You’ve had your first baby scan, that special moment when your partner and yourself see your baby for the first time. This little bean you have been waiting to meet for 12 weeks, which a part of you still needed that bit of confirmation, that he or she was real. There your baby is, finally in front of you on that screen, that tiny bean of life. Congratulations, you’re having a baby!
First time around, you’re filled with absolute adrenaline, a huge conflict of emotions. Shit, we’re pregnant, now what? WE’RE HAVING A BABY. I’m a new mum to be. What will he/she look like? Will he/she have your eyes? Will he/she have my stubbornness? Your head spirals and this can last for quite a few weeks as you adjust to the news which will change your life forever. Then the planning begins, the announcements are made and everyone is utterly and completely excited for you. The suggestions and guesses come flooding in. ‘You’re carrying high, its a boy.’ ‘Lots of morning sickness, oh you must be having a girl.’
When it is your first baby, you don’t really mind all of the guessing and the fussing. You take it on the chin that everybody just has your best interests at heart and are really excited for you. Though I don’t know about you but I did draw the line at every stranger touching my tummy – what’s the deal with that?! However, when I was expecting my second child, quite quickly after having my first, I found myself a little less patient to hear every bodies opinions and comments.
Now, my daughter was 9 months old when we found out we were expecting our son. He was a complete and utter surprise, but a wonderful surprise at that. With having a second child so quickly after my first, this drew even more attention, questions and even more advice was headed my way. I am not by any means saying to ignore friends and family for 9 months, everyone really does mean well and has your best interests at heart. But, some of these comments have really stuck with me and I know I am not the only person to have experienced them. So, for the expecting mums, this post is for you, to give you a little heads up at for comments that may come your way when you’ve had two babies close together. For the mums that have already been through this experience, I hope you can look back with me and have a good old chuckle.
1) ‘Was it planned?’
This one is a good old go to from everyone under the sun, whether your baby is your first or your twelfth, be prepared for this question. There are no limits as to who will ask you this either, from the checkout assistant whilst you do your weekly shop to your mother in law, I guarantee you this is quite literally some of the first words that come out of people’s mouths when they realise you are pregnant. Congratulations, swiftly followed with ‘was it planned?’ Instead of saying exactly what is on the tip of all of our tongues ‘what do you mean was our baby planned?!!! When was it any of your goddam business?’ But no, we push our instincts aside and go with the polite version, which for me was ‘no absolutely not, however, we are blessed to have been able to conceive a further time without challenges’. Which, of course, we did and still do feel extremely and truly grateful for our ease to conceive our two beautiful babies, however, I still didn’t think it essential to be asked this quite personal question.
2) ‘You didn’t wait long!’
Really?! This one makes me chuckle stating the obvious as if I wasn’t already aware. As mentioned above, our personal circumstances, our daughter was 9 months old when we were expecting our second baby. Hence, there are only 17 months between our children, which is fabulous as they have a wonderful bond and we can do activities where both children can join in and enjoy. But this comment really does still surprise me. Since having my two, I have purposefully sought out other families with two children under two, mainly for the moral support and also so my children have friends of similar ages for double play dates. Through doing so, I have found it really isn’t rare for families to have children close together in age. So, why is it such a shock when people, planned or not, fall pregnant soon after having their first?
3) ‘Are you worried about the birth?’
WHAT!!!! Why would you even bring the birth up yet?! I’ve got 6 more months till I have to even THINK about pushing another baby out. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. After having an extremely traumatic birth with my first child, this was certainly the last thing I wanted to focus on during my second pregnancy, let alone have all my fears and experiences come flooding back with one question. To be honest, after my first labour, I was absolutely bricking it to give birth again. I hadn’t dealt with the mental and emotional challenges and so when I found out I was expecting again out of the blue, all of this came flooding back and I just didn’t want to deal with it. So this was definitely NOT a favourite question I had been asked, but it was one I inevitably had to face. My advice to any mums out there is, do not let your first experience of childbirth overshadow future labours. Each and every pregnancy and birth is completely different and unique. What may have happened the first time around, whether completely smooth sailing, couldn’t be closer to the textbook birth, to a birth requiring every intervention going, the second time around may be completely different. So, though this question for me personally scared the bajeebers out of me, it also forced me to gain a perspective and actually helped me to clear my mind ready for my second labour.
4) ‘Wow, you’re HUGE this time around, are you having twins?’
Are you freakin’ kidding me?! Firstly, may I ask you if you have ever heard a woman liked to be referred to as HUGE? No, ok then, now let me ask you this. Then why do you think it is wise and a fabulous idea to ask an extremely irrational, emotional pregnant women if she is having twins because she is huge compared to her first pregnancy? This really makes me chuckle now just for the sheer bluntness of this question, but my god at the time did it make my blood boil. I am absolutely sure that when you are pregnant you carry a sign above your head that people can say or ask anything they please and it’s ok to do so because you are pregnant. It wasn’t even the case that only 1 person asked me this, at least 5 different people asked me if I was having twins and each time I was devastated. Already, as a pregnant lady, you go through so many changes to your body and it is a lot to deal with, it is completely out of your control how your body takes to being pregnant. As my husband put it so nicely, with my first, everything just got wide, my legs, arms and tummy. But with my second, my whole pregnancy focused around my tummy and I just looked like a huge whale, it doesn’t help that I am really short, 5ft 2. I was the virtual re-enactment of the song, so frequently sung by my husband ‘and she waddled away’ (for those who don’t know the reference, look up the duck song, warning it is EXTREMELY catchy and irritating). So, if someone then comments on your size, it really can hit hard. But, just know, that your body is changing and growing because your baby is thriving due to all your are providing for it. You are growing bigger as your baby grows strong and healthy. Plus it won’t last forever. Love your bump, it is only with you for 9 months and there is no bond like the one you have during pregnancy, you will never be that physically close to your baby again. Love your size, love your bump.
5) ‘You can’t lift that, you’re pregnant.’
Hands up all you independent women out there, this one is for you. When you are pregnant, people genuinely try to put your well-being and health first. The only problem with this is that people do not know your own capabilities, what you can and can’t manage still. So anything from picking up a chair, a box of a few books to your own child, someone will have the need to say ‘You can’t lift that, you’re pregnant’ and do it for you. Now, the intention is all well and good, and I really appreciated the care and gesture. However, I knew my own capabilities, how I felt and what I could/couldn’t do, I didn’t need to be patronized and told. I love people’s caring spirits, but oh how it can be overwhelming sometimes. You know your body better than anyone else, you know what you can manage and you know when it’s time to call for help. Just make sure you do actually listen to your body when enough is enough, it isn’t a bad thing to have a little help once in a while.
6) ‘I bet your daughter is excited.’
Ooo this one does still make me laugh. As mentioned above, my daughter was only 9 months when we found out we were expecting, even at full term, she was still only 17months old. Did she have a clue that Mummy had got substantially bigger and had a baby growing inside of her? Did she for one minute realise that her whole world was about to change forever? Did she have any inkling into the fact a little baby brother was about to invade her very short only child life that she had always known? Did she heck?! She was 17months old for goodness sake. At this age, all my daughter was bothered about was having fun playing with Mummy and Daddy, her naps and food food food. I would have loved to have involved her in my pregnancy, picking out names, outfits and talking about her baby brother. But at less than 2 years old, she just would not have been able to grasp this concept at all. She had only just started walking a couple of months beforehand and adding more words to her ever-growing vocabulary, let alone being able to understand that a little baby was due to share her home any day soon. If, however, your child/children are older than 2/3years old, I would definitely recommend involving them. At this age, they have more of an understanding of the world around them and can communicate better with you. So, it would be best practise to involve them in the pregnancy to prepare them for the arrival of their sibling. It would also help to explain to them that Mummy has to potentially go into hospital as well so that they are prepared for your absence and aware that you will not be coming home alone. Most importantly, I believe that if your other children are involved in your pregnancy early on, they start to build a bond with the new baby before he/she has even arrived.
7) ‘It’s perfect you now have one of each, you won’t be needing anymore now.’
As I typed this comment out that I still genuinely get even though my youngest is 9 months old, I still find my mouth hits the floor in shock for various reasons. Firstly, I am aware that many people still think everybody wants one of each gender and that this is the perfect combination, one boy and one girl. However, for us, we did not care in the slightest what our baby was to be, boy or girl. Yes, we did already have a wonderful, happy little girl. But we honestly were not hung up on gender. We were grateful for a perfect, happy, 10 fingers, 10 toes baby, whatever it was to be. It just so happened, we were expecting a boy. Yes, I was excited for the new experiences and new clothes, but gender to us was not a focus point and you would think in this modern day, it wouldn’t be for anyone else either, oh how I am so wrong! Literally, just the other day, a friend of mine turned around and said one boy and one girl, that’s perfect, you don’t need any more kids. No, you are right, I have two healthy children, there is no NEED for any more kids, but I don’t believe anyone has children because they NEED them, people have children because they WANT them. There is nothing more rewarding than having children. These incredible little beings that you get to spend the rest of your life with, who look up to you to learn and develop, who you are proud of for every tiny thing they do, who you are grateful for each and every day. So no, I may not need more children, but that does not mean I don’t want any more children just because I already have one of each gender. I also don’t think a family is only complete when they have children of each gender either. There are so many benefits to having two girls, two boys and a boy and a girl. But the best part is, no matter their gender, they still grow up together, with a bond that is unbreakable. There is nothing quite like it and that is what is important.