17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Epiphany


At playgroup we were talking about "how many kids are you gonna have?" It seems like a lot of my girlfriends have (or at least had) very specific "goals" as far as the number of children they are/were going to have. I use the past tense because a variety of circumstances has changed that number for many of them. In most cases I believe the number has gotten smaller, due to infertility, uncontrollable circumstances, and the fact that motherhood is "not a picnic" (as I uttered over and over again while birthing my first...where that phrase came from, I have no idea).

I have never been one of those women who had a plan. If someone would have asked me point blank: How many kids are you going to have, I would have probably said: "I don't know". If pressed, I would say "at least 2?" with a questioning lilt in my voice. Ever since I heard my friends proclaim: "I am having _ kids" I started to question why I had never made such a plan.

When I had one kid, and my friends with one kid got pregnant, I questioned whether or not I should be pregnant too. Brandolyn, Carrie and Michelle are the ones I am watching now because they have kids close in age to mine. Brandolyn's are a little older so I don't feel total pressure to be pregnant, but when I found out she was expecting, I had to take a moment and think. I have found myself observing other peoples' plans to see if I want to go down that road.

I am in agony many times trying to answer the question: When is my family complete? (much like Katie's post). For about a year I was convinced that one was it. Now I have two, and I love my second child, and I feel like I should probably have a third. The scary thing is that I don't know whether or not I am going to want a fourth...and then what about a fifth? I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that I have to allow or deny a soul to come to the earth. I have been given the gift of a young, strong, healthy body and the ability to give life, so is it selfish if I only want 2 kids? When the last child comes, will I always wonder....if I had just had one more...?

And then today I looked back at my baby girl and I started thinking about my childhood, and Dr. Robin and Oprah and I realized that I never made a plan because although beautifully mended, the beginning of my family life and childhood was broken. And family and security became a fleeting thing. And it was just my mom and her two girls. And my sister and I do not look alike, and though I do not regard them as half, my half bro and sis look a lot like our Dad, and I felt so much a part of the family and sometimes so alone.

And I looked into my baby's eyes and saw my 4-year-old daughters eyes. And I observed the gap in her teeth and then pictured my 4-year-old daughters gap in her teeth that they both got from their Dad. And I realized that both of my girls have my eyes and my husband's teeth and they have the same toes and feet which are a combination of my husband and mine. And I realized that our family is NOT broken, and it will NOT break. And I am free to create whatever I want, however I want, and whatever that is, it is going to be amazing and beautiful, and we are all going to be a part of each other. And it took the obvious genetic connection for me to see that, though it isn't really about a genes at all.

So now when the crazy pontifications, and questions, and confusions come creeping in about "how many kids should I have"...I am just going to look at those eyes, those teeth, that dimple and those earlobes and realize that I have created something. I will nurture that, and perhaps add, but never take away.


27 Comments:

  • I struggle with the "when will my family be complete" question all the time. We have one little girl, and one due within the next month. When I was growing up I always wanted at least 4 or 5 kids because I loved having a big family and brothers and sisters to play with. Then I got pregnant. I hate being pregnant. The number has since dwindled to 3. That's all I want because that's as many times as I'm willing to be pregnant. But is that really fair? I don't have hard pregnancys and sometimes I think it's unfair to deny spirits the chance to be born because I just don't want to go through those changes again. It's a struggle that I don't think will be resolved anytime soon.
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 8/02/2006 08:49:00 AM  



  • I, too, think about that all the time. "When will we be done and how will we know?" I've been telling my husband lately that I really wish we were done now, so I can move out of the phase of planning/finding my family, and into the phase of being a complete family. I want to get DH snipped and stop taking BC pills. I want to stop socking away $ for a future adoption and comparing agencies like a mad-woman. But I know we're not done yet. Yeah and boo all at the same timme.
    posted by Blogger Julie at 8/02/2006 09:00:00 AM  



  • This sort of reminds me of that part in Nanny McPhee (I know...) Where Mr. Darcy, um I mean, Mr. Brown is talking to his children. He says "I can't support my family. Never have been able to. There's just so many of you. But I wouldn't trade you for the world, you're all so delicious."
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 8/02/2006 09:08:00 AM  



  • I hate the question of how many children are you going to have. How can one really know. I have had really easy pregnancy, so I wouldn't mind having more children, but not now. And we never know what might happen in our life to change our plan to more our less. So when ever peoeple ask us this question we say this...When we had one kid, "we say one for now" Now that we have two, the answer is, "Two for now." We let people know we take it one at a time, and that's the way it should be. We focus on the kids we have and not about the kids we might have.
    I too struggle with how I will know when I'm done with the baby phase of our life. There is so much I love about being pregnant and having babies and all that stuff, that I think no matter when that answer comes I'll have to mourn a little bit about the loss of that part of our life.
    posted by Blogger Erin at 8/02/2006 09:14:00 AM  



  • Kage, I really loved how you expressed the idea of creating,nurturing but not taking away." Very beautiful.

    I didn't realize how difficult of decision this would be for me. I have to say I've had the "18 month itch) ... my youngest is just over 18 months old now. I was pregnant when my first turned 18 months old, so there was no itch. I didn't expect this itch AT ALL.

    I won't be scratching this itch anytime soon, and there is a lot for us to consider if we decide to have a third. I guess I've learned that never say never when it comes to having another baby.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/02/2006 09:50:00 AM  



  • i'm glad i'm not alone,but ya'll aren't helping me figure out how to know....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/02/2006 10:09:00 AM  



  • good post.

    we don't believe in choosing a number either...
    People can know pretty well if now looks like a good time and if right now we're feeling spiritually led either way, but how could we possibly know if 5 and 10 years from now will be a good time and divinely inspired?
    posted by Blogger cchrissyy at 8/02/2006 10:20:00 AM  



  • Before we were married we both decided we wanted six kids. Even after the second one came my husband and I still wanted six. But now as I have just two and go through the ups and downs of a toddler, I think am I really ready for a third? We had/have our plan of a child every two years and once we get to six we're done. Of course we pray before we try to get pregnant and we've been blessed with two children thus far, right after we start trying. I guess we have a gaol of having a large family. I will say that I've become more aware of my failings as a mother, so I'm now wanting a little more time between kids...may 2 1/2 years. For a period of time I didn't want anymore kids, I've found peace with what was troubling me and I've gained patience. I know we're not done. I feel that I am suppose to have more children. How many, it may be four, it may be one. All I know is that we've prayed each time before and that's what we'll do each time we feel it's time to have another. I worry about being a good enough mother to a large family, but I love big families, and I know that Heavenly Father will help me if I ask. (I have a tendency to not ask and that's when it gets tough...anyone else notice this within their own lives? ;)
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 8/02/2006 11:18:00 AM  



  • Whenever I am asked how many kids I want, I reply "17." After I get a funny look, I explain that I want a big family, but I'll take as many as I can get and handle.

    I was talking to a friend once and he said his first answer was "As many as I can have," but then ammended it to "As many as my wife will let me have", and finally settled on "As many as the Lord will let me have." I think it's a combination of all three.

    As for knowing, I can't help you there. :-)

    ~Erin
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 8/02/2006 11:40:00 AM  



  • Kage, as usual this is beautifully written.

    I used to think it wasn't a big deal to come up with a number of how many children to have. Then it took 3 years to have our first and I was so grateful just for him. We had an easier time conceiving our second and I KNEW we were supposed to get pregnant when we did (even though DS was 10 months old at the time) - she was the right addition to our family at the right time.

    The kids are now 3 almost 1/2 and 22 months. For the past 6 months I have been FIGHTING against having another baby. We are in a great groove, traveling isn't a big deal, the kids play together, my business has taken off - why add a baby to the mix?

    Marian told me to pray about it. I tearfully told her "no"...because I knew what the answer would probably be.

    So...we're working on a 3rd because this is the right time. I am certain this (whenever it happens) will be my last pregnancy because my body probably won't manage a 4th. The problem with all of this is I feel VERY strongly that we are supposed to adopt a child from another country. Makes no sense to me. Why would we adopt when we have 2 biological kids and can probably have a 3rd? Why put ourselves through that? We're not Angelina and Brad!

    But I know it is a part of our family plan. I have no idea how it will pan out, when, where, even why. But there is another child out there for us that isn't from us and we'll have to go find them eventually. And I know it isn't the 3rd child...it's the 4th. Blows my mind...

    Sorry I can't help with your dilema, Kage. It's a different process/decision for everyone.

    And Marian was right - you've just got to pray about it.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/02/2006 12:10:00 PM  



  • My MIL had 6 kids and that's the number she wanted. She was doing the dishes one day and heard a child say "mom" and knew it wasn't any of her children. Right then she says she KNEW that she was supposed to have a 7th child... another of her kids was calling out to her I guess. So who really knows how you receive inspiration to have another child, even when your heart is set on a certain number.

    Kage - I have to agree with Chloe and Marian and others. I can't imagine another way of knowing when your family is complete other than to pray about it with your husband. Only you two will have that sort of inspiration from Heavenly Father. And once it is really confirmed in your heart that your family is complete I don't think you will look around and compare your number of children with others because you will really KNOW that this is your family as it should be. Maybe that sounds ideal, but I can't imagine getting answers to this question by looking outside of your home.

    Also, going to the temple with this question in mind is always a good idea.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/02/2006 12:58:00 PM  



  • My DH and I want three, and we want them as fast as possible. We were both 33 when we got married, and we don't want to have kids after we're 40 because the kids need to be out of the house and self-supporting in time for us to retire at a decent age. So we're going to see how many pregnancies and babies we can pack into the next six years. Number one is due next month, just 10 months after the wedding, so we're off to a good start!

    Babies, babies, babies! I spent so many years craving babies while I was working full-time at my flashy career and going to other peoples' baby showers. Bring 'em on!

    Maybe we can sneak in a fourth birth while I'm still 39 . . . Or maybe the twins that run in my husband's family will make a jump to me, and we can get a fourth that way. Hmmmm . . .
    posted by Blogger Melinda at 8/02/2006 01:32:00 PM  



  • That is such a hard question. DH and I are both from families of 7 and both thought we'd have a big family (big, like at least 5 kids). Then it took us 4 years and lots of trips to the doctor to have our first, so then our number disappeared and we just wanted one child if we could have one. We got pregnant with our second easily, so now I know we can probably have more no problem having more and that brings us back to the whole, how many do we want question?

    I love my 2 kids, a toddler and newborn, and the transition from 1 to 2 was a lot easier than I had imagined, but I know I have so many shortcomings as a mom and putting a number on how many kids we'll ultimately have makes me feel overwhelmed. So my answer to the question of how many kids we want is, "Hopefully, one at a time."
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 8/02/2006 02:20:00 PM  



  • I always thought I knew, too.

    With each child, we prayed, we pondered, and we knew.

    With each child we conceived on the first try.

    With each child we had gloriously heatlhy pregnancies and although different, healthy births.

    Then the promptings came again to try for our fourth child. We knew it was time again.

    But then it was different.

    After 5 months we finally conceived. And then lost the baby at 9 weeks.

    Now we are 12 weeks pregnant and I no longer feel like I "KNOW". The only thing I know for sure is that even with the miscarriage and other setbacks, we are still trying to do what the Lord asked us to do last year. Does that mean we won't have anymore? Does that mean we weren't ready? Does that mean we needed that experience? I'm not sure. It could be all of those.

    But the best answer to your question is what has been said. Take it to the Lord and trust in the outcome. He would never give you false information. It's just having enough faith to follow through on His instructions ---THAT can be the hardest part...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/02/2006 02:42:00 PM  



  • Funny you should write this.

    Anyone who knows me (or reads me) knows I have the worlds worste, most difficult pregnancies. I have a 4 yo, a 2 yo and a 12 week old. As far as the world is concerned, I am so done. However...

    I cannot shake the feeling that someone is missing. Just last night, I went into the playroom and everyone was laughing and giggling and making tinker toys things, baby was in her swing watching her brothers, and I had a moment of panic, as in "Where is _____???!!!) But I don't know who "______" is.

    We planned on being done. My husband says we are done... but still... I just can't shake the feeling...

    Do you feel like you are missing someone, too? That might be a clue to what you should do. And the obvious, to pray about it.

    Thanks for the post.
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 8/02/2006 05:10:00 PM  



  • Tracy M., I know exactly what you mean with "someone is missing". That's how I feel. I look at the 4 of us and I know that there are more. Not really looking forward to getting them here but they're out there somewhere...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/02/2006 07:26:00 PM  



  • Right now, two seems about perfect. I don't feel in control of the situtation with them as it is, and I can't imagine adding a baby to the mix now. I look at those with a newborn baby and don't feel any longing for it to be me. Instead, I give silent thanks that I'm not pregnant.

    From the time I was young, I've always thought that my disposition was not suited to having a lot of kids. Getting married older and consciously choosing to have some space between kids has essentially ruled out a large family. (I come from a family of 7 children, DH from 5).

    I look back on how we decided to try to get pregnant, and there was not much of a strong spiritual feeling or prompting. Or like I knew there was a child waiting to come to our family. I guess I take this to mean that for us, making our own decisions seems to work ok. Unless this changes and I do feel differently, I hope to wait a while longer to have a third, and that three will probably be it for us. Then again, I may eat my words.

    Chloe, I did feel a little panicky reading your post since T and your daughter are exactly the same age. I just feel so far from being ready.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 8/02/2006 07:31:00 PM  



  • tgnSoooo funny Tracy, weren't we just talking about this?!
    I didn't want any kids when I got married. Now we have 2. And I'm so happy with 2. I feel complete. I'm relatively sane, we do a decent job of supporting them, and hey, I've managed to keep them alive longer than any fish I've ever owned.
    You better believe that #1 wasn't more than 6 months old when people started asking when the next one was coming. And they still ask. But I'm the mom of 2 boys, it's just part of who I am.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 8/02/2006 11:48:00 PM  



  • I always thought that I would have to have an "accident" to get pregnant. I didn't think I would ever feel ready. Then one day, I was READY. Really ready. So we tried and got a beautiful son. I don't consider myself a baby person or even a kid person - I don't know how to hold a baby right (except my own) and kids don't love me (except my own). But after having my own, I think I want a big family. And I don't want my kids too spread out. I have loved being mom more than I ever thought possible (I know...it's only been 4mos.) but I love it.
    I think praying to know when your family is complete is a fail safe. Sometimes, you can just get a feeling too. Sometimes you will hear that child call out for you. I think it's probably different for everyone.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/03/2006 09:07:00 AM  



  • MIchelle,

    My feelings about starting and then adding to our family have been the same as yours (except I have always wanted "a lot" of kids. But there is no longing. No great spiritual prompting. And definitely no great desire to pop them all out right after one another.

    I feel like the Lord is okay with our decisions. When we decide to be done I am confident that the Lord will either back us up in our decision or say "no, you're not done" is His own special way.

    I do sometimes feel a little envy for people who feel their family is complete after one or two. For me, that would mean just 4 more years until the kids are in school and they would be out of the house by the time I'm 44. I could make a really nice life for myself out of that situation. But, then I realize that is not where my own life path is supposed to take me.

    When it comes to the size of your family, you will never find peace in comparing your choices to others. It is just too personal.

    For now, I just take my babies one at a time and I am fine with having no real finish line in sight.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/03/2006 10:02:00 AM  



  • I've been lurking for awhile now and learn so much from all of you. When I read Tracy M's comment, I just had to write.

    My kids are exactly the same ages as yours. Okay, the baby is 13 weeks. :) I have felt the EXACT same thing. We'll all be in the same room, playing and content, yet I'll feel like someone is missing. And...just like you, I'll think "Where is _____???!!!) But I don't know who '______' is."

    It's kind of freaking me out, b/c I don't feel ready to have a 4th child, but then I think I'm getting some inspiration and I need to be open to it. It's hard to know, and it's definitely different for everyone.

    It took a lot of faith for me to get pregnant with our third. Our 2nd child has Down Syndrome. She is the sweetest, little thing, and we love her so much, but I must admit she is A LOT of work. (She's 2 1/2 and still not crawling or talking.) I knew in my heart that we needed to have a 3rd, but it took me 7 months before I would even try. Then I got pregnant right away, had a miscarriage, and got pregnant again right after that.

    Now that we have our little boy, he has brought such joy into our lives and given us something different to focus on. (He had to be in the NICU when he was born b/c of a heart irregularity - so nothing is just simple!) Our daughter with DS is also doing much better, as if she wants to do more b/c of him. Maybe it's b/c she's trying to get more attention!

    So although some days I want to throw my hands up and quit, I love my little whipper-snappers more than I can explain. In the meantime, I'll try to take it one day at a time and feel comfort in the fact that we can go to the Lord to find out what's best for our family and then I'll try to have the faith to actually do it!
    posted by Blogger Namona at 8/03/2006 11:59:00 AM  



  • Ladies, I guess I knew what the answer was all along-pray. HF knows that I can be stubborn. My still small voice has always been a stop-me-dead-in-my-tracks-all-out-holler. So I can pretend to ignore for a while, but then it becomes quite clear to me what the answer is.

    And I realize that DH must be involved as well. He says we are done. I guess it's up to me since I am the one at home with the scruffies. Having more than 2 sounds lovely right now, but I also just returned from a 5-day hiatus from the daily grind, so of course it sounds just peachy keen.

    Am I allowed to put in an order? another girl please (makes sharing a tiny bedroom in NYC way easier). Thanks for all the comments
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/03/2006 08:31:00 PM  



  • ps...did everybody "get" my photo with this post? I found that baby suggesting 10 as a good number of kids to have, to be hilarious.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/03/2006 08:34:00 PM  



  • I am a lurker here (Hi Carrie!) but this is my first post. I probably ask the "done or not?" question every single day. I am mommy to 4 kids, who all happen to be very closely spaced - 4.5, 3, 2 and 7 months (today!) My husband and I REALLY want to be done, and planned on #4 to be the end of growing our family. We so look forward to being able to do more - traveling, camping, Sacrament Meeting! with less supplies and minimal crying. You know, ENJOY them growing up instead of starting over and over and over again. Well, that's what we'd like. But for every reason we have to not (and every reason seems selfish . . . one more means the 1st trimester uncertainty, newborn days sleep deprivation, another kid to potty train, no empty seats in the minivan, less money) since about 2 days after our fourth was born, we both can't shake the feeling that there is one more. I haven't yet prayed about it, because as someone else here said, I'm pretty sure of the answer already. "Yeah and boo at the same time" - perfectly stated Julie.

    I'm just waiting, waiting for that yummy feeling of DONE that will apparently not arrive until baby #5 does.
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 8/04/2006 11:18:00 AM  



  • Kage - I got the 10 suggestion from the pic and also found it to be hilarious.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/04/2006 06:02:00 PM  



  • I have heard that the transition from two to three is the hardest from the trenches, but I have seen my dear friend do it so it is inspiring, but also still looks daunting. There is also a series of essays written on the topic of having three that are really entertaining at Literary Mama.
    posted by Blogger trimama at 8/06/2006 05:31:00 PM  



  • I did a search for "infertility" and came across this one... oh how I *hate* the question "how many kids..." Not as much as I hate the "Oh, you only have one, must be nice" statements/looks.

    Either side is hard-- you not knowing is more are to come, me not knowing if I will ever get the chance again- and so wanting to have that chance.

    I wish you well in whatever decisions you've come across.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/26/2006 04:57:00 PM  



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