When I posted about my concerns regarding the future possibility of another hospital birth, and about my negative experience last time around, I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming response I received, and I would like to thank all you ladies for your thoughtful comments.
This post was induced by my feeling I need to respond in detail to what was repeated in several comments, which can be summed up by saying that, if I’m so concerned about a possible future bad experience in a hospital, perhaps I shouldn’t have more children, at least not right now.
Sometimes my posts produce quite unexpected, controversial replies, but here I was sitting and staring at the screen in puzzlement. I just wasn’t aware of the fact that anything I said could imply that it’s better to stop having children. It’s true that Jews are allowed the use of birth control under certain circumstances, but I don’t believe it applies in my case.
First, I want to have more children. My having concerns about certain aspects of pregnancy and birth doesn’t in any way overrun my deepest desire to be blessed with more children. Could I, if I became pregnant now, close my eyes after 9 months and open them the next day and hold a sweet, beautiful baby in my arms, in my home and my family circle, without any health risks or bad memories to accompany the experience, perhaps it would be ideal. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and children aren’t born into ideal circumstances.
Perhaps if we could have another bedroom that would be great, too. But, again, we don’t live in an ideal world, and children aren’t born into ideal circumstances. My husband is one of five children who all grew up in an apartment so small that by many it would be considered a case of grave deprivation. But were they really deprived? Not at all; they had food, clothes, a roof over their heads, and the advantage of learning to share. These children were raised by parents, who had no more than high school education, and grew up to be wonderfully kind, caring, unspoiled, unselfish, generous adults who now all have beautiful families of their own, are professionally successful, and so pleasant to be around that I feel extremely lucky to have married into such a family.
Common wisdom would perhaps say, “wait, you only have one spare bedroom. You can’t possibly accommodate more than two children with tolerable comfort!” – but bedrooms are of shorter consequence and lesser value than people.
Telling someone who wants to have children but is apprehensive about certain parts of the equation, that she should simply put off having children, can be compared to telling someone who wants to get married but has some concerns regarding this, to just remain single until these issues are resolved. Now, if these issues can be resolved, there is perhaps some logic in the suggestion. But what if we are talking about short-term drawbacks that can’t really be removed? In my opinion, it is then better to take the plunge.
If a woman has pathological fear of everything related to pregnancy and birth, then perhaps she should indeed use birth control while she goes to counseling to resolve her issues. But what I have is an entirely reasonable dislike of the hospital environment, which no passage of time can do away or improve. Whether I have another child in a year, two years, or five years, it is most likely that Israeli hospitals will remain just the same. So, yes, the bottom line is that I might have to endure a few very unpleasant days in an unsupportive environment, but this is trifling in comparison to the blessing of a baby.
My husband and I are both shy, reserved people, with a dislike of large crowds. When we were planning our wedding we at first thought of a very intimate ceremony. But in Israel, things just aren’t done that way – people would think it’s strange, and the numerous relatives would be offended at not receiving an invitation. We had over a hundred guests, and that’s a tiny wedding by Israeli standards. Still, for me it was a huge crowd and I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. Does this mean I shouldn’t have got married, or that we should have postponed the wedding? Not in the least; I endured a few hours of tension, and by their end I was married and it was all over. Again, we don’t live in an ideal world. We can wish for improvement, but sometimes, we have to put up with things.
Some people wish to get accepted to universities, but wonder aloud how they will handle the load of studies and exams. Are they told to forsake higher education altogether? Others plan a trip abroad but are afraid of flights. Are they told they should never board a plane? No and no. But when a problem arises that can be avoided by not having children, we are told not to have children.
You know why? Because unfortunately, we grew up being taught that having children is dispensable, compared to other things which relate to our personal comfort in life, such as a brilliant career, a nice house, or traveling abroad. And I don’t believe this is the Jewish way.
Should we give up raising a large family because of temporary obstacles and temporary discomfort? On this forum I am unfit to go into particulars, but on a general scale, a tendency to smaller families and larger houses strikes me as something which overlooks the eternal in favor of the short-term.
I am now twenty-six years old. I can reasonably expect to count on ten years of fertility still ahead of me, perhaps a little longer, and I don’t know if and when I will actually become pregnant again – no one can guarantee that, and we all know in Whose hands it is. In any case, the number of children I have until my fertility declines is final. The number of bedrooms in whatever home we occupy by then is not. I’m sure that when I look back, there is no way I will regret having more children; but as to the size of the house or amount of possessions, or even temporary feeling of tiredness, all that will be reduced to almost nothing in retrospective.
I ask you please not to go into extremes when you comment. There are situations of genuine concern, such as ill health, financial ruin (and I mean actual ruin, not a modest stable income), and other circumstances which should be taken into account. There are women who are in such chase after their declining fertility that they even forsake nursing their babies so that they can have as many children as possible without even the reasonable spacing breastfeeding usually provides – something I feel very strongly against, by the way. But overall, the blessing of children, in my eyes, outweighs negatives such as dislike of doctors or the lack of a spare bedroom.