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July 27, 2013

Discerning Family Size Gets Tricky at 40

Discernment of family size is such a tricky thing. Over the years I think I've often erred on the side of openness (to another baby) because I have thought God's answer about another soul would always be yes.  I am not sure what led me to believe that. Is it because I'm a woman and I'm biologically wired to have babies and love and nurture them? If I think about it honestly, if money were no object, I'd have probably been open to welcoming children closer together (and of course, if I stayed home since I wouldn't have to pay daycare).

Lately I have wondered though how I would feel if God's answer to the question of no more babies...ever...was to be "no." I would be sad, no question. My brain functions normally and I realize I am approaching 40...let's face it, the answer to more babies IS, in fact, going to be "no" at some point in the not-so-distant future.

So how do I work with God's plan, if that plan is "no"? I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried about obeying God's Will if it means years of being "closed to more children" (using the most conservative interpretations of our NFP method to avoid pregnancy). There are plenty of people I know who can provide examples and anecdotes of how special and blessed a family was by being open to one more child later in life. I can read it online in forums and on blog posts -- if I look for it, there is plenty of information to encourage me to be open just one more time.

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The difficulty comes in our discernment of God's will for our lives. Do we say, "We'll be open...and if God doesn't bless us, then we have our answer." Or do we determine, "Be open until such time (say...age 41) and if no blessings arrive, then we will avoid pregnancy for the remaining years until menopause." I worry that I seem ungrateful for the children I have, but then realize that is silly and seeking another sibling for my children is not an indication of ungratefulness -- they'd most likely be thrilled at the development.

In the end, the prayer I have tried to make constantly is to be open and accepting of God's will, whatever that may be. I've learned the humbling reality that even if we achieve pregnancy, it doesn't always translate to a baby I will care for on Earth. I find that my fertile self finds it hard to believe that God would not bless us with another baby -- but should that be the case, it would require some growth on my part to find the acceptance necessary to move on. As far as my husband's side of this discussion, he often swings to the opposite side of where I am with it. In the past, I have always been ready to be open to another baby long before he has. It's not that he never wanted the babies we've had, it's just that he's more willing to discern that God is ready to end that part of our lives. Is it because he is older than I am? Perhaps. I don't think it's because he trusts any less because, ultimately, the babies we do have didn't get here solely on my account. 

I think that discerning expansion of our family at this point in our lives is probably the most difficult discernment I have experienced thus far. I think it's more difficult because we are older. I think it's more difficult because the children we have require certain things of us and our schedules demand more running around than they did when we just had younger children ages 8 and below. It was complicated working my current youngest child into the fabric of our family because my oldest began having more activities, doing more in school and taking on more responsibilities for which she needed guidance. At some point, I have to determine whether I can juggle the middle of the night feedings with full-time work schedule and still have the energy for the club volleyball practices/tournaments, guitar and ballet lessons and introducing the younger kids to activities they are just approaching. 

I'm not going to lie...I have daydreamed of my youngest child being 4 or 5 years old, stroller- and diaper-free. I've looked at my family as it currently stands and realized I'm not that far away from it. I can see a budget free from daycare and preschool tuition. I can almost taste a life where my husband can take a pay-cut in order to work a daytime job during the same hours I do so we can have our evenings, weekends and holidays together as a family.

But it still makes me sad. It's been so long since we've had no baby in the house and I can't imagine that life as completely happy. I think there will be a mourning period I will endure as I hit the time of my life where my fertility drops to where it's not even possible to get pregnant and for sure, carrying to term will be questionable. 

The fact is that the time will come when there will no longer be a baby in the house -- and I will no longer have much say in that occurrence. 

God will close the womb in His time, just as He opened it. 

I am linking to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary and posting every day this week! Click HERE to see who else took the challenge!

 

6 comments:

  1. Michelle, I always feel so blessed to get to hear your perspective! I sometimes wonder about how the end of my childbearing years will go, and I imagine they'll be similar to this. Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. I'm thinking of you and praying for you especially today. Much love to you and your family.

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  3. Yes, thank you for putting words to so much of what I'm feeling and trying to make peace with.

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  4. I can't say anything about specifically discerning family size, but I do know that the discernment process in anything is not always about having the final answer. Sometimes it's just about knowing the answer for right now. That may eventually be the final answer, but sometimes discernment is just about which step I take right at this moment.

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  5. Yes, this is right where we're at, and you wrote about it so spot on. My husband and I are frequently at opposite ends too, when I'm ready, he's not and vise versa. Glad to hear I'm not the only struggling with the discernment process as I grow older.

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  6. I can imagine how you must feel. I think I will feel similarly when I realize my time of welcoming babies into our lives is coming to a close. My grandma had 8 children and was still incredibly sad to leave that phase in her life.

    Recently I was struggling to discern God's will for our lives. I kept telling myself to keep walking and praying and it would become clear. That was so hard, but God kept finding little ways to show me where to go and encourage me along the way. Hang in there-- he will do the same for you.

    Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

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Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)