Honest Thoughts On Having a Fifth Baby

The big news is officially out: My husband and I are expecting our fifth baby. Yep, you read that right — we’re having baby number five. In today’s world, that makes us a bit of an anomaly. Most people don’t have big families anymore. The average number of children families have today is two, so a couple with five kids? I already got stares whenever I took my four kids out on an errand; I can only imagine the reactions when I’m toting around five.

The number one question people always have whenever we’ve announced a new pregnancy is, “Was it planned?” I hate that question — does it make a difference? Is it any of your business? But in the interest of honesty, I’ll answer it this time. No, it wasn’t planned. It also wasn’t unplanned. I was surprised when I realized I was pregnant, but mostly because we had been pretty lackadaisical about it all, and it just wasn’t really on my radar.

I had always wanted a big family. I wanted a house filled with kids. I was thrilled each time we got pregnant, because it was what I wanted. But this time, when I got that positive pregnancy test, I cried. I was scared, and I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was pregnant for as long as possible. A few close friends were given the news — I cried on the phone to them — but I kept it a secret otherwise. After having Clara, our fourth baby, I felt like I was done having kids. Our family felt complete. And my hands were full enough as it is! Still, I felt sad. Every now and then, I would think about never having another baby — never looking excitedly at ultrasounds, never feeling a baby kick, never anxiously waiting for that moment when I saw my new baby’s face for the first time — and I would feel so sad. I didn’t want another baby, but the thought of never having another one was devastating. (It made about as much sense to me as it does to you.) But still, the reason I was so scared and upset wasn’t because I was having a fifth baby.

It was because I dreaded the reaction I would get.

I sobbed, over and over again, to the few friends I trusted enough to tell that this would not be a baby whose life would be celebrated. It wasn’t just conjecture on my part, either; all I had to do was look back on the reaction we got when we announced that we were pregnant with number four. We constantly got rude, inappropriate and snarky remarks… usually accompanied by laughter, as if it’s hilarious to joke about someone’s sex life or to tell them they need to stop having children. I didn’t say much at the time, but those comments hurt. They hurt me deeply. And rather than congratulations, we got sneering and scorn.

Don’t you know what causes that?

Man, one of you really needs to get fixed!

Don’t you have any hobbies?

You need to get a TV in your room.

Was this planned?

Are you done now?

You really should stop after this… I mean, enough is enough!

And on and on it went. I knew, with utter and complete certainty, that very few people would offer their sincere congratulations. People would look at us like we were crazy, irresponsible freaks with little self-control. It started after we had Ivy, our third child. She was our first girl, after having two boys. And so we heard all the time how we could “stop” now, because we finally had our girl! As if children are a collector’s set, and we were missing a specific piece — now that we had at least one of each gender, we could be done. With Clara, it was as if we needed to apologize for her existence. This attitude came from everywhere — from family members, friends, complete strangers. When you have a big family, virtually everyone feels entitled to comment on your family size, your reproductive choices and your sex life.

There are some things that I’m slightly nervous about, of course. I’m busy enough with four kids; Lord only knows how it will be once I have five. I’m not looking forward to losing what little sleep I get now. And it sure is nice to have four mostly independent children, who can feed themselves and play together and aren’t reliant on me for every last thing. But I’m also confident in my own abilities as a mother; I know that while having a fifth baby will be difficult, it’s something that I can handle. And I still stand firm by my assertion that the hardest transition wasn’t going from two babies to three, or from three to four… it was going from zero to one. Adjusting to being a mother when I hadn’t been one before was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. With each new baby, I’ve been able to learn a little bit more, and by now? I’m practically an expert.

So my feelings of devastation, whether right or wrong, were almost solely due to my fear of the reactions I would get. I didn’t want to brace myself for people’s cruel comments or thoughtless remarks. I want, so badly, to know that this new life will be cherished and loved and joyously anticipated… if not by the world, then at least by the people who claim to love me.

A big family isn’t for everyone; I know that. I don’t expect people to run out and have a bunch of kids just because that’s the choice my husband and I have made. But if a big family isn’t for you, then try to at least be understanding and accepting of us moms who do have a lot of kids. Don’t make jokes or ask personal questions, no matter how clever or funny you may think they are. Be supportive and be excited for them. And here’s a little tip that applies to all moms: No matter what her situation, there is only one thing to say when a woman tells you that she’s expecting a baby:

Congratulations.

Cassy Fiano-Chesser
Cassy Fiano-Chesser is a Jacksonville native and mom to six kids. Her husband is a Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient. She works from home as a blogger and a freelance writer, and they currently live in the Argyle area of Jacksonville. Benjamin is their oldest, born in 2011, and he loves being a big brother. Wyatt was born in 2012, and he has Down syndrome. Ivy came next, in 2013, followed by Clara, born in 2015, who is a diva-with-a-capital-D. Rounding out the brood is Felicity, born in 2017, and Lilly, born in 2007. They love discovering things to do on the First Coast and going on family adventures, as well as cheering on the Jumbo Shrimp and the Icemen.

67 COMMENTS

  1. I know this article was written several years ago but I needed this. I just found out we are expecting number 5. It wasn’t planned and I am a little shocked. I want to be happy but too recall the comments when we shared we were pregnant with our fourth. We have four boys 10, 8, 5, and 3. I am worried because I will be 40 when I deliver. I am was just getting use to being out of that stage but I know it will be a blessing just want to hold onto our secret for a while longer.

  2. My daughter forwarded this article to me because she just found out she’s pregnant with their fifth child. I was the first she told because she wanted at least one supportive reaction before telling even her husband. It makes me so sad to read all of your fears and hesitation when you should be able to be excited about this new little life you’re bringing into the world. My daughter is my only child. I stopped at one child because I knew I would not be a good mother to more than one. Somehow, in spite of me, my daughter has turned into an awe inspiring mother. She is a much gentler person than I. I guess I will be her armor against the naysayers and the judgers…but one thing I learned from this article…I will ensure this baby’s life is celebrated and that he or she never feels unwanted.

  3. Congratulations on baby # 6!
    I very well may send this out with my 5th baby announcement in the event of a (likely) surprise BFP this month… thank you so much for putting into words what I couldn’t.

  4. Wow, I know this is an old article and now you have 6! But WOW! I am expecting number 5 now and it’s like I wrote this article. Every single thought and emotion! It’s exactly how I feel. I love big families but hate all the criticism and how people act like I’m a circus act. I get rude comments about how I should get a procedure done to stop having babies or that I need to stop having sex with my husband… so damn rude! Anyways, your post and the others’ comments have really encouraged me that I’m not alone. I want so badly to be fully excited, but what people will think is a huge battle for me and my husband mentally, so we are waiting until I show to tell people (usually 18-20 weeks). Praying for positivity!

  5. I think I might be pregnant with my 5th. I am working up the courage to take a pregnancy test. I feel the same way as you and the author!

  6. I too could have written this article. Everything she said is how I feel. I just found out we’re pregnant with #5 and we planned it. We have 4 boys and I wanted to “try” and sway to have a girl. I’m excited to be pregnant and I don’t want to hear the negative comments either. For anyone who decides to “go there” And say something hurtful, I’m just going to say “aren’t you glad your parents didn’t stop before they had you?”

    Everyone values their own life, people don’t realize that having babies is a blessing! They think they’re a burden…only the selfish will find rearing children to be cumbersome. Of course there will be struggles, as with anything but there is something special about raising a child and the amount you decide to have should never be frowned upon. If you want more children and can provide for them then who can tell you to stop? No one!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here