Any readers of this blog know that I am in the middle of praying through our "What do we want to do with our childbearing career?" question in hopes of arriving at a peaceful decision that both I and my husband can live with. As I see it, we have three options: (1) We can say that we are done, done, done, and be done! Finis! (2) We can say "maybe another, but not now" and be in a holding pattern, or (3) We can be "open to children" now, then, or any time in between. Where we'll end up is really a mystery - I'm just trying to pray and wait for the Lord's wisdom, and pray also for agreement between myself and DH.
A few days ago, I ran across another HG mama blogger - oddly enough, not among my scanty number of HG blogs, but amongst the natural-birth blogs that I read in droves. She is like me in that she adores pregnancy but dreads it for the HG-factor. She and her husband, however, have come to a place of peace in their decision that, HG or not, they are going to refrain from using either birth control or natural family planning, and welcome any and all children that God sends them. Wow! That is one brave woman - braver than I, I must admit. And while I don't have a steadfast stance on the fertility/birth control/sterilization/family size/etc. issue, I do admire and respect their position.
Here are a few snippets of conversation that she and I have had over the past few days (her part is in bold):
"It's probably not apparent in my post, but I really am at peace with our decision to be open to more children. I'll share with you why:
"My mother got pregnant 6 times (she has 7 children) on different forms of birth control.
"After surgery for endometriosis, sister A was told she couldn't get pregnant. 1 week later she conceived.
"Sister L got pregnant at 14 (several years ago), carried the baby until 38 weeks gestation and then he died in utero. No cause found.
"I got pregnant just 4 months after my second child was born and miscarried at 8-9 weeks. After that my cycles were so messed up I thought I couldn't get pregnant anymore. When we got pregnant with Anna is was very unexpected and she has been such a blessing!"
I'm curious! You said that you have made peace with your decision to be BC/NFP-free. Does that mean that you're really okay with going through HG every couple of years through menopause?
"Yes, I'm really okay with having HG every 2-3 years for the next 10-15 (ish?) years. Through my birth experiences and through those experiences of those I love I have learned that it is truly the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away (Job 1:21). If I decide I don't want any more children, as happened before I conceived A. (third child), the Lord may still decide that he wants me to have more. Should I decide I want children before the Lord's timing, I may have that child taken away (as happened with "baby MAC", conceived just 4 months after my second child, C., was born). I've found that when I wait on the Lord's timing instead of my own, blessing abounds."
How do you manage the fear? I lived with overwhelming fear for every cycle in between our eldest and our youngest, and it was exhausting.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6) I have prayed so hard over the last few years. I feel like my relationship with the Lord has become deeper than I ever thought possible. I try to focus on the things I love most about pregnancy and how privileged I am to be used by the Creator of Heaven and Earth to bring life into the world. I view my trials as suffering for Christ. Through my sickness, those around me are witness to the physical and spiritual saving grace of Christ. They see how ill I am, and how I lean on the Lord, and how He always gets me through."
Also, what I noticed during my last pregnancy was that SO many things in our life got out of control, especially with our son (things like diet, TV time (skyrocketed), behavior issues (too sick to discipline), etc.), and they took months to get back under control - and we're still feeling the ramifications. How do you deal with not being able to care for kiddos, especially with multiple children?
"We've had this problem in our house, too. It's of particular concern now since S. (5) will begin homeschool in the fall. How will I homeschool through HG? I don't know. Thankfully, the worst of my illness is usually confined to between weeks 7 through 20/21 or so. We can take a good portion of that time "off" and call it summer vacation. As for diet, I've found that simple, nutritious meals aren't that hard to prepare/serve if planned carefully. My children LOVE frozen blueberries and will eat them like candy. Served with peanut butter crackers, it makes a nice snack. I've also found that by adding a bit more high-quality, high-calorie foods, as well as adding a good carbohydrate and protein each meal makes them full quickly and keeps them full longer. TV does tend to take over my children's time when I'm sick, so I'm planning to take away all tv's in the house except the one in my bedroom. They can watch bible movies, veggie tales, talking word factory, etc in there with me when I can't get out of bed. Also, I've found that when I take the tv's away they play nicely together and have a lot of fun! I wish I had an answer for you on discipline, but I don't. We have major problems there, too, during HG. Kelly at Generation Cedar also talks a lot about teaching our children to have Christ's "servant heart" and how pregnancy, especially a difficult one, is an excellent opportunity for children to learn to serve.
"I don't have all the answers. I simply feel called to give this part of my life over to the Lord and seek His will, not my own. I don't feel I should obey the Lord only if I'm sure the consequences will be to my liking, or if I think I will succeed. I feel I should obey "anyway", not "because". It's hard, I know it's hard!"
I asked B. if I could share her responses here, and she said "Sure!" I know that many HG mamas will have very different opinions than those shared here, and I also personally know many, many deeply devoted Christian HG mothers who have come to conclusions directly opposite to B's - so please don't think that I'm taking sides here! But for those mothers out there who would choose this route (the open-to-children-anytime route), I wanted her beautiful words to be out there for them! Thank you so much, B., for your insights! And I definitely agree that HG should have a puke-green awareness ribbon!
I would love to hear any other perspectives on this issue (family planning, biblical worldview, birth control, family size, fertility, etc.) as well as how they relate to HG - politely stated opinions only, as I know that many people hold very strong views on these issues!