I remember being embarrassed as a young mother when I went out in public with my youngest kid. He was a baby, and I knew at that point that I was a baby too. It was never my plan to be a stereotypical southern girl, who had nothing better to do than either a) frequent Big Truck Rallies and get knocked up, or b) get married and make babies before I even turned 21. I felt like people looked at me and tried to decide which one of those I was. It might as well have been the same thing. I know it’s not, but I was so worried about appearances and what complete strangers thought about me, that unless I went out in a t-shirt that read “Hey, you! I am married…and Big Trucks SUCK!” then people had no reason not to thing the former.
With my second child, I was 23, and I felt a little better about that age ratio. With my third child, I was nearly 32, which was a completely acceptable age in the general population. However, I was usually the oldest person waiting for an OB appointment at my doctor’s office. It was an “above average” age for this area, I think. That is not based on any hard and fast data that I’ve looked at, but on my own experience. The problem with the third kid, in my mind, was that I never should have had 3 kids. My problem was not about age at this point, but still about “the numbers”. 3 kids?? WHO does that? It’s not like the other two kids were spoiled rotten and had everything their little hearts desired thrust into their laps. What business did I have with 3 kids? What the hell was God thinking?? He must have been taking a nap or something. He certainly was NOT on his game at that point, in my humble opinion. On top of that, I had kidney stones during this pregnancy, and a kinked line between my right kidney and bladder. A stent had to be put in for the duration of my pregnancy. I retained fluid. Literally. As long as I was on my feet, and the baby pressing on that ureter, I couldn’t pee. I had to be home and have my feet up and laid back in a recliner for about an hour before I could go to the bathroom. I worked as long as I could, which worked out to about 6 hours per day, nearly up until the date I delivered. My feet were two sizes larger than usual. My already moon-pie shaped face was now like a SuperMoon face. I was in pain and disgusted with myself. Finally, I delivered, the stent was removed, I underwent Lithotripsy to get rid of the kidney stones, and I lost about 60 pounds almost instantly. I was ready to face the world with my 3 kids. I had prepared myself for this. I prayed that if God would take care of the health issues, I would accept my role as “Mother of 3” and move on with my life. I bargained with Him. I had a tubal ligation surgery when Kid No. 3 was born, just for shits and grins. Apparently. Because 3 months later, I found out that I was 8 weeks pregnant. The Hell?!
I was in denial for quite some time. I refused to talk about it. I feared that the kidney stones would return, because I had a small one in my left kidney that was found after the Lithotripsy. Kidney stones occur more frequently during pregnancy. I was scared to death of having to endure another pregnancy like my last one. On top of that, I had resigned myself to being a “Mother of 3″…but NEVER…NEVER had I even CONSIDERED the fact that I would have ANOTHER kid. It wasn’t even a thought…in my head…
When it was apparent that the pregnancy wouldn’t be complicated like the last, save for a little high blood pressure (YA THINK??!!) I tried to get past the concept of 4 children. Really, I did. But I was a ripe 8 and a half months pregnant before I would even speak back to a stranger in the grocery store about my belly. I would literally ignore the nicest people. As though they didn’t even exist. I have never been so rude in my life. And once I was clearly showing, I refused to take all three kids out in public with me. I could feel people staring. “What the hell was SHE thinking?” or “Dumb girl”. I felt like I should have been wearing a t-shirt that said, “It’s not my fault that my doctor SUCKS at tubal ligation procedures, asshole.” I’m really quite surprised that I didn’t make one of those, in retrospect.
By the time No. 4 arrived, I had come to terms with the fact that I would have to change my title, yet again, to “Mother of 4”. I hadn’t really accepted it yet, but I was trying to.
Fast forward 5 years later, and I am totally owning it. My 4 kids are my standard excuse for every shortcoming, my greatest accomplishments, and they are my favorite people in the world–on most days. I feel certain that this story can transcend to so many other things. When you think you are absolutely at your lowest point, it could be the turning point for your life. I am no longer ashamed about when I started having babies, and how many I have. They were CLEARLY all part of God’s Plan for my life. I love them dearly and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I wear my 4 children like a Badge of Honor. Do these kids make my ass look fat? You know what? I don’t even care if they do. My life is just what it is. And I’m thankful.