The first time I met Annie, we had only been at our church for a few weeks. She was picking up her adorable newborn in the nursery and I was picking up my adorable one-year-old. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love babies and make a regular fool of myself when there’s a baby in sight. I can’t help it.
Anyway, on this particular Sunday, I was admiring Annie’s sweet babe, but not too much, because we didn’t know each other and I didn’t want to come across as a wacko. I don’t remember exactly what I said – something about how I just love newborns in a broody sort of way, and this mom (who I’d never met before, remember) says so matter of factly, “Um, you have enough kids!” It was totally in jest, and I laughed and said she was probably right. I couldn’t believe how forthright she was. It took me by surprise, made me laugh and made me think.
You see, I don’t feel “done”. Yes, I know, I have 5 beautiful, healthy children. I know that I’m already strange. I already have the most young kids of anybody in our church. I already get bewildered stares when I venture to Costco with the whole crew. It doesn’t bother me one bit.
So, if I’m already a social misfit why not have one more?
Logic and Circumstances
I know that so many people struggle with infertility, and so many have the decision of family size made for them. My heart goes out to every woman who longs for children and is limited by circumstances beyond their control. My prayers are with them – that God would give them the desire of their hearts, but also that the desire of their heart would be God’s will for their life. I cannot speak to the specific circumstances of every mother or would-be mother. I can only speak to my own.
And the circumstances I find myself in are that logically having another child does not make practical sense.
One more child means a larger vehicle – even if we can fit them all in our minivan for now, eventually lanky teenagers are going to be too squashed to manage anything more than a short drive.
One more child means a bigger home. I’m all for kids sharing, but we already have 3 kids in one of the rooms. I could probably make it work in this house for about 2 years, but once that new baby needs a big kid bed we’re simply out of space.
One more child means staying in the baby phase, and not moving into the big kid phase of life. Pregnancy and postpartum recovery requires a simplified schedule for me. I am not a supermom, I cannot do it all – unfortunately, outside activities for my older kids are usually the first thing to go.
Pregnancy and postpartum means simplifying our school schedule too, which has been fine up until now – but with students in grade 4 and 5 I feel like there is less wiggle room to embrace our inner “unschoolers” and roll with it. My kids need more direction and accountability or they’d do nothing but read novels and play Lego all day. Will I be able to keep up with their academic needs while also taking care of a newborn?
One more child means risk and wear and tear on my body.
In addition to my 5 living children, I have had three losses between 12 and 14 weeks. Two of these were especially traumatic. Emotionally, the first loss was definitely the hardest, because it was so unexpected. I had just gotten over the morning sickness and was looking forward to my second trimester. It was New Year’s Day when it began, at first there was a lot of waiting at the hospital while we hoped for a miracle, and then emergency interventions when I started hemorrhaging the next day. My husband was with the other two children when I went through the worst of it. I was so lonely. I didn’t have a cell phone – nobody but my husband and my mom knew what was going on. It was truly awful, I don’t know how else to say it, but in the months following, God’s voice was so tender and comforting, and I had peace despite the loss and the lack of answers.
The second and third losses were easier, in a way, because I knew God’s comforting presence and trusted in his plan. I could see the beauty of his timing when my rainbow babies were born. I didn’t need answers. I didn’t need God to explain why, I trusted Him, but it still aches. Am I willing to risk that heartbreak again?
With each pregnancy I physically struggle a little more – more nausea, more pregnancy complaints (headaches, leg cramps, etc. etc.), and a longer recovery time. By even trying for another baby I’m also signing up for the physical “trauma” of the whole thing. Labour isn’t my biggest concern – it’s the pregnancy, the recovery and how the health of my body changes every time.
One more child probably means being grumpy for a year. Many women struggle with postpartum depression. I struggle while I am pregnant and for a few weeks afterwards while my hormones adjust to nursing. The combination of nausea, exhaustion and hormones make me irritable and apathetic. I’m really not myself, but it’s never quite so bad that I’ve tried medication. It’s hard for others to be around me when I’m like this – my husband is truly amazing for putting up with it as well as he does. I become self-absorbed, worrying a lot about my own needs and surviving (basically, naps take precedence over almost everything else). At the same time, I carry a guilt that I’m not living up to my own standards. It’s a vicious cycle. It totally sucks. I would consider this the most convincing reason for not having another.
Not Feeling “Done”
Despite all my reasoning, I don’t feel done. My family does not feel complete.
I can make a beautiful rebuttal to every single logical argument: If God blesses us with another child he will be faithful, and he will be glorified, and he will work it all out for our good.
I’m not talking “prosperity gospel” good, either. We very well might struggle with our grocery bill and have more people in a smaller house than is normal. I may have some real health challenges as a result. Through it all, however, God will be present with us, working it all for our ETERNAL good.
I have a longing for more. I look at my sweet toddler and and I want to experience the wonder of watching a baby grow, learn to sit, walk, talk, love, and be loved. I want one more baby moon – with the intoxicating newborn smell, and the blur of days after birth, when nothing in the world matters but our little world of welcome and joy.
The crux of the matter is this: Do I trust my feelings or my logic more? Well, I can’t decide! Both are tainted by sin! Both fall short of God’s thoughts, and not just by a little bit.
I could easily go the way of so many before me and just trust God and wait and see what happens, but is that the easy way out? Shouldn’t both my husband and I be on board with the idea and possibility? There is certainly evidence in the Bible of people making decisions that affect eternity. My decision, one way or another, has that potential!
On one hand, we could say we’re done and take permanent measures – then we are choosing not to allow God the opportunity to bring another eternal soul into existence. On the other hand, we would be allowing that opportunity – though that is no guarantee.
Not that God is necessarily limited by my choice – he could make it happen anyway – but as a general principle, the Lord usually allows himself to be limited by our choices accept in rare circumstances. No, this won’t do. We must make a decision.
I don’t have a neat and tidy answer for this. I’m really not so sure that the theology here gives us a simple answer. Ultimately, it really is a matter of prayer and a decision for each couple to make for themselves.
My feelings say there’s another child for us, another soul who will hopefully love and glorify God, and that to me is worth it. My logic says I ought to be content with the blessings I’ve been given. I’m praying, hoping for clarity. I’m talking with my husband, hoping for agreement. I’m pondering Proverbs 3:5-7 – We’ve been memorizing it during our morning time, and it’s been comforting. He has a plan. I can trust him to make the path clear and straight.