Thoughts on Babies

3875 3875_ () 3875 3875 Oh man, before you read this, let me share a little something. So this is my weekly column, which I wrote last week. I wrote it, was very very honest about some things in here, and then started to second guess myself. Sometimes, I will jot something down in my weekly column and then hit delete-delete-delete because I’m just not sure I’m ready to publicly proclaim whatever that particular sentence happens to be.

This week, I kind of had that thought and then decided to err on the side of honesty, which is: of all our children, only one of them was “planned.” Is that a shocking thing to admit? I can’t decide.

So here it is, this week’s column:

Henry turned five last week. Can you believe that?

Life moving at the speed of light seems to be my overriding theme lately, and I wonder if that’s just the theme of motherhood in general. It certainly is at this point, this season we now find ourselves. Here the summer is halfway gone and I’ve barely had a chance to collect my thoughts on the school year ending.

When I was first a mom, in those first five or six years of motherhood, life moved so slow. I wondered if I would always be the mom chasing small children, looking on at the older, wiser mothers who had actual conversations with their children. Those women were seasoned veterans of the motherhood scene, while my life seemed destined to always focus on loading and unloading carseats and wiping runny noses.

Snap! Like that, how long ago those days now seem.

I have a little secret I want to share with you, something I know I shouldn’t say but I’m going to say it just the same: of all our children, Henry is the only one we “planned.”

I laugh thinking about that now. How funny to think that we planned Henry. You could emphasize any one of those three words and it would still be wrong. The idea that we (me and Paul) planned (deciding now was the time) Henry (a baby we co-created with God and still had no idea who this creature would be) seems so preposterous.

I won’t lie: it was nice to be on that side of things, on the side where you think you have your ducks in a row enough to proclaim that, “yes, yes, now is the perfect time for us to have another baby!” That had not been our experience to that point.

Miracle number one was that we even got to that place. After our first four boys (all beautiful surprises only in the sense that we did nothing to prevent them from getting here) — after four babies in five years, that was all I could handle. I told God (with as much humility and love as I could muster) that I needed to take a break from ushering in more Balducci babies. I needed to take care of all the babies we had.

So we got very good at Natural Family Planning (the Church’s suggested method for postponing pregnancy) and actually kind of thought four was probably going to be it for us. It was a lot, all things considered, and the best I could do was take life one day at a time.

To our great surprise and delight, enough years went by and we got our wits about us. Suddenly we didn’t feel as overwhelmed by life, by small little boys. Our boys grew and we realized that it’s true, babies don’t keep. The harsh, challenging seasons give way to  something new — newfound energy and fun as you watch your children get bigger.

When Henry came along, after five years without a baby, we were delighted and overjoyed. We took the plunge, prayerfully considered another baby and decided to try. The timing was right, the season was now.

How ironic that the one “planned” pregnancy was the hardest, most emotionally and physically draining of the bunch. I don’t really know what that means other than even with all our great planning, I was still relying on the mercy of God. I found myself begging for his grace now more than ever.

God had a plan for this baby, and as much as I’d like to think we planned Henry, the truth is God did. God had a plan for this child — as he does for every child — and I’m just so humbled that we get to be a part of that plan, that I get to be his mother.

Henry is five. What a gift! And like all our babies — those we “planned” and otherwise — I am so grateful to Jesus that he saw fit to send them into our world. 3875″>

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Comments

  1. Thank you for posting. We can plan all we want, but God does. Thank you for that reminder. Be blessed:)

  2. Michelle says:

    I love the article! I get many stares when I tell people that so far only one of our four children was “planned”, but then again I am always surprised that someone would ask. After our first we knew we wanted him to have a sibling close in age so that he wouldn’t remember a time without them. Our boys are 8, 6, 4 and 3 weeks.

  3. This was just what I needed to read tonight. Thank you.

  4. Your story is EXACTLY the same as mine!!

  5. “…and actually kind of thought four was probably going to be it for us.”

    There’s a chance I’ll regret writing this, and you’re probably quite prepared for such a reaction, but I’m writing in hopes of clarification. Did you mean you thought four was going to be enough because of fertility reasons or because of plans to continue NFP to postpone/prevent pregnancy. Isn’t NFP really only supposed to be used in serious circumstances?

    • Sarah-
      A priest once clarified this for me because at first I thought, “Wait, am I supposed to just keep on having babies if I don’t have a serious reason not to?!” But the real answer is that a couple is also supposed to feel prayfully called to have or not have more children with or without a serious reason. And maybe being prayfully called in either direction is serious reason enough. Perhaps if a couple doesn’t have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy (i.e. health or financial reasons) but still doesn’t feel called to having more children, they simply are less conservative with their NFP practice.

    • I can’t speak of Rachel (of course) but I can honestly say that after every single baby I feel like that is “it” for us. Because I’m so stinking overwhelmed and exhausted that preserving my mental and physical health, and by extension the health and well-being of my already-born children, IS a serious enough reason to avoid pregnancy. And then a couple, sometimes a few, years later, I get my wits about me again, and God gives me the grace to endure another pregnancy. Another newborn phase. Another…everything. So it’s with absolute honesty that I say I ‘kind of think five is probably going to be it for us’, knowing full well that the Lord might move us to welcome number six sometime in the future.

    • Sarah,
      I think a mother being completely overwhelmed with the four children she already has IS a serious reason not to have another (at least for a while until she mentally, emotionally feels she can handle another). Whatever Rachel’s reason was, we also know that NFP reasons to space out children are to be prayerfully decided by the spouses and God. Not by other people trying to decided what we are ready or not ready for. I also had four children very quickly (in five years) and thought I would NEVER be able to handle more. Financially and emotionally I was so overwhelmed. And then that fourth baby turned 3 and I wanted another baby so much and along came our fifth! Now I feel that we are not ready for number six yet (we both work full-time to make ends meet as it is) but in a few years, perhaps we will be open to another. THAT’s the beauty of NFP. It is never a final decision, it is an ongoing one and God is always part of the plan.

    • Thanks for asking Sarah! The others did a great job of answering — yes, it does say grave circumstances, but that is indeed left up to the discretion of the couple. For us, my “mental health” was a huge part of those grave circumstances. It’s not that I was going crazy, but the thought of continuing on the path of adding baby after baby year after year was just very overwhelming. You get to a point where you need to get your wits about you (if that’s what you need).

  6. scotch meg says:

    Rachel, this article is lovely. It is important to bear witness to family planning – and not planning – and what it means to Catholics who try to follow Church teaching. We have five children; some we tried harder than with others to have at a particular time, but it was always God who chose the right moment. Our youngest child was a complete surprise. We thought (sadly) that we would never have another child, and then – there he was. Because there is a large age gap between him and the next sib up, and because we had more or less assumed we were done with babies, he was probably the most appreciated baby we had.

  7. Thank-you for sharing this. It’s amazing the freedom God gives us to make our own plans… and how ridiculous it is to think that our plans are really our own! Praise God for every child — “planned” and “unplanned”!

  8. Angela Weaver says:

    None of our babies were “planned” but they have all been wanted from the very beginning. Thank you so much Rachel for your blog. It is helping to raise our two boys!

  9. Our last boy was our only planned by us baby, too!