What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Blessing of Babies We Can't Make

When asked as a girl what I wanted "to be" when I grew up, my answer was always "Mother".  And as a follow-up, I would always add "to a dozen children".  (I think this number came about after reading Cheaper By the Dozen but maybe even from Mother Hubbard.)  As the years progressed, the number became a much more realistic "ten".  ;-)

Knowing this about me, in fact, led to many deep-hearted discussions between Matt and his family as we prepared to get married, that I can only presume went something like this:  "Are you insane?  WHY would you want to marry a girl who wants to have children right away?  And more than one?!?  And not properly spaced?!?!?  YOU WON'T BE USING BIRTH CONTROL?!?!?!  Think again.  Think VERY SERIOUSLY about this."  And there were a few "DON'T DO IT!" warnings mixed in for good measure. (Hence, the love story ending abruptly where it did.)

The idea of being open to children is a scary prospect to people~ the only result of which could be bearing a bazillion children.  

But here I am at *almost* 32 years old, having been married for 11 years and having only four beautiful children~ the last of which is an impossibly cute, endearing THREE YEAR OLD that looks more big-boyish by the day.  It seems the idea of a dozen Newman children running around is highly unlikely now.

The last two years, especially, I have been yearning for a new baby to snuggle, to kiss, to smell, to stroke that soft, smooth skin, to admire and rock.... and that yearning only gets more intense as my boy learns to speak better by the day and play better and with each different, new little step toward boydom.

Two years.

I know that this seems ridiculous to many people.  The majority of people.  I know it makes me sound insane to long for another baby after being given four and only after a few years since the last one. It sounds a bit ungrateful too.  But there it is.  Out in the wide open, the truth of it. 

I haven't wanted to whine about it or throw little pity parties for myself (though I certainly have too often than I care to admit) so I try not to talk about it, or think about it or write about it here.  But the desire is there.  The longing.  The wishing and praying and hoping.  And every month, the disappointment is there too. 

And then it occurred to me~ perhaps keeping quiet about my sadness is a waste of a story that ought to be shared because out of the story there is truth.  God is there in the feelings of sadness just like He is in the feelings of joy.  God is here.  In this story.  And perhaps, the truth of this story is one that needs to be heard.  Some good might come out of the pain of not being able to conceive on a whim.  

That good might just be the realization (and the perfect opportunity to share it from my own experiences) of the truth that I don't like to admit:  I am not in control of my womb.  

And neither are you.

It is easy to feel in control~ we live in the 21st century.  People use birth control and the end result is often not getting pregnant.  People have come to learn scientific facts about reproduction that can help in fertility and the result, when implemented, is often getting pregnant.  So we think if ___________, then _________.  There.  We did it.  

But the fact of the matter is~ if you got pregnant, it wasn't because you did something "right" or that the sperm naturally fertilized the eggs because it was the ideal time of conception. (duh.) It was because GOD did it.  Pure and simple.  God could have just as easily not allowed that sperm to fertilize that egg that particular time because God doesn't work within the scientific parameters - He made them.  And He can work within them or outside of them at His will.   That baby was made because God has a purpose for him/her in this life and in YOUR life.

In the same way, if you didn't get pregnant- it wasn't because of the method of birth control you used or that you didn't do something 'right'- it was because God willed you not to have a baby at that time.  People get pregnant using all sorts of birth control.  Is this an accident?  Not even close.   God doesn't 'do' accidents.  In the same way, it is possible for people NOT to get pregnant when they want to.  And this is not because of scientific reasoning, it is because of GOD.

I can now claim to be a spokeswoman on this subject...not that I want to be.  I am living proof that not using birth control and 'doing everything conceivable to conceive' doesn't always result in bearing children. Because, it has never been about me and what I have done.   

Every child is a gift from God.  

And we need to stop pretending we have anything to do with it.

I know the notion of leaving our child-bearing up to God can be scary~ to some (even me) the notion of 21 kids and counting can be daunting.  But Michelle Duggar is not what happens to every woman who leaves the matter of child-bearing up to God.  Michelle Duggar is an exceptional case.  So is the case of Sarah.  Of Hannah.  Of Rachel and Rebekah.  All of whom spent years barren and begging to become mothers.   Their's is no less exceptional a story.

Children ought never to be taken for granted.  Because you are given one does not mean you will be given more than one.  With every baby I have been blessed with, I always try very hard to enjoy each pregnancy and each beautiful newborn baby as if it may be my last.  And even though I consciously try to soak up every moment, I still miss some.

If women began to see children more as something that God gives and less as something they decide to do, I think we would realize just how much of a blessing a child really is.  If we can do it all ourselves, well then, it becomes just something we do.  And it becomes something that can be 'undone' pretty easily too.

So for those of you who love children but are too afraid to give that over completely to God~ here I stand. An example that not every open womb will be filled.   Don't be afraid that you will become a Duggar.  You could be a Rebekah or a Sarah or a Rachel. God only grants babies as He sees fit.  There is a very real freedom when a husband and wife love one another freely and without concern or worry or fear.  You should try it.  ;-)  And if, from it, a baby is born then HOW BLESSED YOU ARE!  

For those of you who long for a (or another) baby, as I do, but haven't been blessed in that way~ Here God is.  I am not doing anything wrong and neither are you.  Perhaps the Lord will bless you (me) again- perhaps He won't.   It should be freeing for us to realize that we have no control over the situation either and it isn't because of something we are/are not doing  (right or wrong) that is resulting in an empty womb.  GOD IS WITH US.

The only guarantee that we have in child-bearing is that the Lord is with us in the giving of children.  And He is just as there in the withholding of children.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 (It seems this is the year of common sense epiphanies for me.  I am a slow learner.) 


julie said...

Sweet post--and, as I'm sure others will testify--you've got many "good" years left! I just turned 35 and discovered that I am miraculously expecting a baby after 10 years of fun but fruitless "trying". :)

We have one AWESOME adopted son who's excited about this new little person. And I've had lots of kind older ladies who've told me about babies they gave birth to at 35, 39, 41 years of age!!!! God is good, hears our cries, knows our hearts, and gives joy even in the midst of waiting and wondering.

Thank you for a thoughtful post.

Julian said...

I wholeheartedly agree.
Blessings, Christina

Catie said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I've often wondered what your thoughts were on this subject. :) God is so good and I agree with you- there are no accidents. For what it's worth, I'll pray that God blesses you with another baby.

Reformation Acres said...

Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your heart :) Praying the Lord would use it to bless those He feel need to hear this today! Also continuing in praying that He would fill you with a new little life and that Hopestead will need to ramp up the production for an extra mouth next year :)

Cindy said...

the waiting is the hardest part.
there are 11 years between my first and second child. I had finally decided there would never be a second. then there was a second, a year later, a third and the next year a fourth. wow. still don't know why we had to wait so long. but, it was Worth IT!

The Andersons said...

I am 40 years old and have 6 beautiful children. As I was reading your post, my thoughts went to a season in my life that was similar to yours. I thought I would share, for perspective sake.
I had 2 beautiful little girls, 3 and 18 months. I wanted another so badly. I tried and tried, to no avail. We prayed, we did homeopathic helps, and we were together every chance we could. Nothing. I was so confused. I knew God had spirit children who needed bodies, and with all the wickedness in the world, why wouldn't He want a child to come to us. I finally wrapped my head around only having 2 children, and found a peace that can only come from trusting God. When our youngest was almost 4, I found out I was pregnant. Everything proceeded normally and we expected a healthy outcome. Then, 8 weeks early, our 3rd daughter was born. She stayed in the NICU for 6 weeks, and struggled to meet the normal milestones that we so often take for granted. When she was 2, I again started having a desire for another child...and just over 2 years later, our son was born. We nearly lost him at 2 weeks, and he struggled for the first year to overcome breathing issues. I couldn't understand why God had not granted me children in those "holes" of time between our third daughter. There was time before her, and time after her but before our son. And then we found out that our daughter had a chromosome deletion...she would/will never grow developmentally older than a 2 year old. (or at least at 14, hasn't yet). God knew I needed that time. He knew I needed it, when even now I only see glimmers of that need. I needed time to let the older two grow. I needed time to let my body prepare and then heal. I needed time to deal with the issues of our son, and I needed time to be able to wrap my head around life. God knows us. He knows our needs. You are right that we may be a Rachel, or a Sarah...but we may also be a Cherie, or a Rebecca. Our stories are just as important. Rebecca, your story is still being written...let go of the longing, and prepare for the wonders that will come. You never know what those blessings are, or how many they will be. You may very well have triplets! Let God grant you the time He knows you need. Thank you for being so open and honest in your blog. I truly enjoy reading and learning from you! Blessings!

Chrysalinn said...

Thank you for such beautiful transparency. My grandmother often shares how she cried the first three months of marriage because she didn't conceive. (She went on to have 11 children.)

Control of conception has been a big fear spot for me at times. My children are amazing blessings, and yet I struggle to let go. At 36, my heart still feels like someone is missing from our family, and yet I fear birth as I get older. My husband and I have five wonderful sons, the youngest three I birthed. We have known the loss of two miscarriages, as well.

I appreciate your post because it speaks to my heart, reminding it that God alone holds us (and dearly at that.) People often ask will we have more. I often answer we'll see what God has in store. I think you can be both satisfied and grateful for those you have while acknowledging your heart has room for more.

I appreciate the other ladies, as well. Thanks for reminding me that no matter what life brings, we are not abandoned or forsaken.

Keep your heart open. I am sure God will continue to fill it abundantly.

Stefanie said...

Remember too that sometimes things God puts in our hearts require action. I waited two years for my first. During that wait, was a surgery and treatment required for my health, not just fertility. I endured hurtful comments about God closing the womb. My condition was no fault of my own, but it prevented implantation.
Had I not sought answers and a specialist surgeon, and changed my diet, I would not have my three boys. Had I waited and hesitated, I probably wouldn't have them either.
Don't be afraid to seek help, and find answers, find them now if you have not already, then rest in God.
He is faithful.
I am so glad you shared this. So glad. Thank you.
I had a sense you were hurting, and a hunch about why. Now I can pray.

Ulli said...

Beautifully said, Rebecca. Thoughtful and thought provoking. You are indeed blessed with your 4 as I am with my 2. Only when we give it all over to God, and understand that He is in control, can we be grateful for everything in every situation. Sometimes we don't see the reason or sense in it for years to come. For the good, and for the bad, to God be the glory!

Jenn in Indian said...

Rebecca, I will pray for the Lord to grant you your hearts desire. My husband had a vysectemy when my daughter was 4 months old, it is one of my biggest regrets in life.

Regina said...

Lovely post Rebecca. My heart aches for more children as well. ((((hugs))))

Miranda Hupp said...

I know exactly how you feel! I always wanted a house full of kids running around and like you I have 4. 4 is a wonderful number! I love my 4. I don't remember if I have ever told you this...or maybe it was on my blog but....When Carter and Morgan were born Brian got a vasectomy. Everyone around us pushed and pushed and pushed until I believed that was the right thing to do. I mean, come on...I had a 4 year old daughter with a disability, a 3 year old and now twins! I can look back and honestly say I loved every single minute of it. Brian says he doesn't ever remember me being so overwhelmed like everyone thought I should have been. We regretted it as soon as we walked out of the office.

Brian got a reversal 2 years ago but it didn't work. :( He is willing to get it redone but he wants to buy a house first and you know that is going...sigh...

I like to remind God that we messed up but we did put things back they way the should be. ;) And I can't help but anticipate each month even though I KNOW it didn't work.

lydia.purple said...

miranda, i know of a woman who got her tubes tied and she got pregnant... the doctors were buffled because the tubes were still tied when she was pregnant, there was no mistake from the medival perspective, only a God who works beyond our plans. And you're right to anticipate every month!

lydia.purple said...

oops, medical perspective...

Rebecca said...

Thank you to all of you ladies who have encouraged me with this post! I honestly feared for some serious negativity since women tend to get their feathers puffed when discussing things of this sort. So glad that my words were accepted as they were meant and not miscontrued! And very glad to hear of your stories, too.

And I appreciate your prayers on my behalf- both in the getting of a baby and the remembering of this truth every month. :-)

Julie- congratulations on that babycakes of yours! I am sure that wee one is well worth the wait! Just like Cindy says! :-)

Stephanie, Ulli and The Andersons- I have thought that many times. Our whole story isn't clear to us. If it would be, I am certain it would make more sense than looking blindly into the future. I have not overruled the fact that the Lord doesn't want me pregnant FOR MY GOOD because of health or other such reasons. It is important to remember that too. At the END of our stories, I believe things will all be made much more clear and we will be able to clearly see that gold thread that ties it all together and runs right through our lives. Yes, it is God's good pleasure to give/withhold children- but it may be for OUR GOOD PLEASURE too. Thanks for pointing that out!

Chrysalinn~ I am sure with the loss of dearlings there becomes an ever more intense fear of pregnancy. That only makes sense. I loved your last line written for me and say it back to you as well-Keep your heart open. I am sure God will continue to fill it abundantly! May God bless you today with peace.

Jenn and Miranda~ our pastor and his wife chose for the husband to have a vasectomy. Later, they prayed and prayed about it and came into contact with a not-for-profit church (I think) who paid for vasectomy reversals. He had it done and they went on to have several more children. Jenn- if you are interested, I can ask them where it was they were given to resources to have one done for free. Miranda~ don't lose heart! It is possible for you to have more children because, as was the whole point of the post~ ANYTHING is possible with God! And if you want the information for the place that helps out financially- let me know and I will ask them! PS- I totally didn't realize your youngest were twins! How cool is that?!?

Lydia- thanks for sharing that story! I loved to hear it. There are no mistakes!

Cathy said...

Dear Rebecca, thank you for sharing this. My husband has always insisted that it is God who is in charge of giving babies , not us. It is not a given. I'm sure this took courage, but I'm really glad you said it, because it's true and hopefully will encourage others to value and treasure every baby. Bless you.

Michelle H said...

Rebecca, thank you for sharing what is on your heart. I have wondered how you were doing with this, as I could read between the lines on some of your posts, of your desire to have another baby and that desire was not being met as it was (is) not God's desire for you (at this time?). And because I don't "know" you, never having met you, I didn't want to ask about this - about how you are doing. Everyone has a story, as do my husband and I. To recognize that God is in control of all things can either be a very frustrating realization, as that means we can't do anything about it, or it can be a comforting one. Thankfully as we travel the infertility journey (going on 16 years now), He has helped me to see His control as comfort. He is sovereign over all, including our fertility/infertility. May you and Matt continue to look to Him for all things, and if it is His will, we pray you may be blessed with another one of His lambs. And if it is not His will, we pray that you may receive what you need to accept His will, willingly.

Mary P said...

Rebecca, this is such a well written reminder that we are to look to the Lord as the giver of all good things, including and especially children. My husband and I prayed and hoped for a baby (and got help from specialist doctors) for three years before the Lord gave us our first, and four months later I was expecting our second! Now I match you, with four wonderful children. :-) and you're so right, every child is a gift!

Rhiannon said...

Dear Rebecca, Thank you so much for sharing this, it really resonated with me as it did with a lot of other women. The view of leaving birth control to God is very uncommon in many Christian circles in Australia. In fact I had never come across it until I stared to read some US Christian blog. Your courage for express your views is wonderful and I thank you for it. Now having two darling children of my own, I understand more than ever how children are a blessing from God whenever they come and that the aim of the perfect 4 person family is not the 'ideal'. My youngest is only 9month but I already would love another baby. Unfortunately I have fertility issues but we'll see what The Lord has in store for us. I also agree that the letting go of control of fertility in a marriage can be fun ;)
I will pray that The Lord answers the prayers and desires of your heart if it be His will
Blessings Rhiannon

Amanda said...

I've thought a lot about this post in the past 48 hours and now feel compelled to comment. I appreciate your thoughts and your sentiment and I certainly understand your longing.
My husband and I will soon celebrate our 7th anniversary and for many reason which I will not go into right now, both of us have longed for children at point along this season but have also both agreed and we have chosen to wait for children. During this season of waiting, we have had some of the most hurtful comments made about our choice. People tell us that if we had a stronger faith, we wouldn't wait. If we were less selfish, we wouldn't wait. People tell us that we don't know what it means to be tired, stressed, or angry because we do not have children. Having had plenty of time to think on these things, I have reached a strong conclusion: we (as Christians) do ourselves a great disservice by declaring ourselves "open to having children" instead of "open for the Lord's will for our families".
The God of our faith and the God of the Bible is bigger than a birth control pill. He is bigger than a thermometer, an infertility drug, a temperature chart. The God who knows the number of hairs on my head is the God who gives and takes away. Had he wanted me pregnant three years ago, we would have rejoiced wholeheartedly that His will is greater than our own and that we are powerless to supersede His plan for our lives. Because He has blessed our lives and honored our wish to wait for children, we praise Him now just as we always have. Now that it is time to cast our bread upon the water regarding a family, we will continue to praise Him no matter what comes to us, because that's what He commands of us.
Sure, being open to children is outstanding. It requires a great measure of faith to proceed that way. But why can't we live our lives open to God's will? No one ever walks around saying, "Yeah, me and my husband, we're open to infertility. We're cool with that, cause its the Lord's will."
I think that in this ultra-competitive, Pinterest-fueled world, we could all benefit from a taking a step back and a saying a little prayer: Thy will be done.
I don't mean for this to sound like a soapbox rant but oh, believe you me... I know what it means to long for a child. It just doesn't always look the same for everyone.
May the Lord who knows the number of hairs on your head grant you hope for the future, poise for the present, and peace in the past. May your heart overflow with goodness, mercy and love for all the souls in your family, those with you now and those yet to come. (And may I not have to look back at this post in 6 months and call myself a hypocrite as we move forward into what I pray will be our "family" season of life!) Thy will be done... thy will be done...

Me said...

I have faith for baby-making prayers and I'll add you to my list. When I pray for women who desire children (because God is a God who loves to give good gifts to His children) I always mention a book with a horrible title (from a Christian point of view... ready for this? It's called Take Charge of Your Fertility. Most women, I'm assuming, use it to NOT get pregnant, but, from a homeopathic point, it does a fabulous job of explaining any imbalances that might be stopping conception. This is a fallen world we live in and I do believe God gives us wisdom to rectify the "offs" that may occur in our bodies.
Ah, hope I'm coming across the way I intend. Prayer and wisdom go together, I think.
Much love and a fabulous post!

...they call me mommy... said...

Rebecca...(((BIG 'OLE HUGS)))

Rebecca said...

Michelle~ thank you for that. I really liked when you said "To recognize that God is in control of all things can either be a very frustrating realization, as that means we can't do anything about it, or it can be a comforting one." That is so true! :-) Praising God with you that He has given you children despite your infertility- and beautiful ones, at that! (I had to visit you after such a nice comment!)

Mary- congrats on your sweetling #4. She is such a beauty!

Rhiannon~ Leaving birth control to God is very uncommon in USA circles as well! I was afraid to write anything about it for some time, thinking it would certainly be misconstrued in a way that would be painful to others OR myself. :-) How wonderful it has been to have read such encouragement by other women who have thought similarly and struggled similarly! I wonder that I shouldn't have done it sooner! :-)

Amanda~ accepting and being grateful for the Lord's will whether it lines up to your own is the hardest part. Not just being accepting of children but also being accepting of not having children. And this is true in all areas of life and not just in fertility. But fertility is a great example because God's will for His people often works THROUGH families (and fertility (hence the "be fruitful and multiply"). There is a fine line between accepting God's will for your life openly and accepting God's will for your life while simultaneously creating roadblocks and obstacles. Sure, God can work around the obstacles if He chooses- God can do anything. The obstacles and roadblocks don't really make a life seem all that inviting to His will though, does it? If I had to jump over grass-covered pits hiding hungry tigers and climb piles of thorn and brush covered paths to get to my friends' doorstep, I would probably feel like they didn't want me to come in the first place.
Every one of us needs to clear the way for the Lord to work in our lives while also being thankful and content with the way He chooses to work.

Hannah- you do indeed and I thank you for it!

Amy- you know I love them!

Terri Cheney said...

I had two beautiful healthy children but so longed for a third and the fourth one too that I'd always thought I'd have. My ex husband had a vasectomy when my second was 6 weeks old. Told me he absolutely never wanted another child and wasn't going to get trapped into it either. Not that I'd have done that. I believe truly that began the break in our marriage. 8 years later, I did have my third child, a gift from God, at a time in my life that looked less than ideal but God KNOWS how things shall be. I met my second husband when Kate was just 2 months old. He'd always longed for a daughter. He adopted her after we married two years later. He brought to me an older son. WE have four children. Jd is asked how he feels about Katie (who is 16 years younger than himself) he grins and says "Osmosis works. Just look at Dad and Kate." lol

My dil has PCOS and though she's got three children longs for a fourth. She is pursuing a third round of fertility treatments in a three year period. My Kate longs to have her first child, but after two years has managed only to get pregnant never to carry to term. My oldest daughter has raised her boyfriend's two children to their later teen years, has three children of her own but felt very much she was meant to have a sixth child. After three miscarriages she is due in July..I pray support over everyone of them, pray God's timing will be as perfect as always. My youngest son's first child is due any day. I not only see my children as a blessing, but see their children as my blessings as well and I will happy be Gramma to as many as God allows!
I think of you often Rebecca and I knew you had a longing for another. I pray for you to have your heart's desire.

Renata said...

Dear Rebecca
Something led me to reading here today and this is just what I needed. I have also been longing forma baby for the past six years now. It has been on my daily prayer list and more tears have been cried than I ever thought possible for anyone to cry. I know how blessed I am with four and that's where a lot of people don't understand it because to them four is a big family. To me -well I just see the ones missing from our table and life. In fact I was crying and praying about another baby just minutes ago as I hung out the washing on the line ( my praying time). I guess what I'm trying to say ( in my less than articulate way) is thank you for this post and bearing your heart. God is good all the time -even through those things that just don't make any sense. I'll be praying for you!

Abigail said...

I remember talking with you about big ol' passels of children when Corynn was still a year or two old and you mentioning a fear of Him giving too many children too soon, a fear that many women who are open to God's will in childbearing share at motherhood's beginning. If nurturing one baby is so wonderfully and utterly engulfing, how would mothering TWELVE be, right?

As we continued chatting, though, we concluded with thoughts similar to those you share here. As hard as I imagine it is for you at times to graciously wait and seek contentment, and as much as I pray that God adds to your family, it's good to see how our tender Father has brought you from a place of young and honest trepidation to a secure and mature Knowing of His goodness, faithfulness, and complete satisfying of our needs. He not only seeks our good but actively works for and accomplishes it, in all seasons and at all times. This assurance is comfort, and I pray that God daily bolsters you with it.


rebecca said...

I've been meaning to drop you a line for awhile. This post really made a difference in my life. When I was first married seven years ago I went on the pill because that is just what is done. Soon afterwards my heart was softened and I felt that we should not prevent children ever, but my husband disagreed. With his approval I went off the pill and we used natural methods of birth control until we were done with our schooling. It took us awhile to get pregnant with our first, and we naturally prevented again until my husband was ready for a second baby (which was right as my cycles returned anyway, all that self control for months for nothing). Anyway, I read this post as I nursed baby number two to sleep at seven months old. It pricked my heart to talk to my husband again, and this time he agreed with me. No more preventing children, ever. It's been two months. I am fearful of children too close together, but I am hoping that as I continue this course that my faith will crowd out my fear.

So, thank you. I don't know anyone in person that is walking this road. I am not even sure what to say when people ask how far apart we will "space" our children. My MIL asked if baby number two was an accident (and my children are 25 months apart!!!) and I am not sure what she will say when our family (god willing) grows large quickly. It helps to read about other women choosing motherhood over worldliness.

I also wanted to recommend Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's about recognizing your body's signals to time intercourse for the best possible chance of pregnancy. It can also help pinpoint if there is something wrong with your body that a doctor could help correct.

Mrs. W said...

Excellent post! Couldn't agree more. May God bless us all with more children, but may His will be done! :D