Before you had a baby, people were relatively polite. Most of them didn’t ask too nosily if you were intending to spawn any progeny in the near future. They rightly guessed there were all sorts of reasons why you hadn’t had children yet. Perhaps you didn’t want to – yet, or possibly ever. Perhaps you couldn’t, and you were already researching all sorts of pricey, incredibly emotionally wearing and painful fertility options. Perhaps you were just waiting till the time/job/house/partner was right. Perhaps deep down you wanted to, but found the idea of childbirth too traumatic to deal with right then.

Whatever your own particular reasons, most people, even close friends, rightly knew that ultimately it was really nobody’s business but your own, and if you wanted to talk about it, then you probably would.

But now it’s different. Now you have already gone forth and multiplied, your fertility is apparently everybody’s business, a subject for open debate amongst relative strangers. A chorus of ‘Are you thinking about number two yet?’ greets you practically before you’ve even had your stitches done and checked out of the maternity suite. And of course there’s: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice for Magenta/Clarence to have a little sister or brother to play with?’ which is just designed to make you feel guilty, selfish and totally inadequate, something we already do plenty of without any outside help, thanks.

There are a number of reasons why this line of inquiry is vaguely annoying. For starters, while we love, love love having our little ones around, some of us are still figuring out if we have the energy, patience and ready cash for another one in the next financial year. We wouldn’t mind another few months of having a (relatively) flat stomach before we resign ourselves to stretch marks and morning sickness all over again. We don’t know for sure if it will happen even if we want it to (in fact, just like the first time round). And some of us have other things to consider too. For example, I live in a house the size of a shoebox. It’s a pleasant enough shoebox, but I’m definitely not going to be able to swap it for a bigger shoebox any time soon. I know in Victorian times they just used to shove the new baby in the bottom drawer, but my bottom drawer is full of old socks and mothballs right now.

Of course, we don’t mind other mothers or old friends or even relatives asking us about our plans. But if you’re the postman or the woman who works in the local Co-op, if we haven’t actually swapped names yet let alone mobile phone numbers, then I’m probably not going to share my ten year plan with you just yet. Especially when I don’t even know what it is yet.

Still a couple of recent comments have stuck in my mind, and I can’t quite get rid of them. A friend of mine said her beauty therapist – a mother of two – told her: ‘I don’t know what I did with all that time I had when I only had one.’ Argh. Better write that novel and climb that mountain, like, now. The second is even pithier. ‘One is like having a pet. Two is like having a zoo.’ And I really wish they hadn’t told me that. Because if there’s one thing in life, I really love, it’s going to the zoo… I’m just not exactly sure I want to live in one.

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