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December 19, 2012


So...is baby #6 a surprise?

Yes...and no.

If there is one thing Craig and I have understood since learning Natural Family Planning, especially if we weren't 100% sure before -- it is what causes pregnancy.  Truly understanding that to engage in intimacy during fertile days is to basically "ask" God for a baby is something we've been keenly aware of over the past 11 years.  Over the years, we have also learned that to simply "ask" God for a baby in this manner does not necessarily mean God will grant the request.

So, no...I'm not surprised in the "Oh. My. Goodness.  I can NOT believe I am pregnant!" way at all. 

We "asked."  

This time, God granted.

Over the past 4-5 years, I can think of numerous times we "asked" and God did not grant the request.  It's a fact that God doesn't grant the request for a baby for everyone every time they "ask."  As painful as it was at those times that God did not answer our request with a baby, I have often thought that it was a good thing that there were multiple months of openness before conceiving each of our sons -- it provided a window into what it is like to wait.  A small window, I will grant, and no -- I don't equate our waiting period to anything like infertility -- but it was a good lesson for me just the same.

I recognize a level of pride I held earlier in our childbearing years -- that simply engaging intimately during fertile days guaranteed a baby; believing I was pregnant before even half of the two-week-wait was over.  This is not healthy.  I was humbled by months of waiting only to find out I was not pregnant as we waited for Vincent.  

Over the years, I've often heard people call a surprise baby an "oops" baby.  As if a human being coming into existence was a mistake.  As children, we got two different takes from our parents about the children who came along after me.  My mother would often say that she never planned to have #3, #4 or #5 but that she couldn't imagine life without them.  My father simply stated to my sister when she asked him if she was planned that, "you kids were neither planned for or prevented."  Over the years, I have found comfort in my father's statement because it provides a level of honesty and responsibility without sounding like he wished he'd done something different.  At least the way it hits me it seems that way.  And as an adult, I come into contact with people who proclaim they knew they were not "planned" by their parents -- it was a mistake, or an "oops".  Maybe I take it too seriously or have just grown too sensitive to the matter, but it really breaks my heart to hear anyone refer to a person in this manner.  No matter what was planned by humans, each soul was planned by God -- for that time and that place -- with a purpose that only He can reveal.

I think I could safely say, though, that an element of awe, wonder and ... yes, surprise seem to accompany the revelation of a positive pregnancy test.  It is more a testament to the miracle of life than anything else.  In the instant that I see a positive pregnancy test, a flood of varying emotions hit me -- joy, excitement, trepidation, worry, disbelief, anxiety -- I could go on. 

This miracle changes everything from the minute we know about it.  My family dynamic has completely changed; Craig and I are the parents of six children; Sarah as a preteen and Dani as a "tween" are big sisters to another little one; Helen is no longer THE middle child, simply one in the middle.  Dominic is a big brother to more than just Vincent.  Vincent is now a big brother.  It changes the way I see each member of my family... instantaneously.

I think most people we know are over the surprise that we'd be open to another baby.  I feel some sort of exasperation from certain people.  I feel the worry from others.  I worry how my children really feel.  (For the record, I asked Sarah recently, and she said - in typical preteen fashion - "Well, I kinda thought we had enough kids..."  I simply responded to her, "Yeah, me, too, Sarah.  But I guess God planned at least one more for our family.")

I haven't said anything at work yet.  I plan to next month as the first trimester comes to an end.  WE have another very stressful busy year planned in my department, but I am sure we'll be able to get things in place so it will all run smoothly, even if it means I work from home during half of my maternity leave.  The best part is that I'm not really nervous about my boss (she's one of six and she is a twin!  She seems to be really down to earth about this sort of thing) and I think my work group will be excited.  And as I type that I think, "Yeah, who ISN'T excited about babies???"  But, I've experienced that side of it, so I know those people who don't really appreciate it are out there.

The questions will come.  People will ask if I "meant" to (get pregnant).  People will stare at me as I walk into the store with my five kids in tow and a bulging belly and make some mention that I must idolize the Duggars.  People will stick their nose where it doesn't belong and make value statements they have no business making.  It's part of the life I lead that I will be subject to that stuff.  Interestingly enough, I laugh it off so much better now than I did when I was newly pregnant with #4.  Back then it really got my back up to know people thought it was "too much" to have 4 children.  

No, I don't have all the snappy comebacks.  Although, I do like it if we're all out somewhere and someone asks me "Are they all yours?" and I am able to point to Craig and say, "Yup!  And all his, too!"

I guess I started rambling here...but in case you readers were wondering if baby #6 was a surprise -- I just wanted to say...this baby is one glorious, loved and expected...surprise.



  1. Thanks for posting your pregnancy insights. It is nice to read your thoughts. You have a very balanced outlook on life. Your kids are lucky to have you for their mom!

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  3. Such a great reflection; I love it on so many levels! I agree with CatholicMom that your kids are lucky to have you and Craig as parents, and this new little one is lucky to have such great older siblings!

  4. I already knew all this :) - but I have to comment on the last part about "they are all his too" - OH MY GOSH, I LOVE IT!!!! SO FUNNY! I may have to ask you if they're all yours when I visit, just to hear you say it :).

  5. Hopefully you won't encounter too many crazy people, but there have been several times that people have wanted to know if my siblings and I were "all from the same mother and father."

    I'm not sure you should think of your previous view as pride as much as possibly a reflection of reality. A healthy younger couple simply has a higher chance of pregnancy each month, each act. Our culture hates to admit the dramatic influence of age on fertility, but it remains. Which makes it all the more awesome that you've been given this gift at this time since God only knows how you might have felt about family size in another year or two. :-)

    I think that this is a fabulous post that you will hopefully be able to share someday with your children, and perhaps part of your thoughts with your older daughters now. That probably sounds very odd, but I think it could have helped prevent some lasting emotional wounds if my parents had been able to acknowledge to their older children the fact that yes, having a new baby does mean that the older children get less attention, and that sometimes even though we are thrilled with God's unexpected gifts we still realize that they come at a cost.

  6. I'm so glad that my mother-in-law had a surprise baby. My husband is number 9 of 9 and his next closest sibling is 4 years older than him. He is easily the sweetest of the bunch (number 8 is mean and nasty but number 7 is pretty sweet too).

    It's nobody's business why you will have 6 anymore than it's somebody's business why I have 2 ! :-)

  7. Congratulations, Michelle!

    Isn't it odd that people make judgments about good families being large? One of my best students comes from a family of six children, and there is such a beautiful example of sacrifice and love in the family: something to be emulated, not judged.


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