I'm assuming most people with larger families have gotten comments about how many children they have. Being a NFP practicing Catholic I have been prepared for that. It only amazed me that the comments started when I was pregnant with my second.
As I begin to wean Juliette the topic of a third child has come up more than once. And of course it would. We do not use contraceptives to artificially control the size of our family so every, single cycle we have to come together as a couple and decided whether or not we want to add another little blessing to our brood. It's isn't a hassle, not even close to what I imagine comes with remembering to take a pill every day, and in fact it strengthens our marriage and allows us and GOD to be in control of our fertility, not us and our gynocologist.
So I, a woman and a Catholic American, choose to forgo contraceptives and be open to life in my marriage. So why in the world is that so darn offensive to others?
I have found that because I do not take a pill every day (or every month in some cases) that I am looked at by other people as simple, oppressed, neglectful, and to some extremists, downright dangerous.
I adore my children. Adore them. Sometimes it makes me cry to realize that other people, perfect strangers, look at them (probably moreso at my future children since I've had my ecologically and economically responsible two already) and see dollar signs.
I am not walking up to people on the pill and telling them the risks involved, both physically and morally, not to mention the statistics of increased rates of divorce for couples practicing contraception, and getting involved in their family planning.
And yes, there is a difference between that and those of us fighting to protect the unborn children. We are fighting for life, to save those with no voices from death. The people pushing pills on me are fighting to prevent life.
I am a relatively healthy 26 year old woman. I have rough pregnancies, I gain weight, I lose muscle. I give birth, I lose weight, I work out. I am in no danger of death or even significant health issues from being pregnant, although it's entirely likely that I may be confined to a couch towards the end. Somehow though, I think that when my kids look back they won't remember the couple of weeks mommy couldn't chase them at the park but they will have a beautiful sibling who is giving them a lifetime of love instead.
A few weeks, or even months, for a life time of love and friendship? I think it's worth it.
I understand that non-Catholic culture is different. I understand that people worry about my finances and my health. I accept and even appreciate those concerns. My husband and I are adults. We are responsible enough to weigh the pros and cons ourselves and come to our own conclusions.
What if Kyle looses his job? What if the new baby is particularly challenging? What if Juliette does not adapt well? What if, what if, what if....
What if I have another ectopic pregnancy and lose my ability to have children? What if my progesterone continues to get lower with age and I have trouble maintaining pregnancies? Those are the what-ifs I am concerned about.
I grew up in a family with four children. My sisters did more to make me a good person, an intelligent person, a well rounded person, a selfless person, a hard working, and a charitable person than any other areas of my upbringing save my parents and my faith. They are essential parts to who I am today and they are the reasons I want to have a large family.
When I think of raising my children with "all the right advantages for the future" that's what I am thinking about. I'm thinking about Lauren and Hannah and Carly. I can only teach my children so much. They will be able to be witnesses to each other. And to my fellow catechetics majors, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than he does to teachers." (Cite that quote for 1 million fake moneys)
I won't even get into the health risks of the pill in this post, I'm not going to cite Church doctrine, I'm not going to link to articles about how NFP strengthens the family unit. Honestly, I could but I'm not because defending my beliefs isn't the point of this post. I'm trying to defend my right to believe them. It makes sense that my Domestic Church (my family) would feel attacked by our decision to not use contraceptives at the same time the Holy Mother Church is being attacked for her decision that She cannot and will not provide contraceptives in her religious institutions.
Mother Church, I feel very united with you. Your strength gives me the strength to stand firm in my beliefs and to pray through my struggles with how the world perceives me.
My heart was very troubled tonight and I was feeling both sad and anxious. I had been feeling very open to life and lately people have been causing me to doubt, not the wisdom of the Church but my own discernment of my child spacing. I had to stay home with the kids but I kept picturing myself doing what I would have done back at Franciscan. I would have run down to the chapel and just laid at the feet of the altar with my rosary beads and asked Him to take it all. It came time to pray the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary with my darling husband before he went to bed and, I kid you not, this was the passage for the day.
When a certain anxious person, who often times wavered between hope and fear, once overcome with sadness, threw himself upon the ground in prayer, before one of the altars in the Church and thinking these things in his mind, said "Oh, if I only knew how to persevere," that very instant he heard within him, this heavenly answer: "And if thou didst know this, what would thou do? Do now what you would do, and thou shall be perfectly secure." And immediately being consoled, and comforted, he committed himself to the Divine Will, and his anxious thoughts ceased. He no longer wished for curious things; searching to find out what would happen to him, but studied rather to learn what was the acceptable and perfect will of God for the beginning and the perfection of every good work.
Imitation of Christ, by Thomas á Kempis: Book 1, Chapter 25
On the Fervent Amendment of our Whole Life
I could spend my life wondering what would happen to me if I have another baby or I could be open to life and seek to surrender myself entirely to the perfect will of God. I am secure in entrusting myself and my family to God. It's the only thing that makes sense to me.