When you meet someone and it becomes obvious it's starting to get serious, the relentless quizzing begins: "Are you going to put a ring on her finger, then?" The engagement announcement goes out and everyone wants to know urgently when the wedding is going to be. On the wedding day the question shifts to when the first child is going to make an appearance.
Then, when your vagina is still being referred to as 'the wound' and you're spending hours a day alternating between biting on a leather belt and screaming into a pillow thanks to bleeding nipples, some moron will still consider it appropriate to utter a sentence with very real potential to get them seriously injured: "Do you think you'll have more?"
These questions, of course, will inevitably be asked in various orders according to the path each relationship takes. The above sequence is just my own version of events.
It's a normal, predictable sequence always honing in on the next thing. People flippantly pose these mundane questions (it seems to me) innocently but without much regard at all for their deeper meaning.
The Mr and I are both from big families and while we were never going to recreate The Waltons, we'd not intended for Xav to be an only child. But that was then.
Our now looks quite different.
If you can imagine a life-sized game of Splat the Rat where each rat represents a life-changing curveball, that's an idea of how life has felt for the past three years. As we've splatted one rat, it's seemed at times that three others have popped up in its place.
But my emotional guff is not the point of this post.
Bottom line: we expected we'd try to have more than one baby. And now, for medical reasons it's not possible for us to even entertain the idea for another year or two. So this might be it for us. It might not.
We have no idea how it's all gonna go.
In the words of Joey from Friends, this may all become a 'moo point'. Plenty of folks have - and/or prefer - a much bigger-than-the-conventional-few-year age gap. I guess for us it's just about how you deal with the fallout of things becoming so wildly different than you imagined they would be.
Whatever happens, we've made our peace with it. Maybe we'll be lucky and it'll happen for us. Maybe it won't. If it doesn't, and Xav is our family, then - as my dear old cockney Gran would've said - cor blimey. How privileged am I?
Sure, our decision-making control has been taken away: not the dream. But I'm fighting hard to regain some of that control by purposefully choosing to use this as an opportunity to change the way I look at my precious boy and appreciate him, marvel at what an incredible tiny human he is and soak him up even more.
Plenty of people I love have had to deal with unexpected reasons as to why their procreation plans have changed over time; some are unspeakably painful. Some hope for a rainbow. Some live with a clock that ticks deep inside their soul alongside the fear it will never be silenced. Some just simply can't envisage a future with babies in it, while others worry they won't ever feel like they're 'done' - even when they've built their own football team. Some have known all along that one will make their family perfect and complete.
There are an inconceivable number of different reasons why we do/don't have babies and each of them is for us to own.
It's pretty safe to say this reproductive uncertainty is a regular old occurrence, so how on earth can it be that so many of us still nonchalantly dish out this potentially painful or awkward - but always deeply personal - question: "Think you'll go for another?"
The truth of this issue - as well as the obvious fact it's shrouded in complication - is that the answer might force the respondent to fight back tears or the urge to puke/scream as they frantically search for the words to sugar coat their pain. It might make them feel irritated that they - yet again - feel that they have to justify decisions they've made when that's entirely their prerogative.
It might just as easily bring a Cheshire-cat grin to their face and their eyes might do that lovely smiley thing as they excitedly share their plans to mount (ahem) the horse again. Even when we know someone reasonably well, we might have no inkling what their private deal is.
We should be talking about this stuff though (albeit with a little more tact). It's a sanity-saving part of being in The Motherhood. We need our gang - no more so than when the shizzle hits the proverbial fan.
But surely we've evolved enough as the mother species to stop putting each other on the spot this way and find better ways of engaging in this sensitive conversation?
For my own self-protection, I've come up with a stock reply that divulges minimal insider info; one that I can happily spout when casually asked by the mum I've only just met who's wondering out loud where all my other children are. (Read: I lie. For reasons of self-preservation.)
Sure, maybe it's none of her business, but she's purely trying to find common ground in obvious places as we all are; blissfully unaware of how threatening her innocuous words might be.
Maybe just bear in mind that sometimes life is complicated for all of us, love, and get to know me a bit better before taking a peak inside my knicker drawer.