Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Are You Done Yet?"

There is one aspect of living in Florida that I will miss this summer: all the "helpful" pregnancy comments that I haven't been getting around town.

I am now noticeably pregnant.  That did start at roughly 4 weeks... and we'll hit 13 weeks tomorrow, so I've had 9 weeks of baby bump.  And apart from a white haired snow bird coming up to me in Target and loudly proclaiming that she bets I'm hoping for a boy (because isn't that a totally normal reaction when you see two cute little girls sitting happily in their stroller?), no one has asked me if I'm hoping for a boy so I can just be done yet.

No one has apologized to me at a local small business when they realized I was pregnant, even though I was obviously joyfully happy about the announcement (again, isn't an apology the natural response for baby news?  No?).  Not one checker has suggested in the line at the grocery store that my husband needs to get "snipped" now (that was awkward... usually I can manage some sort of polite response to rudeness... realizing that apparently many, many people with otherwise passable manners don't realize that questioning casual acquaintances about their reproductive habits is actually is quite impolite... but I was just too shocked to really say anything...).  And I have neither been asked if this little blessing was "planned," or if we're "done" this time around.

All of those comments occurred in the first twelve weeks of my last pregnancy, some of them multiple times, until I began to feel that the only response to a pregnant woman was "so, are you done yet?"

On my husbands side the appropriate congratulations is apparently: "Your poor wife!"

Because I obviously have no say in any of this and am just a poor helpless obviously rather dumb baby making machine (by the way, did you see this post on Calah's blog?  It's a pretty good example of people {in her combox} saying things that they just shouldn't... my mouth actually dropped open when I read it.).

I think this is, in part, because our current city is clearly not a small town and therefore the people we run across our less likely to feel like the need to say something about the addition of a third child.

Don't get me wrong, I grew up in small towns and I've lived in them most of my life, and I love them.  I am jumping-up-and-down-excited to be going back this summer.  I really hope we end up in a small town.  Preferably a town with two or less strip malls because honestly, I've had my fill.  But, growing up in a town of 2,000 means I was also able to recognize the drawbacks of the information network that often exists in small towns by the time I was a freshmen in high school, when I began to realize that this network of phone calls and comments could spread disinformation faster than a group of first graders playing telephone (and that was before facebook and text messages!).

Our current area has a lot of large-ish, young families.  Seeing a pregnant mom with two little ones doesn't seem to shock anyone.  I'm not sure I will continue to escape the comments, even here, if we have another girl, however (Thankfully I'm not worried about on campus.  On campus is a haven for that since the assumption would be that we're just open to life, thank goodness!).  I'm fairly certain that having three happily playing little girls would increase the assumption that we were "trying for a boy" exponentially.

"Are you going to keep trying?" with an accompanying look of pity, might just be the norm world wide once you've had three girls.  Or maybe I'm underestimating the manners elsewhere?  I sure hope so.  This is something that otherwise normally polite people indulge in here and it's really baffling to me.  Do any international readers have this problem in other countries?  Or does anyone not see this going on in their area of the US once they have their standard two children?

At what point did you start hearing these sort of comments, if at all?

I'll admit that I was really quite surprised when it was after two for us.  I think I'd expected it to be something like four.

The thing is, I don't really find most of the comments upsetting.  They're almost funny in a strange, bizarre "what's gone wrong with the world?  Is someone really asking me this again?" sort of way.  But they do make me feel quite awkward because I never know quite how to respond.  "We're as open to as many as God sends us" is apparently so horrifying that some people gasp.  I wish I could come up with something funny, honest, and not too mean.  But too often my instant thoughts run towards: too mean and I know that wouldn't be helpful.

What do you say?


  1. I had a girl then a boy 14 months later. So when that boy was 11 months old and I was pregnant again, I was told, "But you have the perfect set-up why ruin it?!" The child who "ruined it", my younger son is going to be three on Monday. Our family could never be complete without him and with God's will may not be complete yet. My daughter also has autism so people constantly ask me now, "Why did you want to have more children after finding out she has autism?" And these are supposedly people of "faith" (mostly Protestant because of where I live but Catholics sometimes too). If God led me to it, He will lead me through it. We felt called to have each of our children and if all three had autism, that's God's will, it is what it is.

  2. "-excited to be going back this summer. I really hope we end up in a small town."

    Explanation please...

    Going back for a visit, and hoping someday to end up in a small town?

    Or, going back for good and hoping...

    Paul is on a summer break, or done with Florida?

    Personally, I don't really care how many kids you have, but in the future kindly refrain from juxtaposing curious thoughts without a fuller explanation. :)

  3. I only have one so far, but I did get a lot of people asking "so how many do you want?" who were completely dumbfounded when I said, "Oh, we'll see how many we end up with!" The expectation is that you will have a number. (I used to have one, but it was never the same day-to-day...and even now, I have days when I think, "I could never do this again" followed by days of "I love this so much. I want at least five more!" So, really, I think it's better that we're letting God be in charge.)

    Also, really invasive questioning about how I wanted to parent - some stuff I don't even discuss with my own parents! I guess I'm glad that as a society we have conversations in general about this kind of thing - it means we're at least thinking about it, even if the kids don't belong to us - but we need to establish some kind of healthy etiquette, as in "do not badger the tired pregnant lady in the checkout line as you bag her food."

  4. oops, sorry. I just went down and read about the internship.

  5. I haven't really gotten any comments...not with my 3rd and not with this pregnancy either. I guess after my 3rd, I did get a bit of "Are you going to have any more?" but not from strangers, from people I knew...and it wasn't rude, just more a curiosity thing. So many people seem to have no problems volunteering information like "after this, I'm done." so I think people think that is an acceptable question to ask. I usually just answered with "We hope to have more."
    When I was pregnant with 2 girls, I never really had any "so are you hoping for a boy comments". I did have a boy after 2 girls, but I didn't really get any comments about it.
    I think area has a lot to do with it. I am from New England and people there tend to mind their own business and don't ask questions like that. It is just a different region. And, most people from FL seem to be transplants from the Northeast or the Midwest, so I think that may be why you have gotten less comments. Northeasterns are definitely less chatty and nosy, I have found.

    I haven't gotten any comments at all this time, but I very, very rarely go into a store or public place with all my kids in tow. I usually only shop or run errands when I drop my older two off at piano or when my husband is home and I leave them all. The only places I really take them all are places like the library, playdates, field trips, the beach, park days, etc. and people in those situations either already know us (and I hang out in circles where large families aren't that unusual) or they just don't ask.

    Plus, even though I am 19 weeks, I don't think I am obviously, obviously pregnant looking. I can be, or could not be depending on what I wear. I also am one of those unfortunate people who tends to spread out to the side, instead of carrying all in front in a cute little ball, so a lot of time I just look fat, and not obviously pregnant, especially to someone who didn't know me before and didn't know what I looked like before.
    And, assuming someone is pregnant unless you KNOW is the height of rudeness in my book. I was told that you should never assume or ask anyone if they are pregnant.

  6. I can top that. I'm in a college town that has a LOT of population control environmentalism as religion types running around, so the mindset is pretty much that having a baby is a crime or a tragedy rather than a blessing.

    I was buying a textbook one day, and having one child on my hip and VERY pregnant with my second, I needed a bit of help getting the books from the top and bottom shelves.

    The gal helping me, a college kid, asked if I was reading them or just looking at the pictures. I was shocked, but her body language clearly said that it was an innocent question! She had bought the idea that only an uneducated person would be having two so close together!

    My Dad was horrified I was having my first so soon after marriage, then when I had my third the response was horror again. Not exactly fun to have your own father not be thrilled with grandkids!

    The current culture is committing genetic suicide by its failure to accept the way of God-- blessing of children!

  7. If you have another girl expect loads of condolences from complete strangers and a total onslaught of "Are you going to try one more time for a boy, or are you just done?" The comments have gotten so bad from the time we found out we were expecting a girl up until now, that my ten and six year olds are always asking us what's so bad about having three girls that people feel the need to come up and either tell my husband that they feel sorry for him or just make comments that I suppose they don't realize are rude and hurtful to our daughters. Honestly, I don't know that I'd know what to do with a boy, and I couldn't be happier with my three girls. If all we ever have is girls upon girls that's fine by me. I don't sit and wonder how much better life could be with a son, or wish that one of my precious daughters was a boy instead. We're just happy with the children we've been blessed to call our own.

  8. We live in a town of less than 1,000. I get most of my comments from family which to me hurts more than a strangers comment of, "Are you crazy!?!" I think (total assumption here) that with most people in this community they have simply come to accept that we are a large family and are not surprised to see me pregnant again. Hey works for me. Strangers in surrounding towns (like at Wal-Mart) feel the need to make small comments like, "Boy you have your hands full." But my go to response is, "Yes, but it is so much fun!"

  9. Obviously, we're just pregnant with our first, so most reactions are happy for us, but we do still get questions about our "future plans" - which I think is weird because uh, we're sort of new to this!!

    At church, it's comments like "The first of six, right???" or something like that. And I always reply, "God willing!" Most people just laugh good naturedly...I'm the eccentric one anyway, so I don't think I could shock them at this point. (it's gotten around that we're not using a hospital!!)

    In public places most people say "oh your first? That's great! Is this going to be it, or...? " Which I always find odd. So I just say, "Oh I've ALWAYS wanted a big family!!"

    Who knows what'll happen once our family, God willing, grows...

  10. *laughs* I can top that Ann, if you can believe it. As I got ready to walk down the aisle at my wedding, my father's last words to me were, "Now don't do anything stupid like get pregnant right away." You can't imagine the telephone conversation I had with him when I had to call him a little over three months later to late him know I was two months pregnant. Because of this attitude, we didn't tell my father that he was having grandchild #5 (all mine) until about 3 hours after #5 was born! The funny things is, he seemed to react quite well to the new this time. I think he's mellowing out with all the grandchildren. :)

    Actually, I get these types of comments from friends and family. Everything from (aunts and uncles and cousins)"Are you done, yet?" to the command(from my mother and from an ex-friend), "You're NOT having any more!" as if they have some sort of say, to "We'll have to take a butter knife to [my husband]."(this was from another ex-friend - in front of my children; luckily they didn't get the reference) You can guess the implication.

    The only comment I ever get from strangers that might be intended to be negative is the stereotypical, "You've got your hands full." Which I don't find rude so much as I find it obtuse, "Of course I have my hands full, I have two hands and 5 children - Duh!."

    Other than that - I've actually had several people comment about how they had 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 children and they understand. Or that we have a lovely family, "Good for you!" Or I've had a few say that they wouldn't be able to handle that many, to which I respond that I use to work in child care, so 5 of my own is nothing compared to 16 two-year olds. And they usually agree :)

    Living in the Midwest does have it's benefits. :)

  11. The appropriate response to rude questions/remarks: "Why would you ask/say that?" with an appropriately innocent look on your face.


  12. I think I might be tempted if I had all girls, when faced with the boy comment, to say something really snarky like, "Do you not hear yourself or do you intend to sound like a misogynist pig?"

    Mostly though, I have these things come to mind and I manage to stop them before they come out of my mouth-- usually.

    So far, I went boy-girl-girl-boy and we are seriously thinking another would be good. Make it a nice odd number. :P

  13. I've had lots of family and friends ask us when we're going to have another. People actually assume that we are constantly "trying" for a baby- although this could be because my son was conceived 6 months after losing our first child, and he's been done nursing for 6 months now. ;) Strangers also tell me that he "needs" a little brother or sister. We aren't hoping for a child, nor are we trying to prevent one. This might just be because we live in a fairly "crunchy" area, where 6+ children is fairly normal. Whenever anyone asks how many we're going to have, I respond with "God gave both of our fathers 12 siblings, so we're going to see if we're going to end up with that many or just this one!"

  14. I expected them with #3 because I've seen it happen to people I'm close too... but they started happening with my second! Lots of hope its a boy so you can be done's and then oh great yall are done then comments. We haven't gotten too many yet, but its happened. A certain person that shall remain nameless actually told my oldest that she'd have to come stay with them soon because we would have too many kids! Poor thing was in tears.

  15. We had three girls and then two boys. I think people would probably drop their jaw should we have any more, but I guess we'll see what God has in store.

    I started getting comments when pregnant with my third. We had two girls and everyone assumed I was praying for a boy and all that jazz. Then we got the nastiest comments with #4. It was ridiculous. Amazingly, I had hardly any comments when pregnant with #5. I am not sure why that is...perhaps walking around with 5 kids is a message to people that I don't care what they have to say, lol

  16. You may not be able to find the right spot to use it, but I know a lady who tells a story from her childhood. . . She had about 14 siblings, and while the family was out one day, someone commented to her father, on seeing all the children, "Dang, John, you must really like the job!" to which he simply responded, "No. We just like the kids!" She's not exactly young, but it's a moment she has never forgotten, and says made her feel so incredibly proud and loved. I agree that some people certainly don't think--and they should, especially when the children they are basically insulting are present!

  17. I have 3 boys. The oldest turned 3 12 days after my 3rd was born. I get comments constantly. When shopping I often have my oldest son walking, my middle son in the cart and my youngest strapped to me in an Ero. People usually get a stupified look on their faces and point to my youngest asking, "is that a boy too?" When I beam and reply yes they will often let out a huge sigh. THEN the "are you going to try for a girl" question comes. And I also never know quite how to respond. Usually I try to say "we want more kids, but we'll see what we get" or just "we'll see" if I really don't feel like talking.

    I do get some really nice comments too. In fact just the other day a woman was admiring my youngest son (my older two were at their cousin's house) and asked if he had any siblings. When I reported that he had 2 brothers she went on to tell me about her NINE brothers and FIVE sisters! It was awesome! She blessed me and seemed genuinly happy for me. I also ran into a couple at the store recently who told me their only regret was not having MORE kids. They were happy to see our young family and sweet boys and said they encouraged good people to have lots of kids. :)


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!