I have a question I would like to ask you about an area I struggle with but did not find addressed in your book in the chapter about seeing children as God’s blessing. My husband and I have been blessed with eight children between the ages 3 and 18. We have been open to receiving all of these, but now that we are both in our forties, we just have this “maxed out” feeling, so we’ve used condoms since the birth of our last baby. My pregnancies have never been pleasant (continual nausea/vomiting), and we just really feel “too old” to have more children. My husband has a very busy job so most of the homefront is my responsibility. Especially with the last few babies I’ve felt like I couldn’t give enough attention to the needs of our older children because all my time was taken up with the baby and trying to keep everything else running. I struggle with “letting God be in total control of our family size” (which has been our “motto”) and feeling like “we’re done”. Can you comment on this? Thank you so much!
– Maybe Eight Is Enough
I have conflicting thoughts about this matter, as I am sure you yourself and many others do as well. On the one hand, I affirm that children are a blessing and should ideally be welcomed as God sends them. On the other, I recognize the fact that we live in a fallen world and our circumstances sometimes prevent our living in strict accordance to our ideals.
For me and my husband, the decision to trust God with our family planning has been greatly simplified by the fact that He has thus far blessed us with extremely easy pregnancies, smooth deliveries, healthy babies, a happy marriage, a stable income, supportive friends and family, strong bodies, resilient minds, adequate reserves of energy, and an extra measure of faith. Were the case different regarding any of these factors, we might agonize more over our decision to leave the family planning to Him.
I also affirm that it is God who opens and closes the womb. Even if we remain committed to accept children as He sends them, that does not automatically mean that more children will be forthcoming. Even for historically fertile women like you and me, there will eventually come a time — yea, and it’s rapidly approaching — when our bodies will no longer bear. Most likely, then, the feeling that you’re “done” will soon become a physical reality. For me, I would love to have another baby and am content to let God determine when my childbearing will come to an end, just as I’ve allowed Him to determine the number and spacing of the children I’ve already borne. But, again, my circumstances have made such a decision easy.
For you, if you and your husband have prayerfully considered the matter and have come to an agreement with which you both are satisfied, I think that is fine. I would encourage you not to do anything permanent, like scheduling a vasectomy or tubal ligation, so as to leave room for changing your mind if in a few more months or years you feel less stressed or begin to yearn for another babe in arms. Also, I would absolutely advise against any form of birth control that is potentially abortifacient, like the Pill or the IUD. Of course, condoms and other barrier methods do not fall into that category, so if you are both in agreement to use them, I think it is acceptable to do so.
Finally, I believe that God honors our choice to trust HIm (or to keep on trusting Him) with our family size, and that He will strengthen and equip us to do whatever He calls us to do, including parenting a large family, but I also believe that the conviction to adopt such a lifestyle must come directly from Him. No couple should feel an obligation to have baby after baby just to keep up with the Joneses. Parenting is hard work, and the bigger the family, the bigger the responsibility. Only God can see you through when the going gets tough, which it does for all of us from time to time.
Hope these thoughts help you to sort this out and to be at peace with the decision you make.