Sara: Recently, while visiting extended family, I was questioned, “Do you and Justin have an announcement to make?”
At first, I was confused. What would Justin and I have to announce? Then I realized the relative wanted to know if we were pregnant again. After all, Gus is over a year old, so perhaps we’re ready for the next one.
I actually didn’t know what to say. Justin and I do want more children, but we trust God to provide them when the time is right. Although we learned Natural Family Planning during our engagement, so far we haven’t used it to either conceive or avoid pregnancy. Since I’m still breastfeeding Gus, it’s unlikely we will be pregnant again in the very near future.
Finally, I think I said, “It’s not our turn,” since my niece is actually nine months older than Gus. I honestly didn’t know a polite way to tell our relative to mind her own business!
It’s hard, because as I watch Gus grow bigger each and every day, it’s nearly impossible to continue to call him a baby. Part of me does want a little baby to enjoy and cuddle with again. Other times, when Gus is managing to be a complete and utter terror, I wonder how mothers with more than one child manage to survive!
We found out we were pregnant with Gus only four months after we got married. Therefore, I never really experienced truly longing for a child or feeling the angst of not being able to conceive like many of my friends. Right after Gus was born, I was happy to wait before we had another child. Now, I find myself getting excited about the thought of another child underfoot. Sometimes it’s hard to wait on God’s perfect timing!
Oftentimes in Catholic circles, I think we confuse “openness to life” with “let’s see how many babies we can pop out in our childbearing years.” We’re called to discern God’s will for our family – not to simply have a large family because we can. We’re not called to conceive a child every time we engage in the marital act – we’re simply called to be open to the possibility.
On the occasions that I do find myself longing for another child, I keep reminding myself that just as having another child opens doors, not being pregnant enables Justin and me to have different experiences as well. For instance, Justin was asked to lead a mission trip to Alaska this summer to help underprivileged children enjoy the beauty and glory of God’s creation. If we were already pregnant, we would have had to say “no” instead of being able to say “yes”.
Now we’re looking forward to being part of spreading the Gospel message to the children on the mission trip who, in some small way, will become our spiritual children.