When I announced I was pregnant with my third child, people were suspicious. Really? A third? Are you quite sane? Then came the assumptions. Either it was an accident, ho ho, or we must have been after a particular gender. I already have one of each and I meticulously plan everything, so hey, believe it or not, I willingly walked into a life of nappy-brained chaos.
Many of my mum friends talked about a sense of completion. Whether through exhaustion, career aspirations, finances, or simply feeling satisfied, they knew. Time to draw a line under the baby years. No more sleep deprivation, wee in the face, or soggy rice-cake mushed into the carpet. One friend said she felt liberated the day she went on Ebay and sold her Bugaboo for parts. Another bragged about redecorating a living room that had once been the club of all things bright, plastic, noisy and light-up.
I heard them:
‘You know, I actually have time for myself again. I’m planning to take up colouring. By the way, it’s my fortieth soon. Anyone fancy a late-night bender? Like the old days? Honestly, my pair get up and sort themselves out for breakfast, so if I need a lie-in, I can have it.’
Yes, I heard them.
But it didn’t make a difference.
I didn’t share – or even know – that ‘done’ feeling. I wasn’t ready to give up the annoying toys and all-night feeding marathons. The idea of harvesting a Bugaboo didn’t feel me with joy. It made me feel sad. I wanted another baby, another child, another person in my family. Regardless of whether I had the spare energy or the means, I absolutely had the love.
After such a mixed reaction, however, it struck me that having three children is no longer a common choice. In the good old days, you were only a ‘large’ family if your dad had to drive you to school in a mini-van. Now, it seems three is the benchmark for crazy, oversized rabbles of children that no one wants to invite to play-dates.
It’s no secret that the world is designed for families of four: hotel rooms, tables in restaurants, hatchback cars, and, oh my, lest I forget, affordable three-bedroom semis, they all offer nuclear-sized comfort. Throw another small bottom into the mix and it either gets illegal, cramped or expensive.
Financial comfort, particularly in our current housing market, along with reasonably priced holidays and an intense dislike of screeching, are all good reasons to stick to two. Yet, when that maternal instinct starts to tug, as anyone who’s felt it knows, the power is all-consuming.
Fast-forward a year, and I have my wish, my third, my little prince. Some of the aforementioned struggles have indeed become part of our every day fabric (affordable larger house anyone?), but others have never materialised. I honestly don’t notice the day-to-day stress any more than I used to. What I do notice, however, is the increased happiness. My family feels complete.