Just during this last week, I’ve spoken to two moms expecting their fourth baby. And felt judged. Or overwhelmed. Just like I was. For being pregnant. And I felt the need to write this letter.
I saw you today. You looked beautiful. Radiant, really. What an exciting time for you! Pregnancy is such a gift! And you are fortunate to be doing it again. And when I told you that and commented on how beautiful this 4th pregnancy must be for you, you smiled, and said thanks.
But somehow, your smile did not reach your eyes. Somehow, somebody has made you believe that this pregnancy is not as exciting, not as special as the first time around. Having more than one baby is EXCEPTIONAL. And what your body is doing is powerful.
The questions you’re being asked has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else, but still people feel they have the right to question whether you’re done having kids now, (are YOU done buying yet another pair of shoes, Patrica??), whether you planned this one, (as if that makes a difference to my love, or are you just asking to help track my period from now on?), and commenting on whether we don’t have anything else to do. (yes, we watch TV, but firstly, sex takes roughly between 15mins to an hour…we have more than enough time to watch a a full movie and a couple episode of Modern Family every night. Secondly, why would I watch TV when I can have sex? Seriously.)
“There’s something about having a fourth child that really seems to bring out the crazies of the world who think it’s their duty to police your reproductive choices.”
So I am sorry. I am sorry that some people are not willing to be happy for a different version of happiness. I am sorry that you feel you have to defend the size of your family. I am sorry for up-and-down looks, the side looks, the eye widening, the quick and hurried count of strangers when they see you, your growing belly, and your string of duckling waddling alongside you. I am sorry that you are made to feel embarrassed about creating life, adding one more member to the family and sharing a little extra love with the world.
You shouldn’t have to explain why you’re choosing to happily have a fourth child, but I know we can both recognize it probably seems downright crazy to a lot of people. Each kid is a separate universe unto themselves, with their own personality, concerns, worries, fears, delights, and issues. With each kid you have, your parenting universe expands not linearly, but rather, exponentially. With each child I’ve had, my world has grown more complicated and more wonderful. I’ve become more tired, but I’ve also become more happy and grateful. My life and my heart is so full!
I know some women have been defensive, illogically concluding we are subconsciously pointing the finger of failure at them for not having more themselves, as if we are subtly saying: ‘What’s up with you, is two all you can cope with?’ Others are coming from a place of pain, where they have been trying to deal with infertility, or had a very negative experience with the financial and/or emotional struggles of raising just one. We each respond to news of yet another pregnancy from our own experience.
Life, in some ways, is a war. Everyone has different battles to fight. Most we don’t know about. Some battles are short, others linger for decades or even lifetimes. I don’t judge the way you fight yours. Mine are fought with arms full of love, and my children are my little soldiers who will keep fighting all that’s bad in the world with goodness long after I’m gone. While I probably won’t be leaving them with literal riches, I hope they look back on their lives and know they were so fully loved that they have the energy and determination to paint their futures with all the colours of my affection.
Mama, having a big family is about the privilege of life itself. Being pregnant and having a part in creating life is an honour beyond words. Maybe it’s cliché, but I am blessed beyond belief to even get a part in the motherhood process. You should too.
I promise you, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Life happens, and in my experience, it happens when we least expect it. In a few months, when you’re staring down at the most beautiful sight in the whole world (again), you will be left in humble gratitude that despite your “best” intentions and despite your embarrassment, you have been given a true gift.
A gift you never knew you needed, but couldn’t imagine living without.
All my love,
Simone – Unashamedly Mama to The Power of 4
A special mention and thanks to each of the photographers that took these gorgeous tummy and newborn shoots and captured my pregnancies and the life they represented so perfectly.
As well as the amazing Little Mrs M Photography for our family shoot!