When questioning the fertility and family size of folks who have more than 2.8 children, you are encouraged to avoid the same. trite. comments. every. single. body. else. has. used. before. you.
Seriously. It's lame. We live in a circus of our own, with our own brands of chaos. If you're going to waste our time with the same junk as everyone else, save your breath. It takes a lot to entertain us, given our own spawned clowns and elephants. It's the one common vent amongst parents of larger sized families.
The family of four kids I have doesn't really feel that large to me. But, I got lots of crap when I was pregnant with Blur. So you can imagine why I felt a need to just keep this fifth one off the radar completely. I was mentally and emotionally starting to come around to the idea of surprise #5, and then my husband outed me on Facebook with a post of an ultrasound picture. He missed the memo on my non-online-disclosure decision. I'd intentionally kept it off my primary page, and only shared in closed groups and private messages where I knew I'd have supportive, or at least funny, commentary.
And in that 21 week scan, we learned this baby had bilateral cysts on the choroid plexus. It's a normal variant, provided there are no other variants like the long bones being short. Thankfully the long bones were measuring normally, if not a week ahead of dates. (It explains the incessant craving for dairy, there was some bone growth & ossification happening.) So we had to do a follow up today. The cysts remedied themselves. The fluid was apparently just extra buildup in some hormonal surge and extra time was needed to reabsorb it. I don't have to go back to get that monitored. Then there's the issue of my "advanced maternal age" prompting things like needing a fetal echo done. Yep, heart is fine too. Everything is where it should be and functioning properly and well.
Since my husband outed me, I figured I'd post my own picture from today's scan. Apparently, I'm not stalker-worthy material and some folks were unaware of the story, and that surprised a few more folks. And then visibly, the belly is winning the race now, and it's darn near impossible to hide the belly, unless I don one of Omar-the-tentmaker's frocks. So, I'm getting comments in person too.
Here, let me just answer all the questions and save folks the trouble of asking. I want to spare you the trouble, and also spare you the dirty looks you'll get, plus the tone of voice, and sharp responses of which I'm capable of providing. Because like I said: It's lame, and it does nothing to entertain me. And it's just not funny. I'm easily amused, but the same questions just don't do it for me. Step up your game already. Be original and humorous. Give me something I haven't already heard.
Are you ready for it? Here goes:
1. Yes, we know what causes it. We've had 21 years of practice. We're damn good at it. We like it. We're married to each other, so we're SUPPOSED to be doing it with each other, not someone else. It's not wrong to actually LIKE your spouse. We've worked a lot of years to get where we are, and we like where we are. Don't be jealous that you can't get in on our party, ok? Just go get your own.
2. Yes, we have tv, cable, dvd's, etc and we utilize them. We actually have multiples of each. Oh, ANNNND we have computers with internet access, plus smartphones. We have friends. We have access to entertainment. And we have access to each other - you know like I said up there^ in that spousal thing.
3. Yes, *I* am Catholic, but my husband is not. Our inter-faith marriage is always a work in progress, and we don't follow any one strict tenet versus another. Ours is an interesting dance of sorts, melded together the last 21 years with a lot of compromise after a lot of trial and error. Apparently, I'm a better Catholic than I thought I was, though. And apparently, I'm the kind of Catholic girl the Southern Baptist boys like. Take that as you will.
4. Yes, we've heard of birth control, and condoms, and at some points, we HAVE utilized a variety of all of them. I don't have to share this topic with anyone outside of my husband, I am not going to share the details of why, how, etc of what we do in that regard. I don't say a word about your decision to do permanent sterilization, hormonal birth control, barrier methods, etc. Be respectful of what we do, just like I'm respectful of what you do. In short, I stay out of your uterus, you stay out of mine.
5. Yes, everything OBVIOUSLY functions just normally, nothing is broken, so please tell me what is there to fix?
6. Yes, I have my hands full. I have a head and heart full too. The van is full. The house is full. The garage is full too. Our lives are full. How is yours? Is it full of good stuff or just junk and drama and crap?
There are people who completely ache and pay lots of money to ATTEMPT to even get a tenth of what we have. I'm truly and completely blessed, while my heart breaks for those who long for the simplest part of my life, and some may never have it. Don't tell me the obvious, because somewhere in earshot of your comment is someone else who you're insulting in the opposite manner, by reminding them of their empty hearts and arms. And there are those who have suffered the losses of 4, 5, even 8, or 12, or more babies and pregnancies. They are so grateful to have a baby make it into this world, while forever mourning the loss of those who grew wings before seeing light of day. They happily bring as many into this world as they humanly can. It hurts and it stings and it drives the knives deeper, while you twist them. Do you still feel brilliant saying that one?
7. No, I don't know how YOU do it with just one, or two. Seriously, I need balance in my life, and I need my own interests and hobbies. I don't know how you can helicopter- and lawnmower-parent a completely normal child who has zero no neuro-challenges and come out the other side with your dignity and sanity intact, or theirs for that matter. I delegate stuff to the kids to do, as they become independent and capable enough to handle things. I've blogged about that before. Simply put, it's my job to create independent people who can function outside of me, and handle the hiccups of life. I have my own interests because one day those buggers will fly the nest and I don't want to be that mother-in-law that gets ranted about on the internet. I want my children and their families to feel like I respect their adulthood, and parenthood, and I will do my best to allow that by knowing my place in their world and not encroaching where I do not belong. I blessedly have a fair selection of wise in-laws who may not agree with how we do things, but they know it's not their family or household.
8. No, I didn't realize that we didn't need to have any more kids. Thank you for telling me that. I didn't realize I was still 6, and asking for a second dessert an hour before bedtime. Last I checked, we are well beyond age 18, and still married to the same person after all these years. If I have my wits about me, we have kids who are 20 and almost 19. So unless there's some strange science or miracle, I think we are qualified to decide what my husband and I need, or don't need. I think your words simply speak of your own insecurities, and lack of time spent with us and getting to know us sufficiently. We are raising our kids in a manner that rivals most any other way modern parents do nowadays, and we've got one who was trained for management at his job as soon as he graduated high school, and another about to head off to MCRD Parris Island for boot camp. The Marines don't take *just* anybody. Our oldest daughter has life skills her peers can't fathom, and a perspective they won't achieve till they're much older. Our preschooler is articulate, funny, well-adjusted and capable of handling things kids her age still have a tantrum over happening, and she's fiercely independent. But they're still capable of being kids. We haven't robbed them of anything. We've sacrificed our own self-serving desires to give them what they need. We have indulged in some things, because we need balance and they need to see us doing our own thing, chasing our own goals and dreams, and they need to see us sacrifice for the greater good or to achieve those goals. Despite the fact that I'm running headlong toward 40, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, either.
9. Yes, they were all surprises. No, we didn't plan or try for any of them. They were all not in our radar at the times they appeared on it, and now we can't imagine that radar without them there. Then they brought friends to the party, who we mistreat just the same as we do our own. I have birthed and borrowed children, and never imagined this many people would call me Mom. I'm just glad I didn't have to change all of THEIR diapers, or potty train them.
10. No, we don't know if we're done yet. We thought we were done with the last 5. No, we don't know if we'll have any more. Every time we have thought "done" and laid plans of our own, another mini human comes along and mucks up the plans. But it's cool. We make pretty babies with brains and a sense of humor. And they think it's pretty neat that mom & dad ride motorcycles. Well, dad does, mom's just good at dropping them and then getting pregnant again.
One other side note about the variations of these questions: Again, when you're asking a parent of one, or ten, about the number of kids, you're insulting them. And the ones who only have one or two who like previously mentioned, utterly ACHE for more kids and can't attain that are once again stabbed by your words. Why must you be so intrusive? Don't be offended if one of us snaps back with "Why? were you looking to hire me as your surrogate, because I don't know if I'm the one you want doing that. I might not want to give up a child to be raised by twits like you."
11. No, I'm not easily offended. I married a Marine and had a bunch of children with him. When you have that combination, you recognize when God laughs at you (in my case, it's almost daily since the early 1990s), and you learn to live by that other Marine motto: Semper Gumby. If you think you can offend me, you can, but it requires extreme stupidity, lack of consideration and forethought, no sense of humor, and downright intrusive and demeaning foolishness. I am not sure you want to test the mettle of this Feisty Irish Wench. Some of the things slung at me verbally by strangers, meant to offend, really didn't do that. I've survived a number of things, including two teens at once - and one was a daily test of my faith and ovarian fortitude. I have reasonably thick skin, and some of you will be lucky I don't have him with me when you open your mouth.
So, please, I absolutely encourage you to get creative when you see me or my larger-family cohorts. Ask us something we have NOT already been asked. Or for poops n giggles, maybe say something encouraging to the mom whose day is shot because of that series of wackadoodle events instead of "well you chose to have that many". Yep, we ultimately did. Someone has to combat the stupidity of the world, and it may as well be us, because YOU are sucking at it.