Content Amidst the Chaos

Just another weblog

100th post! February 2, 2011

Filed under: babies,family size,Our home — jps23 @ 12:25 am

It’s fitting that tonight I was going to blog about learning to become content.  It’s the name of the blog, and with this being the 100th post (according to my dashboard because otherwise, that’s just one more thing for me to keep up with!), it’s quite appropriate that it highlights when I arrived at that place of true contentment.

We are still on our baby journey in these posts.  There is so much back story that many of you don’t know, that if you did, I feel like you might understand why we keep having babies.  I know that ultimately it doesn’t matter if you understand that, but knowing God’s role in it all can be a benefit to all those reading this, even if you don’t decide to take this journey.  This is about trust and contentment, which I think can apply in anything you do.

So, after the miscarriage and Coleman’s illness, there weren’t any other major life catastrophe’s to speak of for some time.  However, as Andrew was added to the family (which was a horrific birth story, but I’ll save that for later), the 1,100 square foot house began feeling smaller and smaller.  I had a brilliant idea, though, an answer to our growing family’s need.  Let me explain a little to help you understand why we just didn’t run out and buy a bigger house.

We didn’t get a credit card until my senior year in college, which was also Adam’s year spent acquiring his Masters degree.  We did take out some student loans when we discovered the difficulty of juggling marriage, good grades, and jobs, but we were both attending on the HOPE grant, so we didn’t need that much.  We were a little foolish.  We went to out of town ball games and took a trip out of state here and there.  After all, Adam already had a commitment letter with a firm in Atlanta making A LOT of money.  We were going to be rich!  Add in a teacher’s salary, and we were going to be sitting pretty.  We also had to replace our car, and since I always wanted a truck, we went for it.  My parents cosigned, even though they advised us against buying new (What did they know? We had college degrees with sweet pay coming our way!)  Okay, maybe we were a lot foolish.  We did graduate into high paying jobs, and we somehow managed to spend, spend, spend.  We rented a house after a couple of months in an apartment that we eventually purchased.  It was a very modest brick ranch starter home in an established neighborhood.  But then we noticed that the credit card debt we had acquired wasn’t disappearing as quickly as we hoped (that’s hard to do when you are still spending and not focusing on paying it off- we had horrible financial habits early in our marriage).  So, we refinanced and paid off our credit cards with the equity, but we didn’t close the cards, and we continued to make stupid spending decisions.  Long story short, selling our house wasn’t an option.

So, I had another idea.  My grandmother’s house was double the size of ours, where she lived alone.  It made sense to me for her to allow us to move in the partially finished basement (the equivalent in sq footage to our house, almost) and let us fix up her house a little here and there as a form of payment.  Her health was deteriorating a little, so we would be there if anything should happen.  I wrote her a beautiful letter to give her time to consider my idea (she was the most beautiful letter-writer of them all), absolutely sure she would see the reason and logic in my proposal.  I had sketched floor plans with ideas for improving the house and making it work for our family for when she decided to move into something smaller.  I was so excited!  Then she called me one day and said, “Oh honey, you are so sweet to think of me, but I just plan on dying in this house, and I don’t want to live with anybody at this point in my life.  But you sure are sweet to think of me.”

I wasn’t content.  I was desperate!  I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t see the logic in my thinking!  I began living each day saying, “If only we had a bigger house…”  But we didn’t.  There we were, almost eight people in 1,100 sq feet.  You do that math on that one.  Never mind, I’ll do it for you.  That was approximately 150 sq feet for each body in our house (including the baby on the way) and all their stuff.  We were beginning to homeschool, and with me being the creative and crafty type, I had craft, scrapbooking, and school supplies everywhere!  It was insane.

So I had another brilliant idea.  We’ll just move to Mom and Dad’s lake house a little over an hour away and clear out our house, make repairs, and put it up for sale by owner, since we couldn’t part with any money in whatever deal we could come up with.  This idea was CRAZY.  There are no two ways about it, but it was all I had.  Remember?  I was desperate.  I was teaching preschool at our church and pregnant, and Adam was working, and driving both cars was just stupid, so we would get up at 4:30 so we could leave by 6:00 to sit in horrendous traffic to get to the southside of town on the days I had to work.  It was miserable!!!  And guess what?  Nothing got done to the house because I was so tired at the end of the day, entertaining five little people in even less space than we had before and too nauseated to fix dinner, that I would beg Adam to come home and bring dinner almost every day.  So we came back home just before Joseph was to be born, and we tried to live in our house again.  Joseph came, we made adjustments to accommodate him, and we just pushed through.

Then one day, I was cleaning the bookshelves and putting books away, and I found the sketches from my dream about living in Grandma’s house.  I looked at them, told myself it was never going to happen, prayed for contentment, a way to find joy in my current circumstance and learn to accept that God has a bigger plan, and I threw them away.  Then and there I decided to be content.

Now let me say this, if you haven’t already figured this out.  I am typing this post from my grandmother’s house, that I now live in and have lived in for about a year and a half.  The story of how it all happened requires a post of its own (and I think I’ve actually shared a little of the story already), but it is evidence that being content is worth it.  I don’t remember a lot from the last year we lived in our house.  I look back at pictures and videos and wonder how we did it, but I think that God also protected me from being overwhelmed by it all.  My pastor said something in his sermon the other day that struck me and kind of relates to this: “If you are in Christ, and Christ is in you, then you can be content in all circumstances.”  That is what had happened.

So, while messy floors bother me, I am content.  While laundry piled a mile high is aggravating, I am content.  While the kids clothes don’t always match and I can’t stand the hair-do on one of my girls, I am content.  And while I could have spit out a post every other day like all these other amazing bloggers that I follow, I haven’t, and I am content.  Happy 100th post to you.


When His plan includes loss January 11, 2011

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 9:50 pm

This is a touchy subject, and as I write this, I want each of you reading to understand that my statements are simply reflections on my particular situation.  They are not a statement of how you should have felt, what you should have done, or any other suggestions about how you should have handled your loss.

Let me also say that I don’t believe in a God who zaps people with troubles.  I don’t know any other way to say it.  Yes, He is mighty and all powerful, but I think that there are things allowed in our lives that don’t always leave us feeling happy.  I don’t think he necessarily pulls the trigger and causes these events, but I do feel strongly that He can use our experiences for good.  Am I saying He does these things to us just so He can reach one other person?  No, I’m not actually.  But can he reach a person through suffering we’ve experienced in our own lives?  Yes, He can, and sometimes that person is us.

At this point, we had embraced the idea of letting God decide when we’d have kids and how many He wanted us to have.  I embraced the fact that since He made my body, formed me inside my mother’s womb, He knew what it could handle.  I love pregnancy.  I feel my best when I am pregnant.  However, I had “enjoyed” my break from being pregnant, and I added parentheses because in the time off, I was learning to embrace that one of my kids wasn’t the “as long as s/he is born with 10 fingers and 10 toes” kind of kid.  Yes, she had all her digits, but they worked differently because her brain worked differently.  And this made my world different, so I was adjusting.

Over the summer of 2005, I kind of had a feeling that I might be pregnant again, but I wasn’t certain, and I wasn’t in a hurry to buy the overpriced test to then discover my period the very next day.  So I waited to find out.  I was sharing a visit with one of my best girlfriends, who was pregnant again, and she totally called me on the pregnancy.  I wound up buying and taking a test, only to find out my suspicions were correct, yet again.  I have to be honest with you, though, there was some hesitation in my excitement.  It could have been the fact that I was overwhelmed with autism and its invasion of my sweet little girl, or it could have been that intuition they say you get when you become a mom.  I waited to tell others because if you’ll remember, the last pregnancy wasn’t so celebrated by folks, including some family.

Oddly enough, I would lose this pregnancy before anyone ever really knew about it.  I was seven weeks along when I miscarried.  There are no words for such an experience.  For me, there were only tears.  This friend that was pregnant with me also had shared my last pregnancy with me, so I knew it would be hard to witness hers when I had lost mine.  Plus, I had three kids already!  I don’t have miscarriages!  Where did this come from?  Why?  I believe that as soon as that baby is formed, it is my child, and I love it that way.  Oh my gosh, there are just no words.  So I cried a lot the day I found out, and I cried even more the next day.  Adam didn’t say much.  He cried a bit with me the first day, but he became strong for me since I was so weak.  I could not understand such a loss.  It didn’t seem fair.  Adam said something to me, though, that pulled me out from under my sorrow and allowed me to face it and deal with it.  I can’t tell you his exact words, but his sentiment was this, “Jamie, you and I have chosen to trust God with our family size and spacing.  It’s easy to trust Him in blessings, but we also have to trust Him in loss.”  Now, trusting God should be so easy, but it isn’t always.  However, trusting Adam was a no-brainer for me.  I loved that man like crazy, and time and time again, he had proven himself trustworthy to me.

So I took what he said to heart, and I decided to attend Bible study that night at a friend’s house.  Now, this isn’t a weekly gig that the church does.  It’s a group of women from our church who, from time to time, spend the evening in Bible study with a particular book or series as our guide, usually in someone’s home.  Let me just say, we love some Beth Moore!  This summer in particular we were doing her study called Believing God.  (I cannot recommend this Bible study enough to you!  It changed my life, beyond this particular night.  It’s available online through Lifeway.)  I had not done my nightly homework, and I was planning on not attending (even though doing the homework was NOT a prerequisite), but after talking with Adam I really felt like I needed to be there.

This night in particular was being led by one of my other besties, and it was called “Believing God to Get You to Your Gilgal”.  Now, I went through my notes from the study today, looking for what I may have written down so that I could share it with you.  However, it was the only listening guide from the 10-week study that I didn’t have filled out.  It totally makes sense, since I was probably doing my best just to be there.  So this morning I sat down and watched the session again (which gave me even more insights to some other stuff I’m dealing with now.  Love the way God works!).  I remember feeling that night like everything that came out of Beth’s mouth was for me in that moment.  What stood out to me that night, too, was that this was my Gilgal.  It was even bigger to me than dealing with autism, even though I still had so much to learn about autism.  I lost a child.  It may have been a peanut-sized child, but to me, it was my child.  I could let this situation spin me into unbelief, or I could choose to embrace that no matter how I felt, His Word is right!  So that is what I decided that night.  I was not going to let this loss spin me into unbelief, which would inevitably lead to disobedience.  I chose to obey Him anyway, embrace His promise that He would take care of me, and not believe the lies that the enemy was trying to feed me.

The word Gilgal means ‘circle’, and this was the place that God brought the Israelites full circle and broke the old cycle in the Old Testament book of Joshua.  Beth says, in this session of the Believing God study, “God is so intentional in His timing.  He has allowed some things in our lives that we may not understand ’til we get to glory!”  I decided to embrace that truth, and I would see at least one reason that I feel He allowed me to go through such a loss sooner than I expected.  Just a few weeks after I suffered my own loss, I got a phone call from a very dear friend who was going through the very same thing I had just experienced, only her pregnancy was farther along and a little more complicated.  I can’t share details of this here because it’s her story to share, but I knew in the moment that she called me that God was going to use my loss.  I didn’t stop her miscarriage or fix anything for her, but I could understand to some degree what she was dealing with.  I knew how to be there for her and not think that there were magic words to make her feel better.  I knew her pain, to some degree.  I knew what to pray for her in the days following her loss, all because I had suffered a similar loss.  And now, six years later, I can be of some comfort to friends who I have learned have suffered loss.  I’m not just that mom of seven kids who has no idea what it is like but has good intentions.  I’m the mom to seven kids, who “should” have eight, who has suffered such a loss so I can understand to some degree.  So my words of comfort aren’t just blown off.  I know what to pray for these dear friends.  They know my care goes beyond “good intentions”.  I also know that when a certain thought comes to mind, which may be very true, it might not be what their heart is ready to hear, so I can hold back and just pray for the right time to say it.  It gives me perspective, and I think it also allows me to appreciate each one of my blessings as the unique miracle that they are, even though the years following of parenting that tiny miracle may be tough sometimes!  What a blessing to be able to appreciate that life after knowing what it is like to lose one.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not calling my miscarriage a blessing.  I am acknowledging that the perspective He gave me through that loss is a blessing.

And for me, I was blessed again when I became pregnant with Coleman just weeks after my loss.  My fifth pregnancy, my fourth living child, my first son.


The good days January 4, 2011

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 6:10 pm

While we have tried to embrace a life leaving our womb open to God’s plan, no matter how many kids that may include, there are days that are tough.  Real tough.  But then there are the good days.  Perspective affects how you measure that day, and I could have very well found today to be a bad day if I judged by the looks of the mess my house is hanging onto.  However, I saw today as a good day, and these are a few reasons why…

  • I’m making major progress in our laundry area, which is piled high with out-of-season/outgrown clothes.
  • The kids played oh so nicely together today.
  • Anna and Addison prepared lunch together without quarrel, managing to cover all of the food groups!
  • I didn’t feel guilty about them taking on that responsibility while I was working in the laundry area.
  • I have more than enough clothes, so many that I can spare some for a family in need after suffering through a fire.  Yet, I only had to buy a tiny portion of those myself.  My laundry mess reminded me of the great provision God has offered us in this arena, especially through three families at our church who always think of us while cleaning out their children’s closets.
  • We haven’t started school back up yet, but I got to listen to my kids playing together, creating a garden with their costumes, which included a flower, a ladybug, a butterfly, and a caterpillar, all made complete by a blanket with clouds on it held up by Gillian as the backdrop.  Learning through play.  Such a forgotten art these days.
  • Adam sent me an email just to let me know he loves me and he’s thinking about me.  Now, before you go on and on about how amazing he is, this area has been a tough one for him.  He is an amazing father, but that often replaces his role as husband.  He is working to create a balance with those hats and the many other he wears, and I’m noticing and grateful.
  • Gillian allowed the little boys in her room without flipping out over them invading her “area” (the space under the girls’ loft beds is their special area, and she is very protective of hers).  No meltdowns today.  I think she is getting back to “normal” after the holidays.  We’ve been melting down on a daily basis around here, so this was a fantastic day for her.
  • Coleman has had two really great days.  He is very impulsive and has struggled with self-control a bit lately, but we have had two days without incident, which is big for him right now.

All around for me, it was a wonderful day.  Should I have doubted at all, based on the state of my house and its contents, then the two posts listed first in my Google reader would have redirected me, and the beauty of that is that they are by to girls I know in real life, so I know if they are real or fluff.  Two moms like me just living life.  One that seems odd and ridiculous to most, but for us is very real and our “normal”.  Check my girls out at Hello Out There and Audaciter Matris.  And then there’s this email I got from a mommy friend of mine today, saying that the last line made her think of us, when really, almost all of the lines are us!  Read below…

You know you’re a big family when…
…people count the number of your children out loud when you’re in public

…people ask, “Are they all yours?”

…you start counting your children when you’re out in public

…you have at least three bunk beds set up in your home

…almost everyone you know has less children than you do

…people say, “Wow! How do you manage?”

…people ask you, out of the blue, if you are Mormon or Catholic.

…you buy your pots and pans in the restaurant supply store

…supposed “family size” food portions seem awfully small

…you complain, “Doesn’t anyone make large dining tables anymore?”

…you outgrow your mini-van

…you’ve heard “Don’t you know what causes that?” more times than you’d care to remember

…you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be alone anywhere else but in the bathroom

…your children never run out of playmates among their siblings

…everything you buy is in bulk

…people ask, “Don’t you get overwhelmed?”

…you and your husband can no longer hold each child’s hand while crossing the street

…it takes a wonderfully long time to hug and kiss everybody

…one of your children looks wistfully at the newborn and asks you, “Can’t you have another baby really soon? I hardly get to hold this one because everybody else is taking turns.”

…you realize that few houses are designed with your family in mind

…people ask you if you’ve ever accidentally left any of your children behind

…life around your family never seems boring or dull

…your tent is the largest one in any campground

…you feel sorry for people with only two children

…you sometimes wonder what on earth mothers with only two children do with all their spare time

…whenever you set your dining table, it looks like it used to look when you were expecting lots of company

…you read a cookbook and joke, “They call these meals? Sounds like a little snack to me.”

…your gratitude at the abundance of God’s blessing moves you to tears unexpectedly

…you start thinking of yourself as “rich in children”

…you secretly think that life in your family might possibly be a much more joyous adventure than life in smaller families

…you are vastly amused at much modern parenting advice, realizing that it is unnecessary, impossible, impractical, or simply silly to try to apply it in a large family setting

…it seems as if you pack more stuff going on a short trip than some people pack when moving their entire household

…you and your husband laugh, “And to think that when we got married, we wanted only four children!”

…your husband sighs happily, “I’ve finally got my dream car”–and it’s a used 15- passenger van.


Once you have three, how hard can it be? January 3, 2011

Filed under: babies,family size — jps23 @ 8:18 pm

When you ask parents what the hardest transition was, in terms of number of children, you will get all kinds of answers.  None to one is a big one, of course, but for us, going from two to three was a big deal.  You are outnumbered then.  The ratio is no longer even.  And for us, we had this other thing going on with Gillian called autism (although, we didn’t know that’s what it was at the time), which tends to complicate things.  Gillian and Anna were 11 and 1\2 months apart, and when Gillian met her, she couldn’t even keep focused on her.  I don’t know that she was even aware of who or what she was, whereas Addison was almost anticipating Gillian when she was born.  And when Anna was born, well, Addison was a pro at the big sister thing.

Gillian is trying to crawl off the bed, while Addison is holding her and probably rattling off her stats.

Once we got home, Gillian acted as if Anna were just a baby doll.  It took her a few weeks to realize she was a living thing, and it wasn’t until about 6 weeks or more that Gillian started to pay her any real attention.  At this point in Gillian’s development, she was what we thought to be the perfect baby.  She was quiet and required little attention.  She loved the television, and she would get lost in a Blue’s Clues episode or watching any kind of cartoon.  She loved singing and finger plays and was quite fascinated with her hands.  The only thing that was difficult was that her language was delayed and she was also slow to walk.  And if she got upset, boy, she was upset.  I remember vividly grabbing the camcorder one day while she was having a fit in the doorway of the kitchen.  My parents referred to my own temper fits as a child as “Eli’s”, after a hot tempered cousin of my dad’s named Eli.  I was commenting on her having an Eli episode in the video, chuckling a bit.  This was one of the first moments I would look back on with much guilt after I knew what I did about her autism.  Gillian could not self-soothe.  Fits would go on for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, full fledged, without any way to comfort her.  She would arch her back and scream, and scream, and scream.  It was heartbreaking to watch as she got older and the fits seemed to escalate.  The other part of it was that it was very difficult to figure out what set her off.  We would learn later that her sensory sensitivities were usually to blame.  She had a great many issues with clothing and shoes.  She even walked down barefoot for her confession of faith last year in front of our church because her shoes were an issue.  It was gut wrenching to endure, and our first months of discovering what was going on would be some of the most difficult months of our lives.

Fortunately for us, Anna was an excellent baby.  She was very laid back and she LOVED her sisters.  She would watch them and giggle at them.  She was a great sleeper and nurser.  As a matter of fact, she nursed the longest of ALL of our children, thus far.  She was splendid.  A true delight.

Now, not to overlook Anna, but this period in our lives was very much consumed by and with Gillian.  At 16 months, she only had three words and did not use them with any purpose or consistency.  She avoided eye contact and being held.  She would only easily go to Adam, our parents, and me, and most of the time, she preferred Adam.  She slept very well.  Her naps would go on forever.  I would learn later that this was probably because her day was so exhausting for her since her body processed sensory input different from everyone else.  I could go on and on with the explanation for life with Gillian at that stage of the game, but I never once regretted her birth or the one that came immediately after it.  The reason why all this is important to this story is the space that we both feel that God carved into our lives during this difficult time.

We didn’t get pregnant, and as you can tell from our previous stories, that has never been hard for me.  In all honestly, but without trying to gross you out, our frequency did not change.  If anything, Adam and I felt comfort and solace in our “time” together.  It took us away from how overwhelming life with a special needs child had become.  Yet time after time, we produced no offspring.  It wouldn’t be until June 2005 that we would become pregnant.  I know what you are thinking, “That’s only a year later.  That’s not space!”  But the baby wasn’t due for another nine months, and for us, that was a huge space!  Unfortunately, this pregnancy would end in a miscarriage at 7 weeks gestation, and let me just say, miscarriage is NEVER easy.  I would have to learn that sometimes God’s plan allows heartache and disappointment.


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.