I’ve noticed an oddity. dare I break with social niceties and mention it? hello. have we met?
the first pregnancy. people practically cheered like they were in a football stadium and someone was running the winning touchdown in the last seconds of the game. or I imagine. can’t claim I’ve been to many football games. ok, this might be a slight exaggeration. but, you get the idea. people were surprised, sure, but pretty much overwhelmingly supportive ( though, ironically, they shouldn’t have been. sure, we were married and all, but greg was still a student, I was a substitute teacher, and we had no health insurance). greg and I seemed the most uncertain of anyone about it all, though in retrospect, we WAY under-reacted about the whole thing. we should have been panicking. but, no, we stupidly went down our merry way towards the culmination of our pregnancy and lo! there was ruth, waiting with a cunning smirk, ready to teach us how stupid and naïve we truly were. then, joel’s pregnancy came along and we were overjoyed, feeling like we had waited forever for our second child, all of my friends with kids ruth’s age had had a new round of babies again and I was still puttering around in infertility land. greg was full-time permanent. we had our ticket to ride: full coverage government health insurance. people reacted much the same way as with ruth, perhaps a little less surprised, but on the whole, overwhelmingly excited and supportive.
things were going along nicely. we had the perfect little family of four. but we struggled every day with the question of a third. I’m not joking. every. day. we would go back and forth from greg ready to call on the phone and make the appointment for his vasectomy to speculating that if we wanted another one, we’d better have it sooner rather than wait another three years if we could help it( though, in the back of my mind, I honestly believed that we couldn’t help it. I am an extended breastfeeder and my period simply disappears after I have a kid…for a long ass time. like a year and a half. and then it’s irregular at best. so, even though we knew it was possible, we didn’t honestly think there was much of a rush to make a decision one way or the other). so, for those of you reading and following along, you know I bought a pack of condoms, but we rarely used them. obviously. that was a waste of 14.99 ( maybe I could return them for two packs of newborn diapers. that would be WAY more useful).
anyway, you know how this story ends (or starts). with that telltale faint second line and some nausea and the knowledge that I was carrying our third child, ready or not.
the fact that I was pregnant again wasn’t to be the only surprise. people’s reactions this time were a bit different and surprising. at first, I didn’t really notice. and it is subtle. people with more than two kids, back me up, though. something shifts for those of us who dare to venture beyond the socially acceptable two kid limit. all of a sudden, there was a little bit of disapproval aimed at us about this new pregnancy. or a little incredulity (“three kids??”). it was as though society at large was indirectly trying to tell us that we are being irresponsible in having so many children, like we are becoming a burden somehow. I had someone react as though it was all a big practical joke that greg and I were executing (“you guys are great. I love it.”) I’ve had someone subtly insinuate that when the kids are older, greg can take them hunting and “accidentally” shoot one. you know. because there’s so damn many of them now, i’ll clearly be relieved if one of them dies (??????!!!!!!) someone’s first reaction was to tell me I need a bigger house. and people feel perfectly comfortable, when my two kids start acting crazy and loud, in pointing out that there will soon be three of them doing crazy loud things. thanks, I didn’t realize.
I can only imagine what would happen if we ever had more than three kids. people would probably just openly ask, “what the hell is wrong with you?” and fling their hair in my face as they stalked away. “I mean, you know about birth control, right?”
to be fair, both greg and I also had very mixed feelings at first, feeling a bit overwhelmed and extremely nervous about the path that we were about to start walking down (‘what the hell did we just do??”). these days, three kids is a lot. most people stop at two and anyone who has more than three is just seen as masochistic. these days when everyone is racing to get their kids the “best head start” in a competitive economy, the amount of investment and resource poured into one kid is huge. I guess that might be part of what it’s all about. if you think about it strictly on those terms: that greg and I clearly don’t have the resources to give all three of them an advantageous start so we are thrusting our underprivileged and ill-prepared offspring on the world at large for our own selfish reasons, or something along those lines ( I say that tongue in cheek, of course, but I can’t really argue). however, that is a very narrow view of the situation. I hope that our family members are more than just contributing members in a growing economy. I guess I think individuals are more than that.
and though greg and I had mixed feelings at first (to be expected, am I right?), now we both just feel so damn lucky and like our family is so beautifully full that the slight disapproval we encounter seems very short-sighted and inappropriate. nevertheless, I’m sure it is not even close to the end of it. I guess it’s just one of the things those with fuller families have to contend with.