As Catholics, Steven and I are called to be open to life at all times. That often confuses people who think that Catholics are supposed to be like the Duggars. They certainly can, but we are also more than welcome to prayerfully discern our family size and avoid or postpone pregnancy if needed due to many reasons, including mental/emotional issues, serious financial constraints, and health concerns to name a few. Whether we are avoiding/postponing pregnancy or trying to achieve pregnancy, we must still be open to life. Learning all about using natural family planning during our engagement really changed our mindset on things. We went from very secular thinking about needing X money or things in order to provide for our kids, or worrying about what others thought of our family size and what is 'normal', to now being at a very comfortable place of not having a number of children we want. It baffles people when they ask me how many children we'll have and I honestly answer "we're going to play it by ear after each child". Now, the term 'play it by ear' is probably a little lax for what we'll actually be doing (praying, thinking, talking), but it's easily understood by others so that's how I frame it. It's really refreshing to me to NOT have a number, actually. What if I set the number 4 and never could get pregnant after the 2nd child, and we didn't feel called to adopt? What if I set the number 2 and we changed our minds later but felt like it'd be weird to have more kids after we openly professed being 'done'? Not having a number and being open to life is, to me, less stressful. We will constantly re-evaluate our family's needs, health, and finances and go from there.
There's another side to that coin, though. Though I say I don't have a number, and I really don't, I do generally think in terms of "more than 2". I guess I just always pictured having more than 2. But again, we have no clue what will happen! And this experience we've had with getting pregnant and remaining pregnant has really taught me about being open to God's plan for us. I can plan all day and night, all I want- and I do!- but I should know from the hundreds of times my plans have been giggled at that I'm not ultimately in control. It saddens me to think that this baby might be our only one, but maybe it is! And maybe we'll have many more. There is a big factor of trust and loss of control going on that I really struggle with. Those who know me well know that I feel completely, totally lost when I don't have control. I like to organize, plan, and manage things. But being open to life has taught me... IS teaching me!... that I just simply can't control it all. At some point, if I'm being true to what I say and believe, I have to give up at least some of the control.
We've already started discussing our intentions for after this baby is born. I've said it before and I'll say it again, natural family planning may not be easy but it lends itself to some really open, honest, raw, and uniting conversation. We haven't totally decided what our intentions will be yet, simply due to the staggering cost of progesterone throughout pregnancy and the unknown of what life will be like soon, and I feel out of control knowing that it could be a day by day, month by month decision for quite some time as we settle into being new parents, as I work on my health, as we see what our finances are like when I'm not working. But it's also really liberating. I love that I don't feel 'trapped' into a decision and that we can change our minds literally in a second if we want.
As I go through the trials of this pregnancy, progesterone that is always too low, blood pressure that is always too high, I wonder how many times I'll want to do this. I imagine I'll see my baby and forget most of it, but I do wonder what dealing with all of this would be like if I also had a little one to care for. Being open to life for us could possibly mean that I don't get the "more than 2" family size I dreamed of because caring for the life already here is all I can handle. Or it might mean sacrificing and surrendering amidst complicated pregnancies to bring forth life. The thing is we just don't know. And that's scary but it's also ok with me. We still have a lot to learn about being open to life; I don't claim to have it all figured out! But I'm excited that God partnered me with someone who has the same values and willingness to figure it all out. Steven has been my rock this pregnancy and I'm sure he will in possible pregnancies to come. I hope to read back on this in 10 or 15 years and see just where being open to life has taken us!