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Before You Even Ask

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Well well well… I’m sure a lot of you saw this one coming. I’m pregnant again! Starbuck baby number four will be here by the end of April. Though this will be our fourth kid, I can assure you that we feel the same as we did with our first. Excited, terrified and a little punch drunk about it.  

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One thing that always seems to threaten some of my happiness is the way certain people react to the size of my family or the closeness in age of my children. Absolute strangers will say the rudest and most condescending comments. I’ve already written a post about why the size of my family is none of the average public's concern but there are few other things I’d like to address…

A few weeks ago we were at the grocery store after church picking up some items for the coming week. The store was busy and loud and the boys were being, well...boys! Andrew was busy wrangling them away from the candy aisle and Aria was trying to escape the cart as I paid for the food. The clerk then says to me “May I ask when you’re due?”. First of all, I was only eight weeks at the time and didn’t think I was showing much yet. I mean my diastasis recti is always there, but still. How absolutely PRESUMPTUOUS of him. If I were a little faster on my feet I would have said something like “How DARE you!” (gif) and then burst into dramatic sobs while asking to see a manager. But alas, I’m not that quick and simply replied in a stunned tone “Uh, April.” Then came the worst part. He looked me dead in the eyes and said “What in God’s green earth would posses you to have four kids?!”

Um Exsqueeze me?

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Once again I was shocked at the absolute BALLS this stranger had to say that to me. With no witty response in sight I said “ it’s a lot of fun!” while fighting back tears. “If you say so.” he replied. Now to be fair, Andrew totally would have punched this guy's lights out had he not been wrestling said three of our four children. While I wish very badly I could go back in time and tell him what I really think, my DeLorean is in the shop. So this blog post will just have to do.

I have compiled a list of questions that strangers, friends and even family, have asked me over the years. Questions, while perhaps meaning well, have come off as rude and insensitive. But here I am, answering them. Unfiltered and nothing but the honest truth. Some answers and long and some are short. And just as you don’t say to a married couple without kids “when are you going to have kids don’t you like kids you hate babies don’t you” (because you don’t know their situation) there are certain things you don’t say to pregnant women, couples with many children, and especially couples with several kids close in age.

So after taking careful note over the past years...

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And asking some fellow mothers about the rudest questions they’ve been asked….

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I give you your answers….

Q: You know what causes that right?

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A: Of course! You don’t? Let me go get my father’s medical textbooks. I promise I’ll speak slow.

Q: Did you know they have something to prevent that?

A: By something I’m going to assume you mean contraception. And yes I’m well aware. In fact I’m very aware of the different types and methods and how exactly they prevent pregnancy (most of the time). There are many reasons that we do not use contraception but a couple of the main reasons are these. 1) I don’t want toxins in my body. I like this whole “go green” thing and even though I’ll eat a bag of cheetos by myself once in awhile, I’d rather not pump my body with chemicals that will most likely mess with my hormones, weight, and mental health. Believe me, I have a hard enough time with that already. I’m not going to add to it. As a society we are so afraid of GMOs and the like, but don’t bat an eye when it comes to the chemicals in birth control. So yeah. No thanks. 2) Andrew and I are Catholic and follow the Church’s teaching on BC. Which means we don’t use it at all. I know I know... really living in the dark ages, with our Netflix, iPhones, and delivery pizza. But we truly believe in these teachings. What does the church teach exactly? Why is it “so bad?” well that’s really for a separate post but if you want more info then just shoot me an email and we can discuss.

Q: So your plan is to just do as the Pope says and “breed like rabbits”.

A: Well first of all, you are grossly misquoting the man, and second of all, no. That’s not what that means. The Church understands that there are very serious reasons to avoid pregnancy. The Church 100% backs Natural Family Planning. NFP is a completely natural, non-toxic, and chemical-free way of spacing your children. My parents used NFP and my siblings and I are all spaced 2-4 years. Pretty cool, right?  As Catholics we are always open to life (*ahem* Starbuck baby number four) but there are times like sickness (mental and physical) and financial challenges that call for space between children. God also calls us to be responsible and prudent with what we have been given and a lot of times that means giving you and your spouse the time to heal or plan financially for the future.  Again, if you’d like to know more then feel free to shoot me an email and I can give you some more info.

Q: So then do you even use NFP?

A: I’ll assume that question comes from the fact that my children are spaced...well...closely. And the answer is yes! We do use NFP. We use the Archdiocese of Boston method which records information on a woman’s cycle with both a fertility monitor (Clearblue) and by charting your cervical mucus (TMI? You’re welcome). I really love this method! The cool thing is that there are actually many different types of methods of NFP so women can choose which one works best for them and their spouse! So yes, we do use NFP, and we have been in fact, trying to space out our kids. God just had other plans for our family.

Q: Is NFP really that easy?

A: No. There are so many awesome things about NFP. But it’s also really hard. For a lot of young Catholic couples, they are taught about NFP and it comes off as all flowers and hearts and cute little stickers to chart your CM and sex. But it involves a lot of sacrifice. You can be charting and testing perfectly (textbook perfect) and still end up having a baby (like me!) and it can be really, really frustrating. But then you realize that God is asking you to just trust in Him (which is also hard) and at the end of (another) nine months, you are going to have a new beautiful baby with that awesome newborn smell, and those little fingers and toes….Ahhhh it’s amazing.

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On the flip side… you can be charting perfectly and trying to conceive on all the right days but there’s still no plus sign at the end of your cycle. That’s really hard too… NFP does not magically make babies. NFP can also help women discover certain issues that may be preventing them from having a baby like PCOS and endometriosis.

Q: Aren't you worried about overpopulation?

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A: Dude. Check your math! #myth Look, I enjoyed Bill Nye The Science Guy just as much as any kid back in my day. But his episode on overpopulation just never seemed quite right. Turns out the science guy had it wrong. For articles and studies on this, shoot me an email and I’ll provide them.

Q: Was this planned?

A: Nope. I ended up ovulating 7 days later this cycle which is really weird because I always ovulate day 19 or 20.  My monitor didn't pick it up the late ovulation and there were no signs of any fertile cervical mucus, so we got a little surprise!

Oh I'm sorry. Was that too much info? Well you asked.....

Q: Trying for your own reality show? Going to catch the Duggars?

A: Stop. Just stop.

Q: Why won't your husband leave you alone?

A: Ummm is this even a question? Look at me...I’m amazing!

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Q: Don't you have any self control?

A: Yes I do. I'm controlling my urge to slash your tires. Pregnancy hormones are very unforgiving.

Q: Where are you going to put all those kids?

A: In a house.

Q: When are you going to get a TV for your bedroom?

A: Netflix and Chill.

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Q: Are you done after this?

A: I hope not. Andrew and I want a big family. It would be nice to get a little more space in between each kid and that’s what we’ll continue to shoot for. But no, we are not done.

And finally…

Q: What in God’s green earth would posses you to have four kids?

A: Let me tell you about my favorite thing in the whole wide world. It’s called “the bubble”.

There are moments in parenthood that are loud and messy. There are moments that are trying and annoying. But those are far outweighed by “the bubble”. You see there are these perfect little ordinary moments that happen every day. Sometimes I catch them on my finger and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they pop too soon and sometimes  it seems as though it will last forever. These moments are when the sun is rising and the house it quiet. Andrew and I lay in bed with Aria in between sharing a space and breathing in that morning light. I hear Peter and James scurry down the hall and watch them climb into bed with us. And there we are a family. Perfect, whole and so complete. We all lay there in the quiet, a tangled mess of limbs, with hearts full of love…. Another bubble is that first night in the hospital after I’ve just had a baby. The room is silent and fairly dark, except for a few dim lights for when the nurses check on me. Andrew is asleep on the entirely too tiny hospital couch and I lay in bed just staring at the beautiful little person in my arms. Everything is right in the world. I’m not worried about how we’ll manage another child or how this will change our family. I just know that in that moment, in that tiny, perfect little bubble, my life will never be the same and I’m perfectly ok with that.

So, to the clerk at the grocery store, THAT is why I have four beautiful children.