Family planning

Danielle Bean has an interesting discussion about family size at her website.

My husband says he wants one more and then he’s done. Hmm. He keeps reminding me of the number I quoted before we were married as though it were part of the contract.

Father Hilliar: Michelle, do you promise to love, honor and cherish Bill all the days of your life?

Me: I do.

FH: Do you promise to be open to life, to having children and raising them in the faith of the Catholic Church?

Bill: Oh, Father, remember we’ve specified that number?

FH: Oh. Right. Michelle, do you promise to have between four and six children, raise them Catholic and all that?

Uh, no. Perhaps at the time I would have, but since that wasn’t an option, and it wasn’t vowed before God and man, I won’t be held to it. I don’t think a prior verbal agreement is legally valid over a latter verbal agreement made before witnesses.

That said, I plan to take things one pregnancy at a time. No sense in wasting energy on what could be a moot point. I know two women who each lost her uterus, one after her fifth child and one after her second. They didn’t choose instantaneous infertility. I know another couple who unhappily discovered they were having their fifth. Now, they both eagerly await the arrival of their seventh.

Another woman I know, while pregnant with her sixth, said that her husband often worries about having so many children. “I just get into bed naked. It’s not my fault if he finds me irresistable.”

Circumstances and people change. At least Bill and I agree that permanent, self-inflicted infertility (vasectomy or tubal ligation) is not a good solution for what may be a temporary desire to limit family size.

Right now, neighbors and friends who see the typical 2 year space between my children are already starting to ask me if I’m pregnant yet. The Army Ten Miler is in early October. I’ve paid the entry fee, I know I can do it having done 8 miles a few weeks ago, and I don’t want nausea or sciatica to keep me from that goal.

My answer: ask me in November.

3 thoughts on “Family planning

  1. You are absolutely right! Circumstances change. My long discussion of NFP is < HREF="http://catholic-mom.blogspot.com/2006/06/natural-family-planning-is-not-organic.html" REL="nofollow">here<>.The difficulty is our cultural norm is to plan ahead for a specific number of children. In reality, the family size is God’s decision. Our challenge is to be open to His plan for our lives. Circumstances may warrant a temporary avoidance of pregnancy. This avoidance should only be done after prayer and reflection. The default position for us Catholics is to be open to the possibility of conception. Whether or not that occurs is up to God.

  2. Michelle, discernment is an ongoing process. There’s a reason the devil gets between us as spouses, and makes us all think we have a “limit” or a “goal size.” But there’s probably also a reason for the worry our husbands feel. I can’t help but think of the fact that children are, without fail, referred to as blessings throughout scripture and holy writings. When you are open to God’s blessings, he will shower them down. And I also can’t help but think of something a friend of mine says whenever people ask her how many kids she’s going to have (she has two now, youngest is 4): “as many as God blesses me with, one at a time please.”

  3. You are doing a great job. What a wonderful testament you have been thus far, to “openness to life”. Don’t stop, or be afraid about what God wants for you. I am in that position right now– having to defend my famlily size–and I only have THREE children! Permanant sterilization is our human way of telling God to “shove it”, for lack of a better or more appropriate term. Never a good thing. Thanks for constant inspiration! I check your blog often.

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