imagination-bugsby-great.html

Brigette Russell said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I have four, and heard some of the same comments when pregnant with my fourth -- and even, if you can imagine, with my third. I've written several posts on my blog about how intolerant some segments of our society are about big families.

Hannah said...

You're a lucky lady. You have more to love than many others.

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Every Day Goddess said...

I dislike when people find it their business what your family size is. My Mother-in-Law asked us if we knew what caused pregnancy when we were having our third child. My husband let her know he was not asking her for financial support so to mind her own business! People are so inconsiderate. Congratulations on your baby, they are always blessings no matter what.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I think bringing a child into the world whether it be first or fifth is a wonderful event!!!!
I am sorry you are dealing with some rude comments--I got bad comments with #4 myself. :(

Wendy said...

My daughter was born 17 months after we married. In the town I grew up in, a lot of people think it was a 'shotgun' wedding because of one big-mouthed lady there who can't do math. From growing up there it was hard for me to get to the point of "I don't care what these busy bodies think."

People love something to talk about. And everyone thinks they are the only person who has the right to make decisions.

I would like 4 or 5 kids. But I couldn't handle it. I'm glad hubby made me stop. Mostly.

dianthe said...

it never ceases to amaze me when people comment on pregnancy - i'm pregnant with my second and i'm getting lots of "i hope it's a boy so then you can be through" - guess what people - i don't want to be through!! i'm actually hoping for another girl so that we'll *have* to have a 3rd to try for a boy - and then i hope i have twins!!

i am always jealous of the moms that have a house full of kids - i always wanted 5, but met my husband too late in life to go through 5 pregnancies - plus the fact that he only wants 2 - LOL!!

i comment on large families when i see them, but in a positive way - i tell moms that they must be having a blast and that i'm totally jealous - i know it's no cake walk having a large family but i bet you wouldn't trade it for anything!! congrats!!