Lately, I often feel like I need to explain why we aren’t expecting a third child, yet. Explain myself to extended family, friends, and strangers. I want to shout from the mountain tops that we are trying and we are open to more children but that God has not yet blessed us with another baby and that actually all God asks of us is to be open to life, not to have a specific number of children.
I recently came across a blog post about Natural Family Planning awareness and mercy that was written a couple of years ago. It really spoke to me and I will share my favorite part at the end. This blog post does refer to things that I have not directly experienced but I have experienced many of the same thoughts. I have also never experienced hyperemesis while pregnant with either of my girls and for that I am forever grateful. However, we are experiencing “secondary infertility”, and for the record I do not like saying we are experiencing this since we have been blessed with two beautiful girls.
My heart aches for all married couples who have, had or will experience infertility. I will pray for you, always. Everyone has a different experience. Everyone’s journey is different. However, this journey my husband and I are walking now has forever changed my perspective.
So much so that I will never again ask certain questions. Such as, “do you want to have more children?” and “when will you have children?”. Instead I will say, “you have a beautiful family.” This phrase is not used or heard often enough. This phrase is so simple and so powerful. It makes the family of nine feel welcome and loved. It makes the family of four feel welcome and loved. It even makes the married couple feel welcome and loved because a husband and wife are still a family. This phrase could change the way we put on love and extend that love to others.
It has also changed the way I pray. I pray not only for my children but I constantly am saying prayers of thanksgiving and praise to our wonderful God for entrusting these two precious souls to us to get to heaven. I also try very hard not to take for granted any moment I have with my family here on earth.
As a family of four, I need to remember to extend myself mercy when I start to let the devil into my thoughts about how I must not be a “good Catholic since we only have two children” or I must not be as “holy as the Smith family since we only have two children.”
I also need to remember that it is okay to say mothering is hard to my friends of three, four, five, six, and seven children. I have felt I couldn’t say anything to them about how hard it can be since I only have two children. In my mind, they would judge me or say something along the lines of “you have no idea what hard mothering is until you have X number of children.” This is the devil telling me lies. I know this but I also need to remember this.
The following is an exert from the blog post I mentioned above. In my humble opinion, it speaks volumes.
“But here’s the thing: why are we busy judging each other like this? Why do Catholics feel the need to mentally count the kids in the pew in front of them, as if there’s some magic number that will show a family is, for sure, Following Church Teachings? All sizes of family are being judged by various groups: the culture looks askance at families with more than 2 to 3 children, and inside the Church we have people looking askance at families with only 2 to 3 children, as if holiness is directly tied to how many children you have in your family!
We can’t do anything about the culture at large, but we can and should do something about the culture within the Church. We have got to keep our eyes on our own paper, and I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else. I’ve been just as guilty of looking at small families and thinking, “Humph. They don’t look Open to Life, do they, now?” while admiring the familiy with the five kids with one on the way. I ought to know better! Maybe that family with only 2 kids is unable to have more because the mom battled cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. Or maybe they’re using NFP to avoid a medically-dangerous pregnancy. Maybe that family with the 5 kids with another on the way are so concerned with One More Soul that they’re not actually there for their already-born kids. The fact is, we can’t know the state of anyone’s soul, any more than the people of the Old Testament could have known while they were busy condemning childless couples like Abraham and Sarah. Tradition says that even the Blessed Virgin’s parents struggled with subfertility, and that Mary’s birth was miraculous.
As Catholics, we need to extend love and mercy to everyone, including those people sitting in the pews next to us. We need to give them the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Basically, we need to keep our eyes on our own papers, and get ourselves to Heaven without helping God judge who else is worthy of being there. As my friend told me when she asked me to write the article: The Holy Familiy was the most perfect family there has ever been, and they had only one Child.”