Growing up, it seemed that everyone came from a family with 3 children. It was what was normal at the time. I am not sure at what point that changed, but now it seems that having 3 (or more children) is strange and almost socially unacceptable. Maybe it is the change in lifestyle, where everyone is working more and constantly on the go. Maybe it is the rising cost of everything. Maybe we are more in tune to the environmental impact of having children. Or maybe we are just having children later in life and after 2 kids, we are tired and ready to move on to the next stage in life.
I know for us, being considered advanced maternal age, and already having two children, we thought we were done. Our babies were conceived with love and science. Not to mention I was given a less than 5% chance of ever having a child on my own. Needless to say, number three was a complete shock to the system. While we are still sort of shocked, we are thrilled. And my girls are thrilled. Everyone is happy.
Yet, the dilemma I have is this need to explain ourselves and our third child. We’ve had so many random strangers comment on how we “really have our hands full with our girls.” Then my husband or I will point out that we have a third on the way too. The looks of pity and shock usually follow. Then our comments, “Well this one wasn’t really planned. It was more of an accident.” Sometimes my husband uses humor and says, “I tripped and fell.” I don’t know why, in these moments, I feel almost shamed at having a third child. This child was a blessing we never thought we would experience. Yet strangers feel the need to comment when they know nothing about our story.
One incident in particular stands out to me. I was at the grocery store with my two girls this summer. They are 4 and almost 2. Both girls feel the need to make their presence known where ever they go. This day, they were being really good in the store. Yeah they were loud, but they were sitting and not fighting and just commenting on all the fruit and vegetables they see, asking me to buy this and that. An older woman, probably around 70, looked at my girls. Instead of telling me something nice, she said, “Wow I can’t believe you are having a third. You seem to have enough on your plate with those two.” After picking my jaw up from the floor, I managed to mutter, “Well, this one is a boy so it will be a nice change of pace.” But by then, she had moved on to her task of picking out vegetables.
I suppose its comments like these that get me defensive and feel like I need to explain why we are having a third. Yet, I strongly feel that family planning is no one’s business except that family. But being pregnant is something that is open to conversation. It’s hard to hide my 26 weeks pregnant belly. So, if you see me out with my two girls, and I look like I’m struggling, it’s probably because I am. But don’t make it worse and say something about having my hands full. Instead say, “Wow. A third baby and a boy! Very exciting!” Or even a simple, “Congratulations.” Simple, kind words go a long way and may even help get me out of the habit of explaining why we are having a third.