Monday, August 4, 2008

Children - fruit of love in the holiness of marriage

A few months ago, when my now-husband and I were in the midst of wedding preparations, I faced more than one pair of raised eyebrows and the question, "are you really going to have a baby right away?" - implying that it would be riskier than bungee jumping and more reckless than drunk driving. I know we're not alone, too - not long ago, I received an email from a young lady who, only a few weeks before her upcoming wedding, received dire warnings from family members telling her it would be unwise to have a baby as a newly married couple, and that she should "just enjoy married life" first.

There's this trend of thinking that having a baby before you "establish your marriage" - whatever exactly that is - might nearly ruin your married life. Sure, getting used to life as a couple has its challenges and requires a great deal of adjustment and flexibility - and having a baby is an enormous transition which puts additional stress on a couple. But to say that having a child will ruin your relationship?

I might have mentioned before how irritating I find the assumption that having a baby is something on your to-do list which you can achieve whenever you decide. With the ideas of "reproductive control" hammered into our heads, we seem to have forgotten that each life is a precious miracle and a gift from God. Not all couples will be blessed with a baby as soon as they start "trying". Some will never have children. And some have a narrow window of fertility, which will be closed sooner than they imagine because of medical problems they weren't aware of. One lady who visits this blog mentioned a couple of times in the comments section how she has been unable to bear a child past a certain age (which would be considered very young by anyone), and how happy she is for the fact that she and her husband opened the door to God's blessings right after they were married. For them, being "wise" and "waiting just a couple of years" could be fatal.

Am I saying the time you will have alone with your husband as a carefree young couple isn't precious? Of course it is, and it should be thoroughly enjoyed. Cherish this time! Be spontaneous and creative, take the chance to go on an unplanned trip or dinner and a movie - or whatever fits into your budget. But if this romantic period only lasts nine months, or if you don't have it at all (which can happen, for example, if you are a military wife and your husband is deployed shortly after you get married and doesn't come back until the baby is born), it doesn't mean that your marriage has less chances to be successful than if you had two, three, or five "uninterrupted" years together.

I must tell you that the news of my pregnancy greatly affected the way my husband and I think, plan, act, and relate to each other. Suddenly we realized we must prepare for a tremendous new responsibility. We had to go over any plans we might have had and see if they will fit in with our expected little love bundle. My husband had a very interesting thought, that perhaps God is sending us a baby so soon precisely in order to steer us on the road of maturity, patience, flexibility, self-control and working as a team. God knows what He does.

I'm not saying it isn't overwhelming sometimes. We had wanted a child; we prayed for God to bless us with a child; yet when we found out I'm pregnant (about a month and a half after my beloved placed a ring on my finger and we were declared man and wife), I found myself looking desperately at my husband, exclaiming, "What on earth do you do with a baby?" (My husband's very practical suggestion: you feed it about every three hours; you change diapers several times a day; you wipe its little face, give it baths, and comfort its colicky tummy. Oh, and while the baby naps you can snatch a few minutes of much needed sleep :-)).

Another warning young couples are often intimidated with is how expensive it is to have a baby, and how unwise it would be to do so before their financial situation is "stabilized". The same people tell them how terribly expensive life is. You know what? Yes you need a certain amount of money to live on. But not as much as others might make you believe you "must have". Much of it depends on your lifestyle choices.

My husband and I rarely go out to eat or to the movies (a picnic with a packed lunch or watching a movie on our computer screen while cuddling under a blanket is much more fun in my eyes anyway); we only have one new item of furniture - our bed; our table, chairs, sofa, refrigerator, washing machine, desks and cupboards are all either rescued finds, or were passed down to us. Household supplies such as plates, cups, cutlery, towels, laundry rack etc were given as wedding gifts or passed down. Recently we found, rescued and gave new life to a lovely, old but sturdy wooden crib we intend to use for our baby. We plan to say "yes" to any used baby items in good condition such as clothes and toys. We are looking into the option of cloth diapering. We refuse to buy into the mainstream brainwashing that you "need" such-and-such amount of money if you want to have a baby.

God's message to us states quite plainly that children are blessings ("and the fruit of the womb is His reward"). He doesn't say anything about children "ruining" our health, finances, marriage, or even our very life. God loves to see large families with many children (though of course His plan for each unique family might be different), and He also loves to see beautiful, wonderful, loving marriages. I don't think He would have made the two things mutually exclusive.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be careful with the old crib. Has it passed the safety guidelines for baby furniture? Things like the distance between each bar and between the bars and mattress are crucial. Older furniture is often more charming than new (and perhaps cheaper too), but I'd be wary of very old baby beds (more than 15 yrs). But I'm sure you know that.

Some couples wait for years and years in a futile attempt to attain financial comfort which may or may not come, and which baby doesn't necessarily need.

As long as there is one income, that first baby will be fine. People are often blind to the fact baby doesn't need all that much.
That said, children do need basic necessities. I wouldn't unequivically state that financial security is not important in family planning. One baby can do fine in a family with one very modest income. Ten children is another story. I know too many large families who live in poverty on one income (either the husband's or wife's).

I don't think that's fair. There's a difference between living 'simply' and living on mainly bread and margarine. I'm not saying both parents need to work; I just think a family needs a reasonably good income if they want many children.

Finally, 'Tza'ar gidul banim'...(old Jewish proverb: the grief of raising children)....they are blessings, but they can be very, very draining. It's a major effort to continue taking good care of yourself and your marriage once you have many kids.
Tammy

ROSIE said...

Anna,

You have so perfectly articulated my own feelings on this subject! After six miscarriages, the Lord has blessed me with four beautiful children ages 14, 9, 8, and 3.

I have always believed that my children were created with a purpose, just as each of us is. Our job as parents is to raise them to seek it; to nurture their strengths and to love their weaknesses, so that they may fulfill that purpose as it is revealed to them.

I have never much bothered about what I think my children "should" be, or do, either now or in their adult lives. I rather focus on the fact that they ARE miracles, and that they will, by G-d's grace, make amazing contributions to the world--unsung, perhaps, but those tend to be the best kind. :)

My oldest child is diabetic (but very healthy!); the next two have mild autism. With my hands full, I had not planned to have another child, but the Lord chose in His wisdom to bless us with another!

About four months into the pregnancy, a girlfriend of mine wrote to me, in what she honestly believed to be an expression of love and concern, chastising me for being so arrogant as to test God by daring to conceive another child, when I have three with disabilities! --How they, and our family, will suffer if this new little one is also afflicted, she asserted.

Stunned by her outburst and feeling betrayed by the attack, I could have chosen many courses of action in response. After much deliberation I replied, and this is what I wrote:

"...you have erroneously assumed that I conceived this child out of some kind of arrogance, as some kind of test to G-d: "See, here, the odds are against it, but make a perfect child for me if You are G-d!" I make it a point, and have done so since my teenage years, to NOT say "Here is my plan, my ambition, G-d; now bless it in Your Name!" That would be arrogance. Rather, I say "Thy will be done; please guide me" and I pray Psalm 139.

After my third child, I did all that would seem humanly possible to prevent the conception of more children. Yet, we have this amazing occurrence of conception! This conception occurred against all odds; am I to be so arrogant as to second-guess G-d??? Am I to say to G-d, "You surely did not mean for this to happen"??

Life is a sacred gift from the Almighty. I do not question Him; rather, I say "My Lord, You have placed a child in my womb. You have said Your plans are to prosper us and to give us hope and a future, not destruction. You have said that Your power is made perfect in our weaknesses. And so, I offer my weakness to You that You might mold this 'clay' the way You will."

I will not limit, by my disbelief, what G-d may or may not do; I will not say "Oh, the odds are so great; He cannot possibly give me a healthy child". I will instead say "G-d can do all things as He wills; I will believe that He can give me a healthy child if it is His will". In the past, I would not have had enough faith to say that.

Now, He has brought this child to me; I therefore return the gift and lay both of our lives before Him. The tithe is not enough when it comes to a gift as dear as human life; 100% is the only acceptable offering in the face of His Love and Grace!

I live sacrificially with love and care for each of my children, as I daily offer myself to G-d and open my heart to receive His fullness."

That really says it all for me. I was grateful for all of the prayers offered on behalf of the child in my womb. Yet, the love, guidance, encouragement and prayers I valued most throughout that pregnancy were those in which it was added "Not my will, but Thine be done". Those seven words make the gift of intercession the very best it could be.

My daughter is nearing four years of age and healthy in every way. She has been a miracle for my two with autism, bringing them out of themselves and into the world in a way nothing else has done. She is full of love toward everyone she meets. Yes, G-d knows what He is doing! :)

Rosie

Thursday's Child said...

Good for you! Funny how everyone knows what's best for you except...you! Mabrook on the crib find. The crib we used for our children was a find at a thrift store. We got the matching changing table from a friend. BTW, make sure the crib can pass the Coke can test. If you can slide a soda can between the bars, you need to get rid of it. A baby could squeeze its head through.

Terry, Ornament of His Grace said...

I agree. Good post.

USAincognito said...

Anna,
You have a very good head on your shoulders. Children are indeed a blessing from God - no matter the timing. ;) I pray for you and your husband as you continue to grow as a couple and now as soon to be parents. *HUGS*
USA

Gothelittle Rose said...

Cloth diapering is almost impossible if you're a working mom, and readily manageable.. even the old original learn-from-grandma-how-to-fold-it-for-a-boy-vs-girl aren't by any means insurmountable for a stay-at-home. :) Ironic that what's supposed to make our economy so much better (both parents working) leads to So Much Waste!

Anonymous said...

My mother became pregnant with me within three months of getting married, and I was born two days before my parents' first anniversary. I don't think my arrival put any strain on their marriage. Although their marriage has been a miserable one for my mother, my birth early in the marriage had nothing to do with their problems, which are on-going to this day.

I, in contrast, have remained deliberately childless for over a decade of marriage. It is quite possible, even likely, that the time for having our own biological children may pass us by.

I think that every family is different. Having children right away works for some, and putting it off works for others. But I don't think a fear of later infertility is a reason to have children right away if you aren't ready. My attitude is, "whatever will be, will be." If I eventually have children, I will be thrilled with them. If I don't ever have chidlren, that's fine too.

-- Pendragon

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy,

We were concerned at first, but it actually seems the very old crib is safer than the almost-new crib that was given to us!

***

Pendragon,

The attitude you express is fine if you're not very keen on having children in the first place, and can easily imagine life without children.

For a couple who strongly desires a child, but it persuaded to "wait" because it's "wiser", it can be a real tragedy to know they have missed the train.

Mrs. Anna T said...

About having many children: you should keep in mind that you will NOT have 10 babies at once! If a family has 10 children, the elder ones most likely are, or should be, either earning their living or being a financial asset to the family in other ways.

I don't believe parents have to pay for their children's college education, either - it's nice if they do, but shouldn't be taken for granted. When a young adult pays for college out of his own pocket, he will make better consideration of a future career than if it was paid by his parents.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved having children sooner than we did....seven years was a long wait for us. Just God's timing, I guess. Contrasting those years without our children & the time since their arrival, I have to say my husband & I are now much better people overall...specifically, we have learned more patience & kindness.

Brenda

Diana said...

I totally agree with your post. I didn't meet my husband until I was 29 and we married when I was 33. We found out we were expecting about two months after we were married. I think it made our marriage stronger knowing we had such a wonderful blessing on the way. After our daughter was born the nurse came in and asked me what kind of birth control they should prescribe for me. I told them I wasn't going to take any. Of course,I got the lecture of getting pregnant right away isn't good etc etc. I told them that what would be would be. Now two years later we are expecting again and the first thing out of my father's mouth was "Already!". I told him I didn't understand why he said that because I am 36 and this could possibly be our last child due to my age.:( He saw my logic and agreed with me.:) I do want more children but I will be happy with the ones I get and again after this child is born....no birth control for me!.
Anna,I use cloth diapers and love them! It takes getting used to but I think it is so much better for the earth and baby's bottom. There are a lot of chemicals used in making disposable diapers that I am afraid to expose my babies to.
Having babies isn't as expensive as some say. It's having everything new instead of reusing (which is better for the earth),using disposable diapers and buying expensive formulas instead of breast feeding. I even made my own baby food. All you need is a blender and our daughter ate what we ate.:)I go to thrift stores and garage sales for our daughter's clothes and I find items with the tags still on them that have never been worn.
We also had a used crib and changing table which was more beautiful than anything we could have afforded to buy new!

Anonymous said...

My husband and I waited about a year and a half before we started trying to have kids (and were blessed to get pregnant within about two weeks!). I'm very glad we did wait because it gave us time to develop parts of our relationship more fully and were also able to financially prepare (babies do cost some money and it is nice to be prepared). We could have waited longer, saved more, taken trips, etc, but we felt it was the right time.

Anonymous said...

Anna, what if the the older children in a large family are girls? Should they be expected to work? Shouldn't they be preparing to be keepers of the home?

Jen said...

Congratulations! Good for you, choosing not to listen to the philosophes of the world. I was pregnant within 3 months of my marriage. I now have three beautiful daughters. We were poor, and if anything I learned so much from that. I am now 31 and I had to have a hysterctomy earlier this year. What if I had waited? I enjoy your blog, I think you are a lovely example.

Anna said...

Anna,

My husband had cancer and chemotherapy, and as a result we will likely need medical intervention to get pregnant. Although I want a baby now, I'm glad for the time I have to finish school and perhaps work for a time before I begin the 18+ years at home with my children.

Also, some people are more fertile than others, and would have a child regularly every 1-2 years if they don't use some form of birth control. While this can be lovely, 10+ kids can really wear on a woman's body. I know and have worked with (as a nursing student) many women who have incontience, vaginal prolapse and other medical problems as a result of many pregnacies. Although I do believe that children are a blessing, I think that continuous pregnancy at the cost of a woman's health is somewhat irresponsible.

Anna

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon: yes indeed adult daughters would be wise to devote their single years to preparing for marriage and homemaking. Note, however, that I said "... OR being a financial asset to the family in other ways".

The possibilites for an adult daughter to continue living at home without being a financial burden on her parents are endless. She can start a home business; she can tutor children; she can babysit; she can do a "mother's helper" job, which will help her hone her homemaking skills. I used to work from home a single woman, and had more savings put aside from that than from working outside the home.

Amanda said...

Anna, it's so refreshing to see someone who agrees that it is NICE but not NECESSARY for parents to pay for their children's college education. I had to pay for mine (and my parents only had two kids), and I am none the worse for the wear.

I think the reason so many people want to wait to have kids is that they've completely skipped the courting/dating period. I have several friends who got engaged barely knowing the man. They spent far more time planning the wedding than they did the marriage. I think if couples would spend more time courting/dating and getting to know each other, there wouldn't be the concern of "getting used to each other" once they were married.

Granted, my dh and I took it to the extreme--we were highschool sweethearts and dated for 8 years before we were married. But there's something to be said for it. There was no major "adjustment period" for us. We know everything about each other.

I know you were married quickly, but I gather you understand that I'm not referring to you :)

lady jane said...

Lovely post, I'm in full agreement. :o)

Michelle Potter said...

Anna, in light of this post I want to clarify something I said before we knew you were pregnant regarding you being lucky to have some time to get used to being married before having kids and how I wished I'd had that. I did not mean that you should postpone having children, only that I wish I hadn't had children BEFORE getting married. I'm sure you'll agree that there is a great deal of merit to doing things in the proper order. (Of course, even in my mistake, God had a good plan, since without my son I'd probably STILL be lost.)

I hope you already understood what I meant, but I just want to be sure I wasn't one of the voices bringing you down.

I only disagree with one thing you said. If our family kept going as we have been, I could easily have ten kids before any of them are old enough to legally hold a job, much less earn a living. Of course, they do help in many other (non-financial) ways, and for me that isn't even really a consideration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I do enjoy reading your blog because I agree with most of what you have to say. Although, It seems to me that if people have different plans and ways than you do, you find it wrong or not part of God's plan.
For example you said "I might have mentioned before how irritating I find the assumption that having a baby is something on your to-do list which you can achieve whenever you decide."

There is nothing wrong with this and wondering why you find it irritating?

I'm a woman of prayer and have been married to my husband for a year. We are deciding to wait a year or two to have a baby.
We love children but want to wait so we can solidify our marriage and to just enjoy being husband and wife. We love each other dearly and highly believe children are a blessing. We're just not ready to have a baby. Many of my friends who are strong Christians are waiting also.

I'm a teacher and know how entirely selfless one has to be to be a parent. It's a huge responsibility for the rest of your life. I'd rather be mostly or fully ready to have a child so I can be a wonderful mother to my child. And if I get pregnant before I feel that I'm ready, I'd be happy also. But right now, I know that God is preparing our heart's and our marriage for the coming of our future child. Sometimes we're called to just wait. And I can rest with that.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

The reason why I'm disturbed by the "I can have a baby whenever *I* want" attitude is because it's simply not true. A couple will be blessed with a child when God decides to send them a child, not otherwise. He is the Creator of life, and without him, all our plans are nothing.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Michelle,

I agree with you about having things in the "proper" order! However it doesn't work this way for all couples... and godly marriages are still built! So just go with what He has in plan for you. :-)

Anonymous said...

The reason why I'm disturbed by the "I can have a baby whenever *I* want" attitude is because it's simply not true. A couple will be blessed with a child when God decides to send them a child, not otherwise. He is the Creator of life, and without him, all our plans are nothing.

Thanks for your response. But we know that we are called to wait right now because we have a personal relationship with Him. I wish that you can see that God has different plans for everyone. I know many blessed families who decided to wait a couple years to start their families. They either had ministry work to do, were in prayer and God told them to "wait on Him", or other personal reasons. May God bless your child. In Him, anon.

Milena said...

I think that it is important to be responsible when considering having children. I know there is no good time, life will never be perfect, but when you are already in times of tremendous stress/transition, I think it is important to listen to God then too.

For example, I was married last year, and my husband and I experienced the deaths of three close family members, including my dearest father. In addition, we wanted to transition me out of my full-time job so I could be a stay at home wife. We also wanted to take a trip to Bosnia and Croatia so my husband could meet my family and visit the lands of my ancestors, something we both felt would bring us closer together. All these things are huge undertakings.

At first I wanted to have a baby right away. My husband thought it wasn't wise, given all the stress I was already under. Thank God I listened to him. After a few months, I realized that my intense desire to have a child so soon was really a response to losing my father. I didn't know where to put my misplaced love, and thought a child could fulfill that loss. That is a natural response to loss, but not one your child should be expected to fill. A child is a gift of new life, new beginnings. My husband and I are practicing natural family planning right now and would welcome a child, but haven't started "trying." We think we will begin to try next month. It's a decision we are making together with God.

I certainly hope the decision to wait 1 year before trying hasn't reduced my chances of pregnancy, but at the same time, I don't think I was in the right state to try to conceive anyways.

Kelly said...

Anna I do agree with you in general and I really do believe that for most people there is absolutely NO reason to delay having children. I plan to teach my daughter that children do not ruin a marriage. I do think that children cause you to mature quicker than maybe you would normally. I think there are a few rare exceptions to that rule though. I won't go into them here.

The Quiet Life said...

My dh and I had our oldest before we were married. Family and local laws wouldn't allow us to be married two years before. ;) But with each addition our marriage has been blessed and our relationship strengthened. We couldn't imagine our lives any different. Early in our marriage we didn't have much money, but our children never did without.

Melinda B said...

I love this post. You really hit the nail on the head for me. My husband and I have been married for 15 years now, married when I was 21 and he was 25. We waited 9 years to have our first child, and luckily, she was conceived easily, as was our second child, 3 years later. But I think if we had started having children right after marriage we might not have made so many mistakes with our money. We felt free to do what we wanted and not have to think about the future because we were young, and it was just the two of us anyway. How I wish I could have those years back, maybe with the responsibilities that come with parenthood I wouldn't have so much debt now. Just in the last few years have we decided to make changes in our lifestyle, and it is directly related to our love for our children, and our desire to finally mature.

lady jane said...

Amanda shared: ***I have several friends who got engaged barely knowing the man. They spent far more time planning the wedding than they did the marriage. I think if couples would spend more time courting/dating and getting to know each other, there wouldn't be the concern of "getting used to each other" once they were married. ***

Amanda has excellent insight. :o)

Tammy said...

Great post, Anna. This very thing has been on my heart a lot lately...

http://thispilgrimage.blogspot.com/2008/07/attitude-of-heart.html

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster above. If I didn't use any 'family planning', I would likely have 10 kids by now, the oldest being 13. (He's the oldest now, and the youngest is 2. In between I took some 'breaks'). I have had the blessing to be quite fertile.

How could a 13 yr old, boy or girl, really help out with the family income??? To say nothing of all his younger siblings. By the way, it's illegal in Israel for a child under 15 to work at all. And I'm sure you wouldn't send out a 15 yr old to work more than a couple of hours a day, which wouldn't make a huge dent anyway in family finances.

I know so many families just like this, and they do struggle financially, unless the husband has a very high-paying job or both parents work. Raising 10 kids, even frugally, costs money.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Good post. However-for many people (absolutely not you) the age at which they get married, they are simply not mature enough to raise a child. I know that when I married my husband at 24, I was NO where near mature enough. Gosh, I look back on that time and my behavior and shake my head. But when I finally had my first one at 28, I was in such a different place emotionally and mentally. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for any couple or woman. For you-it's obvious-you are mature and ready to be a wonderful mother. For some people at your age-they just havent reached that point yet.

God bless!

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna,
Amen, Amen, Amen!!
My husband and I received the same "advice" prior to our marriage. We did choose to "wait" all of 9 months. Then, we woke up one day and said, "What exactly are we waiting for?!" Thank God that He opened our eyes, because we are not blessed with a beautiful baby girl who just turned one. When we announced our pregnancy, people confessed that they were actually worried about our sanity, and once she was born several of even our religious friends seemed to be waiting for us to call in the marriage counselor or announce our impending divorce--in fact, our daughter wasn't any "inconvenience" to our marriage, we sailed into parenthood just fine, and our marriage is, if anything, stronger than before because we have now been blessed to join with God in creating life together. We are eagerly anticipating having another little one (our daughter just turned 1) and many of our friends are again concerned that we are excitedly trying to get pregnant again. I just shake my head at this attitude. They are holding so many of God's blessings at arm's reach, trying to do it all their way in their time, when HIS is always infinitely better! And, my husband and I are both only children, so it's not like we grew up in large families! We're learning as we go, but we're ready to take whatever God wants to bless us with!
~Bethany

Heather said...

Anna-My husband and I waited for two years before trying for a baby I was young(20)and in college when we married and felt that waiting until I was done with school was the best for us. Now I am a sahm with three boys that I am blessed with.

It was nice to have time with my husband before our children came along but I would never trade that time of my life for what I have now.

God Bless
Heather

CappuccinoLife said...

Anna, I love the way you think! 'Specially this comment:
*****The reason why I'm disturbed by the "I can have a baby whenever *I* want" attitude is because it's simply not true. A couple will be blessed with a child when God decides to send them a child, not otherwise. He is the Creator of life, and without him, all our plans are nothing.*****

I have been saying the same thing for years. And scratching my head over how people who say they trust and believe in God will rage and complain when their "family planning" goes awry. Either fussing about birth control failure and having to raise another baby, or fussing because the birth control worked and when they finally decided it was convenient for them to have a child, they didn't get pregnant automatically! Either way, the entitlement attitude bothers me.

Our first child was a honeymoon baby and he certainly did not ruin our marriage. In fact, during a very tough time, it was he that held our marriage together and kept me from any serious thought of suicide. Since then, I regularly have a baby every two years, and I will happily wear my uterus out having as many as God will give me--that's what it's there for, after all! :p

Although our first children have been sons, we are not expecting them to contribute much to family finances until they are closer to adulthood, and only if they are still living at home. More likely, their contributions will be in the form of helping with regular household work, gardening, repair jobs, helping my husband out, etc. And they will probably have to work their way through college.

CappuccinoLife said...

On the subject of maturity--I was 20 when my first was born. And I was soooo immature. Poor baby.

However, both he and I are glad that he's here. :) And, as is often the case with children, his existence played a big part in growing me up. I realized I needed to get my act together, and I did, with God's help.

I think part of the blessing of children is that they can sometimes really be a "refining fire" for our character. IOW, the difficulties and trials of raising children are also part of the blessing, and an important part.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, not all couples get their act together once they have kids. Personally, I think that couples with serious problems - either personal or in their marriage - should solve their issues BEFORE they start having kids.

There are too many miserable children out there, offspring to messed up parents. And too many couples decide to have a child to solve their marital issues, only to find themselves getting a divorce a couple of years later - complicated a million times over by the presence of a child.

Yes, in a healthy marriage, a baby pushes a couple toward maturity and a new life perspective, a new sense of responsibility. But in a troubled marriage, a baby usually just exacerbates the problems.

Tammy

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy,

I think you hit the nail on the head here: having a baby (and other major changes) can "highlight" existing problems, which would have appeared anyway. Once it happens, the couple must work to solve the problems, or marriage can fall apart under the additional stress.

Anonymous said...

We're not here to judge, for God will judge all people. We are also not to be self-righteous or "pharisee-like".
Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."
And for our brother's and sister's in Christ: Matthew 7:1, "Do not judge, or you too will be judge."

I find it unworthy to be angry or annoyed at a couple if they choose to wait to have children or to have them right away, especially if they have a personal relationship with God.

Anyway, here's a wonderful book about those who want to know all about your body, those who are trying to get pregnant, and for those who are simply content with enjoying the blessing of marriage and the gift of a husband. It’s so amazing that God gave us the ability to understand how our body works.
http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Your-Fertility-Reproductive/dp/0060937645
God Bless.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, I really, truly do not want to take the discussion to this direction, but please remember this blog is written by an Orthodox Jew, before you use certain expressions.

I know "Pharisee" is usually meant in a negative way, yet the so-called Pharisees were the ancestors of today's Jews.

We survived, as Jews, by having a set of clear religious rules we follow.

Michelle Potter said...

Tammy said: "I agree with the poster above. If I didn't use any 'family planning', I would likely have 10 kids by now, the oldest being 13.... How could a 13 yr old, boy or girl, really help out with the family income???"

I think you misunderstood my posting, Tammy, probably because you don't realize that I have 7 children already (my oldest is 10 and the youngest is two weeks) and would love to have more if not for medical concerns. I was only saying that the older kids might not be old enough to work by the time you have ten, but for me that still isn't a reason not to have them. Sorry for not being clearer.

Michelle Potter said...

Regarding the "maturity factor" -- did you ever wonder why a few generations ago most people were mature enough and ready to have children at ages we consider to be incredibly young, and now most people aren't? Could it be that this lack of maturity is not inherent but caused by our lack of expectations? I think it makes sense that a society that advises people to put off responsibility for as long as possible is going to have a bigger problem with adults who are immature and irresponsible than one that assumes people will be married with children by 25 or so and prepares them thusly.

Anonymous said...

Michelle - I wasn't responding to your post, but to Anna (a commenter, not the blog host), who stated: 'Some people are more fertile than others, and would have a child regularly every 1-2 years if they don't use some form of birth control'. I agree with that absolutely.

I was also indirectly responding to Mrs. Anna T., our host, who stated: 'you should keep in mind that you will NOT have 10 babies at once! If a family has 10 children, the elder ones most likely are, or should be, either earning their living or being a financial asset to the family in other ways'.

With this, I cannot agree, as I know of many religious families with 10 children, where the oldest is only 13/14 or so. There are cases when the oldest is even younger, when twins are involved. True, a young teenager can learn some habits of frugality or take on a paper route. But in general, the parents are responsible for financially supporting their kids till they turn 18.

I strongly believe a family must take into account its finances before bringing 10 children into the world. I personally know many, many families who live in poverty or close to it because they are trying to raise huge families on one modest income. I really don't think that's fair. Anna's original post was on how people delay parenthood because they think they can't afford a baby. I agree heartily that this is often an illusion; a baby need not be that expensive; but 10 babies is another story.

I don't have a small family myself; I'm blessed with five. I likely could have had 10 children (age 13 and under) had I not intervened. I even get pregnant while nursing. Like you Michelle, I did not limit the size of my family due to finances, but only because our budget could have handled it. I limited my family size because I realized I could not handle any more without greatly compromising my sanity, my health, the attention my kids get, quality time with my husband, and the peace of our household.

I see nothing wrong with taking some control of our fertility (I am not referring to abortions, of course). True, God gave us a womb for a purpose, but he also allowed us to develop science to control that. God also gave us skin and the sun above - does this mean I should get burned? No, a moderate amount of sun is good, and beyond that, there is sunscreen. Thank God for medicine and fertility treatments and birth control.
Tammy

Jess said...

Oh, Anna, thanks so much for such a sweet post. I'm getting the blogging "itch" again after my month+ off, and this is one of the topics I've had on my mind.

God gave us a LONG period of fertility. He gave us a early burning to be together as man and wife. That doesn't stop. The general design for womanhood and marriage is clear... are there exceptions? Perhaps. But the general intent of the design is overwhelmingly clear.

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful approach to these things.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Clarification: I'm *not* "annoyed" with people who choose to use any form of birth control. I'm annoyed with the general attitude saying "you can have a baby whenever you want". Many couples find out what an illusion it is only after they throw away the birth control, and then wait and wait and wait to be blessed with a baby.

Andrea said...

Anna, thank you for that most recent clarification. It actually helped me get a good deal of perspective on what you were saying; I agree, it's really practicing a deception of sorts when you never even hint to a couple that fertility issues might come into play later on, or even early in their marriage (as they may very well do for me, given a long history of very quirkily-positioned reproductive organs among the women in my family! Really, somebody should study us, or something).

It's one thing when a fully informed personal decision is made; it's quite another for people to make a choice based on faulty or incomplete information, only to suffer heartbreak later on.

Swylv said...

We were told in our 3 hour premarriage session with the pastor officiating to wait 3 years before having children. I'm glad we didn't and we conceived our son after being married about 6 months because my son is now 7 and we all would like another family member but it's truly up to G-D and when HE decides to bless us.
prayers appreciated

Mrs. Wayne Hunter said...

Enough about ten children, already from those who keep mentioning them in a negative connotation!

My husband and I were just blessed with twin girls, children numbers nine and ten for us. They are just as big of blessings as our other children.

I want those of you reading this who act like ten children is a curse to realize that EACH AND EVERY child that The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob blesses you with will teach you more about loving and living than ANY OTHER HUMANS on earth, and this is no overstatement.

Ten children, twenty children, four children - they are all gifts from God and sent to teach us, their Mommas, the beauty of living and sharing unconditional, reciprical love.

May The God of Our Fathers bless you, Mrs. Anna T. and continue to open your eyes to see what children really are: the greatest of all blessings on earth, the most loving of all creation, and truly, gifts from God.

minnie said...

i heartly agree with your statement onmarriage my parents started a having their family with in a year of marraige and were warned of the "risk" to themselves as a couple but 3 months after i was born my mother became very ill and couldn't have any more children.

I think in some casses their is a risk but is seems more evident in unmarried couples, for example i havea friend wo has a son and is expecting twins and yes she was engaged to the father but they were waiting til they could "afford" a wedding. some what unsurprisingly he has left her and the children un supported. thankfully her amily and friends have gathered to support her.

I think it high lights the diffrence between being in so called love and the commitment that marraige stands for

Ginger said...

What a breath of fresh air! Amen! My dh and I were married 7 years ago, while he had a son from a previous marriage and I had 2 children born out of wedlock. We have been blessed with only one child, conceived on our wedding night. I am quite young and we thought we would have many more but the Lord knows all...

Berean Quiver Mama said...

My husband and I were married in December and were pregnant by May. It was perfect timing because I was a school teacher and was able to tell them I would not be back the next year. If I had waited I might have had to quit mid-year. We now have six blessings ages 9,8,6,5,3,and 10 months. I have never been in the work force since they were born. My grocery budget has never increased either. It costs just the same to cook for two then it does for eight. Yes, it does take more planning and some pretty creative cooking but my children have never gone hungry or gone without anything they really needed. My children are a blessing, every child is blessing. I am grateful everyday for having my six. We would like more if the Lord allows. His plan is perfect and he always provides.

Amy said...

You have a lovely blog. I enjoyed reading this post very much.

There are times I wish I could turn back the clock - taking with me the wise teachings I have learned now. My husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage this fall. We were encouraged to "wait, finish school, have fun" and we did. We waited 7 1/2 years before our eldest was born. The LORD has turned our hearts to our children and given us the desire to fill our quiver in recent months, yet our time may nearly be over.

I love my three dears and yet grieve for those who will not be because we waited in order to fulfill ourselves first.

God bless your family.

Michelle said...

My husband often says we'll "have as many kids as we can afford", and in response (as a joke) I say something like, "Well, nobody can afford kids, but it's too late now". (We already have 2 and are hoping for more.) I won't add to the "debate" here, but I think many good points were raised on both sides of the issue(s).

By the way, Berean Quiver Mama, would you share a little more about how you feed your family without increasing your grocery budget? I've been working on that, especially on how, where, and when I shop, but I think I probably need to change the way I cook somewhat, and I'm just not sure how to go about that. (And no, we don't have a garden this year, but that may be possible next year.) Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Anna!
I bought into the humanistic assumption that it is the "rational adult" responsibility not only to limit the size of one's family, but do decide when to begin as well.
How arrogant.
Now I am into my fourth decade and wish that I could have more children. Funny, it turns out the one calling and purpose despised by my mentors turns out the be what I was meant for and cherish deeply.
I cannot describe how much it hurts when I hear nasty little comments about women who "dare" to welcome more than the prescribed 2.2 little ones (and the presence of the decimal point in describing a precious soul is very telling too!)

I know that for me, this is a test of forgiveness. Forgiveness for those who probably did not intend to hurt me, but in their acceptance of a worldly standard, have influenced me for the worse. Forgiveness for those who say these biting words for those of us who welcome each of God's blessings with open arms and hearts.

Well, there is no victory without a challenge, huh?

Coffee Catholic said...

Dear Anna,
I'm so glad that you posted this! I fell for the same "don't have a baby right away" thing because I was terrorized into believing the nonsense that having a baby right away would be the wreck and ruin of my marriage. What a lie!

First of all, I am Catholic so artifically contracepting put me at odds with my very Faith! Yikes!!! That did nothing for my enjoyment of sex with my dear husband ~ the guilt was eating me alive every time we came together. Isn't that nice? Sex-with-guilt is not a good combonation...

Secondly, it ruined sex for me because I was always so afraid of getting pregnant each time! I couldn't relax and be with my husband with unrestrained joy and delight. Instead, it was always nagging in the back of my mind... "Is the contraception working?!?!"

Thirdly, my husband and I came into marriage *wanting* children. So you can just imagine how much that hung over our heads as we heeded the wisdom of the world and "waited" to "get used to one another" first. You can't snuff out the desire for children and it only causes pain and frustration when you keep putting it off "for our own good..." Well, let me tell you something! It's hard to "get used" to a man when you're having married relations with a big wall between yourselves and pregnancy! I mean, sex was not meant to be engaged in with conditions! It's meant to be natural, relaxed, and life-producing. Not, "HOLD UP! Back off! We can only go at this half-way..." Sex with contraception is empty and cold...

And I know this because?? Because, I finally woke up and realized that I was only causing myself needless pain and stress by "waiting" to get pregnant. I realized that kicking the contraception out the door and opening myself to life *as God meant for me to do as a wife*, I would remove all of the black clouds from the bedroom. So I decided to trust God and I took the plunge and... I found sex to be SO WONDERFUL!!!!! Absolutely wonderful! My husband and I found ourselves engaged in a level of intimacy that we never knew existed. The thought that every time we came together we were not only doing so for pleasure, but also to create a baby... oh my word!!!! It blew us away!!! It added a depth to sex that I can't even begin to describe!! Our marital relations became wrapped in gold!! They became sacred! They became holy! We were working *with* God, rather then against God!! There's nothing like laying in your husband's arms and thinking, "Have we made a baby?" My husband treated me with such tenderness and in the following days after our lovemaking he would gaze at me with soft eyes and wonder, "Did I get her pregnant??" He'd pat my belly and say, "Is there a baby inside?" I'd smile and blush and our love would grow even stronger, and stronger, and stronger... This *hope* that we felt was so much better then the frustration caused by "waiting" for something we both so desparately wanted! Waiting had stunted the growth of our love whereas being open to life and caused our love to grow and grow and grow each day!! I feel like a beautiful garden that blossoms even more each time my husband and I make love ~ even after getting pregnant, our lovemaking is still so beautiful because we know we already did it ~ we've made a baby and the wee one is on their way!!!

It took over a year for me to become pregnant and let me tell you, I was cursing my stupidity for "waiting" as each month my menstural cycle arrived and pregnancy remained a dream. I feared greatly that I had missed my opportunity!! To have to say to my dear husband, "I'm sorry... not this month..." it broke my heart! He was always so sweet and understanding but I could see the sadness in his eyes.

Yeah, waiting to get pregnant because we think it will somehow make our marriages better ~ that is a total LIE. A farce! Instead, the love grows and blossoms when we are open to life! But it means we have to trust God and we have to let go and open ourselves to His grace. God can't bless us if we close the door in His face.. It also means that even if we don't have enough money we still trust that God will provide, even if it means we are never rich. Why would God give us a baby (or many babies...) and then leave us to starve? Pray, pray, pray and TRUST the Lord!! And don't fall for the lie that somehow marriages are somehow "better" if you wait to get pregnant... That's not the case at all!! Waiting stunts the growth of love.

Coffee Catholic said...

P.S. For the ladies who would have endless kids that they feel they can't afford: There's such a thing as natural family planning that is based on your fertility cycle. It's an excellent way to space children without filling your body with harmful chemicals. The Catholic Church teaches this natural method through organizations like, "Couple to Couple League."

This is also an excellent way to learn your exact fertility cycle so that you can get pregnant. Some women are only fertile for like 2 hours a month!!!!! I was about to contact the local Catholic fertility organization... but I became pregnant hehehe! God got to things ahead of me.

Miss Rose Virginia Butler said...

I think this is excellent. Whenever I get married, I want to start having children right away, too. I hate it when people say they want to get married at exactly this year, and have kids exactly two years after that. It's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Anna-

This is an hot topic in my household and you've articulated it in a way I couldn't! I'm newly engaged and this topic has come up in more than one conversation with my beloved. He has recently asked me when I thought would be a good time to begin having children. I told him that God will bless us when he blesses us. He agrees, but trying to explain my reasoning to my older sister, who has been married for a year and a half, was difficult. They have waited to have a child and are now having a difficult time having one.

More than one person has told me to wait at least a year before starting a family. They think we're too young to even consider the possibility of children. Everyone I know, besides my father, who surprisingly sent me this link, is telling us to wait. Your blog has given me a good solid foundation to help people understand where I'm coming from as well.
People think I'm crazy for saying when I'll have children when God blesses me with children, but I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one!!!

-Mel

Manda said...

I just stumbled on your post through the LAF website. Thank you for the encouragement! Our first child was conceived three weeks after my husband and I were married. Though it wasn't exactly our plan, I am so thankful that our son was born when he was. During our first year of marriage, we went through some very difficult times and would have ended up divorced if we had not been fighting over custody of our son. The Lord has been so gracious to completely heal our family, and I know that His timing is truly perfect. We are now blessed with two beautiful boys (and hope for many more!). Oh, and we have saved hundreds of dollars if not more by using cloth diapers!

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Excellent post. My oldest was born 10 months after our wedding ceremony. I am so, so thankful we didn't wait to have kids. We now have a second child and I am expecting our third. It makes me so sad to think about all the women who want kids eventually, but put it off and put it off and take their hormonal birth control pills, and then when they decide they are ready, find that they are nearly infertile. What a shame!

Anonymous said...

Congratuations!

We had our first *right* after we were married. Well, several months but since he was a preemie and I was hospitalized for 7 weeks before he was born, it certainly felt sudden!

There are 3 years between him and our newborn daughter, and it certainly was not for lack of trying. I had a miscarriage in between and it definitely made us realize that we were *not* in control of our fertility in the way the world says that we are.

We never really knew life without a baby, but we love our marriage and it is strong dispite a lack of "couple only" time.

Lauren @ http://mychoice-hislife.blogspot.com

Geniève said...

I LOVE the last paragraph you wrote. Thank you for this post.
Genieve

Kym said...

I was married before and had a daughter with my first husband (He left me for another woman) So when I married my husband I aready had a daughter and that didn't ruin our marriage. As a matter of fact he fell in love with my daughter first :). shortly after our wedding hubby got deployed to Iraq and then when he got home we moved cross country. We didn't try to have a baby but we never did anything to prevent getting pregnant either even though all of these events were going on in our lives. The lord chose to bless us with a baby in His time and thankfully it worked out that we got pregnant after we moved and got settled. It was pretty neat beacuse I got to tell my husband right before thanks giving that we have one more miracle to be thankful for Praise the Lord!

L.H. said...

Thanks for this post. I think its so rare to find people who are "pro-children" and who truly believe they are a blessing, no matter when they arrive. I got married when I was 21 and was pregnant 8 months later. We did enjoy the time we had before our daughter was born; however, I think the pregnancy and the experience of having a baby brought us even closer together. I think we really miss it when we start treating having children like "buying a pair of shoes" and we have them for our own selfish reasons, instead of seeing procreation as a natural product of sexual intimacy.

Elizabeth said...

Your words are what i hope to follow. I'm 14 at the moment, but i've always dreamed of getting married young and having lots of children. I'll pray for your coming baby. Why would you want to be at home twiddling your thumbs for a few years when God told us to have families and raise godly children to fill the earth? (but what would i know, i've never been married. lol) If you become pregnant then it is God's will and he will provide. I don't think you should wait until your financially secure. Thankyou for your writing.
God bless,
Elizabeth

Gina said...

This is a wonderful conversation, and yet one that always seems to spark such strong emotions in people.

I, personally, believe that the Lord my God is sovereign in everything and every area of my life. (definition of sovereign: Sovereignty is the exclusive right to have complete control over an area of governance, people, or oneself.) If I truly believe that, then I cannot decide to "take back" the decision about whether or not we should have children, and when we should do it. That is, to me, like telling God - "you can have these areas of my life to be sovereign, but I'll handle this area thanks. We know better about what we can and can't handle. When we're ready for a blessing, we'll let you know and you can deliver it." THAT to me is arrogance!

We currently have 7 children, the first conceived 6 weeks after we were married. She is 10, and our youngest is 10 mos. Do we have financial difficulties sometimes? Yes, but it is because we have made unwise choices and because we were not following God's guidance - the number of children we have has no bearing on that. Do they "cost" more? Yes, technically, but it just means that we have traded off what the world thinks is necessary (cable TV, new cars, way too much "stuff", vacations, children involved in numerous activities and lessons, etc) for the simple pleasures of life that we all enjoy together. Do people understand and agree with us? Mostly, no, our family included. Do all of these worldly opinions effect how I feel about my God and His sovereignty? NO!

Physically, I am nearly 42, and while my Drs seem to think it would have been prudent to stop several children ago because of the social norm (and because of a challenge I face with each delivery), I am still in good physical condition and will gladly have any more that God decides to send my way. To deny a blessing from God seems to me to be so sad, but more importantly, to me it would be to disobey and not allow Him to be sovereign in my life.

Don't misunderstand me! I believe that each person needs to come to an understanding of what Gods sovereignty means to them. That is not my place to judge or condemn, but neither is it someone else's place to judge or condemn me because of what I believe. Unfortunately, the majority of people not only seem to have an opinion on this topic, but they seem to feel it is perfectly fine to share that opinion with me in front of my children. Nothing angers me more than to have someone make a very rude angry comment about "being responsible and stopping having so many babies" or something along the lines of how I am negatively effecting our planet. These same people cry out about tolerance and respect, and yet they show none.

It has been my experience that the women I have spoken with about this topic (those who are so adamant about only having 2 or maybe 3 children and then stopping) usually have the same reasoning for why that is the right number to stop at: either 1) they can't "handle" any more, or 2) it's too expensive.

When I ask what they think they can't handle, it comes out that to have more would mean making changes - making sacrifices, giving up something for them personally. Unfortunately, it comes across that their reasoning is based on selfishness. Yes, we have to sacrifice, but God has blessed us with every addition to our family! I have tried to explain that to people - when you look at my husband's income and his job history it is SO obvious! With each child that came, he either received a different job that covered a need, or he received a small pay increase. It has never been huge, but enough to continue to cover our needs. We have had to make changes - we are moving to a home that many people would not consider because it isn't in a fancy neighborhood with the right schools. But, we will all fit happily, we have a 1/2 acre for animals, and we can easily afford it.

I'm sorry to ramble on - it just seems so obvious to me that God has blessed us with each child we have opened our arms for, that I want to share that and try to explain how He does it!

Thank you again for this post - it was truly lovely to read.

Jessica said...

I haven't been here in a while. I didn't know you are married, and expecting a baby! Congratulations!!!!!

My hasband and I got married in Janurary and faced the same comments about not "preventing" ourselves from having a baby right away. People told us that if we didn't take some form of birth control we would get pregnant on our honeymoon, and have a baby every nine months (which would have been ok, if that were the Lord' will), however we are proof that the Lord knows what is best for each individual family, and that just because you aren't using any birth control, you don't necessarily have a baby every nine months. We got pregnant once since weve been married and miscarried that baby, and it's been 7 months since then, and we are still waiting on God to bless us with another child.

People need to understand that GOD is in control NOT us, it's funny that people will trust God with so many other things, but not in the area of having children.

Good Post!!

Brenda said...

I love this article. So many people are choosing to wait based on the philosophies of the world. I concieved within three months of being pregnant - by accident. It made me grow up in a way that I never would have otherwise. Our marriage became real. It was something that we had to work at, and get right, because there was a child coming.
As a result of my sons birth, and some subsequent health problems he had (including the tests - spinal taps and bone scans on a six month old are a very scary thing to go through!!), I began searching for God. By the time my next child was born, I was a faithful believer, and by the third one, my husband was as well. Since her birth, I have left the decision of when I get pregnant in the hands of the Lord.
He has blessed us with seven children so far. The oldest is now almost 15 and the youngest is almost two. I am actually not pregnant yet, which is odd for me, but as my husband says, if we trust the Lord when we get pregnant, we have to trust Him when we don't.
One last note, I was talking to an older friend who had raised ten children, and I was commenting on how much money we spend all the time having so many children and she responded this way. "You dont have all those bills because you have children, you have all those bills because you like to spend money". She then listed off a bunchg of ways I could not spend money and do things cheaper. And she was right. I wasnt really interested in doing those things. However, it made me realize that a lot of the money I do spend having seven children are wants, and not needs.
Brenda
p.s. I havent used a crib for the last 5 kids, so you dont even NEED one of those either!!!

Anonymous said...

I read several of the comments. The thing I see is that it all comes down to one thing. Do we believe that G-d has everything in His hands, and we are to willing except it. Or we believe we are in control and we have the right to control this part of our lives. I keep noticing the word "I" in the posts.

I am a young(43) empty nest mom, how I wish I had known what I know now, had not bought into the worlds ideas.

wendy

Heartathome said...

Anna,
I read your blog periodically and somehow missed this post before. You have stated things very nicely here and I do agree with your post wholeheartedly.
My dh and I married fairly young (19 & 21) and fell into the trap of believing that you should wait until you were established to have children. After 3 years of waiting we decided that it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and have children since we were only becoming more selfish as time went on. This is the main thing I see in families today-that if a couple remains childless *by choice* for several years, they become very selfish and then when they finally decide to have them the children are little more than a burden to them.
I think you and your beloved are wise to have them right away (especially since G-D obviously wanted to bless you in this way).
May you continue to be blessed with wonder and awe at His blessing all throughout your pregnancy.

Shawna said...

Boy, does this sound familiar. I got married on August 1st, to the man I've been with for eight years, and, even knowing that, my mom thinks we're crazy for working on a baby right away. She, too, says we should "wait awhile". Well, maybe that was OK for her, as she got married to my dad when she was 27 and had me when she was 29. I'm almost 33. I can't afford to wait much longer. I've been told the same thing by several other people, and we're just telling people now we're not "not trying". As devout Catholics, we have a high esteem for our fertility, and think bringing children into this world is one of the greatest ways we can work with God, and it breaks our hearts how much society today has separated babies from sex and turned it into nothing more than a way to have fun.

Anonymous said...

Many people would think that my husband and I were irresponsible to get married when we did, we were both college students, a year apart in school, and between the two of us, we have more debt than my husband will earn in three years provided that we didn't have a single living expense. We are making the choice to try to wait to have children, but I fully recognize the power of God. Is a God who can create the world, not strong enough to overcome any scientific means man has come up with? If God has children in his plan for my husband and I, will he not create one, regardless of what man can do?