Monday, July 25, 2011

The Joy of Surrender (or why we don't use birth control)

Pregnancy and birth control have come up frequently in conversation over the past few weeks, although I haven't initiated it. With Peter being a year old, people are starting to ask if we'll have any more or when we plan to have the next one. I usually respond, "We're letting God make the decisions. If He sends another child for us, we'll accept." Most people aren't sure where to take the conversation from here.

"Well, right, I mean you can't make yourself get pregnant, but...(trail off awkwardly)"
"So you're trying for the second one now?"
"But when do you think that will be?"

I'm comfortable talking about surrender, but people don't want to hear it. I say, "We don't use birth control. We want God to be in control." They look at me like I just shared graphic details from my sex life. "Really?!" Tones of shock and dismay and morbid curiosity. The conversation usually ends abruptly when I'm asked, "So you could be pregnant now?" and respond, "Yes, but probably not. Since I'm still regularly nursing Peter, my period hasn't come back yet, so it seems unlikely."

"How about this weather?"

To be honest, I think their discomfort is funny, which I realize is unkind. But when you ask questions about conception and I respond truthfully, you get what you have coming to you.

Just look what happened last time we let God call the shots!

One of my friends had her little one less than a week after Peter was born. She recently shared that they are expecting their second in February. Upon hearing her news, my second thought (after, 'how exciting!') was that I am not ready for another child. Peter is still so small and needy. Then I took a deep breath and relaxed, because we're not using contraception. Yes, you read that correctly. The fact that I could get pregnant at any time is a source of comfort.

The reason we're not using contraception is because we trust God. He will send more children in His time, if at all. It's not up to me to decide when Peter is old enough, or if we have the right amount of money to pay for college for second child, or anything else. I trust God. When He sent Peter, He also sent a work-from-home position for my husband and a new health insurance plan that we could afford. If He sends another child, He will give me enough grace to be a good mommy to two little blessings.

This openness to children is part of Catholic marriage vows. This isn't a wild crazy lifestyle my husband and I chose in order to foster a counter-cultural image. It's part of the covenant we made with each other and with God. (There are extenuating circumstances in which it is moral for a couple to use natural family planning to avoid children, but those are few and far between.) We want to surrender to God, trusting that His plans are better than our plans. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Mt. 11:29-30).

No contraception. Freedom. Joy. It's good to serve the King.


  1. funny the things that happen when you put God in charge. For a while I thought I wanted a large family. But he had different plans. I have the family size I was supposed to have. With ecological breast feeding my children naturally spaced themselves and God must have known what he was doing scheduing my husband's Deacon classes for the the weekends I was fertile for 7 years. God does really know what he is doing is you trust him.

  2. Are you taking my lines? "Freedom and Joy"
    It's OK. You're allowed. ;-)

    Yes, we let our natural fertility lead the way and now we have 4 children in 7 years and I wouldn't have done it any other way. I too believe that we are given exactly what we can handle.

  3. One thing my sister-in-law mentioned to me the other day is to remember that you also have 9(ish) months from the time that you find out that you are pregnant til the new baby arrives and that is a long time in the life of your young child. they will do a lot of changing and maturing and learning and growing during those 9(ish) months so that the child you look at the day you find out that you are expecting #2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 etc) will not be the same child the day that #2 (etc) is born. (she just gave birth to #5 and her other children are 6, 5, 3 1/2 & 20 months.) that was a comfort to hear (not that i'm expecting #2 - i, too have not had my period come back yet even with david only nursing 5 times a day) mostly because she told me this as i'm trying to corral david from getting into "no no's" while holding my new baby nephew and thinking how much i would feel overwhelmed if i had a newborn AND a 13 month old! and how i'm thankful that God knows me and what is best for me and my family!

    i would love to know if you have any thoughts/beliefs on infertility treatment? i would like you honest opinion, but full disclosure, we used Clomid (synthetic FSH)to aid in the conception of david.

  4. Your line about nursing Peter and not having your period reminded of a true story a friend told me on Easter. A friend of hers - a woman in her 40s, I believe - had a baby a few years ago and nursed it for a while so she wasn't back to a regular cycle either. About a year later she started having horrible cramps one day so she went to see her doctor and come home with her new baby. Moral of the story: God's plan may include an appearance on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. :-)

  5. @Lisa: How interesting! It's great when you can so clearly see God working in your life, even if it is in retrospect.

    @Patti: Hm, not consciously... I guess I just absorbed your message so thoroughly I thought it was mine. :-)

    @Donna: Good point about the 9 month lag-time; I hadn't thought of that.
    The Catholic Church teaches that any fertility treatment that separates love from life is immoral (i.e. artificial contraception, in-vitro fertilization, etc.). The only treatments that are approved would be ones that address underlying medical conditions, which would include hormonal imbalance. So, if you were Catholic, I would say you are still in the clear. :-) Personally, I would need to spend a lot of time in prayer before using any treatment. I would see this as similar to adoption: of course children are a blessing, but am I pushing God's timing? is this His plan for my family at this time, or is it just my desire? I assume you and Ryan prayed a lot about your decision, so I'm not casting stones, just saying that I would need to do that too. (For more on Catholics and fertility treatment, see

    @Emily: Craziness! I'll let you know if I get a spot on the show. ;-)

  6. I'm with you: we're just waiting and seeing! I've had my cycle back for six months and still no baby. I admit I'm rather impatient ... I was hoping to have kids no more than two years apart, and I think we've missed that window. What with being busy and tired, who has time to conceive more kids? ;) But my point of view is, if I'm too tired to conceive kids, I'm too tired to have any. God knows. Though I'm hoping His timing leads to a baby soon ... Marko is just SO energetic and playful and loves people; I know he'd love having a sibling (once that sibling got old enough to play with, haha).

    Some of us get our fertility back at two months and panic because we're not ready; others still don't have it at two years and feel sad because we are ready. But God knows what we can handle, and by the time the actual baby is on the scene, He gives us the grace we need.

  7. @Sheila: I'm conflicted... I don't want a huge age spread between kiddos, but I don't want another one just yet... In total agreement that God knows what we can handle!