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.


  1. Oh Nellie! Congratulations! Really! So happy for you guys. You make beautiful babies. And boys you know!

  2. Wow, I cannot believe that people would say things like that. I wish we were financially stable to continue to have children, the more the merrier.

    Congratulations to you and your family!! <3

  3. Wow Nellie! I am truly sorry for the demeaning comments that you have received about this precious 'cinco' blessing! Thank you for enlightening those who are oblivious to the miracle of children.
    Congrats to you all again ;0)

  4. Been there.. done that.. got the over stretched maternity shirt to prove it!.. From the mother of 6 who really wanted more.. CONGRATUALTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.. really big, really loud to drown out the voices of those whith their heads stuffed up their neither regions. Five is a lot of fun.. and plus.. creates a middle child.. something more to angst about! will love it :)... I highly suggest going for 6 to enter the real def-con stages of people looking at you like you are seriously crazy!... May it all be a blessing!


  5. Isn't it awful, the things people will say?

    I have three, but mine are all really close together. So, I heard comments even with my second b/c people couldn't believe that we would purposefully try for a second baby when our first was 8 months old. But, we did.

    and with our third, that was giving us 3 kids 3 and under... and yes, we know how that happens.

    And all of mine are boys. Which I love. :)

  6. WOW!! I can't believe those things were actually said! I think there is a point where you can say "Ouch, That hurt." and walk away. Ppl SHOULD be ashamed of themselves.
    If it makes you feel any better, I would have said "OOOHHHH!!! I'm so jealous!!!" :)))

  7. I am the 5th "child," and youngest, and my father thought that that made a medium sized family! He was one of 9. I'm glad my parents didn't stop at 4!

  8. I was an only child. So I always wanted a large family we have 4 kids who range in age from 15-2 and I still get comments from people. We were at our grocery store and some lady I didnt even know stopped my husbade and myself asking if they are all ours I am fed up with the comments so I looked at her and said No we stole a few from the mall... should have seen the look on her face. But favorite is when people look at me and say "wow you must have your ands full" I always answer back Id rather have them full than empty. And we only stopped at 4 because I had to have all 4 C-Sections and was advised any more would be too risky to deliver that way again:( CONGRATS TO U AND URS<3

  9. Yay!! Congratulations! I didn't know that you were pregnant. I hope that you are doing well and feeling good! Happy pregnancy Mama!!

  10. Ashley McCarthy12/16/11, 3:48 PM

    I have been meaning to comment on this post for some time now, but keep forgetting. Nellie, you and your family are an inspiration to those of us who are or feel " inadequate" at times. Having a child, regardless of the number is a blessing and a privilege. Children are a privilege. I think that is something many of us forget at times when life is chaos and challenging. I think many times the words that come out of mouths are those of jealousy. We may not realize it at the time but deep down when we examine the words...I think what many people want to say is..."I am very jealous of you for doing something I wish I was brave enough to do." I am envious and so very proud of you....ignore the negative nellies....they are only jealous!