"Why I’m asking you to think before you respond to my pregnancy announcement."

I’ve got an announcement to make that’s going to offend some people. And, to be honest, I’m quite looking forward to seeing their reactions on my social media feed.

No, I’ve not decided to run away to live in a Mongolian yurt and live off the land, or to let my body hair grow wild and free. The thing is, I’m pregnant. With my fifth child.

Yep, my fifth.

I can already predict some of the quips coming my way. Probably similar to the reactions to my fourth pregnancy:

‘Do you have a TV?’

‘Do you know what contraception is?’

‘Are you mad?’

‘How can you support 4 kids?’

Listen to Hello Bump month three: The real cost, and how to tell the boss. Post continues after audio.

‘You just love babies, don’t you.’

Although most of these were accompanied by smiley face emoji’s and probably made the author think they were comedy genius, it’s made me think very long and hard about what these comments told me about the people making them.

It’s just not cool to have a large family anymore.

I get it. When we spot yet another Facebook pregnancy announcement from an already large family, we tend to jump to the assumption that this is a couple who choose to produce kids with wild abandon. They love babies. Cute. But that’s no reason to keep having them. And, for some of us, it’s almost impossible to hold back what we really think in our comments.

Whether we admit it or not, we all have strong opinions on what constitutes responsible parenting. With an Australian average of 1.8 children per family, freely available contraception and legal termination, in 2018, large broods are an anomaly.

Admittedly, they’re an anomaly for a reason. Kids are expensive. And hard work. They need attention, love, discipline, structure and a constant stream of stuff for their growing minds and bodies. Most of us find that one, two, or possibly three of these little people are enough. And we tend to think that couples who choose to have more than three will most certainly be cutting corners on every one of the above list, as it’s impossible to provide all these things for a group of kids.

So, it’s within our rights to speak up, hey? It’s just not cool for anyone to have a large family anymore.

How much do you actually know?

And this is where my interest lies. Because in the moment you tap away with a cheeky comment on someone’s big news, you’re telling me two important things:

Your opinion is based on nothing but, erm, personal opinion.

"We’re very fortunate. Our income and work hours mean we can give all of our children the time, care and things they need." Image supplied.

Let’s be honest, most of the time, you don’t know anything behind a couple’s decision to have another child. Nor is it likely you’re intimately familiar with their financial situation or approach to parenting.

In my case, unless you were in my home over the past few weeks, you won’t have understood the amount of shock, tears, recriminations and discussions leading to the most difficult decision of our lives. Our fifth baby was most definitely not planned. We are avidly pro-choice, but when it came down to it, our decision was based on the fact that there wasn’t a good enough reason for us to deny a human being a chance at life.

Yep, we’re very fortunate. Our income and work hours mean we can give all of our children the time, care and things they need. So, unless I pop round to ask you to support them, I reckon you’ve no need to be concerned. But, thanks, anyway.

Who’s reading?

What always amazes me is that the last thing people think about when airing their judgment on social media is their audience.

Can I cope with nasty comments? Of course I can. In fact, I genuinely couldn’t care less about your opinion on my family. But what about the other person you’re mentioning?

When you post on social media, you’re publically publishing your thoughts. They’re there forever. And that means that anyone can read them. Including my child. If you have kids yourself, you’ll know that they love to look at mementos of when they were little, including birth announcements.

How do you reckon they’re going to feel when they read your reaction to their existence? What do you think they’re going to assume about you? Will he or she think you’re funny, or just an ill-informed acquaintance who has just upset them?

It’s worth thinking about.

Pause before you type.

So, I invite you to take a little pause before responding to the next pregnancy announcement you see – especially from a large family. You may think we’re nuts. You may think we’re stupid, but remember all the things you don’t know about us and all the things your words say about you.

At the end of the day, a new life is the most exciting thing in the world. Let’s give these kids some respect, whatever we may think about their parents.

Catherine Brooks is copywriter from Brisbane, Australia, currently expecting her fifth baby. She likes KitKats, true crime podcasts and – apparently – spending her wages on nappies. [email protected].