What business it is of yours?

Don’t you know about birth control?

For those of you who didn’t catch my first hint or my second, I am about eleven weeks pregnant. This fact was one topic of conversation at our friend Doug’s welcome home party yesterday. I got the birth control question. Someone else asked my husband if he didn’t happen to know what caused that sort of thing. Bill politely laughed and said he knew it was the water, and henceforth he would only be drinking beer.

I wonder what sort of response these people expected?

Do they really want to hear about how much we love our children? Would they possibly understand how awestruck I am whenever I hold a newborn? How fascinated I am by their sweet smells and ultra soft skin?

Or would they rather hear of my love of the Church and my trust in her wisdom? How being open to new life with every procreative act has deepened my intimacy with my husband? How my respect for myself and my sexuality (and also my respect for the dignity of all people) has matured through the use of NFP? How I have discovered that in all the world the only institution that has stood solidly and consistently for centuries against behavior that hurts both the individual and society is the Catholic Church and that to ignore her teachings on human relations is foolish and destructive?

Or do they want to learn about how I love my vocation of motherhood? How with every child I become less selfish and self-centered? How I have learned to surrender all my thoughts, words, desires and actions to do what is best for the family (and by extension, all of society) not just me?

Would the woman who asked me if I knew about birth control really want to hear that this child was intentionally conceived? Although I’ve had plenty of not-quite-planned pregnancies, this one particular one was quite deliberate. And even if it had not been planned, would she understand the difference between unplanned and unwanted? Never, never have I had an unwanted pregnancy.

The negative comments I get don’t really get me angry. I’m not surprised or shocked or upset or bothered. At least not in the sense that my blood pressure rises, and I get red in the face. It’s a bit silly to react that way when I’ve been hearing similar things since my third pregnancy in three years.

But at the same time, I am upset in a cool, logical sort of way. I think it’s outrageous that someone would say something like that. Really. The woman who asked about birth control is open about having her tubes tied. I’m sure she would consider it offensive if I told her she was foolish for doing that. I would never say such a thing. She’s obviously quite happy and comfortable with her decision…what purpose does it serve to make her feel badly? It’s not as though she could wave a magic wand and reverse her tubal ligation.

Just like I can’t wave a magic wand and change my pregnancy. Would these nosy commenters prefer to see me break down into tears, saying that I was overwhelmed with my five kids and couldn’t handle another? Would they counsel me to have an abortion? Or are they just trying to “help” me for next time? Point me in the direction of the pill or an IUD?

Is it that I look unhappy with my life or simply that they cannot imagine anyone truly being happy with a large family? I am not thrilled to have wrinkle lines beginning to form on my face, but I am pleased with this: the wrinkles are forming around my eyes and mouth from where I smile. And the “worry” lines on my forehead are mainly from squinting against the sun (curse these sensitive blue eyes), not from truly being anxious or even scowling. Perhaps when my kids hit their teen years, less pleasant wrinkles will begin to develop, but for now my life is more joyous than anything. And I know this feeling of contentment is projected to others because I get those “good mother” compliments all the time (not that I think I’m so good, but that I have that calm that comes after years of successfully outwitting and outmaneuvering the younger crowd).

And so today, since it’s a Sunday and the popular thing seems to be to relax our Lenten resolutions a bit on that day of the week, I’m opening comments. Tell me how thrilled you are that I’m having a baby. I need to hear from happy people.

Addendum: I know that lots of people don’t blog on Sundays – spending time with their family, blahblahblah – so I’ll leave the comments open through mid-week.

31 thoughts on “What business it is of yours?

  1. I’m very thrilled for you. You’re the third friend to make this announcement in the last two weeks.Congratulations! I’m happy for you.

  2. I’m glad you opened up comments, because I am very happy for your family that you will be welcoming a new precious one.You make great points. I have been around SO many people who are so open about their use of birth control/vasectomies/tubal ligations. They look at me like I’m nuts for using NFP. Everyone we know thinks Little Brother was “unplanned” because of the big age gap between him and Middle Sister.

  3. I am one of those happy poeple! Congratulations!And God bless you for being so open to life. If only “they” knew how truly joyful it is to have these little ones.I told my husband last night, that it would be great to have children who never whine, complain, argue, fuss, disobey, scream, push, etc. But then I told him that I really don’t because if I had children like that, they certainly wouldn’t be my children and my life would be utterly boring and without joy.

  4. P.S. I really like your husband’s water and beer comment.

  5. Congratulations! Wonderful news. I do believe people who have prevented pregnancy themselves feel the need to question the decision of others to make their decision “right.”

  6. Amen! And, of course, I am absolutely delighted for you! What is it that Mother Theresa said? How can there be too many children? That’s like saying there are too many flowers? Something like that…When we announced our pregnancy with Rosie (#5) one of David’s coworkers reacted with a shocked “Are you done yet?!” My beloved stood up and said what I always feel like saying but am too ladylike to actually say out loud: “Am I done what? F***ing my wife? No…no I’m not!” I’ve always loved him for that. Wish he could follow me around and say it to every one, though no one ever makes those rude comments while he’s around. 😀

  7. Well now, Jennie, I’ve never seen THAT comeback on all the lists and threads I’ve perused. And no, I don’t have the balls to use it. But my husband…

  8. I am totally pouting right now because…… I completely missed the hints! Subtlety is lost on me.Congratulations! Happy, happy, joy, joy! Thank you for opening comments, but I would have sent you an email if you hadn’t.I think the best response my husband has ever given is “we’ll stop when we get an ugly one”. It is so much fun to watch their facial expressions as that one slowly makes its way across their brains.A friend of ours likes to tell people that with euthanasia on the rise, the more kids he has means the better chance that at least one won’t want to off him before his time.Thank you for sharing your wonderful news! We are all smiles for you right now!

  9. Matilda,At some point, your fertility will end and you will have a “last one”. I hope for his or her sake that he or she is drop dead gorgeous lest he or she have a complex over being the reason mom and dad stopped having kids!!!Good line, though.

  10. Congrats again!! I thought your post was so well said….all the points about why you’ve chosen to be open to life—you really hit the nail on the head!! I honestly think people just don’t know what to say to larger families and so they resort to standard retorts/questions. I agree, it doesn’t pay to get fired up, but really now, must they say such insensitive things?and I just realized that I caught the second hint, but completely missed the first!!

  11. Oh thank GOD you are allowing us to comment… it has been a long Lent reading your blog and not commenting. It is like a penance that I did not expect, but I have to endure! Glad you did a little bending today (I did too… I had a sip of my husband’s soda and it was bliss)Congratulations! I was wondering but I thought I would wait for you to announce. Like our priest said to us when we became pregnant with #4… you are halfway there! Also, I have heard that women who have more than 5 children get to bypass purgatory completely–seriously, ask Sister Mary Martha. I just had a conversation with a friend who asked if Carl was going to get a v-secto. I was agast! Why in the world would she think that we would do that? To alter himself so that we could not be open to God’s plan…. and besides, I want him in Heaven with me!Now, NFP is our choice-no, our obedience to God… and frankly I was feeling pretty secure that God would see that I had my hands full with the three little ones He had already given to us and I truly believed that I would not become pregnant again–I was wrong. I have been in shock for the last 8 months, but I am excited-how humble a moment to realize that God thinks so lovingly of me to trust another of his little lambs to me. Congratulations! Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

  12. You are right. There will be an end.Just a funny story my husband wanted to share… his mum and dad almost named #5 Noah and #6 Maura. Numbers 7,8 & 9 wouldn’t have been happy!

  13. Congratulations! What blessed news. Oh, and trust me the teens bring as many smiles as worries. Just different sorts as when they are young. God Bless!

  14. Congrats! I did miss the first hint, but I was suspicious after the second! 🙂

  15. Openness to life is a true testament to our willingess to follow Him. Truly. Follow. Him. Thanks to all of your commentors for giving me some great one-liners! We’re oly expecting our fourth and already getting LOTS of unsolicited comments. Argh.

  16. To hewhowears….,Sometimes it doesn’t matter the number. We got the worst looks after number 2 just because we happened to have a boy first and then a girl. By society’s standards we should have been done! And let me tell you, society was ticked! How could we be so selfish to have a 3rd when we had the “perfect family”?My husband loves telling the story of us walking at the mall when I was obviously pregnant with #3. He was pushing the older two in a double stroller and I was waddling a bit behind them. He saw all the smiles and grins! He was having a grand time as all these “lovely” people adored our adorable children, but then I saw the faces as they saw me and made the connection. The smiles turned to scowls in seconds. Their disgust was obvious!

  17. I had two boys so it was “ok” for me to try for my girl. I got her, but society felt I should have stopped. Then surely after my second daughter was born, I would stop now – right? 2 boys + 2 girls = perfection x 2. I don’t mind the people who “don’t know how I do it” or who just say “WOW – 5 kids…and another one on the way!” I understand, and would feel similarly to anyone who was doing something that I felt was difficult from raising a handicapped child to running a marathon.It’s the ones who seem to be implying that it is high-time I stopped having children – what’s wrong with me anyway? They’re good looking kids, well-behaved for the most part and I’m not even using tax dollars to educate them, and we’re not on welfare. You think they’d be happy! Oh, well, except for the likelihood that they will grow up to be good citizens who will marry and raise a whole mess of good citizens who will all vote regularly and conversatively. Yes, I see it clearly now: I’m contributing to the future decline of western civilization as we know it: no respect for human life in any form, an entitlement mentality, and self-destructive and selfish behavior as the acceptable norm. I pray I live to see the day.

  18. Praise God! I pray that your pregnancy is a safe and healthy one for you and baby. What a beautiful family you have and what an honest witness to God’s amazing love for us.

  19. Congratulations again! I really am so thrilled for you. This was such a great post and I’m so glad you allowed comments. In fact, I think my favorite part of this whole post was in a comment YOU wrote:“Oh, well, except for the likelihood that they will grow up to be good citizens who will marry and raise a whole mess of good citizens who will all vote regularly and conversatively. Yes, I see it clearly now: I’m contributing to the future decline of western civilization as we know it: no respect for human life in any form, an entitlement mentality, and self-destructive and selfish behavior as the acceptable norm. I pray I live to see the day.”AMEN!!!God bless you and your growing family! 🙂

  20. Hooray for you and God bless you & your beautiful family!PS. Have a happy Feast of the Annunciation! I’m sure it will be.

  21. YAY!!I KNEW you were expecting… but wasn’t sure. I’m so happy for you!Extra prayers and blessings for you all today.

  22. Hooray! NOW I know why that salami looked so good to you!! A pregnant lady cannot live on bread alone! I THOUGHT I caught your first hint, but wasn’t exactly sure. Congratulations. Congratulations. Congratulations!

  23. I am very happy for you. It is almost impossible to describe the joy of a large family. It is beyond words. The difficult parts are there for everyone to see, but the joy? A lot of it is hidden and indescribable. But it is there and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Many congratulations to you and your family!

  24. I am VERY thrilled for you and your family!!!!I think the reason so many people are so blown away by anyone having more than 1 or 2 children is because it DOES require sacrifice and it DOES require you to be more selfless than selfish and they cannot imagine any amount of joy or fulfillment in that.Congratulations!!

  25. Congratulations!!! We still haven’t told our family about baby #7 and I’m 7 weeks along. God bless you. What a beautiful post. I loved it. Thank you for sharing it.

  26. CONGRATULATIONS!SO very wonderful!

  27. Hi Michelle,I am thrilled for you and pray that all is well with your pregnancy. (I did catch your hints earlier) My St. Gianna and St. Gerard pray for you.I appreciated your thoughts because it is hard for such a self-centered, secular world to understand the gift of life and higher purpose we are all called to be a part of – especially fellow Catholics. I always say I am irresistible when I get looks/questions since number 4 is coming soon. Shuts people up pretty quickly and lets them know that a healthy sex life is a part of a good marriage too.God bless – Beth

  28. Yay, I am so glad you have opened comments, especially on a post like this. We are so happy for you and “baby Reitemeyer” is in our nightly prayers.We have been totally open to life for a while now (meaning we don’t really even use NFP…whoever comes is welcome). The comments by virtual strangers of “don’t you know what causes that?” and “you’re done now, right?” no longer bother me. But recent comments coming from our families and friends since the birth of baby #6 (in 8 years) ARE bothering me.They point to my health during my last difficult pregnancy and say that any more babies could harm me and thereby rob the children I already have of a mother. While I don’t actually believe this is true, it is undeniable that each pregnancy is harder on me and the entire family feels the burden of a mother who doesn’t function well for nine or ten months.I look at my newborn and know that there is no sacrifice I wouldn’t have made for the gift of her life. And I trust God completely, so I don’t worry for a minute that accepting His future gifts wouldn’t be “in the plan” for my family, regardless of His will. But I cannot explain this to my parents who, at some level, think I am being selfish to want more babies at the expense of my current children. It breaks my heart. But your post reminded me of all the reasons I am open to life in the first place.So, though I may not SOUND like one of the happy people you were looking for, rest assured that I am! I am thrilled you are having a baby and am strengthened by your beautiful post. Thank you!

  29. Yay for you and for comment boxes! I’ve been wanting to comment ever since I sat with my jaw on the floor at the words “…one in the incubator..”. I am so happy for your family I could just bust! I think you should print out this entry and stuff it into a dozen envelopes and keep them in your purse and grin and simply hand one over to every person who says things like you described. That’s what I’m going to do (not pregnant yet, but hopefully sometime this year!) next time. I’ve wanted to comment on every entry since the start of Lent but out of respect for your sacrifice I’ve refrained. I REALLY can’t wait until Easter!

  30. Congratulations again Michelle!Sunday afternoon we went to a birthday party for a friend’s little girl and the grandmother asked me and another mom in broken English, she is Japanese, “Tell me your philosophy, why different, that you have so many children? Why you not normal?” I have 5 children and my friend sitting there is pregnant with her 6th. I was polite and mentioned Church teaching and that I love being a mother. But it made my blood boil, why are we considered not normal when it is the most normal thing for our bodies to do. It is the artificial aspect of birth control that is not normal or natural!God bless all moms who are open to life. Hopefully I will be following in your footsteps soon with #6 🙂

  31. Hey, I caught the bit in the sidebar a week or two ago, and I’m absolutely thrilled for you. What a tremendous blessing! I’ve been waiting for Lent to end so I could congratulate you via comments!I say, thank God for another beautiful baby on the way!!!

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