Lots of things changed by the kid— like the size of my laundry pile and the level of my sanity. Most of those things started with kid two for me and just sort of slowly grew while I wasn’t paying attention—or in this case having kids—until I couldn’t possibly ignore them, also kind of like my laundry pile, but it seemed there was one sudden change, a switch thrown when baby numbers exceeded 2. It wasn’t a change so much in my life, but in other folks, ones whose dinner I don’t cook.
First, the more kids you have the more interested in your uterus people become. At kid one, people are like, “Ah, how cute. When are you going to have another?” At kid two, it’s like “Oh, good a matching pair. You’re not having more are you?” At kid three, “So, what are you doing for birth control these days?” And by kid four, “You didn’t get your tubes tied!?!?” I’m afraid they’ll be coming at me with a scalpel if I go for 5…
Those same people who are suddenly jumping up your fallopian tube are also less excited about your baby. With my first kid there was a train of people at the hospital just after my labor, I had a pile of free diapers, flowers, baby clothes—even a freakin’ milkshake, but by kid four even most of own family were happy to wait until the next holiday gathering to meet the “newest one.”
And the change didn’t stop at those who care if I’m certifiable by age 35, having more kids even affected how people I pay reacted. My well child visit lengths decreased exponentially by the kid— as if having more children somehow makes you a pediatrician. It’s not like every kid is different and you might run into something new. You got this. Even the nurses after my labor treated me differently after they saw I had three other kids. No more helpful drop-ins to change diapers or offer cookies, and I like cookies damn it.
You may be thinking well that makes sense sort of I guess, because yeah, you don’t really need to be told things like how to change a diaper with each new kid, but explain why even complete strangers look down on parents with more than two kids? By kid three people suddenly went from offering helpful advice and oogling my unquestionably adorable baby to shooting annoyed looks or every multikid mom’s favorite pitty comment: “you have your hands full.”
Actually, I more than have my hands full— unless I’m hiding like 6 arms in that uterus everyone is so interested in, because technically it takes two arms with hands attached to hold a child. It’s a good thing that all of my children were planned and I wasn’t blissfully unawares that four kids would be a challenge— ok, I was a little blissfully unawares. I had no idea I’d have four of the most destructively intelligent and stubbornly wonderful children on the planet, but that’s another topic. We’re talking about changes here.
A lot of strangers also assume that because we have four kids we must be on welfare, ignore our children, and just
have no idea what birth control is. We went from being productive contributors to the continuation of the human race to being greedy leaches with shitty parenting skills oblivious to overpopulation. It’s impossible that we actually wanted this many kids, and that, le gasp, we love them all and our “full” lives.
The abrupt and unwarranted perspective shift in others that comes with more kids isn’t a positive one. And the fact is that no matter how many kids you have if they are all loved and cared for who cares how many there are? Isn’t the value of a human child the same whether it’s the first out or the fourth? I don’t expect people to shower me with gifts with each new child (those cookies would be nice though) it’d just be nice if the didn’t look at me like a breeding machine parasite. (The Viking children…they are coming.)