I’m currently in the middle of drafting a revisit of a Q&A post I made seven years ago and one of the questions has warranted, I think, a bit more exploration. Namely the one that I get asked fairly often by anyone who has known me a certain length of time. Didn’t you say you were going to have four? I wanted four. When B1 was born, I still wanted four (eventually). When B2 came along I still maybe wanted four but fully recognised that, as she got to the sleeping-through-the-night-reliably stage, things were good as they were. B3 was a surprise and that pregnancy was the toughest because I was older and had a one and five-year-old to chase about. Gone were the days of lounging around watching daytime TV as I waited to go into labour… The hours before B3’s birth were taken up with the school run, Tumble Tots, having to go and have my heart monitored at the surgery because I kept getting palpitations, feeling a lot better and deciding to take eldest to her acro dance class and then, eventually, once I had the time, labour.
Mention a fourth to my husband and he has no trouble at all remembering these moments:
Unfortunately, and somewhat unfairly I think, the memory of the mother can be a fey and fickle thing in comparison to the father, thanks to those pesky reproduction hormones/memory scramblers. I can KNOW that pregnancy is usually quite shit, there are no guarantees of a healthy baby at the end of it and that early parenthood is really really hard, and yet my ovaries are all:
Luckily, by the time I was pregnant for the third time, I had an inkling of memory-lapses to come. That’s why there exists a word document on my computer with the label ‘read this if you ever feel tempted to have a fourth child.’ I wrote it when I was approximately 8 months pregnant with B3 and it contains such delightful reminders as:
- Shooting pains across stomach when I walk, enough to make me stop in my tracks.
- Aching hips when I lie on one side in bed.
- Sometimes actually too heavy to heave over onto other side.
- Can’t sleep, need toilet, just been to toilet, now awake, shooting pain, fear of labour, need toilet again.
- Thighs enormous. Legs enormous. Arms podgy. Everything fat. Not cute. Cumbersome and heavy. Every pregnancy worse, imagine size of thighs by a fourth. Might never see toes again.
- So unfit, so self-conscious, want to hide.
- Can’t lift B2 easily, can’t hold her on my lap, feel like we’re both missing out on her babyhood.
- Only coat which fits now is awful, tent-like shroud of unattractive frumpiness.
- Need to pee every 10 minutes. No exaggeration. Worse as day goes on. Hurts to get up and hobble to toilet. By time I hobble back, need to pee again.
- Bloody hell but I could murder a glass of wine.
- Physically hurts when baby moves. It doesn’t feel normal, it feels like something is beating me from the inside. What is it doing? Aches and pressure, doesn’t feel right or normal, not sustainable.
- Newborns are cute but they’re no fun. They keep you up all night, savage your nipples, shit incessantly, they don’t smile.
- Nourish and love your body back to itself. Don’t do this to it again. It has done its part.
- Time to be a mum now, not a baby vessel. Value yourself more than that; value your children more than that.
We used to trot out the old ‘he wants two, she wants four, we’ll compromise on four’ line as a joke. And if I’m completely honest, I probably would still have a fourth (now the dust has settled and B3 is more self-sufficient by the day) IF my husband wanted one. But he doesn’t. Which means that having that fourth wouldn’t so much BE a compromise as it would compromise… and when you look at what it would compromise, then the choice becomes an awful lot easier.
Besides, you know, my thighs have only just got back to normal. Not to mention that if we did end up having another one, this blog-post would make me look a right tit.