If you are almost married, newly married, or just had a baby, you will inevitably hear this question:
How many kids do you want to have?
I really don’t like this question. There are a lot of reasons why this question rubs me the wrong way – it takes away from the joy of the moment, people always ask it with either a knowing, pitied, or nosy tone, it’s not other peoples’ business – but the biggest reason is:
IT’S NOT UP TO ME.
There, I said it. Glad to have that off my chest.
Now, hear me out, before you just stop reading. I don’t want to make this political, or personally attacking, or overly emotional. I know the topic of kids and therefore, fertility, is a touchy and difficult topic. But hear me out.
Five years ago, if you would have asked me these questions (I use 5 years because I was 21 and awfully young and also my (now) husband and I had just met), I would have said “I’d like 4 kids – so a big family but not too big and no middle children because I’m not doing that to MY kid (I’m a middle child) and probably have them about 5 years after I get married, but I need to have one by the time I’m 30.”
I wasn’t even married. This wasn’t even a talking point. I certainly hadn’t discussed with anyone – not even God. This was MY answer. MY decision. MY way.
A year and a half later, we were engaged. We attended pre-marriage counseling with our pastor at the time. And inevitably, he asked both of these questions. I know why pastors ask these questions in pre-marriage counseling – they want to make sure the couple have discussed it and are on the same page.
But it doesn’t deal with the truth of having children. Pregnancy is the result of sex. Couples may have miscarriages. Infertility issues. The desire to adopt. A lack of knowledge on what the Bible says about having kids. A lack of discussion with God on the topic.
Now, today, I’m not going to go through every thing the Bible says about having kids. Please know that I’m already praying about this post that may or may not happen in the future. Right now, I’m sharing my story. I know it’s getting long, so I’ll get back to it.
We had discussed it, and how we were not going to use hormonal birth control for 2 reasons. 1 was that it has abortive qualities. 2 was that we were working to combat auto-immune diseases in both of us, and couldn’t see that putting in artificial hormones was beneficial to that process. In our session that night, we looked at each other, kind of hem-hawed, and said “We’d like a big family, but the number isn’t up to us. And we’ll probably wait five years.”
After our session that night, I sat down with my sweet (then) fiance and started crying my eyes out. “What if we never have kids? I feel like I poured my heart out to God, begging for what my ministry would be in this life and He told me I’d be a mother and what if we can’t have kids?”
My sweet (now) husband, looked at me and said “If God has put it your heart to be a mother, you will be a mother. You will have babies. Either they will grow inside you, or we will adopt them. No matter what, we can always be a safe place for kids to come to and be a parent-figure for kids who need them. If God has put this in your heart, He will not abandon it.”
And with that, I knew however we became parents would be beautiful and painful and we would be able to share Jesus with our children – however they would come.
Still, the idea that we would wait five years was in there.
When we found out we were pregnant by our first married Christmas, “surprised” is a safe word to use.
And now, married 3 years and 6 months, we are blessed with two beautiful babies – a 2 year old girl and 3 month old boy. I have spent approximately half of our marriage pregnant.
I’m thankful that God is blessing us with children. And I’m learning so much about His family plan.
The “when” and the “how many” are not up to us. If I had had my own way, I wouldn’t have EITHER of these joys. I would still not even want to talk about “getting pregnant” for another year or so. And by then, I would have missed 3 +years of watching these little ones learn, grow, and develop their faith. Silly me. God knows better.
I still get asked about how many kids we’ll have. My answer is always the same “We are happy to raise whatever and however many children God decides to bless us with.”
And no one asks when anymore. When people hear we have 2 kids, they quickly assume I’m in my 30s. When they learn we’re in our 20s, the look on their face tells me that I must have sprouted another few heads.
We KNOW that what we are doing is not what is normal in this world, but if you read the opening story from Nina’s blog yesterday, you’ll see that we’re supposed to do things differently than the world does them. (And by the way, I encourage you to read the whole post.)
Now, here is what I would like to point out – God has a way of teaching all of us different things, at different times, and in different ways. It is certainly not for me to judge other people and how they’ve chosen to plan their family – the number or the timing.
But I would like to make a suggestion – for ALL married ladies reading this, but ESPECIALLY if you are in a stage of life where you are being asked this question a lot.
Talk to God about His plans for your family. The number. The when. The how if you are worried about or experiencing infertility (or if, like us, you want to adopt). Talk to your fiance/husband. Pray together. And pray separately. Search the Scriptures. Read Christian books on marriage and parenting and family (2 suggestions of ones I’ve read are below.)
This is not a decision to hold on to tightly. This – having and growing a family, raising children that God entrusts to you, to raise to know and love Him – is no small thing. Prayerfully take it to the Lord and give it to Him. IT WILL NOT BE EASY. We have so many options today. But give it to Him. Then read more. Study more. Discuss more. Pray more, more, more. This is an ongoing discussion in our household. We are always wanting to listen to what God has to say about this.
I write this as an encouragement – not as a new burden, a new grief. I have found so much joy in seeking God’s will and timing on this. It is so awe-inspiring to be a part of the process of “bear fruit and multiply” from Genesis 1:28. I know, I know. You want to be “just married” for a while. You have school to finish. You don’t have enough money. You don’t have a house. You don’t have your dream job. You haven’t traveled enough. The list could go on and on.
I dare you to think about your own “family planning plan” and be honest with yourself about how much control you still want/need over it. I will be honest that I still have to check my motives, my desires, and my timing and ways with God. And I dare you to ask questions. To search. To pray. To share here your thoughts on planning your family plan. I know that what I am saying might be a HUGE monster step for you, but what is God calling and leading you and your husband to do in this area? Are you ready to find out?
**EDIT** Forgot to include the books.
Visionary Marriage by Dr Rob and Amy Rienow
Start Your Family by Steve Watters