Content Amidst the Chaos

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Reflections December 31, 2010

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 2:40 pm

I want to interrupt our baby background for a moment to share some reflections.  I will pick back up where I left off in my next post.  The whole idea behind this journal to begin with came from that appointment where my midwife brought up getting the tubes tied.  She is a woman of faith, as I have mentioned before, and she knows our deal, why we do what we do.  I feel like God can use other people to guide and direct your path sometimes, so I consider what she says very carefully.  Whereas, before this pregnancy and the last, before c-sections were introduced to my body, there was no question.  Part of what I believe is that I trust God to know what my body can handle.  I truly believe that His hand is in conception, and who knows me better than me but my Heavenly Father?  It’s easy to feel that way when everything goes smoothly, but it doesn’t always.  That’s one of the reasons I have felt that this decision was one that was right for my family without the need to judge others for not doing the same.  I may have been pregnant nine times at this point in my life, but I’m only an expert in how it pertains to my body, not yours.  At this point, how many c-sections can I have back to back?  Should I find a practice that will do vaginal deliveries after a c-section (a much more heated debate than you can imagine)?  How much can my body take?  How much can my sanity handle?  How full can my husband’s plate get (you know, since he’s the only one with a “real” job)?

So, this is where this journal was born.  We’ve been considering this all along.  When do we intervene, and do we intervene?  I can’t seem to make the decision to take that power into my own heart and mind because I know my heart and mind isn’t always right.  So I decided that writing down our thoughts, those moments when I say “I CAN’T DO THIS ANOTHER MINUTE!!!!!” along with the ones that say “This is why you do what you do” would help us make a more thought out and clear decision about what might be next for us and our reproductive choices.

One day, when I was struggling with some of these thoughts in my head, I came home and hopped on Facebook to find a message from an old acquaintance from high school.  She was congratulating me on my pregnancy and shared that she was pregnant with her ninth, with only four living children, but at 21 weeks, was a little hesitant to share the news.  It turns out that she has experienced miscarriage THREE times beyond the 20 weeks point!  That is devastating!  In that moment, I counted the blessing of having nine pregnancies with only one miscarriage, at only seven weeks along.  Was that still loss for me?  Yes.  I was heartbroken and wrestled with God on that one.  However, I was reminded by Adam that trusting God meant trusting Him through the good and the bad, through birth and sometimes through loss.  I was also in a Beth Moore Bible study at the time with some very close friends, and the night’s Bible study just after this happened, which I felt the need to attend, was written just for me in that moment.  Now surely that isn’t true, but God found a way to use it to comfort my heart and make me feel what I needed from Him in my loss.  When I am faced with news of my old pal’s experience, or the friend who lost her precious baby boy at 5 months gestation and will only be able to carry a child through the placement of a cerclage, which keeps her cervix from dilating early, I think “Who am I?  Who am I to take this precious gift I have been given and say ‘No thank you?’ when there are so many who would love to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy and delivery?”  And countless women who want so much to birth their own precious child, only to be told that their body won’t make babies or can’t carry them to term.  Who am I to say no?

I told you I was going to be honest, but let me also say this.  This battle in my head and my heart, these questions I ask of myself are simply that.  Questions I ask of myself.  I judge no one else for their reproductive choices.  I don’t think that if this is what I’m supposed to do then every woman is supposed to do it.  I don’t want anyone to feel judged or feel the need to defend their family size or spacing.  I know I sure am tired of feeling the need to defend mine.  Please remember that I am simply sharing my story, and I can promise you, there will be entries where I share the moments when I ask myself, and God sometimes, “Are you kidding me?  You think I can do this again?”


Our pleasant surprise

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 10:19 am

So here we were, with two babies in a span of 13 1/2 months.  Yes, my hands were full, but as the cheeky saying goes, so was my heart.  I had prayed for Addison intensively during the months of my pregnancy.  I prayed that she wouldn’t feel any less loved once Gillian was here.  I prayed for her development.  I prayed that she would be patient and understanding of the new demands in our life with a newborn around.  The second piece of evidence that God was in this all was that those prayers worked!  She loved that baby and was so excited when she was born.  It was crazy the attention and focus she had on her little sister.  It was what I had dreamed and prayed for.

Proud big sister!

Gillian was a very easy baby.  She struggled with nursing, but for sanity’s sake, after trying and crying through it for six weeks, I decided to make a move to formula.  Her tiny 6 lb 1.8 oz body at birth grew quickly once she moved onto formula.  I didn’t beat myself up too much about it, but I did have some mommy guilt.  We all have it for some reason, by the way.  She slept a lot.  She would sit in a bouncy seat or the swing for chunks of time that were surprising to me.  She was simply amazing.  I felt certain that God knew what He was doing with us.

Right after Gillian was born, I was sitting and talking with two friends of mine at church.  Actually, they were talking mostly, and I was just attending the conversation.  One was thinking about having a third child and wondering if the timing was right, and the other actually already had six kids of her own.  I don’t remember the exact words exchanged, but it was along the lines of “How do you know when it’s the right time?”  “How can you be certain you can handle another one?” and other questions similar to those in nature.  Our friend with the six informed us that she doesn’t really worry about those things and that she simply trusts God to make those decisions.  She explained herself a bit and recommended that we read the book “A Full Quiver”, by Rick and Jan Hess and pray about it, of course.

So, I read the book.  It is based on the following scripture…

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV)

Now, in every book written by man, their spin or interpretation is placed on scripture.  So we really wanted to pray about this decision and make sure that God was leading us to make it, not Rick and Jan Hess.  So we read our Bible and prayed for a time, and we both felt that God was leading our family in this direction.  This was what we thought He wanted from us.  I obviously got pregnant pretty easily, and deliveries had been complication-free, so far, with the exception of Gillian’s cord being wrapped and requiring her to have a little boost of oxygen to help her transition.  Nothing major or unusual about that event.  And might I add, I had no idea who the Duggars or the Gosselins were at this point in my life.  I think for anyone to assume that because some family out there that I don’t know anything about has a bunch of kids, I would be motivated to do the same thing, is a bit foolish.  However, you would be surprised at how many “Oh, you’re trying to be like the (insert family name here), aren’t you?”  Now, it’s become, “Oh, you need/must want a t.v. show?” to which I often reply, “No thanks, I’ll take my marriage in tact instead.”  Since we aren’t quite at Duggar proportions yet, we more commonly get the Gosselin comments.

So we quit using anything to prevent pregnancy.  No charting, rhythm method, or barrier method here.  If we felt like being intimate, we did.  If we didn’t, then we simply didn’t.  No fear of getting pregnant involved, and no timing intimacy simply for the production of life.  It allowed us to experience intimacy in ways that God intended it, not just for reproduction (but don’t tell your conservative granny this- she might not believe you).

And we got pregnant right away.  This time, however, there were no tears and there were no fears (I didn’t make that rhyme on purpose).  We just felt truly blessed by this gift.  However, not everyone else felt the same way.  We were told we didn’t have our priorities in order.  We needed a bigger house and a bigger car.  Shockingly enough, we were a one car family, and it was a Honda Accord, which isn’t quite roomy enough in the back for three car seats.  Some people were concerned with how this was going to affect their life (though no one came over to help and no one babysat for us aside from an occasional date).  People were concerned about affording it all.  After all, the cost of raising a child in the US from birth to age 18 has been estimated to be between $200,000 and $250,000, and that’s not counting college tuition!  And what about proms, weddings, and cars?  Not to mention, you have to clothe these little people?  (I guess some folks thought we hadn’t considered any of these things in our decision making process.)  The reaction we got from people was downright shocking to us.  We heard things like, “Not using birth control is like stepping out in front of a car and saying ‘God will save me'” and “Would you not take medication to cure an illness like cancer, just ‘trusting God’ to take it away?”  To us, however, we didn’t view having a child as a horrific vehicle accident or a disease.  We believed quite literally, and still do, that children are a blessing.  Period.  Not “Children are a blessing, but…” or “Children are a blessing, if…” or “Children are a blessing, except…”  We simply believe children are a blessing.  It would take some time to convince others of such a crazy idea.


How it all started December 30, 2010

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 10:33 am

First of all, I’m over the code names when I blog.  It’s hard enough keeping their real names straight (totally kidding), so I will lessen the complication of blogging by using our real names from now on.  I know lots of people that do and no one has come a snatched their children yet, or husbands, though mine is pretty awesome, so I better keep an eye on him once you know his true identity.

In the previous post I mentioned that when Adam and I were high school sweethearts, we had a picture of family that included four children with three years between each of them.  That sounds crazy to me now, having a new baby with a kid who is twelve, but we may get to that point one day anyway doing things the way we do now!  We both loved kids and we knew we wanted a “large” family.  So, we went off to college, got married after my freshman year, delayed having children using the method where I chart my cycles and used barrier methods when necessary (i.e. when I was fertile based on the charting), graduated, and got “real” jobs.  Shortly after graduating, we began talking about starting our family.  We really wanted children, but we were nervous about the perfect timing.  We prayed about it, decided to “try” by not using any barrier methods and going for it when the chart said I was fertile.  We had decided to do this one month, and if it didn’t work, then it was God’s sign to us that it wasn’t time.  That sounds crazy now, knowing how slim the chance is for conception to occur (according to science), but it was the way we rationalized things at the time.

It was toward the end of my first year of teaching that we decided to stop preventing pregnancy.  I don’t know the exact time frame on when we stopped avoiding the fertile time of the month or refrained from using any barriers, but either way, we found out we were pregnant the week of our fourth wedding anniversary and Adam’s 24th birthday.  We were so excited!!!!!  The pregnancy was divine.  I felt great, and trekking up and down the stairs to the basement, where my classroom was located kept me in great shape.  I avoided caffeine and all the other things that were bad for me, and I counted every week and milestone in the baby’s development.  She was born on April 29th with no complications, and she was healthy and just plain perfect.  This was it.  That desire I had in my heart as long as I can remember to have children was finally met, and it felt good.  I was in love.

The glare is my computer screen. It's a picture of a picture.

In the meantime, Adam was working for a public accounting firm in Atlanta.  He had to drive all over the state of Georgia auditing banks, and he worked crazy late hours.  I stayed home with our first born love, and it was bliss.  His time at work was tough, and his work never felt done.  It was very stressful, and I began to ask him to consider getting a new job.  He said he would, but he had to do it carefully and when he had time.  If you know Adam, he says he will do a lot of things, but it takes him a little bit of time to put his plans into action.  Not criticizing, just stating fact.  And a hormonal, post partum momma’s time frame is a little different from his.  Then it happened.  I realized that I was pregnant for a second time when Addison was only four months old.

Now, when I say realize, I mean that literally.  I was at my mom’s house one afternoon and started experiencing some incredible cramping.  I was ovulating.  I could always tell when I was ovulating because of the cramping.  Without too much detail, I knew we had been intimate in recent days, and I just KNEW we were going to get pregnant again.  The appendix in my charting book had a section about how your evidence of your cycle changes when you are breastfeeding.  However, I had not read that part and believed the myth that if you are breastfeeding, you can’t get pregnant.  I was TERRIFIED!  But Adam, being so amazing, assured me that things would be fine no matter what the status of my fertility might be.  I don’t know if he believed it, but he convinced me.  A few days later, I took a test to find out that my assumption was right.  I was pregnant again.

The smile is a total cover for the fear I felt.

I cried.  Yep, I admit it.  I’ve even admit it to her, the one I cried over (which my mom thinks is awful, but I see purpose in it).  Adam continued to assure me, and at the time, I was very involved with a group of moms at my church through Mother’s Morning Out.  We’d drop our kids off for a few hours on Tuesday mornings and hang out, go to lunch, and enjoy an occasional book club discussion.  They were such a huge support for me, and one of them said to me one day, “Jamie, you are right.  You can’t do this.  But He can.  If you lean on Him, He will get you through.”  I know, it sounds like total cheesy church talk, but she was right.  It was my lifeline.  It was my turnaround point in the game.  It got me through.  I continued to urge Adam to look for a new job, but he was afraid to risk the security of great insurance and amazing pay when we were about to unexpectedly have a new baby.  He never told me ‘no’, but he dragged his feet on the issue.  It caused great strain in our marriage, but I think that my extreme hormonal state had something to do with the strain, too.  At the urging of Adam and my mom, I talked to my midwife about taking medication to help my imbalance.  That helped a great deal, but I still needed more of Adam home during the week, especially if I was about to be juggling two little babies!

I consider this particular situation one of the first major pieces of evidence that my friend was right, that God was taking care of us.  No one at the firm knew of my Adam’s desire to get a new job.  However, one of the managers in the firm approached him one day and said, “Hey, I know of a bank in your area that is looking to hire a controller and potential CFO.  You ought to look into it.”  Adam certainly didn’t have the drive that some of his coworkers had, so maybe it was evident that he wasn’t happy.  I don’t know.  Either way, he looked into it.  The day after Gillian was born, he was going in for his second interview, where he was offered the job on the spot.  The irony in this is that Gillian was born one month before she was actually due.  My water broke, and when that happens, there is no going back.  I think the timing, though, was a slap in our face so that we could see what He was doing.  When His plans are so very different from yours, sometimes it is hard to see His working because you get so caught up in this NOT being your plan.  God had a different plan for us than we did, but we were only beginning to discover what that plan was for us.

I was truly ecstatic in this moment. There was so much peace after she was born.


Babies December 29, 2010

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 9:12 pm

It’s all their fault.  It’s why I can’t keep up with a regular posting on here.  It’s why my brain is too fried at the end of the day to come up with a decent post.  It’s why my house doesn’t stay super clean, or clean at all, for that matter.  I have plenty to write about, but gathering it all together into a cohesive post that makes sense and says all that I want to say, well now, that’s a different story.  It’s why I can’t eat very well right now.  It’s why I can’t run to the store and pick up a few things.

However, it is also why I feel loved every morning when I rise and every night when I go to bed.  It’s why my house is always full of laughter and love.  It’s why I see my husband in a much more amazing light.  It’s my daily, physical, in-front-of-my-face reminder that God loves me.  It’s what He made me for.  It’s what has given me perspective on what really matters in life.  It’s taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own.

We are thrilled beyond words about this new baby.  But with respect to honesty, there are days I’m scared.  I don’t always see myself as capable as He does.  I doubt myself more than anyone I know on earth.  And then there are those moments when I am assured that He has not given me more than He plans on empowering me to survive.  He knows what He is doing, which is great because I’m not even good at picking out what to wear on a given day.

I’ve decided to share a very personal and intimate part of our life at this point.  This whole baby ordeal.  Answering the questions that many people are asking, at least in their heads.  Are you guys done?  How many is enough?  What are you thinking?  I must say that it seems the more children we have had, the more people have gotten used to it.  OR, the more appropriately they’ve chosen to handle those questions and comments we used to get bombarded with by perfect strangers in Walmart.

Superman and I decided that we would start a journal through this pregnancy, but it’s not the type of journal one might expect.  It is to be a journal of questions we have.  It will record the struggles we face.  It will also record the evidence that we see each day that this is what we were supposed to do.  You see, at my last appointment (the first for this pregnancy), I was informed that because the last baby was a c-section, this next baby would need to be also.  I was also informed, though this was not a suggestion, that while I was open, if I wanted my tubes tied, then would be the time.  It is my midwife’s duty to talk to me about birth control options, even though she is aware that for us, birth control is not an option.  However, with our recent c-section and the impending one next summer, I have begun to wonder, “How many of these can I do?”  We felt like this was a heavy decision to consider, not necessarily using a particular form of control or prevention, but just considering it period, and it was one we felt needed to be thought about and considered carefully.

In case you are curious, I’m taking you on this journey, too.  These posts will be tagged “babies”.  Read them or not, comment as you like, but I just feel a strong urging to share this part of our life.  Maybe God has a plan to use it.  Next post will give you more detail regarding how we got from our conversation as high school sweethearts about four babies, three years apart to where we are now, with eight babies in nine years.  If you don’t get anything out of this, at least you can pray us through it.  Thanks for reading.


Daddy Time December 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jps23 @ 10:47 pm

My kids love their daddy.  Every single one of them, as a very young babe, has created a schedule based on when their daddy arrives home from work.  They start to get a little cranky around 4:30 or 5:00, which has become later since we moved and his commute is a little longer.  Yep, the little one knows and doesn’t get cranky until about 5:30-6:00, looking for Daddy.  When we are home during the day, any day of the week, I get snuggled and sought out for comfort.  I get called to when they are sad or disappointed.  When he walks in the door, it’s as if they have no mother.  And should we be home without him one evening, which is rare, I better hope everyone is happy because I am of no comfort to them in his place.  The little one actually pushes me away.  For the first time EVER, I had to call Superman when he was out to find out how to comfort one of my babies.  They love him that fiercely.  I love it.  It’s tough when I can’t be the one to comfort them, but oh how I love that they CRAVE him so much.  I think it’s because he craves them.  I know that he’s not the only dad to love his kids.  I know that my dad loved me as a little girl just as much as he loves them.  My husband just loves differently.  They know it, even as babies.  It’s so precious to see them react to him the way that they do, and I am so blessed to have a husband that reacts to our children with equal joy, love, and excitement!