Thursday, October 6, 2011

my own handful of joy

i am almost 20 weeks pregnant with baby number 5. we are calling him "cinco." in case you missed that last little pronoun, he is another little boy. we are extremely excited about adding the pinky to our high five. still, the pregnancy road is full of challenges, the biggest of which has been the litany of unwanted opinions shared with us on a regular basis. so, here's my chance to stand on my soap box and share.

i experienced some of the comments with baby number four. now with number five, the comments are even more extreme. i only shared news of my pregnancy with a select few people whom i actually believed would be happy for me. even some of them disappointed in their reactions to our news. so, before you open your mouth to speak to someone about their pregnancy, here are a couple of key things to remember.

number 1: people's personal lives are still theirs, and personal. comments like, "maybe it's time to buy a tv in the bedroom." "were you trying to get pregnant?" "do you know how this happens?" are not really appropriate to anyone at anytime. when someone asked me, "do you know how this happens?" i stood in the middle of my church sanctuary and my mouth hit the floor. "no, i don't know how this happens. can you explain it to me in detail? but hurry, the sermon is about to start." clearly people, after five kids, all planned, we've got the particulars down. forgive me if i don't feel the need to share those details with you. how comfortable would you be if the tables were turned and those same questions were asked to you at any given time. pregnancy is not an excuse to push the boundaries of invading personal space.

number 2: i'm not asking you to have five kids or to raise any of mine. i'm not asking you to contribute to their upbringing or to support them financially. i'm not asking you to be a part of their lives at all unless you are interested. comments such as "well, i can see you are doing your part to contribute to the world's overpopulation," "what are you thinking, having so many kids," or "isn't your life crazy enough?" aren't what anyone wants to hear when sharing baby news. you can think what you want and i would advise knowing what you yourself can handle but don't put your own personal limitations into my family's experience. i wouldn't be happy with no children but i'm not going to judge those who don't feel they want any kids of their own. why should it be any different when i decide to have a hand full?

number 3: if you wouldn't say a comment to the child's face when they are six years old, don't say it about them while they are in the womb. can you imagine looking at a kindergarten aged child and saying, "your parents were crazy to have you," "it was horrible news when we found out you were going to be born," "your parents only had you because they didn't want to move out of the baby stage," "you couldn't have been wanted. five kids is crazy" or "oh no! i can't believe you are a boy. that is awful."? you would be seen as barbaric if you said something like this to a child and yet people have no problem saying this about an unborn baby. (yes, each of the comments i've written so far are ones that have been said to me this pregnancy...crazy, isn't it?)

here's the thing, babies are a blessing. they are miraculous whether they are the first born or the eighth born. there may be unexpected pregnancies but where babies are concerned, i don't think there are any that are mistakes. even if a pregnancy is a surprise (ours wasn't), don't you think the parents are having enough of a hard time just wrapping their heads around the reality of another baby without having to deal with the negative and demeaning comments of others? perhaps we should learn to think before we speak.

so, here are some examples of what you can say when you find out someone, anyone is expecting. "congratulations." "we are so happy for you." "babies are always a blessing." "how wonderful for your family." regardless of what number a baby falls in the birth order, he or she deserves just as much joy and anticipation as the first born. they are no less wonderful or miraculous. the old saying stands incredibly true in this situation: "if you can't say something nice, just don't say anything at all." don't take any opportunity to steal someone else's joy. take the chance to bring someone joy instead. you won't regret that you did.