"Your third child in four years? Did you mean for this to happen?" Here's how to respond.
Doctors, colleagues, friends … Some people don’t beat around the bush and brazenly ask what others might only whisper. “Your third child in four years? Was it on purpose?” Such questions are typical at a time when everything is supposed to be perfectly planned and controlled.
Our response is often silence or blushing. Whether we answer “yes” or “no” we may look like a fool.
But what if we tackled the question head-on and expressed our feelings?
Are you nervous about your pregnancy? That’s legitimate and understandable. Admitting to fears and anxieties allows the person you are talking to—if he or she is even slightly attentive or empathetic—to reassure you, console you, and show some support.
“We have the right to be Christian and open to life, and still to be disconcerted when we’re surprised by the arrival of a baby,” says Hélène Perez, a marriage counselor, who says that many parents who consult her in these circumstances are “stunned.”
Are you feeling joyful? Then don’t stifle it under shame and guilt, exacerbated by the remarks of those around you. Seize the joy, as timid as it may be, and let it blossom. Protect it and express it, as Pope Francis urges in Amoris Laetitia:
With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood. Your child deserves your happiness. Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world. Prepare yourself for the birth of your child, but without obsessing, and join in Mary’s song of joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” (Lk 1:46-48). Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy, so that you can pass it on to your child.”