Was this planned? Were you trying? Is this a surprise? Are you excited?
These are very personal questions that I actually get a kick out of hearing. Having four kids is so countercultural these days. Being pregnant with your fourth after 35 is even crazier some might say. It draws so. much. curiosity. Parenting and setting your own personal priorities is hard when we are bombarded so hard with how everyone else is living out their highlight real on social media. Everyone is dying to know the truth behind the staged photos and the hashtag #blessed. So, “you want the truth?… You can’t handle the truth!!!” Just kidding. But is there any other way to proceed after asking that question? If you’re under 25, you’re lost about that statement. Go ask an older friend. There will even be great inflection to those two lines, and it will be something you want to start incorporating into your own dialogs. So anyways, here’s the truth:
I am over 35! (I won’t let you in on the exact age, but this means I’m at an advanced maternal age, or I lovingly joke I’m having a “geriatric pregnancy” … because that term was actually used at some point in time)
We were not surprised.
We were neither trying nor not trying.
We were open to what God decided would be a good fit for our family.
And, YES, we are sooo stinking EXCITED!!!!!
If you haven’t gasped by now–because I mean who in their right mind gets excited about merging the concepts of childbirth and geriatrics–I think it’s coming next.
I personally choose not to use artificial birth control for personal health and religious reasons (which I’ve purposefully disclosed here as a teaser to a topic I think is SO COUNTERCULTURAL that women are dying to hear more of, but I’ll save all that for another time and place).
Ahhhhhhhhhh, can you imagine the surrender here?!?!
I’m assuming if you’re still here, you totally get me or you’ve regained consciousness. But seriously, our hearts have always been to a big family, and even before we had kids –possibly a discussion before marriage even—we talked about being open to adoption/fostering. So, this winter, I threw that idea of adoption or fostering again. I didn’t think we had any real near-future plans for it but casually started talking about respite care for foster families, being a part of the “Safe Families” program in our local area which provides support to moms in crisis, and anything really to just get our toes wet until we were ready to go “all in.” Well, God heard me talking and said, “Woaaa no, sister child! I got something else in store for you, little missy.”
So, here we are. When the average family in the US has 2.54 kids, we are going to be welcoming #4 this fall. There is so much joy (and the usual nervousness) for adding a BABY to our world right now. Some things never change.
You never feel like you have enough time, money, energy, help for what’s about to throw your world upside down with a baby—no matter 1st kid or 4th kid or 10th kid—and no matter what the truth is about your time, money, energy or amount of help that is available.
But here’s what I know.
God provided when we became 1st time parents after struggling for a year to conceive.
God provided when our surprise baby came pretty close after our first. (Apparently fertility issues self corrected more quickly than we thought at that time)
God walked us through a miscarriage and held us during that incredibly sad time.
God shocked our socks off with our 3rd baby when I had already been at home for a few years, not working—and my husband lost his jobs 2 days after we found out we were pregnant. He provided big time for us that year. In a year that could have been one of the scariest and most stressful, we actually had one of the best years of our lives in spiritual growth, marriage growth, and financial growth. On paper, it looked bleak, but it was so fruitful in so many areas of our lives.
It never feels like there will be enough, but there is always a way.
Here’s what else I know.
Women are hard-wired for nurturing. That’s how God created us. The ache to nurture something also drove our culture to spend $½ billion on Halloween costumes for their pets in 2018! Have you seen those costumes?!? They are so stinking cute! I honestly tried to justify a dog costume for my kid once because it was so much cuter than what was available in the kid section.
It’s not every woman’s desire to nurture a passel of kids. Some could never even imagine. But we all naturally long to nurture—kids, friendships, pets.
So while I know it’s not “normal” or “typical” to be a family with 4 kids and that we are already dancing the line of what our culture considers sane by having 3 kids, I’ve also talked to plenty of moms who say they wished they would have had more and moms who are super excited to hear of another mom “going for it!”
Here’s something else I should probably clear up.
I’m having a 4th kid despite the fact that I feel like I’m really only an OK mom. I’m not even an excellent mom here. I fail at marriage and motherhood daily. I’m not a mom because motherhood is easy, or that I’m good at it, or that it comes naturally for me. Because none of that is actually true. I’m a mom because I know my call to nurture is towards my family. And I love it. Every gross, exhausting, joyful, messy, demo-possessed, screaming, laughing, loving minute of it. Even if it’s countercultural.
I’m am finding so much joy in being countercultural lately.
So, to the moms (and some dads even!) who have genuinely shared in my joy, THANK YOU! Whether you could never imagine more than the average, think I’m nuts, want(ed) more kids yourself, or are struggling with having more (or even your first), you’ve celebrated that joy with me, and it means so much to me.
Having kids is “a heritage from the Lord…a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:3) and an honor and blessing that I don’t take for granted.