Sixth baby draws criticism

By Anita Doberman: Local columnist

I had two miscarriages after my first daughter was born. Although they were early in the pregnancy, I felt a deep sense of loss and despair for the babies I lost, and it took me a long time to recover and move forward.

I hated having to tell everyone that the baby didn’t make it. I dreaded the uncomfortable silence and awkward conversation when I saw a friend or bumped into a random acquaintance at the supermarket. After our losses, my husband and I decided we would wait until the second trimester to share any future pregnancies. Perhaps it was the fear during the first trimester or the emotional roller coaster of not knowing if I would be able to carry to term, but I always expected family members and close friends to be excited or at least supportive about our pregnancies. With baby number two or even number three, family and friends were happy for us, but as we added more children, we increasingly saw puzzled looks and heard disapproving comments.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the lack of excitement for my pregnancy with baby number six, due at the end of the spring. I realize that some view big families as impractical, slightly insane, and not something they would want to do, but I was a bit sad about the outright disapproval some family members expressed.

My husband’s parents went as far as telling me that they felt depressed by the news (I am still wondering how grandparents could be depressed about the prospect of many grandchildren, but I am not a grandparent), and several of our friends seemed to want to offer condolences rather than congratulations.

People only seemed to focus on our ability to provide for our children financially. “Are they destined to share a room?” Yes, they will have to share rooms until we win the lottery. “What car will you drive?” I am happily adjusting to the idea of driving a large and utilitarian looking van. “How will you pay for weddings?” We have four girls and a boy, but he is adopted, so we’ll probably have another girl and haven’t figured out the solution to this issue yet. “Can we be a large military family?” Yes, it’s the same lifestyle whether we have one child or 10 children.

These are all issues that my husband and I have analyzed, and if we were that concerned about money, we wouldn’t have a large family. But we are very excited about this pregnancy, not only because we love children, but because I really couldn’t imagine growing up without a large, noisy but close-knit Italian family.

A new life should always be celebrated: it’s an amazing gift.

I thought about Jamie Lynn Spears, Brittney Spear’s sister and the star of the popular Nickelodeon show “Zoey 101” and the criticism she has been under since announcing her pregnancy. I and most parents don’t approve of the behavior that led a 16-year-old to become pregnant, but I didn’t hear a lot of support and encouragement for her decision to keep the baby — a brave and admirable one for such a young person.

A new life is an amazing gift no matter the age of the mother or the number of children. If we can’t rejoice in such an event, what can we look forward to?

Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. The family expects to be moving to Cannon Air Force Base in the next year. Contact her at:
anita@anitadoberman.com