When holidaying interstate, I always enjoy catching up with the good friends I’ve sadly left behind. While our kids all play together with the effortless enthusiasm that accompanies fresh friends, there’s always plenty of news to share over a hot cuppa.
One such visit with a family of four came with the surprise announcement of a third baby on the way. As I overwhelmed my friends with excitement and congratulations, I couldn’t help but recall the mixed feelings that simmered when I learnt of my own third pregnancy.
My husband and I always knew we wanted to have children, and thankfully we were able to. So there was no decision to make when embarking on the zero to one journey. And we also knew that we didn’t want our first child to be an only child. So once again, there was no need for us to vote on crossing the road from one to two.
But then, unexpectedly, the subject became a little knotty. Unexpectedly, in part, because by this stage I had endured two rather complicated births, and I had never really embraced pregnancy either. Surely, the most reasonable answer was to shut the shop.
“What a nice little family you have,” everyone would gush. “How lucky you are to have one of each, a pigeon pair!” And despite my usual dependence on all things being even and balanced, our “nice little family” strangely felt a bit too little, and a bit too balanced. We even had two perfectly-proportional-one-of-each-gender cats.
Being the youngest of three myself, I wondered if I was only wishing for a third child to whom I might more easily relate? And after two healthy children, was I totally risking the odds? Or possibly chancing twins? Triplets!? (yes, this actually happened to someone I knew…)
As I carefully stored all our predominantly pink baby clothes, followed by all our predominantly blue baby clothes, I asked my friends for their thoughts. I read blogs written by mothers of three. And four. And five. I quizzed my mum. And I interrogated the handful of friends I had who had already braved the innumerable challenges of fitting three car seats across the backseat.
And then, one morning, there it was. An undeniable positive pregnancy test.
When I broke the news, my mothers’ group – my wonderfully supportive but-we’re-all-totally-stopping-at-two-kids mothers’ group – thought I was completely mad. And so began my search for some empathetic allies.
As I neared the end of my pregnancy, my husband and I met and became close friends with a family of eight – six kids, at the time ranging from 13 years down to 10 months. Six kids, entirely by choice, without pressure from any creed I was in awe of this mother. Next to her brood of six, I suddenly felt like a new mother all over again. With only three offspring in tow, spanning a mere five years, I suddenly felt extremely naive and terribly inexperienced.
There’s nothing quite like spending time with a large family to put my occasional woes with three children into perspective. And for this reality check, I will be forever grateful. However, my interstate friends, with their exciting baby news, are still a long way off this lifestyle.
I love being a mother of three – the laughs, the chaos, the love – I wouldn’t have it any other way. But let’s be quite clear… there definitely won’t be another, I’ve already turned the page.
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