Friday, July 23, 2010

How Do You Know When Your Family Is Complete?

This is a post I've been thinking about for quite a while.  I want to first say that I know that my title question is a question that not everyone gets to answer on their own.  I know so many who have struggled with infertilty and miscarriage.  And, I want to apologize outright to anyone who has experienced that kind of heartbreak.  It's not my intention to be insensitive to you.

My husband and I have been blessed with four wonderful sons.  Sometimes when I sit back and look at my family, I am amazed at where God has brought me.  I have always wanted children.  From the time I can remember, I wanted to be a mommy.  It was never a question of IF I'd have children.  It was a question of when and how many.

There was a time in my life where I wondered if I'd ever have the opportunity to have children.  It broke my heart to imagine my life childless.  At some point, I would also like to share my testimony.  But for now, I'll just say that I lived the majority of my 20's in rebellion towards God.  It wasn't until my late 20's that a godly man (my husband) came into my life and I changed the path of my life.

I was 30 when my husband and I married.  Since I was 'older' and unsure of my fertility I wanted to try for a family almost immediately.  My husband was also eager for a family so he agreed.  Our first son was conceived probably somewhere around our 1st anniversary of marriage and was born when I was 32.

We knew we wanted several children.  We weren't sure how many.  But again, because I was an 'older' mom, I didn't feel like I had the luxury of large age gaps between our children.  Plus, I liked the idea of having siblings close in age so they had each other as they grew up.

Our second son was born 20 months after our first when I was 34.  And, our 3rd son was born about 2 1/2 years after that when I was 37  (his birthday is 2 days after my birthday!).

At this point, we had our hands pretty full.  I had some pretty bad postpartum depression after our second son was born (there's another topic I could write a whole book on) and even though the postpartum stuff wasn't as bad after Boy #3 it was still there to some extent.

My husband was happy with his 3 sons.  My family felt like we were busy enough with 3 little boys and we shouldn't have any more.  Some of my friends already thought I was a little wacky to want THREE children.

But, in my heart, I didn't feel like we were done.  I felt very strongly like there was another child who belonged in our family.  Some people have asked if we kept 'trying for a girl'.  And while having a girl certainly would have been lovely, it wasn't our goal in continuing to have children.

My husband was a bit reluctant at first, but he was starting to consider the idea of a fourth child when we discovered we would indeed be having a fourth child.  Our fourth son was born almost 7 months ago when I was 39 (I turn 40 later this year).

So, are we done?  It's so hard to know.  But, I think we are.

1.  My husband is done.  He says he's ready to have his wife back.  He doesn't enjoy the baby/ diaper stage. And, he looks forward to the ages where are boys are more independent and able to boy stuff with their daddy.

2.  My body is tired after 7 years of being either pregnant or breastfeeding.  It's just plain worn out.

3.  I'm getting old.  Ok - 40 really isn't old.  But, I'm not sure how I feel about having children after I'm 40.  I just don't seem to have the same energy, enthusiasm, patience, creativity, etc. I had in my younger years.

4.  I really DO have my hands full.  I know there are lots of families out there with 6, 7, 8 or more children.  Maybe if I had started having children earlier in life I'd be one of them.  But, my four boys keep me hoppin'.  And, I want to be the best momma I can be to them.  I don't want to be a continuously stressed out momma.

I do keep thinking that someday maybe we would court the idea of foster care or adoption.  Not now.  But, maybe someday.  Maybe a little girl?  Maybe.

God knows what our family is supposed to look like.  I suppose our purpose is to welcome the children he brings to it, however he brings them.

For now, I will enjoy my children and rejoice in how blessed we are.

If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


  1. I can only answer the question for myself and it is when my husband is yelling, "No more kids- I mean it!" Even when all four of our kids BEG for another- he simply says, "you're crazy!"
    I love big families and applaud those who have a lot and do it well and I do understand the quiver full movement, but I am submissive to my husband and he is done! Or so he says....

    I do find myself daydreaming of taking in foster kids that no one wants....
    God is good- He'll lead the way.

  2. My husband and I have been having the same struggle. We've chosen to let God decide our family size because, in the past, when we have not trusted him disaster has struck. = ) I think its a difficult decision for every family and it greatly depends on their specific situation. While we chose what we did, we believe every family is different. Only you, your husband and God will know what's best for you. So don't let people (and they're on both sides of the spectrum)influence you. = )

  3. I too, JUST talked about this the other day. I have met so many women who just KNOW they are done... I have never felt like that...(well except for every time im pregnant.LOL)
    I even spent the whole summer of 2009 convincing myself and the Lord that I didn't want any more kids. I had all legit reasons and could convince ANYONE to stop... except my heart felt something different. This was during all of my pregnancy losses and conceiving troubles. have learned that even if your heart says...just 1 more... just a little bit.... it will always be there, your mind will always wonder and you'l always think what if. Yo will NEVER EVER regret having 1 more.... but you might regret not having that one.
    I too, had severe PPD after baby #5 and have been in prayer over this pregnancy. I would LOVE to hear your story on having a baby after PPD. I would love to pick your brain as I have been nervous. I am proactive and plan on being proactive about treatment for it during and after baby is born but still would love to hear from someone who has walked those shoes ahead of me.... thanks.

  4. P.s.... this is just my personal opinion... only you know whats best for you

  5. My children are quite a bit older than yours but my husband and I thought 2 was the perfect number for us. But God had other plans and 3 is the perfect number for us. We would not have it any other way. Now that we are paying college tuition for 2 at the same time all I can say is wow. But we are surviving. Our 3rd is only 13 so we have a few years to save again. I guess just pray pray pray. Thanks for your great comment on my blog.

  6. Catherine and clan (aka catnz)July 23, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    Before we were married my hubby and I had discussed family size and agreed that 3 was a good number - he is from a family of 2 and there were five kids in my family. Around the time number three was 2 (we nearly lost her to a drowning incident at 15 months so were blessed to still have her) I felt like I wasn't done yet and thankfully hubby agreed. Pregnancy number 4 was the hardest both physically and mentally with hubby a full time student and no family help as we live away from both our families. After number 4 and the postpartum depression that ensued I knew I was done. Two boys, two girls - wouldn't change a thing. It really was a personal voice that was telling me - all along we've trusted THE PLAN when things just happen and so the voice was part of that plan for our family.

  7. Everyone decides differently, on a different scale of whys and hows. My hubby and I talked about how many kids we wanted before we had any, he said 2, I said 4. I am the proud mother of 3 beautiful children....a perfect compromise. Had pregnancy been easier on me, I would have had 4 in a heartbeat....and maybe more, but my body decided that it did not enjoy sharing it's space with another life. I wouldn't change a thing about our family though, and I think that being a mom, and loving being a mom, will always cause me to want another....but I know that I know that my family is a perfect 5!

  8. So glad you found my blog!!!
    I will be back, and follow-
    When to know when you are done:
    Hard Question!
    I love my boys, but never felt 'done'.
    But when the diaper phase ended, we both felt we were on to the next phase with the three we have...I sometimes think one more would be great, but I don't want to be pregnant or nursing again! The farther I am away from that phase-and colic too-I feel more 'done' every day. I only wanted one or two when I was younger-I can't believe I wanted three and more!
    God is good-i am so blessed!!!

  9. Hollie MendenhallJuly 25, 2010 at 12:33 AM

    As someone who has been through infertility, I can say I'm not offended by your blessings! After struggling to get #1, we have never really talked about how many is our number. We know we want more than one, but beyond that it's really going to depend on whether the next one comes naturally, or with help. It also depends on if I have the same complications with birth. We have also discussed adoption- I wouldn't mind 3, and me being a little older as well, I think my body may only handle one more pregnancy!

  10. Hey Karen! About the blinkie...not sure I could tell you how to do it, as I stumbled into it myself! I copied the little code, went into gadgets, and then pasted into the html box. For some reason it wanted a description above the I must have been in the wrong place. So, that's why I have a little dot (period) about my blinkie! See....I'm not much help at all! Sorry!

  11. Oh, what a topic! We are done after three because my body isn't good at being pregnant. That said, I still have a strong feeling (at least weekly) when the three kids and I are in the same room, that there is another one upstairs napping or in a different room. I don't think this is one we've lost. I think it's one we're meant to adopt. So, we wait until the timing right and God leads us to a child (or two?). Until then, I just breathe a prayer of protection over that missing child and his/her mother. Oh, to get a glimpse of 5 years down the road....

    I've found it takes courage to say you're done. It means the end of an era- an era we've loved:-).

  12. It is each person's decision...I would never think I could answer for someone else. I thought we were done after 5 and I was 35 on that pregnancy...I had walked through the thoughts of my womb closed...I was content and moving forward. When our first born got ready for graduation..I was 42 and found myself pregnant...a little surprised, but excited. We lost that I then felt, okay, that is all, go on with life. Our first son became engaged to be guessed it, I found out I was pregnant at age 44, would deliver at age 45. So pregnant at his wedding!!! (oh, my husband was 52)
    God's ways are truly higher than ours...I would have said, no we are fine, that was it and I don't need anymore...besides 7 is the number of completion.
    Now, at age 49, four grown kids out of the house, a fourteen and four year old still at home.......GOD IS GOOD!!! I can't not imagine my life without my four year old....he is truly my joy!!!!!!! God knew what I needed in my old age.
    Blessings as you hear from Him!!!! Only He knows your future

  13. I've been gone for the last few weeks, but I'm glad I found this post of yours. After eight pregnancies, I probably win the kid competition. But I've never felt like it was a competition--what God has in store is what's right. I always envisioned four kids, but I wouldn't trade any of my monkeys.
    With that said, I never felt "done" until I had Evie. And I had her two months after my 40th birthday, so I get your "too old" idea. I didn't understand what it felt like to feel "done." But I do now.
    I just think you'll know. If that is confusing enough.
    Great post.


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