This year has been a tough one for our family. As we prayed for another blessed little one, we found only grief in the loss of three to early miscarriages. Thankfully, our doctor was able to identify the issue and resolve it quickly, and less than one month later we were pregnant again. Woohoo! We told a few friends, some family, and our pastors, and waited with bated breath for each ultrasound to confirm everything was healthy and this little life was growing well.
Once we had a confirmed heartbeat and sweet little image of our baby, we decided to share our joy with a wider audience at eight weeks along. Of course, announcing publicly brings a wide array of reactions. From the wonderful congratulations, well-wishes, and prayers for joy after so much sorrow, to the classic comments we had heard many times over with our third baby.
I thought I had heard it all, actually. But when you already have three kids, ages six and under, you shouldn’t underestimate people’s ability to shock you with their responses.
Here are the top 10 that have caused me to pause in just these first 10 weeks of our latest pregnancy.
10. Are You Hoping for a Boy?
We’d hear this more often, I’m sure, if our current brood were all girls (or the opposite if they were all boys). But we have a boy and two girls, which obviously means we must want to even things out. People really do have an obsession with symmetry, don’t we?
It’s odd people would automatically assume we must have equal numbers of each gender, and can’t possibly be happy if the hormonal scales weigh too heavily to either side within the home. You’d think with all the push to acknowledge all those non-biologically-based genders we’d see an end to this obsession, but then again, I’d rather just endure this question.
9. How Many Are You Going to Have?
I dunno. I can’t see into the future. Right now, with my all-day sickness that makes me feel like I’m dying whenever I’m not actively eating, I’m apt to say “I’m done! This is it!” In fact, I have said that to my husband. More than once. While clutching my stomach and whining from the discomfort. But, as my husband is wise and always right, I tend to believe him when he says, “You say that now, but you’ll change your mind.”
8. You Almost Have a Basketball Team.
I guess, though we aren’t really sports fans. My husband usually replies that he’s working toward a good sized fire team (which actually might come in really handy with the way things are going these days).
7. Another One!
Um. Yes? What did you think I was having? A puppy? Is another baby really that horrible or hard to believe? I still don’t understand why four kids is so shocking. Sometimes I chalk it up to the fact that our kids seem really close in age (though at over two years apart each, that’s not all that close), or that it’s because everyone from my coworkers to the clerk at the liquor store are shocked to find I’m closer to 40 than I am to 21.
6. Are You Happy About It?
Apparently I’m not always capable of expressing our sheer joy when I deliver our news, because I’ve gotten this a couple times. I blame my constant nausea for the inability to have a smile on my not-so-glowing face. But yes, to answer the question, we are ecstatic. Thanks for asking.
5. Oh… (crickets)
Remember your mother’s nagging about saying nothing if you can’t say anything nice? This is prime time to do that. If you can’t muster a simple “congrats” or “yay!” a small smile will do. Or if you can’t control the impulse to wince with revulsion at our news, give me a hug! I won’t be able to see your sad face that way, and I’ll feel better in my ignorance at your lack of excitement. Win-win!
4. Don’t You Have Cable?
Actually, we don’t. What’s your point?
3. We Should Call You ‘Fertile Myrtle’!
I’m actually quite happy my parents didn’t name me Myrtle, only because it would have sorely clashed with my already hard-to-spell maiden name. But yes, after four pregnancies in one year, I suppose this title is fitting. I’m just not sure I look much like a Myrtle. And the folks at the Social Security Administration might give me an odd look when I file my name-change paperwork. Although it isn’t as bad as “Princess Consuela Bananahammock.”
2. How Do You Do It?
While I understand what they mean—wondering how someone can somehow balance three little kids and a full-time job, then desire to add another little one to the mix—I have to bite my tongue before I let out an explanation of the miracle of life. I mean, most of us do know what causes this…and we like it. *high five*
1. Well, You Did This to Yourself.
Now, admittedly I could avoid this one if I could figure out how to stop being honest when folks ask me how I’m doing. But I am a horrible liar, and I don’t hide my discomfort well. This is often the reply I get when I admit I’m beyond sick, I’m miserable, my back hurts, our 16-month-old still doesn’t sleep well and has kept us up for the last three nights straight, etc.
Apparently I have forgotten the cardinal rule that if you prayed for the blessing of a baby and pregnancy you have lost all rights to find any part of the process painful, annoying, irritating, or sickening. You must, at all costs, mask that queasiness and hide that sciatic pain behind a big smile (but not too big lest people call your bluff) and only ever be happy. But not too happy, of course. That’s quite unbecoming.
Let’s be real, though. There will always be less-than-desired comments from the stranger at the store, the friend at church, or even your own mother. While these can hurt, irritate, and frustrate us, in the grand scheme of things these are piddly nuisances and trivial annoyances for we parents-to-be. Our eyes may be tired from eye-rolling, but our faces are more fatigued from these silly grins we have over how excited we are about our new little person.
It can be hard to focus on the good, especially if it feels like everyone around us is negative, but now’s the time to learn to shrug all this off, learn to laugh at the silliness of some of these comments, learn to forgive those whose comments cut more deeply, and then give thanks for the friends and family who are there to laugh, smile, and celebrate right along with us. That’s because there is much to celebrate!