Sunday, July 29, 2007

What I Learned This Weekend

My weekend has felt a bit like a trip back in time. Back to days marked in 3 hour increments, involving a lot of spit-up and even more laundry. Back to the days of being quite homebound, sleep-deprived and trying to make out what "that" cry likely meant. I had forgotten how to swaddle, the best burping techniques and how good it felt to cradle a tiny baby in your arms or let them sleep on your chest, nuzzled up to your neck.

Helping Randi wash and re-wash Dr. Brown's bottles reminded me of how we once made formula in huge Pampered Chef pitchers, then filled a day's supply of bottles (24) at a time. The notebooks which held our weight charts, feeding and sleeping schedules. The MOUNDS of laundry. All these things that once dominated my waking thoughts now seem such a distant memory.

I am thoroughly enjoying my sweet time with Randi & her boys, but interestingly, the Lord has used this time to confirm to me something my heart has been afraid to admit for some time: we are done with the baby business.

I was only 3 days postpartum when my doctors told me that I was forbidden to get pregnant again. Each specialist that rounded on me once I was stable in the Intermediate ICU gave me "the talk." The single greatest risk factor for my heart at this point is another pregnancy. I would only have a 50% chance of survival. I will never forget my perinatologist saying, "If you show up in our office pregnant, we will not see you."

I was too sick and overwhelmed by the reality of 3 premature newborns to immediately deal with that fact. Several months later, as I underwent surgery to insure my sterility I felt the pain of that loss. I had come full circle from being diagnosed as infertile, to undergoing surgery to insure it. I mourned the loss of my fairy tale: An effortless, surprise pregnancy followed by a textbook gestation and a normal delivery without surgery. A healthy newborn who accompanied me home from the hospital without bulky apnea & bradycardia monitors.

Honestly, I resented the fact that the door to another child of our own had been closed. Then I considered that God may very well have a different plan for how another child might come into our family. As we prayed about adoption or foster care, and even took the step of starting the foster parenting training process, my husband asked me a very insightful question: "Does your heart long for another baby or another member of our family?" I did not know the answer to that. Truly, I couldn't see us as more than the family of 5 we are. My husband could not either. As I reflected on it, I realized that my heart was not longing. We are at peace with our family. It feels complete.

As I was on the plane here I wondered how this visit...this time loving on sweet little ones might impact my peace about the completeness of our family. I felt sure this time with babies would tug at my heart strings and likely make me question the near certainty I felt. Interestingly, it has reinforced it. I love these babies, their sounds, their smells. I don't have a longing for another to mother.

I am confused by this place a bit because I truly have a willingness to serve. I have been quite open to the thought of a larger family. I like the idea of another child, yet the it rings a bit hollow in my heart. I fear this decision will be viewed as selfish. We have love to give and resources to provide for additional children, yet I do not feel the call. Why wouldn't God call us if we are willing and able? Who knows. Perhaps this will change. Maybe this is just not the season. Time will tell.

14 comments:

The 4 Sullivans said...

I just wanted to say how much I love your blog and respect you as a mother. I have been reading your blog for several months and I just wanted to say that I think you are a great mom with gorgeous kids! Blessings to you!

joan said...

I love how you are so open and honest on your blog. I'm sure you'll know what is best for you and your family when the time comes. Take care!!

Big Mama said...

I'm struggling with these same issues. Some days I feel our family is complete, but other days I'm not sure.

Christine said...

This post resonated with me on many levels. I am now in the baby business- sleepless night, spit up everywhere, blow-out poops- but I also was recently told I sould never get pregnant again. Though it's not for the same reason, I feel the loss you experienced as my own. I opted to not have the surgery, instead choosing to have my husband take "the step", but having control over my fertility taken away to some degree wasn't easy. Our family also feels complete, though I was never opposed to a bigger family, so I understand you there as well. Thanks for this wonderful post. Enjoy your family as it is!

katie said...

jen, thanks for sharing. i guess we never know how or when God will resurrect the desires in our hearts nor do we know how He will use what He has enabled us to give. it is exciting to imagine what our stories hold though!

Kris said...

Oh, holding a baby is so sweet - their fuzzy soft head, their sweet baby smell, their innocence and all of the memories of my own babies that come back! but at the same time, I'm okay with handing that baby back. It is sad to think about NEVER having that baby experience again; they are so sweet. But, I do have three other children growing older all the time and needing me in different ways. As my mom used to joke, 'I'd be happy to have another baby - if I could just find good homes for the ones I already have!' I'm glad you got to enjoy these little babies for the weekend - that is perfect.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

It doesn't sound selfish at all. It is just, simply,the truth...your truth. And, you're right, your hearts might change with the seasons. That's what makes God so wonderful. Our "now" sometimes seems "forever", but only He knows the journey for which we are destined.

Linda said...

It's funny how circumstances in each of our lives can take away any little bit of control we think we have yet it is there that we realize that we never had control. It has always been in our Lord's hands. Every detail in our lives has been allowed or orchestrated by Him to give Him ultimate glory. I continue to be blessed by your posts as they repeatedly point to your desire to be more like Him.
Blessings

Nancy said...

I'm afraid I can't really help you with your questions...I guess just enjoy the stage you are in. I know you do. I 've been given that "talk" till the thought of it makes me ill. For me, the fact of no more pregnancies, is almost harder to deal with than the diagnosis itself. I was by no means ready to end our family so abruptly, but what choice do we have?? I have to be here for the 3 I do have. Although the "baby longings" hit frequently,(almost daily) I've been realizing how fast my youngest is changing and growing. I've determined to just enjoy him for now and then we'll see what God may have in store for us later. It seems like we still have a lot of love to share!
I always enjoy your blogging...and your transparency...it's helped me many times. Today sure hit a familiar chord with me...

Scratchin' the Surface said...

I'm sure your honesty here will minister to many other women who read it. xoxoxo

Aubrey said...

I have recently discovered your blog and as I have read your Our Story segments, have found myself praising God for His workings in your lives. Your children look and sound so wonderfully precious! I thank you so much for sharing what in on your mind and in your heart with us. It has really been an encouragement to me.

Alison said...

Jen you are on an amazing journey in which you are ministering to many woman everyday. The Lord is using you outside your home and although one phase of that is finished, doesn't mean that other doors will not open. You are so very gifted and you are raising your brood to know the value of service. Astounding! The Lord is using you in a mighty way, and although He may not choose to fill your home with more children doesn't mean He won't use you to bless many more of them. Does any of this make sense?

Belle-ah said...

Jenn,
Our family is complete at 5 as well. Somehow in my heart of hearts it never felt complete (even though we thought we were finished) before sweet baby #3 came along. He was literally the missing piece of the puzzle we didn't know was missing -- a fact he delights in sharing. Sometimes I think I have wanted another baby (wanted might even be too strong a word)but not another child...it is a complex emotion. I loved being pregnant but don't want to deal with another high risk pregnancy. As we are now the parents of a teenager I think we can't stretch that far between those world anymore.

Erickson 5 said...

My hubby and I just came to the agreement of no more children. It has been a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around but I think we made the right decision. Now we wll just have to see if God agrees. I love my kids and I would love more but I have health issues too and I just don't want to risk anything. It is hard to come to the conclusion of no more children. I appreciate your blog and you view point. We have so much in common.
Nicole