Verbal Birth Control

Even though the vast, vast majority of people I encounter are really excited when they hear I’m carrying twins, nearly every interaction includes the following statement:

“A boy and a girl!?  Perfect!  One and done!”

I expected this a little bit, because most people prefer to have two children, but I didn’t expect it to be such a resounding sentiment used so frequently.  I had no idea people were so unanimous about two kids being the absolute limit, but now I’m totally convinced it’s society’s standard.

Most times I just smile and agree, because I don’t feel the need to tell the grocery store clerk my family plan of having three or four kids, but sometimes I want to dispel the myth that everyone is only having two kids.  So sometimes I speak up and say that we’re hoping for more.  They usually look at me like I just confessed to being a member of the Duggar family.

Or maybe it’s not two kids, maybe it’s just that everyone thinks that every family needs one of each gender.  I would love to know what women carrying twins of the same sex encounter.  I bet most people say, “Oh two girls?  You’ll have to go for one more to get that boy!”

I realize this is mostly just people filling the space with something to say, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of them end up saying the same thing.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with two-children families, or with wanting one of each gender, it’s just bizarre to me that people forcefully assume that we shouldn’t want any more.

I’ve talked to friends who have three or four kids, and they all mostly say the same thing: people are extremely excited for you for the first two, mildly happy for your third, and then deeply confused/concerned for your fourth.  I’m taking this in and preparing my future replies to people who question our sanity, maybe something sassy, like, “It’s not like I’m asking you to raise them!”

I also find it totally absurd when people cry overpopulation, because it’s just not true in this country.  We’ve been below replacement-level fertility as a nation since 1972 (2.1 children per woman is the amount needed to replace the current population).  Our birth rate as of 2009 is 13.5 births for every 1,000 people.

I’m not advocating for everyone to have ten children; I’m just realizing more and more how off-hand comments to strangers really add up.  My advice to people everywhere: when a woman tells you (or you can’t help but notice) that she’s pregnant, just be happy for her, whether it’s her first or her fifth.  If you loathe the idea of people having gaggles of kids, remind yourself that one day those kids will be paying into your social security, and then go on your merry way.


Filed under One WORD (Current Events)

7 responses to “Verbal Birth Control

  1. Glenn

    And your not even Roman Catholic! Social Security will need more like you and very soon I am afraid…

  2. I have read your blog faithfully since it’s inception – and quietly delighted with you as you’ve chronicled this new part of your journey. Love the non-inflammatory, thoughtful way you’ve worded this every-so-interesting phenomenon. I share in your observations (albeit not as a first time mom but as one expecting our sixth) and your sentiments and I really appreciate the way you expressed them here.

    Many blessings!

    • abbyreph

      Thank you, Karissa! I’ve been reading yours too 🙂 Thanks for relating, as you are way ahead of me in this game and I’m sure you’ve weathered your share of comments! It’s inspiring to see you go for it.

  3. i started realizing things were changing a few years ago when people would comment on how big my family is (i am the eldest of five). but growing up, our family was normal sized compared to my cousins with 8 kids. i always envisioned myself having 4 kids… but more and more i am noticing those around me that having a third is a big deal. it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

  4. Abby – such an articulate and thoughtful post! I think you touched on such an important issue in our (especially urban/”progressive”) society — and I could not agree more with your words: “when a woman tells you (or you can’t help but notice) that she’s pregnant, just be happy for her, whether it’s her first or her fifth” Amen! My ONLY caveat is that the mother and family are prepared to responsibly care for each child they bring into this world, as I’m sure you would agree. I have a friend with 4 kids and a friend with 7 – both beautiful, wonderful, God-loving families, and am a firm believer that excitement for ANY new life should never be diluted – I actually find it sort of offensive to that 7th or 4th child – why should they be any less celebrated than their older sibling(s)?? I carry this believe over to baby showers for 2nd and beyond babies as well. Good job already giving your second one a shower. ; )
    We’ll see what happens, but for the record I’m leaving the possibility open for more than 2 as well – so you’re not alone! XO

    • abbyreph

      I wholeheartedly agree that being able to care for the children you have is of utmost importance; thanks for pointing that out. And second and beyond baby showers! Totally! I love that you’re open to more…I’m rooting for you 🙂

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