If you’re a mother of multiple kids, and especially if all of those many children are little, you can probably remember the first time someone shamed you for a third, fourth, fifth or sixth pregnancy.
As a mom of five under four, I sure as heck can.
The most common comment of them all:
“Don’t you know what causes that?”
Whenever somebody says this, they sort of he-he-ha-ha in the most ridiculous sort of way… as if they were the first person to ever think to say such a thing. And that they are SO hilarious for doing so.
In that moment, my fist wants to punch them in the throat. There I stand, fifty months pregnant, attempting not to blow my bullshit sweet-disposition with the utterly annoyed face that is my true emotion. But all the while I’m just dying inside and sarcastically thinking, “No, I have no idea how babies are made. Please enlighten me, you arrogant S.O.B.”
Maybe what you’ve heard was meant to be a one-sided joke like what I experienced so frequently. Or maybe they were truly just trying to be an asshole as they commented on your lack of birth control, knowledge of conception, or the wild household you already run.
Either way, it was hurtful or annoying or off-color enough, that you still remember it to this day.
Pregnancy is meant to be a happy time, and it’s already tough enough as is. So let’s make the coming out with it easy, pleasant, and exciting. Not fearful and anxiety-ridden. If a woman is, or has decided to be, excited about a pregnancy, it’s time for everyone to jump on board too — regardless of their own personal feelings on the matter. Regardless of how many children she has.
And if you can’t be nice and don’t have anything nice to say, don’t forget your mama’s good-hearted saying: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
That’s why the internet loves Anna Strode for an Instagram post she wrote. Strode, a seven months pregnant, soon-to-be mother of four, is bringing pregnancy shaming to light by exposing comments she’s heard throughout her latest pregnancy and shedding some light on her true thoughts behind them.
Strode says she has received multiple messages from people instructing her to “STOP HAVING BABIES.” As well as, “Wow, surely you’re not pregnant AGAIN.”
Strode, already parenting three-year-old twins and a one-year-old daughter, says she’s always wanted four children close in age and was thrilled when her husband wanted the same. She says, “For as long as I can remember, 4 just seemed like the number for me.”
And really, who is anybody else to tell her any different?
But still, like so many other moms, sometimes it can be difficult for Strode not to take some of these hateful comments to heart.
View this post on Instagram
I had absolutely no idea that "pregnancy shaming" existed until, I announced we had baby #4 on the way. You may have noticed I've been a little quite on Instagram the last 7 or so months. I've been busy and sick but also a little anxious when posting. Why?! Because over the past 7 months I have been criticised, judged and blatantly questioned why we have chosen to have another baby. I've had comments and inbox messages saying all sorts of things from "wow, surely you're not pregnant AGAIN 😳" to "STOP HAVING BABIES" to people asking if I don't believe in contraception and making rude comments about our children being so close in age and that I won't enjoy them. So to be clear… Yes – I do believe in contraception, I was on it for manyyyyyy years. YES this baby WAS planned. We actually tried for a few months before successfully falling pregnant. And YES, I thoroughly enjoy my children even though they are close in age. I LOVE it in fact! I always wanted 4 children. For as long as I can remember, 4 just seemed like the number for me. I also all imagined them being close in age. I was blessed that my husband wanted the same. I never imagined that doing what my hubby and I wanted to do, would upset so many people or affect them in anyway. I mean, I don't understand why us having another baby would worry anyone so much? Anyone would think I asked the "pregnancy shamers" to wake all night and feed my baby, change dirty nappies, entertain my toddlers. But no, nothing will change for them so why the negativity towards me and my families choices?! I've decided some people are just negative and that's that… you can't please everyone. Be kind people, please be kind ✨ Has anyone else ever experienced pregnancy shaming?! #motherhoodunplugged #motherhoodunfiltered #momlife #pregnancy #mumsofinstagram
“I have even avoided going to certain cafes or shops because of being afraid of the comments that come with it,” Strode told Scary Mommy. “I do remind myself to always be positive and not worry about what others think but I get sick of having to justify our situation and explain that this is EXACTLY how we wanted things to go.”
That’s a problem. Why are women having to explain their pregnancies anyhow?
When a woman doesn’t have children, she’s harped on to begin trying from just about everyone that she knows. If she only has one child, then it’s horrible not to give them any siblings. But if she has “too many kids,” behold the pregnancy shaming trolls, because that’s just unacceptable … or at least that’s what so many others like to remind us. Even more confusing, the “too many” number is subjective depending upon which judgmental troll you encounter that day.
For the uptight folks in society who are guilty of pregnancy shaming regardless of the circumstance, we women in the world without an ice-cold soul like yours would appreciate it if you’d make up your fucking mind already. Not so we know what to do with our family plan, but so we can better prepare for your shitty reaction when you spew an unsolicited opinion on something that does not (in any way, shape, or form) pertain to you.
Because as of now, it feels like women are damned if we have too many children and damned if we don’t have enough. Will we ever reach a happy medium? And better yet, why should we try, when you could just shut the hell up?
As Strode said, “Anyone would think I asked the ‘pregnancy shamers to wake all night and feed my baby, change dirty nappies, [and] entertain my toddlers. But no, nothing will change for them, so why the negativity toward me and my family’s choices?”
It’s safe to assume that if an expectant mother hasn’t asked for your help thus far, she’s probably not going to start now. Subsequent pregnancy announcements do not warrant a non-negotiable charity handout. But even if they did, what happened to that village I’m always hearing about? Where in the fresh hell is it? (Can someone PLEASE draw one of us moms with numerous kids a map?)
Let’s get one thing straight — the people who are pregnancy shaming other women are not even a variable in the baby-making equation on the parents’ end of the spectrum. Therefore, their decision to continue having children will not be warped by the voice (or in this case, the internet comments) of a malicious heart.
We don’t know what another mother has been through to get her to where she is in her pregnancy. We don’t have the slightest idea how much she bargained, prayed, and pleaded for that baby. So for someone else to take something that is so good to someone else, and try to turn it into something negative, is the very definition of narcissistic behavior. It makes you an asshole.
Having an opinion, especially when it comes to someone else’s family planning, doesn’t entitle you to share it.