Is this third pregnancy a meticulously-planned, Billings and NFP-assisted, conception? Is it an oops, we did it again glitch? Is it an Elastoplasts Baby? Do you believe it will be “third time lucky” for a baby of a different gender from the two you already have? Or is it your final fling before the sands of your biological clock run out?
You will always meet fountains of unsolicited advice who will “warn” you that you have signed the death warrant of your marriage through this third pregnancy. Other Jeremiahs will tell you that “it was in the papers” that having three children indicates that you are not environmentally-conscious, and that the Manchester Optimum Population Trust insists that stopping at two is the only sensible thing to do.
The transition from being a family of four, to a family of five, leaves many families flabbergasted – in fact, statistics show that sometimes, the upheaval is great enough to cause serious marital problems…. unless you have an iota of common sense.
But who are we to judge – or be judged? As the mother of three wonderful children, I have fond myself at the receiving end of several of the afore-mentioned comments, some of which border on the ridiculous.
For instance, a friend of mine who has two girls, at the time I had my boys, used to tell me that she “bet” I wanted a girl. And, of course, when I had a girl, she asked me “what I was thinking”, since two is the ideal number of children to have.
I do not imagine myself to have been in any way irresponsible or greedy, to have had three children. These decisions are between oneself and one’s partner, and not for anyone else to take in our stead.
Before this blog turns into some kind of righteous diatribe (or is it too late?), I’d like to present the points that came up in a straw poll I took amongst my friends (whose names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty!), all of whom have 3 children.
Lisa: Don’t ever let people assume that you have enough clothes for the baby because you have had another pair before her. This would result in their giving you expensive toys that would not get used. If you do have clothes – and in any case a baby would only need a few baby-grows and all-in-ones at the beginning – tell them to give you toiletries, since you could all use these.
Marcia: I have three children, it is true, but that’s because of circumstances with my health, rather than any conscious decision to be less of a burden upon the earth. I would have loved to have a whole brood, but it was not to be. However, that having been said, I would like to say that I used cloth nappies, each time.
Sylvana: I found the transition between two to three children far easier than it had been from having one to two. The drawback was that people were less ready to offer help and baby-sitting stints because they assumed I did not need it, since the oldest child (just ten at the time, poor kid!) was “old enough” to help out. I had to ask, specifically, when I needed shopping done because the little one was sick.
Jennifer: Three children, in my opinion, is the ideal number to have – although you may find that at any given moment, two are pairing off against the other, and it’s not necessarily always the same pair. There is less chance that the house will be ‘empty’ – or “clean”. My kids each have a different set of friends, with all of them going to and fro between one another’s homes, since we live only a bicycle ride away from one another. I don’t mind – mostly!
Pauline: When we walked into the supermarket with the kids in tow, people used to gape, as if we were aliens or something. Once, a cashier actually asked me whether they were “all” mine or whether I had remarried. Go figure. Where I live, I am ironically in a minority; it seems that only foreigners have three or more kids.
Theresa: Listen up: when I had the twins a year after having my daughter, people kept passing comments about how much in a hurry I was to overpopulate the earth, and how the year after, I would probably produce triplets. I used to get angry at first, but then I developed this nauseating habit of smirking and saying “I hope so!” and that left them dumbfounded.
Cynthia: Having three children has opened up new possibilities for all of them – they each get to join in the activities of the other two if they want to. My husband and I have always worked to support them – we have never relied on hand-outs. Some people chose to have no children – and this is like the story of the man, his son, and the donkey – you cannot please all the people all the time.
Marisa: People tell me I have been unjust with the kids, because there is less money for treats. But I wouldn’t be without my kids for all the tea in China. So what if the kids have to learn how to load the dishwasher and sew on their own buttons at an early age? So what if they have to make the choice between one pair of designer jeans or three pairs of ordinary ones? So what if we don’t have enough spare cash for a cruise come summer? It’s a “family affair”!
Having three children has inevitably given me more sleepless nights, more laundry, more dirty dishes, and more expenses than I would have had with two. But it has also given me more happiness, more love, and more satisfaction.