I have seven children, yes. I expect I'll have another couple before this part of my life is done. You never know, of course, but it seems likely. But I, and every other crazy passenger van mom you see, we are the exception. Not the rule.
In this generation of my immediate family, there are four happily married couples. None are taking steps to prevent pregnancies. My husband and I are just taking them as they come, not seeking to achieve or avoid pregnancy. But the other three couples, who have been married for between four and nine years, are actively pursuing the having of children.
And those other loving families have two children, and two children, and zero children.Wanting more children - or any children at all - has been something I've watched my sisters struggle with for many years.
I used to look at a family with two children and think, "Well, they got their two, I guess they're done." Or I looked at a couple with no children and thought, "She must just really be focused on her career." And if the place I saw those families was in Mass, I most likely made some unfair assumptions about what they were up to. May God forgive me, I know better than to do that now.
I know that many of those families would gratefully have accepted more children. That many of them wished dearly to do so. That many of them had endured miscarriages, and treatments, and surgeries.
I'm not interested in fear mongering. I'm not trying to scare you. I'm not trying to tell you, or any other particular woman, that you won't have children, or that you won't have the number of children you wish to have.
But I do want you to know that, in general, our society is worried about exactly the wrong thing. We are worried about getting pregnant. We are told we should fear having children too soon. We are told we should fear having too many children. We are told it's the thing that will ruin our lives. That's what everyone says.It's a lie.
The true heartbreak lies in infertility, in subfertility. But "they" won't tell you that.When I was a newlywed, it never would have occurred to me that I wouldn't have just as many kids as I could possibly want. And I have. But I know enough now to not take it for granted. I've brought hundreds of prayer requests from readers along with us on our pilgrimages, and almost HALF of them have been prayers for a child, or another child.
It makes me grateful, now, for those times early in my marriage, when everything was still new and nothing was settled, when I sat there in tears over a pregnancy. Or another pregnancy. Because, despite all that conventional wisdom about how we were too young and too poor and too newly married and too unaccomplished to start a family, it all turned out all right. Better than all right. It all turned out so beautifully. Those early babies made my marriage stronger and made me a better person.