Every time my husband and I talk about having a third child, I cry. I uggggly cry. He thought we were just talking about hopes and dreams for the future and third-row seating. Boy was he wrong.
The emotion that welled up inside of me (and still does) is hard to put into words, but I will try.
The first time we decided to get pregnant, we had no idea what we were in for. We knew the logistics of conception, the horror stories of birth, and the family picture at the end. That’s like 0.001% of the knowledge we would learn. Side note: we committed to cloth diapering way too early in the game.
The second time we decided to get pregnant, we knew we didn’t want to have an only child, and the general haze of parenthood was starting to lift enough that I could see my husband standing a foot in front of me. It was kind of mind over matter, because we knew what we were getting into mostly, but we decided to do it anyway.
If you are cringing, because I keep saying, “we decided to get pregnant,” I’m totally with you.
The idea of “family planning” can be so offensive. I think of women who were raped and impregnated. I think of women who chart their ovulation meticulously and no amount of planning can bring them the family they yearn for. I think of women who cherish the baby growing inside of them who dies. None of them planned any of it.
But for my husband and me, we talked about having a baby, we made love (Just kidding; I would never say that. So gross.) We made lov-ing someone else a priority over our own comforts. And we got pregnant fairly easily. I’ve felt deep guilt over this fact: that we can get pregnant when we try and carry the baby safely to term. I’ve felt deeper guilt than I’ve felt gratitude to God, which is a big problem.
I think what God wants, and what we desperately need, is to come to Him with thanksgiving. Always. It’s easier to do that when you have a healthy pregnancy or a bouncing baby. It’s harder to do that when you’re facing loss and grief that makes your heart drop to your toes. In either circumstance, it’s right. It’s appropriate. And we should do it together.
I’m not saying we should thank our Lord for taking a baby who hasn’t been born. Maybe a more mature believer can authentically do that, but not me. I’m thanking the Lord for my sweet friend’s Mama-heart and a precious baby, gone too soon. That she provided a safe, nurturing home for that tiny baby, and that she is trusting God, even though she won’t meet her baby this side of heaven.
I’m thanking God for another sweet friend’s Mama-heart, who faithfully asks her Father for a baby, even though He hasn’t given her one yet. I thank Him for her warmth, hospitality, and her nurturing spirit and her diligence to pursue His truth, even when it hurts. I thank Him that He made her a Mommy, even before she has anyone to call her that.
And I thank Him for my two babies, who now live with us and fill our home with their giggles. I thank him for my trusty uterus and my husband’s jazzy sperm that make it happen.
Sometimes we feel paralyzed by the weight of pain, others’ or our own, and we don’t make it to thankfulness. It’s why I couldn’t feel gratitude past my guilt for having two babies.
But if we can help each other there, take turns carrying the stretcher holding the grief-ridden mama, I really think the heaviness will lift. Where there is thankfulness, there is freedom.
What does that mean for our family? I’m not sure why I (seemingly) get to answer the question, “Do you want more kids?” and so many others don’t. Right now I’m just trying to thank God for my circumstances and my dear friends’, in the good times and the hard ones.
And if you make a joke about the hard ones and making babies, I will absolutely start crying. So just don’t.
(family photo by Amber Ratliff)