We made the decision two years ago to actively let God plan our family. Poetic, no? Well, it sounds good, very spiritual, and it is a wonderful mindset to live in…when you’re trying to get pregnant. Flash forward 18 months, we now have a nine month old who was the answer to so many prayers, but now that we feel our family is complete, that whole trusting God idea has gotten monumentally harder.
Natural Family Planning
When you tell people that you practice Natural Family Planning at first they are confused, some old schoolers may mention the “rhythm method” which NFP is not. But more often than not, in our post sexual revolution culture, they’ll call you stupid on a good day, irresponsible on a bad day, and wish you luck with your next 14 babies you’re surely to have because don’t you realize before birth control everyone had no less than 26 kids? Sigh. The thing is, God doesn’t work that way. NFP has been such a gift in that it has shown us in a real and tangible way how much God’s will, that tiny seed of magic, plays a role in someone getting pregnant. We tried for 23 months to get pregnant with our second child, Hannah. Twenty-three long months…that’s twenty-two months of no. And on that month when it finally happened we did absolutely nothing differently, it was simply time. With our last baby Samuel, it took 2 months. Big, HUGE, difference. We have friends who practice NFP who after having children with no issues whatsoever getting pregnant, then struggle for years to have more. We also have friends who have upwards of 7 kids, and the last 3 were a wonderful unplanned surprise. People make jokes, “You know what causes that, right?” Well yes, but also, let us acknowledge that God plays a huge role, the most important role. I would argue that no woman since the beginning of time has ever gotten pregnant and God turned around and was all, “Wait? What happened?” Newsflash, WE CANNOT SURPRISE GOD. I know that God knows exactly how many children I will have, for Him it is written and done. Some days I just wish He would tell me.
Is He Our Last Baby?
We truly feel as though Samuel is our last baby. Before him our family felt incomplete, like there was still someone missing. Now we feel whole and done. This past week he went on a nursing strike. Never heard of that? Well, neither had I and man it was rough. It only lasted 22 hours, but it was the longest 22 hours. It was terrible, but also so emotional that it threw me for a loop. All day I would think, “What if he’s done nursing?” And I would burst into tears. He’s nine months old and I am not ready. Every single one of these baby moments with him feel like stolen time. Is he our last one? Will this be the last first tooth? The last first step?
Hurry Up but Not Yet
Parenthood is this crazy dichotomy where you are constantly wishing they would hurry and grow up, I can’t wait to see what kind of adults my kids are going be. But then, in the exact same breath, wanting to stop time in its tracks. Don’t grow up, this is the perfect age, don’t ever learn to crawl, or walk, or talk, or mean girls, bullying, DRIVING(!)…I mentally refuse to even imagine a house where my oldest isn’t a daily active member. I can’t go there. And if I could just freeze time right here for my daughter, make her be 5 forever, where confidence abounds and the world is a safe place? Where unicorns and fairies are reaL? I would.
In the end, it really does come full circle to trust. Trust that this is the family God intended me to have all along, Trust that we always said “our plan” was to have only one. Then “our plan” was to have only two. Then “our plan” was to have just one more. I’ve finally realized it wasn’t our plan at all, but God’s. Did we willingly participate? You bet, and I think that can make all the difference in terms of accepting God’s will. “Thy will be done,” yes? But here’s the thing, it may be God’s will that we stop at 3, but it may also be that we stop at 4 or 5 (excuse me while I go resuscitate my husband who wherever he is just fainted because he felt me putting that thought out into the universe). But the real trust comes in knowing that God’s plan for our family is the best plan, and in this real and testable way we are choosing to believe that. It’s hard. Harder than we ever thought it would be back in our trying to get pregnant days, but aren’t all the best things, the best gifts God offers, the scariest ones to accept? I can think of the gifts of Faith, Vocation, Children, just to name a few. But I can honestly say, sitting here surrounded by little people, He has never ever given me a gift I wanted to return, they’re all keepers…today anyway.