Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our decision to be "quiver-full"

I have skated around this part of our lives for quite some time here. I know we have family members and even friends probably who may not understand or accept this decision for our family and I guess I've just not come out in the open with it because..... well this is something that Craig and I needed to work out for ourselves. It took a lot of time, prayer, discussions. I now feel very comfortable with the decision we have made regarding the size of our family and in such I no longer fear other people's reactions.

Who knew there was a name for it. The full quiver ..... belief (or whatever you want to call it, some people call it "mindset" and for me, it's not a mindset at all, it most definitely goes far beyond that). But in case you are unfamiliar with the term, people who choose to be Quiver-full basically believe that the word of God tells us quite clearly that our fertility should be left to him, and not us. There are many passages that reference this including:

Psalm 127:3-5
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;so are children of the youth.Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

While it's true that God calls upon us to be stewards of our lives. There are good reasons to limit the amount of money, ministries, and even children we have. Every couple must work with God on the answers to these questions within their own family. The problem comes in when we decide, sometimes selfishly to limit the number of children we have based on our own worldly desires and fail to allow God into the conversation.

As far as my family, I use to have a very different idea of birth control than I do now. I had never really thought much about it as a matter of fact and began using birth control in various forms in high school just like everyone else I knew.

In early 2002 we were unexpectedly given a surprise. Our 5th pregnancy. We had been using birth control and had always thought that 4 would complete our family. Upon learning of this new addition on the way, we decided that since birth control didn't seem to work well for us, we would pursue a permenant form of sterilization. About 3 months into my pregnancy my husband had a vasectomy.

Our 5th little french fry, Jacksen blessed our family in September of that year and we couldn't be happier. In June of 2003 we bought our home and things really seemed to be right. Then, for some unexplainable reason that fall I started getting these tiny nigglings in my heart like someone was missing from our family. I explained it away and ignored it, never speaking a word of it to my husband and figuring it would go away. I mean at some point everyone is content with the size of their family right?

Over the course of the next 6-9 months though, those feelings grew rapidly and increasingly hard to ignore. That spring I brought the subject up to my husband who was anything but feeling the same way. We discussed the problem and realized that we both came from very different worlds on the issue. He didn't have much, if any, desire to have more children and by this time I couldn't sleep at night over it.

In June of 2004 we discussed it again. I told him how it was almost all consuming. That I didn't necessarily want another child but the feeling that we had done something horribly wrong by having the vasectomy wouldn't leave me. I didn't feel right in my heart and I had tried for such a long time to work it out and come to terms and all that jazz, but it was just getting stronger and stronger. I prayed every night for God to please just take this feeling from my heart, or to speak to my husbands because I couldn't live like this the rest of my life.

That November something changed in my husband's heart. I still to this day don't know all of his reasons , but he made the appointment to have the vasectomy reversed. It most certainly had something to do with the post vasectomy pain syndrome he had been dealing with, I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that this issue was causing an increasing rift in our marriage, and maybe it had something to do with God speaking to him as well.

He had the vasectomy reversal in December and decided that a 6th little blessing, God willing, would be a welcome addition to our family. We let the cards fall where they would, and within a few months were blessed with a positive pregnancy test.

As you know, our son was not healthy. At the time neither of us realized that this was the ultimate test of our faith and our strength and our ability to listen to God, for once. Alex's illness was a lesson in evaluating what we could and should have control of in our lives. It was a time of learning to let go, to relinquish control in areas we weren't qualified to direct. It didn't come easy, as change never does. There were times we prayed and begged God, and there were times we shunned him and went our own way. In the end, we learned that life and death aren't really our area of expertise, that God has been doing this for an eternity and as we trusted the doctors, who were more qualified than us to treat heart conditions we also learned to trust God.

The evening of our son's funeral my husband expressed to me his wish to have another child. I was quite surprised but shortly realized that I wanted some of that too. I knew we'd never replace Alex, but we could replace some things. We could replace the hope we had, the dreams we'd had, the expectations we had. We could no longer have those things with him, but we could with another baby. Not everyone agreed that it was the right thing for us, but for once we had a clear understanding. I akin the whole thing to the military, we were so broken down and our control issues, our egos, our selfishness stripped away that God could finally do the work he had been trying to...... he could finally get in and lead us where he wanted us to go.

We got pregnant right away with our Nathan. The pregnancy was anything but easy. It did replace those things we had hoped, but it also brought with it fear and sometimes sadness. It was then that we really learned to rely on God and his inate wisdom. We had nothing else to rely on. That pregnancy was built solely on trust with the Lord.

It wasn't until Nathan was born that we began to really think about what our plans would be as far as birth control. To be all honest in the early months we didn't really have a plan. We flip-flopped from being done with babies to being unsure about pretty much everything. We prayed a lot. God gave us our answer in the form of us realizing that there was really no form of birth control that suited us. At that time we didn't make a concious choice not to use birth control, we just simply didn't out of lack of a better option.

The more we prayed and listened and talked to each other and evaluated our life and our plans we learned that what we needed to do was actually pretty obvious. We realized that everything we had been through had been preparing us for this decision and God was just waiting for us to make it. It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of time but we came to the understanding that we had been through hell and back and to learn nothing from it would make Alex's life, and death, and all our struggles a moot point. God was showing us, very clearly that we needed to give him control of how many blessings he wanted for us.

We of course, had the worries. We aren't rich people, what if we couldn't provide for these children? What if we outgrew our home? We kind of took a deep breath and decided that the bible tells us that God provides, so we should allow him to do his part while we do ours. And then and there, things changed for our family.

God has provided. He gave us the means to add on to our home. He has helped Craig's job when the whole situation has been very rocky and uncertain. He has directed me in my career. When we started listening to him our world changed, became a lot less stressfull and more meaningful.

I would be lying if I said that there weren't times when the thought of having another child didnt' terrify us. But I soon redirect myself and understand that those times are times of our own selfishness and the control issues coming back into play. Nothing good can come of that and we soon settle back into worrying less, living more.

It has been 14 months (today!) since Nathan was born and we have not used any form of birth control aside from the natural child spacing we have acheived through extended breastfeeding (which is not a sure fire method! I warned ya!) We don't know if Craig's vasectomy reversal has scarred over, which sometimes happens and we don't want to know. If we were blessed with another child we would be thrilled and if not, we are thrilled with the family we have. It's so nice not to wonder anymore, are we denying a child? Should we do this or that? We just don't let it affect our lives and are much happier for it. Every night I pray that if God feels that we should have another child, I ask that he help me keep an open heart and mind and that he protect my health and provide for that child.

So, there you have it. Hopefully some questions have been answered for some of you. We value your support and understand that you may feel differently about the topic for you, or for us but we have made the decisions we have made based on some hard lessons learned and at this point we beleive this is what God wants for our family and so it is what we want for our family. We just ask you to respect that as much as we respect your decisions about your family size. I don't think badly of anyone who uses birth control as it is a personal decision between you, your husband, and God and God doesn't want the same thing for all of us.


Anonymous said...

great post. I always like reading how others came to the qf mindset. My hubby and I got there not to long ago. It's very freeing and I love the relief of not having to worry anymore.
have a great day! =)

Jena9286 said...

What a wonderful story Kat. I am from the Feb 07 board and have just started reading your blog. I thoroughly enjoy it and have been touched by your stories. I have also seen you on the large family board too. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope I can do the same through our blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Kat. Of course you can add a link to mine, may I add you to my links as well?