Let’s face it. Having your first baby is the news people are looking forward to hearing. But what about when you announce your second? Or, heaven forbid, your third?
The First Child
You surprise your nearest and dearest with a framed picture of the scan picture. You put it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even LinkedIn. Everyone wants to congratulate you, know when you’re due, how you’re feeling. Will you find out if it’s a girl or boy? You love the attention and can’t wait to wear maternity clothes. You feel like the first woman ever to have given birth. Even though your husband reminds you that women in Africa have been doing this for thousands of year without pain relief. At which point you give him a kick in the goolies and remind him that men in Africa have been getting that for thousand of years. Without pain relief.
The Second Child
The second time you do it, it’s pretty much expected. You casually mention it over the phone or by text when you’re 14 weeks or so and whilst no one is surprised everyone is happy. You get congratulated, of course, but you’ve done this before. So there’s a bit less fuss, which suits you just fine, as you’re ever so slightly mortified that you’re pregnant so soon after returning to work from your last maternity leave. You’re content to slip under the radar. And slip under the radar you do. As does the arrival of baby no. 2. Because you’ve done this before.
The Third Child
When you fall pregnant the third time, you don’t even bother to announce it. Many a wardrobe malfunction awaits you, as you try to fit into normal clothes that won’t betray your ‘secret’, especially at work. You’re hoping you’ll get through nine months without anyone noticing and when the baby comes, you’ll just say, ‘Oh, we’ve always had three.’
Because by now, you feel like you should be doing something other than procreating. Something incredibly important. Like finding a cure for cancer. When you are forced to mention it, most people assume it was an accident. ‘Was it planned?’ they ask sympathetically. Or, ‘Did you mean to do that?’ accompanied by a look of sheer horror.
When you admit that yes, actually it was intentional, you instantly wish you’d lied. Because in that moment their look of pity turns to disdain. ‘Are you mad?’ they ask. You wonder if they’re expecting an answer. Their look says it all. When the shit hits the fan (literally), you’ll only have yourself to blame because you did this on purpose.
If you’re lucky, they’ll just think you’re horny. If you’re unlucky, they’ll immediately put you in the mother earth category. Outside your inner circle, you are suddenly the woman who just adores children. Or the woman who is incredible at raising them. You must be to have three of them, surely? This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You want to tell them that you can get away from three children just as easily as you can get away from two. Hey, you’ve already booked a nursery place for no. 3. As for being a competent mother, your neighbours can testify against that. They hear you screaming at your kids most days and wonder why you think you can handle three when you’re barely managing two.
Deep down though, there is a feeling of satisfaction. Because finally the question of no. 3 has an answer. And in decision there is comfort. There is also a healthy dose of ignorance. And denial. You’ve done this twice before, it will be a walk in the park. Third time’s a charm, right?
Yes, the baby will slip out on the way to Bluewater and sleep through the night from day two, mainly because you’ll be too tired and desperate to hear it cry. Your four year old will become really obliging overnight, and your two year old will potty train herself whilst sparing you the terrible twos.
There will be more rice on the floor. More shoes cluttering up the hallway. You will finally be forced to buy a laundry bin because you cannot stuff any more washing on top of the tumble dryer.
But there will also be more love. More laughter. More joy.
Until you realise you’re going to have three weddings to pay for.
Because it will obviously be another girl.
Footnote: The jury’s in. Yes, we are joining Team Three in July. Intentionally. MADLY. Happily (I think).