Wednesday, April 2, 2014

To Plan or Not to Plan...

(This post is an elaboration that I started to write yesterday after someone asked a few questions in the comments of yesterdays post that I thought were good, but that I also thought could probably fill it's very own post.  Hopefully this clarifies a little what works for our family!  It's not meant to be a road map for anyone else, it's just a post on the conclusions that our family has reached for our family and an explanation of sorts that was aimed to answer questions raised both by yesterdays post and that I've encountered in the past!)

Sometimes I almost forget that even among practicing Catholics, that is, people who believe what the Church teaches to be true and attempt to implement those teachings in their lives, we're still kind of weird.

There are various groups with various stances on the whole birth control topic among those who self-identify as Catholic and they run through a range from one end of the spectrum to the other.  There are those who use birth control and don't know the Church teaches that it's wrong. There are those who use birth control, know that the Church teaches that it's a sin and don't let it effect their decision.  There are those who have taken more permanent measures, taking the question off the table altogether.  Some come to regret the decision and some don't.  And then there are those who've accepted the Church's teaching prohibiting artificial contraception, whether joyfully or fearfully (or with a wide range of emotions in between), who then looked at the other options when looking towards the future.

Some people use Natural Family Planning (NFP for short) to space births, hopefully discerning whether they have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy (I say hopefully only because I was in a group once where the topic came up and there were a surprising number of women who said they had never been told that they were supposed to have any reason whatsoever to avoid.  They absolutely seemed very genuine, and I do believe they were, so I thought I'd throw that in here, for anyone who's never heard that we actually are supposed to have a reason...).

And some people don't use NFP.

No I'm not talking about people who don't use NFP who use other methods.  I'm talking about people who don't use NFP or artificial means to space births.

Usually in the little online Catholic world I feel like I have a lot in common with most of my online friends.  But I also always feel a little weird when the topic of NFP comes up, and no, it's not because I'm judging you.

It's because people can get kind of disparaging about people who don't use NFP.  Somewhere along the line, amid all the cheerleading for NFP, some corners of the internet began to basically see it as a requirement and something that "responsible" people do.

Now let's be clear about this.  None of us are required to use NFP.  It's just simply not a Church teaching, at all.  No matter how much you love it and how great you think it is for your marriage, charts and temps and mucus just aren't something you have to keep track of in order to be in good standing with the Church.  You don't need to tell me all the reasons that you think it's super, super awesome.  I've read a ton.  I know how to use two different methods and I understand how it works.  And after much thought and much research and much prayer we don't feel like it's a good fit for our family.

Apparently this makes me a "Providentalist", I guess because there has to be a name for everything.  Maybe it makes me a little bit crazy to outsiders when the topic comes up and I finally admit that we're okay with whatever God sends our way, be it 1 or a dozen.  In our world, Catholic or not, that is kind of shocking.

But really, day to day, it doesn't feel all that crazy.  In fact, it just feels like life.

Sure there are other choices that we could make that would mean that our lives would be very different than they are now or than that they will be in the future.  So far I've never felt like anyone gets less attention than they need, maybe because they're all with me 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  They pretty much get all my attention, all the time.  They even get individual one on one time when other kids are doing others things that completely occupy their attention.

If we had less children they would likely have their own rooms, but as I listen to Maggie and Sadie giggling at night and come in to find Sadie sitting next to Maggie telling her a story about two princess and a prince that just happen to be named Sadie, Maggie and Patrick, I find myself leaning towards having shared spaces even if we were someday plopped down in a house with many, many bedrooms.
If there were less of us I'm sure I'd be more likely to shuttle people around to competitive sports or various lessons, and I'd probably push more for someone or another to be a prodigy in something, but instead, as time has passed I find that the things that seemed important when I was thinking of being a mom are less important.  If a child is interested in something I'll absolutely support that interest, but I'm also not going to let what is essentially a game become the center of our world.  God is that center and I want that to be clear in our days and in their structure.

I have heard it said, plenty of times, that God gave us brains and that we should use them to avoid (insert serious horrible thing that might happen) so we can certainly us them to avoid pregnancy.  And we can use them to avoid conceiving, if we have serious reasons.  That option is left open to us.  But it's also absolutely left open to us to not plan these things and to just let them happen in their own time.  And I don't think the comparison with any sort of disaster from a disease to a car accident to playing out in the street and being struck is a good one when thinking of welcoming new life, because the life growing within me isn't a disease or a disaster.

I could worry about the future. I could worry about the number of c-sections I've had.  But I know women who've had 7 c-sections and been fine.  I've had multiple doctors comment that the surgeon that did my first two was brilliant and that the scaring was minimal.  I don't see the point in spending time and energy worrying about future c-sections when there's been no sign of a problem yet.  There could be, yes.  And there might not be.  I'll cross that bridge if we get to it, rather than crossing it a million times in my head before there's ever been a sign of a problem.

After all, it's just a baby (although that too makes me smile to type that as if any baby is ever "just" a baby!).  It's not a disaster or a tragedy.  He or she is a blessing we can wait to meet.  And welcoming this baby is a joy we've been blessed with and is also a part of my particular vocation.  The upcoming birth is an eagerly awaited event with the kids dreaming of what the baby will be like and planning daily what life will be like with this new baby sibling that they can't wait to meet.

And as I look forward I can't help but think that God doesn't give us the graces to meet the future until we get there.  I'm not being asked to be the mom of ten kids right now, and I may never be.  I'm only being asked to be the mom to the ones we have and I've found day by day, that I tend to have only what I need to meet that days challenges.


  1. Yes! Keep letting your light shine.

  2. For most of our marriage (13 years) we haven't planned or used NFP or done anything to prevent pregnancy, (with the exception of about 2 years where we did use NFP to avoid) But, thanks to breastfeeding and a naturally "lower" level of fertility, our kids tend to naturally be spaced further apart, so I'm sure everyone thinks we are super "planners". We actually aren't....we can do "nothing" and still end up with kids at least 2.5-3 years apart. I know for me, breastfeeeding infertility tends to take the issue of NPF off the table completely, because I can pretty much count on a minimum of two years space (and so far, I've had at least 2.5 years)

    Anyway, I'm not really sure what my point is, other than the fact I do think that breastfeeding infertility is part of God's plan for natural spacing of children. I realize it doesn't "work" for everyone, but I do think God designed it to give the most natural form of spacing.

    I've also come to realize that *for us* money issues aren't really a reason to avoid. We had a baby when we were super poor (in law school) and it was fine. Babies are cheap...they don't get expensive until they are older. LOL

    I can also really relate to a lot of what you are saying about our kids having less. Our kids do have less activities and less field trips because there are more of them. But, I don't think they are any worse off because they aren't doing a million sports each. They are happy, thriving, learning, growing well and still manage to be making friends, even if they are homeschooled. LOL

  3. One of the things I've definitely learned is never to assume anything about other people's planning or use of contraceptives because there are so many different levels of fertility out there and I know that so many women struggle to get pregnant or struggle with secondary infertility.

    I totally can relate about the nursing infertility because just using that it would be super, super easy for us to space actually much further apart than we have. I definitely think it's an awesome part of God's plan!

    Although a little part of me has always thought it would be neat to have Irish twins who were super close together... but that definitely doesn't seem to be in the cards with the way my body works!

  4. I get the opposite problem where people think that we are using contraception, since we only have one 5-year old. Then I just smile and say, "It's all natural!" It's always better not to assume, because you never know who might be infertile. Thanks for bringing up a wonderful topic.

  5. I know a family that had five and, when the mom was over 40, went for a 6th. That 6th baby was extremely unwell and had very serious health problems that made it so that the parents basically had to live in the hospital for the first 6 months of the baby's life. Siblings were not allowed to visit because it was cold and flu season and the baby was in the NICU, often on life support. The dad's mom had to take an early retirement to come raise the siblings for those 6 months. When the baby came home, it required 24-hour care and a nurse had to live at the home full-time. It was so extraordinarily stressful, emotionally, physically and financially. Of COURSE they love their baby. But even the mom has confided in me that she isn't sure she did the right thing by going for an over-40 pregnancy, seeing as the baby has essentially been tortured most of its life, will never progress beyond infancy, and the toll on the other kids has been extraordinary.

    That is my fear of "welcoming" babies in an unlimited fashion. Maybe I am a Negative Nancy (no, I am), but I feel like I've been lucky not to have some horrific situation happen either with my pregnancies or infants, and maybe I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth or push the envelope.

    I think that is the difference between people that can throw caution to the wind and just be open to whatever, and those who have a family and at some point say it is probably complete. Some people don't worry about things that could happen, and some people are worriers.

    I have a friend whose fertility returns 2 months pp, regardless of breastfeeding. She uses NFP to put at least 18 months between pregnancies because she has Cesareans and it's safer that way. It's probably not "life or death" - but it gives her current baby the opportunity to BE the baby and breastfeed for a full 18 months, and it gives her body and mind time to recover. Would you ever use NFP for a reason like that or are you just opposed to it (for yourself) all together? I guess - would you ever be open to NFP or is it just a decision you've made that you could never see yourself using it?

  6. I think you are missing the real issue behind the objection of irresponsibility. Let me begin by saying that I find this a difficult topic, not because I truly care whether anyone uses NFP or has 1 or 20 kids but because where I live, the only way to afford to be a providentialist, unless very wealthy, would be to be receiving medicaid and food stamps. Ordinary average people could not pay the medical bills or hundreds of dollars per week in food or afford adequate housing. If I were in your position, with slightly more income, still only a median income, living in in VA, I would not have medicaid and food stamps and each subsequent child would cost $5,000 beyond insurance, in medical costs at birth. If one of my kids needed heavy intervention like Mae, costing near $1,000 per month for those services, it just wouldn't happen, our insurance won't cover it(and honestly since obamacare, it covers next to nothing except services related to sexuality but that is another can of worms). At one point 5 years ago, my husband was supporting our 5 kids, a son in law who was out of work due to a bad car wreck, and a grandchild. We ended up in bankruptcy and were afraid we would lose the house. We made $300 too much for aid. It seems somehow unfair that people choose this, presuming on the government(or us the taxpayers) to foot the bill. You have said in the past that you get medicaid and likely thus get foods stamps too. My apologies if you don't, but I know people who do and would your choice be different if being a providentialist meant potential starvation for our kids? or homelessness?
    I think this is the issue that people get critical about, calling it irresponsible, that it is not relying on the providence of God, if you know that welfare will pick up the deficit or that you have enough money to afford it. Even if your husband never worked again, and you had a child every year for the next 20, each time, you would have no medical bills, probably a growing housing allowance from the state, qualify for free stuff from local food banks and clothing places, and an increase in food money. I do not for a minute think you are working the system or a leech or anything ugly, but I do think most Americans have never lived without a safety net of government assistance. I don't even grudge people the basics of food and housing help, but I do feel uneasy with people claiming to be trusting God(and often very self-righteously) when there is no real risk, because either they have ample income or can depend on the state. I am not saying you have this attitude, but I have seen it in blogs and forums as likely have you. I also feel when you are only on child 4, and have a husband on the verge of graduating and getting a high paying job, it is a different situation than if your husband was a bag boy with no hope of advancement. Your family will likely spend the next 40 years paying enough taxes to give back anything you ever needed to receive. I think it could be argued that that the individual who considers conceiving another child at the expense of others, has as much responsibility to the common good, as the taxpayer does to bring the poor up to a reasonable level of food and housing.

  7. I just couldn't live the way you're describing, fearing every possibility of what might happen. Anything could happen. I could be hit by a car crossing the street. A child could become ill. Life is full of risks. If we dwell on them we live in fear.

    I have seen friends who are in their twenties have babies who were premature and babies with pretty challenging disabilities. I've certainly witnessed the fragility of life and got to visit the hospital a fun 10 times in the year after we lost Christian. I know there are risks, but as I said earlier, life is full of risks. And when I do start to feel anxious about things it usually helps to pray a lot and remember that God isn't the one putting those worries into my heart.

    You absolutely don't have to justify anything to me. Only you and your husband know if you have a serious reason and I'm not even beginning to try to get into that at all. I'm not questioning that at all. I'm just trying to explain what we do for us, if that makes sense.

    I find myself pretty opposed to NFP for our family, mainly because for me the reasons that would constitute serious for us would be life and death (again, not saying that for other people, that's just our discernment for us). And I'm not sure I could say it would be prudent to engage in something that would likely kill me if it truly was something where I would likely die. Sometimes people are called to heroic virtue in different ways and sometimes that comes in the form of abstinence. Honestly I can't imagine my husband being okay with doing something that could deprive his children of their mother.

    So no, I don't see NFP anywhere in our future... The reasons that we would find it likely to use it i nare reasons where abstaining all together would probably be likely. Because while you may have plenty of horror stories about babies in NICU, I also know plenty of stories of people using NFP conservatively that demonstrated exactly why it's called being "open to life" by having babies when they were definitely trying to avoid.

  8. Thank you for your reply! Please know I am not judging you, either. Surely it makes no difference to me if you have two kids or twenty. I have no stake in anyone else's family size. I'm just curious to talk about it since most of my friends do have a limit to their emotional/physical stamina with regard to childbearing and rearing and you appear, so far, to be open to anything.

    We haven't done anything permanent to make it so we won't have babies and don't use ABC either. But, we do use a pretty conservative form of NFP which leaves us only a couple of safe days a month. If I did get pregnant, then God's will be done. But I am doing what I can within the confines of Church teaching and nature to raise the odds that I won't be pregnant any time soon.

    I am a negative person and I do worry incessantly. It is better if one puts such things out of their mind, for sure, but I just can't help it - I was born to worry and it's something with which I have painfully struggled my whole life. No amount of treatment or prayer has ever made a dent in what just seems to be my natural makeup.

    I am glad you enjoy being pregnant and having babies. I didn't enjoy pregnancy, it was always fraught with health concerns (not of the life or death kind, but significant ones) and constant worry that was very, very wearing on my mental state. Having children is extremely stressful for me. I can't believe I ever agreed to have five!

    If you never feel the need for a break, then what a blessing. Just know that NFP is there for you as a gift from God should your life circumstances change, should your mind change, or should something arise where you feel that a delay is warranted (and your husband does not wish to go years without marital intimacy!)

    I hope your pregnancy is carefree and that you have a wonderful, easy baby who is healthy and well behaved!

  9. We get strange looks sometimes. We "only" have two kids right now and they are only 14 months apart. My youngest is almost 14 months old now and I know it sounds silly, but It feels weird to not be pregnant again after almost two years of pregnancy. lol

    We are open to having however many children God gives us and use nothing, not even NFP. We did use contraception early in marriage and just felt God slowly moving us further and further away from using anything. We don't share it with most people, because really it's no ones business, but whenever it does I'm always careful to point out that this is just the path we've felt God showing us. The few friends we've had conversations with - if they decide to be open to however many kids God has for them - that is definitely something they need to hear Him speaking to them.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. I feel so alone a lot of the times because if people treat Catholics a little funny for not family planning... well we're Protestant. Women at church gatherings sit there talking about what birth control they use and I sit quiet feeling all kinds of awkward.

  10. I call it "GFP." God Family Planning. I guess we're considered "providentialists" by some, but we've been married nearly 6 years, had two babies while in law school (for a total of four kids right now), we're not independently wealthy, borrowed only $8,000 during law school, have never used Medicaid, food stamps, or any othe state or federal assistance programs.

    We live simply. Period.

    We have tables, chairs, beds, etc and are not living in poverty. It is painful to me that anyone would assume that it's not possible to prayerfully, hopefully rely on Gods design for our particular family without the state or government shouldering our financial burdens.

    We drive one car, haven't bought a house, shop at thrift stores and have more than we need.

    The egregiously high standard of living in the US (and other parts if the world) makes it difficult for people to imagine relying on God for ANYthing, ESP when its common to assume that one shouldnt even THINK of starting a family until they have a house, two cars, dental insurance, etc, etc.

    It's upside down and backwards. The idea of "financial stability" is inflated beyond belief and often translates into "you must have a mortgage, 2 car payments, and a two-parent-income before you conceive."

    Obviously, this is a touchy subject for me.

    But really, we wouldn't have St Therese of Lisieux or St Catherine of Siena if the current view of "financial stability" and "responsible parenthood" were followed by the Martins and Benincasas. -not to mention Maria Goretti's family.

    Lastly, "the poor you will always have you." Poverty is not a death sentence. It provides an opportunity for us to practice charity and can contribute to the salvation of your child's soul.

    Gasp! I said it! ;-)

    In Christ through Mary,

  11. For what it's worth Cam, I don't think it's crazy to not plan your babies :)

    There are Catholics who believe that NFP needs to be reserved for only the most very serious of life and death cases, and that most people who use NFP are abusing it. I wonder if this makes other Catholics who do use NFP feel like those who don't are in this camp by default. And then they just respond defensively, even when no attack has been made. It's really too bad. For the most part, I see natural family planning and, as Fr. John Hardon would call it, 'supernatural' family planning, as both being counter-cultural in a pretty profound way. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  12. A commitment to lifelong providentialism (or quiverfull) is much like a lifelong commitment to natural birth - it works until it doesn't. You can keep forging ahead inspite of red flags but that's never wise. You have three kids and are quite young now. Wait until you are 43 and looking down the barrel at an eighth or ninth pregnancy and just want to cry. Much like homeschooling, it's great until things aren't just how you think they will be and you need to change plans. It's no good to be so stuck on The One Way that you keep forcing it while it's no longer the best choice. So many things we think when we are young, and believe that it's the only way we will ever see them. Then LIFE happens and our perspectives change. My daughter said she would only feed her kids organic foods, and yesterday they came by with McDonalds. I think you should stick to your plan for as long as it works and feel free to let it go when it doesn't - shame free. No one will call you a flim flammer. OR a bad Catholic.

  13. Hi Carole,

    You should understand that our views of childbearing have very little in common with the Quiverfull movement. We aren't trying to have as many children as physically possible. We aren't forcing ovulation by weaning. There's a whole lot of difference between trusting in God and the entire ideology that goes with that movement.

    I think this is one instance when we'll have to agree to disagree. I do trust that God won't give me more than I can deal with.

    I really have rarely found any sort of advice with a tone of "you'll know better when you're older" to ever be helpful. As I said above, if there's a serious reason to avoid we'll avoid. But that plan won't include NFP because for us serious would be too serious for NFP.

  14. Sacrifice? Pain? Suffering?

    This life is a vale of tears, not Nirvana.

    Life, marriage, kids can be tough. Taxing. Full of suffering when you're young or when you're old.

    That's what the grace of the sacrament of marriage is for.

    Don't be afraid of trials and suffering when you are earnestly attempting to prayerfully discern Gods will for your life or family. They will come, He will give you the grace to accept them.

    Continue to prayerfully discern with your spouse at all times -God knows what is best for you!

    Souls are saved through great suffering -it's not something we should try at all costs to avoid. :-). I'm not saying throw yourself in front of truck, but it's important to keep a balanced perspective on the value of suffering and the role it plays in our salvation, whether married, single, 12 kids, 1, or 0, aged 25, 35, or 85. TB

  15. Hi TB-

    I'm not sure I can even express how much I appreciate both of your comments! Your second one sums up perfectly what I was just thinking as I was out changing diapers and getting things ready for dinner.

  16. I think some women just have things they'd like to do other than be perpetually pregnant and nursing for 30 years. And they shouldn't be made to feel like bad Catholics or women for wanting to go back to school, do meaningful work outside the home, volunteer, play a sport... Not everyone derives all the affirmation and satisfaction they need just from having loads of kids and child-rearing. I get that some do and that's perfectly fine, but many women do have interests outside of family and even find that they are healthier, happier women when they have some time and space to pursue those interests. And so, you know, if your dream has always been to go to nursing school or teach or volunteer for the right to life... I don't think that is wrong or bad. Those things can coincide with the dream of having a family. I think you don't realize that the motivation for both your style of providentialism and quiverfull, while different on the surface, really do have quite a bit in common - most fundamentally an insistance that if they only try hard enough, birthing, childcare, cooking and cleaning should be enough to sustain women. "Why want more than mothering?"

  17. The thing is Anonymous, no one has said any of the things that you've said above in your comment. No one has said that every woman has to follow this particular path. In fact I think I completely over emphasized that it was specific to our family and my life.

    And I think this comment section has kind of demonstrated the sort of "your out of your mind" responses that women who do make this choice receive. So far I haven't seen a single bit of what you're saying in it. I'm really not sure at all why you're bringing it into the conversation.

    I've stated over and over again that it's not for everyone. And I find it kind of offensive that you claim that I'm fundamentally insisting that it's the duty of all women. I haven't said that so please don't put words in my mouth. Saying that it's my vocation and the direction I feel called in from God is wildly different than saying "this is the place of every woman and it should be all they want."

    I'm sorry, your reading of this post, if that's what you believe I'm saying, is just plain wrong.

  18. I'm reminded here -with an audible chuckle- of the name of your blog.

    "A Woman's Place...Depends on Her Vocation"

    :-). TB

  19. LOL! I actually wondered if that was skewing some of the readings of this post as I was reading the comments! Maybe focusing a bit more on the first part of the title than on the second half!

  20. Thank you for pointing out the difference between Quiverfull and traditional Catholic practice.

    QF marriages, in the most extreme examples, DO do things like wean early to force ovulation back. They also encourage very early marriages (and I don't mean early 20's, I mean fresh out of high school if not sooner!) and women are typically taught that refusing their husband's advances under ANY circumstance is a sin. The blog No Longer Quivering has some gut-wrenching stories about women and men who have since left that life. I know I should probably be saying "well, it's their life and their choice" but I really don't get the impression that any young woman raised so strictly is able to make a truly informed choice about her life.

    I don't get that impression with Catholic teachings. There may be some who interpret it that way but I get annoyed when people lump the RC's in with other extreme movements. While contraception is a no-no, there doesn't seem to be that same pressure to raise up an army for God. It seems like having only a few kids is perfectly acceptable as long as no artificial means are employed, isn't that correct?

    I think it's even possible to get permission from a bishop to use contraception or even be sterilized if extreme circumstances exist, isn't it? Extreme as in "another pregnancy will almost certainly be fatal or extremely dangerous to the mother".

    I don't know--I'm not a Catholic, I just figure everyone should do what works best for their family. One, two, a dozen, or none at all--no matter how many kids we do or don't have, SOMEONE will be right there to offer an unwanted opinion :)

  21. Hi C.G. (it's good to see you!)! What you've noted is what I've experienced and I definitely haven't seen a lot of pressure to have lots of babies (although I'm sure someone can tell us that it's the case somewhere). People may make negative assumptions that someone is contracepting when the fact is they're just not that fertile, or have a reason to avoid pregnancy, but that's pretty much the limit and isn't something I've actually seen in real life (more of a hanging around online thing).

    We aren't permitted to get permission to use contraception for the purpose of avoiding pregnancy, but women do use hormonal birth control if they're taking it for another reason and sterilization would be a possibility if the surgery was for another reason (for example have a hysterectomy not because you're avoiding pregnancy but because there's a problem with your uterus and it requires surgery to fix that problem).

    And I think you hit the nail n the head with your last sentence! I think in these conversations people often feel attacked when people state that they're doing something different and have chosen a different path, even if that's not the intention.

    When I started writing this it was in response to a question about a single sentence in an earlier post about hoping to welcome children as God sends them to us... I was hoping to give a quick glimpse into a way of looking at these decisions that isn't very common any more, not as an attack on those who are called to different paths!

  22. Thanks! I've been completely slacking on blogging lately. Sometimes the urge to write is there but lately it just hasn't been.

    I can't really imagine asking anyone so personal a question as to whether or not they use contraception or what form. That's just...way too personal. On par with asking someone about what sexual positions they and their partner enjoy, for example. I mean, I've talked with my closest girlfriends about birth control and methods in my younger days--but that's in the context of a close friendship where more personal questions are within everyone's comfort zone.

  23. I can't imagine asking someone that either! I mean, I've been involved in conversations about NFP because it's an issue that comes up (with close friends) but out and out asking someone would still be pretty taboo... I think the biggest problems that people probably face (with this particular subject) are more in the realm of assumptions being made based on family size than being actually asked.

  24. I wish I could trust God but it's hard to believe if you are a science minded person. What do you recommend for someone who likes a lot about the catholic church but just finds it hard to buy in (but really wishes she could.)

  25. As someone who grew up with a dad who'd been a chemistry teacher and a grandfather who was an engineer who built Poseidon submarines I actually tend to think of myself as more scientifically minded (I remember having conversations about Einsteins theories at a pretty young age and wanted to go into astrophysics until I got all swept up in "changing the world" in my high school government class and changed my plans). But I don't see a conflict between the Church's teachings and science.

    When I was having a crisis of faith where I just found it difficult to believe in anything after college I started to pray that if there was a God to help me have faith and find him. I prayed those words, just a simple sentence or two, every night. They felt dry and fragile... but I kept on. And what happened next I can only attribute to my prayer being answered abundantly although logically I can't explain how, other than as a direct answer to my prayer. I don't know if that helps, but in my experience people who pray for God to answer them in that way often find that prayer answered in a way that the outside world can't see but that feels absolutely miraculous.

  26. Wow...this conversation really took off. ;) Just wanted to point out, that even IF Cam is using public assistance temporarily while her husband is in law school, she is still saving the taxpayers way, way more money by homeschooling! The avg. state spends about 10,000/yr/student who attends public school.

    I had to laught at TB's use of GFF (God's Family Planning). In my experience, God has a way of working things out with babies. And (most)people only regret the children they don't have, not the ones they do. That said,I am really thankful for NFP, because we've had to use it for help conceiving due to a lower level of fertility.

  27. I think that trusting in God's providence is a wonderful thing, as long as you are careful not to cross the line into tempting God (as Satan did when he brought Jesus to the top of the temple and asked him to jump because the angels would catch him). So not worrying about every "what-if" that hasn't materialized is trusting in God, but deliberatly doing something that short of a major interventionist miracle would be disasterous would cross the line into tempting God. For example, since we live in a world where antibiotics and sterile surgery exist, refusing treatment for a bad infection or surgery for cancer because "God could heal me" is tempting God. And God works THROUGH ordinary means and common grace (such as the antibiotics or surgery) much more in our everyday lives than through obvious miracles. He made the minds that invented these things, and guides the hearts and fingers that use them. It is in this vein that my husband and I feel that there will likely be an end to our childbearing years before the end of my natural fertility, although in principle we would both love to have a dozen kids. But there is a 13 year age difference between us, so when I am 40 he will be 53. And he feels it would be irresponsible of him to have children late enough in life that based on family history would mean I would likely be a widow raising young children, or caring for both him and the children.

  28. I know the topic of what vocation is appropriate for a mother of young children is a whole other can of worms to open, but the fact is that in principle openess to life and vocations outside the home are not necessarily in conflict. I have had 4 kids born and 1 little one go to heaven at 12 weeks in the last 5 years, and also have a PhD and work full time outside the home (and my husband works full time too, during the day - our kids go to daycare). And thanks to modern technology (i.e. good breast pumps), I have breastfed each for a year as well. I know plenty of people would criticize my choice (I came to marriage later in life, after my career was established, and really feel I am doing something important for the country - I am a scientist working in defense, and also used to being the only woman who works outside the home in my conservative church), but the possibility is technically there.

  29. Cam, I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I've been up tonight worrying and spending too much time today dealing with things pertaining to my upcoming sterilization reversal surgery. No, actually the things that MAY come AFTER my upcoming sterilization reversal surgery. "Choose a doctor now for early pregnancy monitoring", they say, but I haven't even had a successful reversal yet. It is difficult in this area to find a pro-life doctor or a doc who I can trust and now on top of that they all may want to turn me away-The lady with 4 C-sections, then a tubal, then a tubal reversal, now she wants more children! I have four beautiful children who were delivered by uncomplicated C-sections. I was so fearful of another C-section. Never had any warnings of "don't have another"-I just scared myself into sin. I can't go to that place of fear again- I know it is not where I should be. You are so confident in your decisions. I thought I'd look at your site and then call it a night and I have found just what I needed to rest. Too much worry about the future, not enough trust, it all has me run ragged today. I can't plan it all out, but what I do know is that God has lead my husband and I to reparation and the rest will also be in His hands. Thank you. We really have much in common. I agree with you about NFP and many other things. I also love your snoods! Sometimes it is just nice to know that there are other Catholic Moms out there...Thank you. Blessings, K.

  30. Hi K,

    Thank you so much for sharing, because words like yours are exactly why I wrote about our experience and choices. Your story sounds amazing and I'll definitely be praying for a safe, successful reversal! God Bless!


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!