Faith / Family life / Pregnancy

How many children?! Everyone’s a critic

Every since I can remember I’ve wanted four children. When I would tell people that I’d get a a few different responses:

“Really? That’s going to be expensive.”

“Do you know how hard four pregnancies is going to be?”

“That’s going to be a handful.”

“You’ll change your mind after the first one.”

There were several variations of the above responses, but you get the picture. I’ve debated writing about this topic, but it was Facebook comments a few weeks ago and a blog post I read today that finally motivated.

The blog post I read today was about how the United States over the years has become anti-big family. In some ways it seems it has become anti-family altogether. There was a graphic on this persons blog and despite the fact that she posted it today, I’m going to post it too.what-people-think-based-on-number-of-kids-thumb

The graphic is pretty much spot on. After having my second son, people started asking if we were going to try for a girl. A friend of mine had two boys and a girl and when she got pregnant again there were “those people” around. When she miscarried a little girl and then got pregnant for a fifth time, once again there were those people. I have another friend that recently had her fifth child. She has four boys and a girl. My sister-in-law is about to have another baby — she has two boys and a girl right now. I know she’s heard the question, “How many are you going to have?” and “Are you going to be done now?”

There’s another phenomenon that I want to mention only because I heard it a lot. I got married at 18. I was 10 weeks pregnant on our 1 year anniversary. My son, Josiah, was born one month before I turned 20. Do you know how many people I had mention my age when I was pregnant? My mental response was always, “Yeah. It’s terrible. I got married and THEN got pregnant. That’s totally outside the norm.” I typically ended up saying something along the lines of, “I’ve always wanted a family,” or something like that.

Over the past few years I’ve heard A LOT of grumblings about the Duggers. Yes. I said it. I’m bringing up the Duggers. Basically, the Duggers decided early on that they would have as many children as God would allow. They’re up to what, 19 now and the recent rumor is that she is considering another one. The crazy thing is PEOPLE ARE UPSET ABOUT IT. My first thought is that it’s not really anyone’s business to be so opinionated about the reproduction rate of someone else. My second thought is, if they’re taking care of them, why does it matter?

I’ve heard many excuses when it comes to people being harsh towards others about the number of children people have.

There’s two that really irk me though. (Warning: Mini-rant to follow)

The first one is: “It’s selfish to give birth to so many children because there are so many that need to be adopted.”

OK. So why aren’t you adopting them? It is very sad that there is such an epidemic of orphaned children. No, this is not a pro-abortion statement, I am very much so pro-life. BUT part of being pro-life is being there to help those women who choose life. The problem doesn’t lie within the people choosing to put their children up for adoption — the problem is with the system.

There are good people that can’t adopt because they are swimming through red tape for years. There are good couples who can’t adopt because they can’t afford adoption fees. There are good people that can’t adopt because they’ve been waiting for years for the “ideal match”. It’s not that people don’t want to adopt, people are afraid that their hearts will be broken when they don’t end up with a child or get false hopes too many times. They’re burdened because they want a child so much yet they can’t pay the thousands of dollars that are required to adopt.

How anyone figures it is up to them to decide how many children a person should have before they become “selfish” is beyond me. Coming from someone who struggled to have a baby, I can’t imagine trying to deny someone the joy of pregnancy and the gift of birth.

The second one is: “Some people can’t have children so it’s (wrong/frustrating/unfair/cruel/selfish) for people to have so many children when some can’t even have one.” This one makes me angry. I’ve been on that side of the fence. I had Josiah and then spent four years being devastated month after month because I couldn’t get pregnant and then when I did I’d miscarry. I had four miscarriages before I got pregnant with Samuel. I would NEVER wish infertility or miscarriage on my worst of the worst enemy. It’s painful — physically, emotionally, and sometimes financially.

Everyone has a dream about how many children they want whether it’s two or 20. When you realize that dream may not become reality, it hurts, no matter if your dream of two children is crushed or your dream for a dozen children is crushed. During the years I struggled with this I would get upset when I’d see pregnant teens, teen moms, pregnant women, women with multiple children, or when I’d see another “+” on Facebook. It upset me because I couldn’t have what they had — I was jealous. My tears and frustration had NOTHING to do with their situation. If they wanted five children and got them then praise be to God. The jealousy was my sin to deal with. I had to learn that I was pushing my hurts and heartaches onto other people. By saying, “It’s not fair that so and so is pregnant and I’m not,” is dangerously close to saying, “I’m struggling so I wish everyone else was too.”

My two awesome boys!

My two awesome boys!

Now, before you throw stones at me, I’m not saying that this is how everyone thinks but there is a fine line. It takes prayer and a lot of self-checking, but it is possible to be genuinely happy for a woman that is pregnant even though at the same time you’re sad for yourself. Feeling anger at other women because of how many children they have or how easily they have children or the fact that they’re pregnant again can only be labeled as bitterness and jealousy. If that’s where you’re at right now, you’re going to be mad and defensive or a light bulb is going to come on — either way you have to call it what it is. I did deal with this for a time. I was mad. Hated the fact that my body couldn’t do the one thing it was supposed to — the one thing I wanted it to.

(OK, rant over)

I have two fantastic sons here with me and four beautiful children in heaven. You know what though? Before you ask, I’m already praying that we can add a third child to our family here on earth. My God is bigger than my hurts, my struggles, my fears, and the boundaries that man has put in place. I didn’t think I’d be able to have a second child here on earth, but God gave me Samuel. I love my two boys and my heart will always long to know the four babies that I didn’t get to meet before they went to be with Jesus.

I learned many things throughout my years of struggling with infertility and losing my babies. I learned to lean on God and trust in His plan. I also learned that no one should ever have to go through that type of pain. I used to be one of those that joked about the people that had 8, 9, or more children. I used to say that they shouldn’t have that many kids. Who am I to decide how many children they have? I don’t know their hearts or their dreams. There is no sin in having children.

 

Just keep a few things in mind next time you see a woman with several kids or a woman who is pregnant again:

  • You don’t know what she has had to do to get her children.
  • You don’t know her desires, thoughts, or heart.
  • She is not flaunting her fertility in non-fertile women’s faces (the thought probably never crossed her mind).
  • She is not wrong for having (x-amount) of children.
  • She is not better than you because she can have children.
  • Yes, she has heard of birth control — whether she used it or not is her business.
  • Be encouraging, not discouraging.
  • Be happy for her. It is OK to be sad for YOU and sad for YOUR situation, but be happy that she doesn’t have to go through what you’re going through.
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