Tag Archives: family planning

Family (Un)Planning

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If you read my page Radical Faith, Radical Obedience, Radical Life, you will see that Christian and I don’t practice family planning. I sometimes say that we are “quiverfull” for simplicity because most people know what that means, but in all honesty we don’t really identify ourselves that way. For us it’s simply part of being radically obedient to our Lord and Saviour.

Once, during a discussion in an Introduction to Ethics class in college, I stated that I would never enter into a relationship with a man who was not a Christian. There was a lot of (mostly) respectful debate over the issue and most of my classmates disagreed with me, but for me it comes down to this: what good is religion that doesn’t change your life? If I say I am a Christian and try to live a Christ-centered life, why would I want to try to build a relationship with someone who does not have the same worldview or who has a completely different set of values than I do? It doesn’t make sense. What good is religion that has no impact on your daily life? None. It has no value.

So, when it comes to family planning, housecleaning, child-naming, wall-painting…everything should be evaluated in light of what the Bible says. Some things, the Bible is very explicit about, somethings not. When it comes to grocery shopping, there is no verse of scripture that I can look up which tells me if it is ok for me to purchase soda, potato chips or one brand of cheese over another. However, there are many verses which instruct us to care for our bodies as temples of the Lord, or to work and care for the Earth which we were placed here to tend. There are also many, many verses which address fiscal responsibility and proper money management. It is up to me to prayerfully make the best decisions that I can, based on the information available to me. The same is true for family planning.

The Bible actually has quite a bit to say on the matter of children, pregnancy and childbirth, but before we get to that, let me just explain how I came to the realization that family planning is bad.

Christian and I were married August 7, 2010. I was on the pill at the time and had been for a number of years because I suffered from Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) which basically meant that I had PMS on steroids and was bed-ridden for the first day or two of my cycle each month. The hormones delivered via the pill, prevented my symptoms from becoming so severe and allowed me to function more or less normally during that time. However, it did some very weird things to my emotions. I felt completely out of control of myself. I would get mad for no reason, and intellectually I knew that I was being unreasonable, but I didn’t feel like I could control it. I would go days of barely speaking two words to Christian for fear of biting his head off if I opened my mouth. We knew that we wanted kids but when we said “I do” we were both unemployeed and had thousands of dollars of student loans, so we didn’t think we would be able to afford kids for quite a while.

A couple of months into our marriage I was really wanting to get off the pill but I was terrified of what would happen if my PMDD symptoms returned. We considered alternative contraceptives but didn’t find anything we thought would really work for us. About that time, the Lord began working on my heart. I heard an interview on the radio of Steve and Candace Watters talking about the book they co-authored titled, “Start Your Family.” Basically it was designed to challenge Christian couples on their world-view. And it worked. It really made me stop and think about how I was viewing children. The Bible clearly states that children are a blessing (Ps. 127 &128). However, the American culture says that children are expensive and the prevent you from having a fullfilling career, or being able to travel or sleep in late on Saturday. I was very convicted that I had been thinking of children as an expense we couldn’t afford rather than a way that God may choose to bless us.

I approached Christian with what I was feeling and while he understood what I was saying, he wasn’t immediately convinced that we should do away with the contraceptives. I was still very nervous about what to expect if I went off the pill and while he was working and we were making ends meet, we still didn’t feel that we could afford a child. So, we prayed about it, and talking about and read what the Bible had to say. In the end we both became convinced that to try to exert our own influence over our family size is hubris. Basically, if we believe what the Bible says about children (that they are a blessing and reward from God) and what the Bible says about God providing for us (He will never give us more than we can handle and He has plans to prosper us), then, in light of all that, trying to plan our family according to our own wants, we are looking God in the face and saying, “We don’t want your blessings. Why don’t you bless us some other way, but not with children.” or maybe, “We want you to bless us in two or three years, but not right now, right now we want finacial blessings.” We are assuming that we know better than God how many kids we should have and when we should have them. Otherwise, if we trully beleive all of those things the Bible has to say about children and providing for us, then we would be willing to let God act in our lives, bless us as He sees fit, when He see fit and provide for us in the same way.

So, in January, after about six months of marriage, we agreed that we would never again use either contraceptives or fertility treatments. Instead, we would live our lives as husband and wife, striving to honor God in our daily lives and if He chooses to bless us with kids, great, if not, that is ok too. Ironically enough, after going off the pill, not only did my PMDD symptoms not return, my emotional state significantly improved, as did our satisfaction with our physical intimacy. We felt liberated and like the stress of constantly thinking, “Did I take my pill?” or “When should we have kids?” all of that was no longer an issue.

In May, we made the decision to move to be closer to family. This meant that Christian quit his job and at the time we moved, he had not yet found another job. So, when on July 13th I took a pregnancy test and saw that positive sign, we were super excited, and also super under employed. As a testament to God’s faithfulness, He blessed Christian with a part-time job the same week we found out we were expecting. So, we then had income  but there was no way we were going to be able to afford health insurance for a baby. I, being young, am still on my parent’s insurance, so we were able to afford my drs appointments.

So, we began to prepare and plan for the birth of our child. Our family blessed us with many hand-me-downs, and gifts all the while making not-so-subtle comments about bad timing or unplanned pregnancies. Then in January 2012, when I was seven months pregnant, Christian was promoted to manager which came with a $3/hr pay raise. Now, we would be able to afford health insurance! Again, God had proven himself faithful and provided for our needs in His time, not in our time.

Micah was born on March 16th. You can read all about his story on my post, Micah’s Story. Long story short, our planned out-of-hospital birth ended up in a c-section. Immediately after his birth, I was so happy and excited. We loved him to death and were so happy to be parents, but we both also experienced some doubt and anxiety concerning our committments about not planning our family. Doctors kept telling me that I should wait 18 months before conceiving again, which gave Christian pause as he was concerned about my health. The health concerns is not what worried me though, it was our family. Everyone was very excited about Micah, but it didn’t take more than a couple of weeks before I started hearing comments like, “We sure hope you’re going to wait a while before having another.” or, “I bet you changed your mind now that you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

It took a lot of prayer and repeatedly reading Psalm 139 to quiet my doubts and stop worrying about what others think. We are at peace with our decision and honestly believe that to really trust and honor God with this area of our lives, we must leave things up to Him. If it weren’t for my less-than-supportive family, I wouldn’t have any qualms whatsoever. I feel that my health is better and mine and Christian’s relationship, as well as our relationship with God has only grown stronger and closer since we decided to (un)plan our family.

I hope this has given you some food for thought. Please, feel free to contact me with any questions or (respectful) comments.

Our Journey to Parenthood

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Perhaps I should have chosen a different title for this post, since I am still pregnant. I guess, I will just have to post a Part 2 after the baby is born to describe the labor and birth. My intention today was to document our journey from newly-weds to expectant parents and to describe my pregnancy up to this point (37 weeks, 2 days).

 

I believe, most of my readers are familiar with our story: how we met, got engaged, etc. For those of you who may not know, here is a brief synopsis:

 

Though he doesn’t remember, we actually met for the first time during Scholar’s Day competition in February 2006. We were both invited to College (purposefully anonymous) to compete for a spot in the Honor’s Program and a scholarship. He was the male recipient of a full-tuition scholarship and I was awarded one of 20 spots in the Honor’s Program and a more modest scholarship.

 

Due to the way the Honor’s Program was (at that time) structured, we had 4 out 5 classes together upon starting school that Fall. Though we didn’t really talk much, we sat at the same table in two classes. The first day of class, we laughed over the fact that everyone at our table had the exact same laptop, and so we all exchanged AOL Instant Messager screen names (IMing was still cool back then).

 

One day over Christmas break, I was particularly bored and he was the only one of my friends who happened to be online at the time. We struck up a conversation which more or less lasted for the next 5 weeks. By the time we got back to school, we were fast friends and very much attracted to each other. A month later, we were “officially” a couple.

 

Looking back I can identify a lot of mistakes we made in the first months of our relationship that set us up for bigger problems down the road. The most notable of which was my impatience and lack of feminine shyness. My mother tried to teach me that lesson as a young girl, to no avail. So, I followed him around and called him on the phone and tried to set up “accidental” meetings all over campus. All of this sounds innocent enough, and I certainly thought it was at the time, but the result was that I was the aggressor in the relationship, leaving him no room to be the leader that he should have been. I set the tone for everything; I even kissed him first (and it was his First Kiss). Now, five years later, we still struggle with this: I want and need him to be a strong leader for our family, but I have a hard time stepping back and giving him the space he needs to make those sorts of decisions. It’s a work in progress. But, despite the silly mistakes we made, we have pretty much been inseparable since January 2007.

 

January 2010, we participated in a short-term mission trip to Kenya with a group from our church. It was an amazing trip! One of the funny little anecdotes from our time there occurred in a small village in Kerio Valley. This is a very rural, tribal area and we were visiting a local market place. We had penetrated further into the Valley than most other Mzungus (white people) had dared to go. So, people would either come up and want to touch our skin or the kids would run away crying because they thought we were ghosts. One of the tribal traditions that is still very prevalent today is the custom of paying a dowry. A young man who wants to marry has to pay a dowry of cattle to his prospective father-in-law. In this way he proves his ability to provide for his new wife. (Most of these cattle are stolen, in a time-honored tradition of cattle rustling). The price depends on the social rank of the young woman’s family, her physical attributes, etc. For this particular tribe, a high-ranked, attractive wife would have cost about 12 cows.

 

So, we are walking through the market with our translator, a gentleman who grew up in Kerio Valley but had moved to the States and is today a College professor, and two young men from the local tribe approach us and begin a lively discussion with him. After much gesticulating, the young men (approx. 18 and wearing only loin cloths) leave looking rather disappointed and huffy. The translator then turns to me and explains that they had just offered to pay him 100 cows for me to marry one of them. He, of course, explained this was not possible. The rest of our group got a big kick out of this and started giving my then boyfriend a hard time about knowing how much I was worth and how much he would have to pay my father, etc.

 

I said all of that so that you will understand this: On May 26th, 2010 I returned from work to find a note and a small stuffed cow. The note started a kind of scavenger hunt all over town where I would find another clue and another cow. In the end, I was led to the Lake where he was waiting on the pier, surrounded by 102 little stuffed cows. He proposed and gave me a ring he had got while we were in Kenya. Nine weeks later we were married at the same Lake.

 

When we first got married, I had been on Yaz birth control pill for a couple of years to treat my PMDD (premenstrual disphoric disorder). We knew that we wanted kids, but agreed that I would stay on the pill for a while. However, after getting married, I heard a radio interview of Steve and Candace Waters concerning their book, “Start Your Family: Divine Inspiration for Having Babies.” This really got me to thinking and I looked up some of the Scripture that they had referenced in the interview. The most pertinent of which was Psalm 127 &128:

 

“Unless the LORD builds the house,

the builders labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the city,

the guards stand watch in vain.

2 In vain you rise early

and stay up late,

toiling for food to eat—

for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.

3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,

offspring a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

are children born in one’s youth.

5 Blessed is the man

whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame

when they contend with their opponents in court.”

 

“1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD,

who walk in obedience to him.

2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;

blessings and prosperity will be yours.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

within your house;

your children will be like olive shoots

around your table.

4 Yes, this will be the blessing

for the man who fears the LORD.

5 May the LORD bless you from Zion;

may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

all the days of your life.

6 May you live to see your children’s children—

peace be on Israel. ”

 

After reading and praying over these verses, we came to the conclusion that if God grants children as a blessing to those who fear and serve Him, then any effort on our behalf to prevent pregnancy or to limit the number of children we have, is basically saying, “We don’t need/want your blessings, God. Why don’t you bless us some other way.” It is the epitome of hubris to assume that I know better than God what is needed in my life. And so, we discontinued any form of birth control or family planning and committed to just live life as a married couple and to joyfully accept any and all children He chooses to bless us with.

 

This is how we came to conceive our first child sometime in late June 2011. I got a positive result on a home pregnancy test on July 13th. I had already identified a free standing birth center as the place where I wished to give birth, so I began my prenatal care there in August. We had two ultra-sounds done, one to confirm my due date (I have irregular cycles, so there was some question as to when I had conceived) and another at 19 weeks for the Fetal Body Scan. Both came back perfectly normal and confirmed an Estimated Due Date of March 11th 2012. We chose not to learn the gender.

 

God has richly blessed us over the past 9 months. I never had any morning sickness; my worst pregnancy side-effect has been the heartburn. At the time we found out I was pregnant, we only had one part-time job between the two of us. Since then, he has received a promotion to manager and acquired a second job. I work with my mother and have reaped rich benefits from that arrangement, not the least of which is a very flexible schedule. If I didn’t feel well, I could easily stay home, most employers would not have been so understanding. As well, I will be able to stay at home with the baby, while working on the computer from home and only coming in to the shop a couple of days a week. Whether or not these things were a direct reward for our faithfulness in being willing to accept any and all children God chooses to give us and not allowing our fear or practical minds to overrule our faith, I really can’t say. But, we choose to give thanks for all of these blessings, big and small and to acknowledge God as the source of all good things, including this baby.

 

As of right now, I am 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant. The baby is head down and has been since about 28 weeks. The head has already dropped into position for delivery; now it’s just a waiting game. I will post a detailed description of the labor and delivery, once our little one is here. For now, prayers are appreciated. I have no fear or nervousness concerning the labor (most people don’t believe me, but it’s true). As a woman, God engineered my body specifically for this purpose, and I am confident in that knowledge. Specific prayer requests are for: patience, strength and endurance, for both me and him.

 

Until next time…