X-treme Baby-Making

August 29, 2011

So…a bunch of people have an opinion on me not having kids.

It’s not like it’s news.  But seventy comments after I revealed the three things I’ve learned about childlessness, I realized this is a pretty fertile (ha) topic.

The comments ranged from lots of guys cyber-slapping me on the back and telling me to wait until I’m ready to people who urged me to hurry up because kids are God’s blessing.  Kids are, to say the least, controversial.

This isn’t going to become a Daddy-blog, or a non-Daddy blog (if that makes any sense at all.)  But this is a topic I’ve been holding back for a long time, so I have some thoughts that are ready to pop on this one like an overdue pregnant woman, so expect a few more posts on the subject, including today.

As I think more about our decisions to have children, or remain without children, the more I realize just, in many ways, the decision is absurd and completely backwards.

“I’ll Have Kids When I’m Ready”

Birth control is nothing new.

For ages, people have used everything from sheepskin to saran wrap to try to keep things on a recreational level.

But reliable birth control is something new.  Never before have humans so successfully flaunted what some would call our evolutionary (or creationary) mandate to make babies.  We have more control than ever over how many kids we have, and when they will appear.

What has that done to us?

We’re delusional with the fantasy that “I’ll have kids when I’m ready.”  Ready?  How?  Emotionally ready?  Financially ready?  How do you emotionally prepare for a poopy tornado to tear through your house for eighteen years and suck up all your food and money?  Are we waiting until we’ve accomplished our life’s grand purpose of being the next Steve Jobs before kids ruin everything?  Jesus was born to an unwed teenager mother.  If Jesus were alive today, he would’ve been born into just as much poverty, living with a mother on welfare who probably would’ve dropped out of high school.

Yet the Bible makes clear that Mary was ready.  She wasn’t ready in any sense of the word that we consider important.  But she was ready to be obedient.

X-treme Baby-Making

Even newer than birth control, is our extreme control over baby-making.

Not that baby-making is now some kind of X-treme, Gen-X sporting event.  Gross.

Now, a woman who can’t conceive can show her uterus who’s boss, by going to a fertility center.  While some people try their hardest to not conceive, others go to extreme measures to have a kid…for a price.

And with that advancement, long gone is the idea of “taking a hint.”  If a couple is being unsuccessful, they don’t have to take a hint and try something else.  Never before have couples had to consider whether or not God wants them to pay thousands of dollars for six little embryos in a dish, throw them against the wall, and see if they stick.

That’s what people will do when they are desperate.  They will go to extreme measures.  And I fear that more couples are going to extreme measures, and extreme costs rather than trying something else, like adoption.

Backward Baby-Making

We’ve got everything backwards.

Biologically, we should be having kids when we’re teenagers.  It’s when our brains tell us to do it.  It’s when we’re most able to do it.

The funny thing is, even those of you who think children are blessings and birth control is wrong, you still used birth control for a while.  You abstained.  We all value a dozen things more than the blessings of children.  We value the blessing of education, of marriage, of career, of upward mobility, of all kinds of things that compelled us to deny what we would’ve done in any other time and place in history.  We wait ten years or more to get married, and up to twenty or thirty years past our prime baby-making time to actually do the deed.  We don’t believe that young un-wed moms without all those other blessings are “blessed!”

If you want to do truly “biblical” parenting, I’m just saying.  You probably should’ve gotten married before you graduated high school…but then we’d all look like a bunch of crazy, fundie cultists.

The more control we have over the “when” and “how many” of kids, the more reasons we come up with to not have any.  Sure, children are a blessing…provided that God has provided a bunch of other blessings, in the right order.

What do you think?  Has birth control been our society’s savior, or it’s demise?  What about extreme forms of fertility treatment?  What’s the line for Christians?  How do you know when you’re “ready” to have a kid?

55 responses to X-treme Baby-Making

  1. Hi Matt,

    One suggestion: If you wish your site to avoid becoming a daddy-blog as you discuss this issue on a personal level, then maybe it might be a good idea to invite your wife to write a few postings on the subject.

    After all, she does have a vested interest in the question of whether or not for you to become a father.

    Just a thought.

    John

  2. //Biologically, we should be having kids when we’re teenagers. It’s when our brains tell us to do it. It’s when we’re most able to do it.//

    Interesting point, I never thought of that. But it’s true, when we’re teenagers that’s when our hormones are a raging force like Irene.

    • I’m not sure it’s logical to say that just because our hormones are demanding something that we can conclude it’s the perfect time to do it. I don’t think most men would like to know what PMSing and menopausal women’s hormones are demanding they do at any given moment, and you surely don’t want to advocate for it being God’s most perfect timing. Just a thought.

  3. It’s an interesting blog, Matt. What I think is that the more self-absorbed society gets, the more they want to control what God can and can’t do – well, until they are desperate (in any health matter).

    I confess, all my kids were the surprise of unreliable family planning methods. My wife and I still laugh at the fine print at the bottom of the TV ads. Regardless of whether we were “ready” or not, we took care of our kids as best we can in the life situation we found ourselves in, and we still do. There was never any time to look back and have regrets. Parenting is not for children.

    In the old days, we didn’t know what gender kids would be, and we waited to paint the nursery. Now people are trying to control every aspect of when, where, and how they have kids like they are making a doctors appointment. It still stuns me when I ask when a woman is due “we are due at 3:45 pm on the 21st, that way we can get up late, play a video game and watch Ellen before the baby comes.” (one of my pet peeves -“we are pregnant” – no you are not little fella, she is!)

    I honestly don’t think there is any such thing as ready, though I can I can often see when couples are working from a limited gene pool and should be legally required to be sterilized… I’m just sayin’.

    There is only one good time to have kids, and that is when God is ready. If you are so ready to be married, then you should be ready to have kids at a moments notice… if not, keep dating until you are ready to meet the challenge. If you trust in him like Mary did, then regardless of where you are in life, you’ll be just fine.

  4. Wow. Throw it all out there, Matt. I agree that people go to extreme measures to have children – children with their own DNA because “adopting wouldn’t be the same”. The Bible talks about us taking care of orphans (James 1:27) and yet so many couples would rather have a Mini Me than parent a child who is already in need of a home. I get an email every month (because of my job) from Child Protective Services that lists all the children in our state that our eligible for adoption. No, they aren’t infants, so the ooey-gooey baby talk stage is gone. Yes, sometimes there are several in a family that want to be adopted together. And YES, there are often behavior or health problems or both. I wonder if sometimes couples just aren’t unselfish enough to forego the pregnancy experience and the designer nursery. I do not have children of my own – I married into a ready-made family. I help financially and emotionally support our kids and grandkids. In some ways, they literally could not make it without our help. Was this what I had wanted or had planned? No. But I do not doubt that it is what God wanted for me. I hear people comment constantly about how they can see God working through this situation, so I have to trust it. Oh, and disclosure: I am adopted. Infant adoption – because a teenage mother was not allowed to keep her baby. I’m sure the situations that God has put me in bias my opinion, but if He put me here, maybe it is His bias. Who knows? But I’m looking forward to this conversation you have started.

    • Thanks for sharing Carolyn. Adoption is a wonderful opportunity. (We foster, and had hoped to adopt – let’s just say violets are blue) The more we understand the dynamics of adoption, the more we will understand what it means to be adopted into the Kingdom of God.

      Somewhere in here is the “American dream” sort of mentality that is not reality for most people. The notion that we pick and choose who we want to love doesn’t sound like the Gospel to me.

    • Oh yes, and that desire to control that starts with the baby’s gender and designer nursery blossoms into full grown helicopter parents. Thanks so much for sharing, Carolyn!

  5. Maybe it’s the fact that my wife and I still don’t have kids (I won’t repeat our “sob story” from yesterday [smile]), but as much as we like to think we control, I’m feeling like our advancements haven’t done all that much for us. Granted, this is anecdotal and completely non-scientific/statistically backed. But reading Scripture through our lens of non-impregnation, it’s crazy how many of the “big important names” of Scripture had problems conceiving. I’m not trying to say that children in and of themselves aren’t a blessing–I wouldn’t know from personal experience–but perhaps Scripture is also referring to the fact that God controls that and the ability to conceive is one aspect of that blessing. He certainly opens and closes wombs quite frequently…

    ~Luke

  6. About two years into my marriage I read some disturbing information regarding hormorn driven birth control “the pill.” Basically the pill does three things to keep baby away. 1. It suppresses ovulation (i’m okay with that) 2. It thickens your cervix so your hubby’s little swimmers can’t make it to the egg in case #1 didn’t work (from not being 100 percent faithful with taking that magic pill at the same time every single day of your life). I was okay with that too. BUT, #3 it makes the woman’s uterus inhospitable in case you do ovulate and a sperm gets through. That means an 8 day old baby will not find a home in the uterus and will pass through, known as spontaneous abortion. I’m not okay with this. On average a chance of this happens 2 out of the 12 cycles a year. The data gets better, if you are taking the pill for nursing moms the ONLY protection from pregnancy you are getting is #3, which means spontaneous abortion. We struggled for 3 cycles after learning this ugly truth and I went off the pill and all hormone dependent birth control going forward.

    We laughed as we were now the couple who waited and were suddenly ordering condoms online in bulk. Like I said yesterday, we have two daughters, 4 and 6. My husband had the procedure when our youngest was 3, a it was a very hard decision. I will discourage my daughters from using the pill when they get married and share with them how we came to our decision. Life is life, and I literally couldn’t sleep thinking of the babies that may have been and been discarded because of our choices.

    I am slowly learning the joy that comes with surrender in other areas of my life and trying to let God be God. It’s hard work though!

    • I’d even say that I’m okay with the “spontaneous abortion” if only because it happens all the time in nature. An egg is fertilized but does not implant. And we never know the difference. However, the pill has plenty of other, undesirable effects that married couples may not even be aware of until they stop using it.

      • Like massive pulmonary embolisms, but we won’t go there.

        Yep, I found myself on the receiving end of one of those suckers, and now I am unable to be on ANY kind of hormone-based birth control, ever again. But really, that’s another adventure, and not exactly related to my having children. Suffice to say that I was still, in a sense, recovering from abdominal surgery the year before, and needed (for the sake of my health) to not get pregnant, hence the pill, and then the blood clot…well, it was an adventure. One I do not care to repeat.

      • I just couldn’t sit with the knowledge that I was doing something to my body that was potentially aborting pregnancies that would otherwise be viable. Everyone has to make their own decisions about these types of choices. I was just uninformed as to how the pill works, had I known, I would have never taken it.

    • Thanks for sharing this information! So many people don’t know or don’t understand the ramifications. (And it’s so nice to know that I’m not alone!)

      If, like me, you consider that life begins at conception (not implantation as some do), then IUDs are also out. The _only_ way these work is through irritating the uterine lining, making it inhospitable for a fertilized egg. You could be getting pregnant (egg getting fertilized) EVERY month and just not allowing the pregnancy to implant.

      It’s the hormone progesterone (or progestin – I forget which is the brand name and which is the actual hormone name) which does #3 above that is in the pill alongside estrogen (or alone in the “mini pill” and hormonal IUDs). Originally “the pill” was a high dose of estrogen which did only #1 and #2 listed above. They quickly discovered, however, that large doses of estrogen increase the likelihood of various cancers of the reproductive system in women, so they added in progesterone to allow the reduction of estrogen in “the pill,” making it “safer” for everyone involved (except the baby).

      And Matt, (imo) it’s one thing for a spontaneous abortion to occur naturally. It’s another thing entirely to knowingly do something which could cause it to occur (not really so much “spontaneous” at that point, is it?). People die of natural causes all the time. Doesn’t make murder ok (even if the murder happened through “Russian Roulette”). A harsh analogy, but apt.

      • Yup Melissa, we are on a similar journey. I have several friends who use IUD’s and I know they believe life starts at conception. I jsut don’t get it. An IUD was never an option for me. A person’s a person no matter how small. I believe Dr. Seuss said that. :)

    • I don’t mean to be a snot about this, but you guys do know that the 8-day-old organism that’s being referred to here as a “baby” is actually pretty much a microscopic bubble made up of a single layer of cells, right? The chicken egg that you ate for breakfast was probably at a more advanced stage of development.

      I’m not trying to flame anyone and I’m certainly not an abortion proponent, I’m just trying to point out that not everyone has the cutoff for calling whatever-it-is a “baby”.

      • Which is exactly why my comment was preceded by “If, like me, you believe that life begins at conception…” If you don’t, then your rules would be different. Some people believe that “pregnancy” begins at implantation. Therefore IUDs and “the pill” _prevent_ “pregnancy.” Some people believe that “life” begins at viability. Due to the marvels of modern medicine, “viability” is sooner and sooner in the pregnancy.

        Genetically, from the moment the sperm enters the egg, that “microscopic bubble” is absolutely distinct and unique, and is 100% human. At that moment, to me, it’s a baby. So for me, anything that less-than-spontaneously aborts a “bubble” inside me is out as an option. What you do is between you (your spouse/partner) and God. At the same time though, I know information that you may or may not know about how various methods of BC work. Information is for sharing. What you do with it is your own business.

        • I’m pretty familiar with how OCP’s and other forms of birth control work, having learned about them in medical school.

          • You asked if I knew that other people had different definitions for what the “microscopic bubble” is. I said yes and pointed out where I had said that in the first place.

            I then went on to explain why I shared (some of) the information at all (rachel h also shared some of it. I can’t speak to her reasons.). Then I said that you may already know the information I was sharing.

            So I think we are in violent agreement here.

  7. Leaving my thoughts on birth control out of this, I think you’re being a little unfair to infertile couples trying to conceive with medical intervention. While I never foresee going to such expensive lengths to have a child who shares my DNA, I don’t think that those who choose this route don’t often consider adoption too. The fact is that adoption is often also a costly, complicated, and lengthy process. Some couples pursue both adoption and fertility treatments, while others may turn to fertility treatments after several failed adoptions. I may not always agree with couples who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to conceive a baby, but I understand why they do it.

  8. One is never ready to have kids…you can’t prepare yourself…it’s a learn as you go basis…with hopefully a lot of help from grama and granpa.

    We use birth control…

    we have 2 kids…

    and she (my wife) is already having ….”the talk”…

    everyone is asking us if we are going to have another one…

    but they never ask my wife how her schooling is coming along…or how my music is coming along. or my job….

    No, it’s always about those little “poopy tornados” as you well put it! lol

    So have um or don’t have um matt…either way…i doubt Jesus will turn you and your wife away from the pearly gates for not having some, “money suckers!” un …i mean kids.

  9. I was never really ready to have a child, but you figure things out because you have to. Now with a 14 and 10 year old, I’m still trying to get a handle on this parenting thing.

  10. A friend and I were talking about all the women we knew struggling with infertility, and how our moms don’t remember having so many friends in that situation. We thought it might just be that people didn’t talk about it so much in the 70s, but we also realized that as people put off having children, fertility declines, so our friends who are trying to conceive in their thirties (or even late twenties) are having trouble they might not have had if they’d been having unprotected sex as teenagers or in their early twenties.

    This whole concept of puberty coming earlier and earlier while marriage comes later and later is a troubling (and fascinating) issue.

    • Yes it is well documented that artificial estrogens in our environment (from plastics) are promoting early puberty. Everything has unintended consequences n

      • I thought it was mainly milk and meat, which is why we’ve switched to organic milk, but I know plastics have plenty of undesirable things in them!

        • BPA, among other things, although the FDA has yet to say that this is a problem. Fortunately, it has become cool for plastics to be “BPA-free,” so most companies (American anyway) are jumping on board. BPA is also found in linings for cans (like cans of beans or vegetables or ready-made baby formula). It leaches out into the contents, although the amount depends on the acidity of the product inside and how long it’s been sitting there at what temperatures. (Incidentally, if you can your own produce, be aware that BPA is in most of the lids, although there are a few “BPA-free” brands out there.)

          Estrogens are also found in unfermented soy products, although studies conflict as to whether or not these “phytoestrogens” mimic the body’s naturally-occurring estrogens. If you are allergic to soy or have ever had to cook for someone who is, you’ll see that soy products are in almost EVERYTHING nowadays.

          It makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. To many things to worry about.

          • GMO’s also have sterility on the rise. They were introduced in our food supply around 95. Soy is one of the main GMO crops. Check your labels, it’s in everything. Here in the US, you have to prove that something is toxic/hazardous before it is removed from the shelves. We are 15 years in with GMO seeds and are just beginning to see the consequences. Obama just appointed the VP on Monsanto (GMO producer) to be the chief adviser the the FDA. GMO isn’t going anywhere fast. It’s a Brave New World out there.

  11. I’m 29 and have been a dad for 7 years. And we weren’t ready to have a kid. But I’m not sure that you ever really are. I would like to add that since you are a pastor you are expected to have kids. At least that’s been my experience. I’ve been asked at least 37 times since I began pastoring this church. And no one thinks it’s funny when I say, “We just got a puppy, we don’t want anymore.”

  12. I have wanted to be a mother ever since I can remember. The doctors say I can’t have kids. I’m still praying for a miracle.

  13. What do I think? Dangerous question.

    I think that God described the family in the first few chapters of Genesis. Man and woman becoming “one” (the idea now known as marriage) and making babies, in that order. Biologically, you’re right – prime time for baby-making is our teen years. Historically, this whole “finding yourself” phenomenon is a recent addition to our journey to “adulthood.” I agree that the delay in marriage and the greater delay before folks have kids is definitely affecting fertility rates.

    Having said that though, I didn’t marry until 29 with our first child coming along at 30, #2 at 32, and #3 just barely keeping me from “advanced maternal age” by coming along just before I turned 35. I absolutely think that waiting on marriage/babies was the right road for me. I don’t think that even the “quiver-full” proponents would advocate marrying young just for the sake of making more babies.

    Is artificial birth control the cause of the downfall of civilization? No. That would be sin. But I think it’s an example of how the “angel of light” has so infiltrated our churches that we don’t even notice him anymore.

    “The line” for Christians as a whole is between each individual Christian and God. I’m not the judge. But I _can_ give you information that you may not already have (like about progesterone). What you do with that information is up to you.

    And even after three, I still don’t think on many days that I’m “ready” for kids.

    • Great thoughts as always, Melissa!

      • Ha! Bet it’s usually pretty easy to tell the things I care and/or am passionate about! Thanks for opening the conversations and giving voice to all of us! I think I cringe just about every time I post because I expect the flames, but I have yet to get them here. As someone who is frequently the “dissenting opinion,” I can’t tell you how refreshing that is!

  14. I loved your first and last points. There is a chapter in Lauren Winner’s “Real Sex” where she discusses how we have separated sex and procreation. Never before in human history has this happened.

    Your list of “blessings” hit the nail on the head. I appreciate how you can see through a lot of things that most of us take for granted.

  15. Very few traditional Catholics get divorced. During most of their fertile years, they are having children. In my protestant world, it seems that people get divorced when the youngest is 6 to 9 years old. Seems to be in the natural cycle of things, this is when the woman no longer has the biological need of protection of her mate for her offspring, and starts desiring other mates. If you keep having kids, even though this goes against modern wisdom, then this point in the biological cycle doesn’t hit until some time much later, and the body has changed, and now the biological needs are different. Now the man represents protection for her, not her offspring. God built things to work, and when we futz with them, they break.

    • Wait. You’re saying that those of us who are faithful are only doing so because we think we need our husbands to protect our children and ourselves? That without popping out babies women will just go out and start sleeping around? Men are statistically much more likely to be unfaithful, so I suppose they’re driven by the need to go protect some sweet young thang who looks a little vulnerable in her skinny jeans and tank top? Seriously, I’ve heard a lot of tremendously odd theories for why I should be barefoot and pregnant until 20 minutes after menopause, but this is the oddest and most ridiculous of all.

      • I am not saying that you should be pregnant and nursing until you hit menopause, but that if you did the nature God created would push you towards a long marriage. Man has free will, and can choose for a variety of reasons including many Biblically founded reasons to not do this. In fact most people do. Most people simply react to the world around them. As my wife has left, and the being pregnant all the time would have killed her (literally) I have paid more attention to the men and women who are divorced or going through divorce. What I have noticed is that people are leaving because they don’t feel good. God built into us some mechanisms that support our feelings. One is the need to protect or be protected. It is natural. It doesn’t mean that we are not to choose to do the right thing, and stay committed. Having children is the primary way that we encounter this need to protect and be protected.

        I guess, I will say it this way to try not to ramble too much. A side effect of letting nature take its course is a natural drawing close of the couple and the natural biological cycles that God has created will compliment or foster that. I am not advocating choosing this lifestyle as a means to have a great marriage. There are far too many people out there divorcing with many kids, or living completely separate lives. There are many more influences in our lives than just this one. My observation was one of how this is something I have seen in Catholic marriages. There are other influences in Catholic marriages that also help here.

        The number one influence in divorce with children is extreme selfishness. Its too bad that people absorbed in this selfishness don’t have the foresight to see that most divorced people aren’t as happy as they were and could have been again in their marriages with rare exception. Unhappiness is the excuse that I hear most often from women leaving their husbands. The men I know who have left, have said they could never make her happy. It just seems to me even in this case, God made us to compliment each other, and the more things we do to defeat these natures the more work we make for ourselves to succeed in our relationships.

  16. Our focus on education, career and money has lead to people getting married later and having babies later. Yes, late teenager’s bodies are better equipped for pregnancy and mother/fatherhood, particularly when it comes to the amount of energy you need with little ones. Unfortunately due to a myriad of factors including: staying in education longer, technology, right of choice (of anything!) entertainment, parenting styles about personal responsibility, work ethic and highly processed food, their brains are not developed enough to cope with the hard facts and responsibility of bringing up a child. Also unfortunately, teenagers will have sex and children out of wedlock which, more often than not, stay in the same cycle.
    Our society needs to change or it will combust.

  17. We got all three of our kids at the same time, and there’s nothing like being thrown into the deep end of parenthood when you think you’re “ready” to have kids. Sure, we got to skip the whole pregnancy/labor/delivery/midnight feedings part of the equation, but then, we also had three very small children, the oldest of whom was not yet three and twins who were just barely 18 months old.

    Any parent who thinks they’re “ready” for the (admittedly crazy but joyful) disruption of kids into their lives is fooling themselves. It’s impossible to be “ready,” because you’ve never done this before. Sure, you have car insurance to protect you after the fact in the event of a wreck, but you don’t have kid insurance. I think it’s more a state of, as you said, Matt, being willing to accept God’s plan for you when it comes to having children. (I know some folks who thought they were done after three boys. She got her tubes tied. Got pregnant. Had twin boys. Tubes tied again. Got pregnant again. Another boy. Just goes to show you….)

    Innyhoo…I do not regret that I insisted on waiting a number of years after our marriage before we considered having children. I wanted to be sure we had a solid foundation as a couple, so that we’d be able to do that again, be that again, after the kids were grown and had left the house. I wanted to be able to remember why it is we married, so that we could hopefully ward off the “we divorced after the kids left because we didn’t know why we were together anymore” syndrome. (Divorce affects your kids, regardless of when it happens.) Once we decided to have kids, we had years of painful infertility. That pain was compounded by seeing people who weren’t “doing things right” and yet were still getting pregnant: not married, not wanting to be, and they’re having babies. We did it right…why weren’t we?

    I can look back now and see God’s plan working in all those years, but…the hurt still lingers. I haven’t forgotten what that feels like.

    All that being said, WHEN you have kids and how MANY you choose to have, and what methods of birth control you do or don’t use: those are things that are between you, your spouse, and God.

  18. If teens are so ready for childbearing and it’s nothing but our messed up society keeping them from it in order to turn them into something God never intended, I wonder why teen moms are considered a risk group. Marriage and childbirth historically has not been tremendously younger than now as a norm, late teens in some places and twenties in others, when you exclude exceptional groups like royalty who were unusually concerned with continuity of a particular line. When it was advantageous for society to reproduce young was when there was a high infant mortality rate and lower life expectancy. If a woman gave birth at 18 but was only expected to live to 40, she’s practically middle aged. We live in a different society, and not every choice and advance we’ve made indicate that we are motivated by sin, greed, desire for inappropriate control, and desire to eschew God’s blessing. I agree completely with Auntie J in that your choices of when and how many times you’ll reproduce are between you, your spouse, and God.

  19. Wow, Matt. This has been fascinating. I didn’t even realize we were going to get to talk about the hormones. I lost my last chance of having kids when early menopause hit. That was due in part to taking birth control all those years and some other health issues. The shut-down of the babymaking machine was emotional even though I was not thinking of having kids – just losing the option was hard. And the hormones were a riot and I mean that literally. Would not wish that on anyone. Thankfully we found a natural solution instead of having to do hormone replacement. I think I have been very disobedient in all of this – not because I didn’t have kids – but because so many of my decisions were based on self and A TOTAL LACK of trust in God. If I had been trusting Him and still ended up in this situation, I think I would feel vastly different about it. No way to prove it, but call it an educated guess. I’m glad you opened all of this up. I’m glad everyone has felt able to voice their differing opinions. Thanks for that.

  20. Birth control has been society’s demise (to answer your question). When you decide to get married–and have made that decision well–you’re ready. It’s part of what marriage is about (the openness to new life–not the REQUIREMENT of new life).

    Natural family planning can indeed help couples with very good reasons (bankruptcy, serious illness, we’ve got a child with special needs who needs extra attn, I’m a full time caregiver for my demented parent, we’ve got X many kids already and cannot afford more) to delay conception.

    But occasional abstaining is not the same as taking control of fertility through artificial birth control. You nailed it when you said “a woman can show her uterus whose boss”. Ahem, I thought *God* was the boss of fertility, and children a gift.

    I remember visiting a very remote area of Mexico, very poor, with my college class. They had little contact with Americans or American TV (or any TV). They had reasonably large families (about 4-6 kids per family). In a “getting to know you” session, they asked my students how many siblings they each had. It was almost always one sibling. One Mexican kid finally laughed a little and asked why our families were so small–was there some kind of law against siblings in the USA? People laughed uncomfortably.

    I don’t judge people who have made decisions pro or con artificial contraception, but I certainly do have an opinion on the subject in general. It has been a net absolute negative for society. When we try to control God’s gifts more than cooperate with God, all manner of things go badly.

    Local Catholic signing out. 😉 Peace all.

    • This was what I was trying to express in my strange overly wordy way up above.

    • I was raised Catholic, my whole family is Catholic, my husband’s family is Catholic. I understand the argument, I just disagree.

      Ecclesiastes 5:19 says that riches are a gift from God, so by this logic you have no right to make a decision to volunteer or even take a job for less than you could otherwise earn because you are trying to control God’s gifts rather than cooperating with Him. Sure, abstaining from earning for a time might be acceptable if you have very good reasons (serious illness, we’ve got a child with special needs who needs extra attn, I’m a full time caregiver for my demented parent, we’ve got X jobs already and don’t have time for more). Most of the arguments saying God only has one plan and it involves having a large family and not using birth control are based on faulty theology and dubious logic. If you want 20 kids and you are able to support them, have at it. But those who assume they know anyone else’s mind – let alone the mind of God – regarding childbearing is misguided.

      • I think there is a mistaken assumption made by many that “leaving it up to God” = 20 kids. I didn’t get married until 29 and didn’t get pregnant until 30. Physically, unless I had a couple of litters, there is only a miniscule chance that I would personally produce 20 children, even if hubs and I had never used any type of contraception. Michelle Duggar stared at 19 or 20 years old and had multiples several times. She had a whole decade more time than I do and even she doesn’t have 20 (well…yet…). And she’s a rare occurrence. Very few of even the “quiver-full” folks rival her.

        Giving God control of your reproduction does not automatically mean that you will have 20 kids…it just means that you’re leaving the number up to God. It might be none. It might be 7. It’ll probably be something in between. God both opens and _closes_ wombs.

        Now, granted, this is coming from my own unique perspective (pregnant unexpectedly two months into marriage, despite contraception and two more kids on the first try after that – clearly, my womb is wide open). I’m not sure what I would have done in the circumstance where we wanted children, but had a difficult time conceiving. Would I have accepted the closing of my womb as gracefully and happily as I’ve accepted my “unexpected blessings?” Or would I have bared my heart before God begging time and again like Samuel’s mom? Would I have used every medical means we could afford in order to conceive? I don’t know.

        But letting God decide doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll have 20 kids. It just means that I trust Him to be in charge of that area of my life.

        • Natural Family Planning is something like 99% effective at delaying conception, when properly lived out. If people using NFP are having families of 20 (!), it’s because they are wanting to have bigger families. So I agree that the 20 kids comment (nothing personal to the commenter, lots of people say that!) is really off base with the reality of NFP.

  21. we were ready when the blue “plus” sign told us we were

  22. I have been very recently reminded that it really is God who is in control as a very dear couple went all out and paid the big bucks for the full IVF procedure only to be only to remain childless as the implantation of the only two successfully impregnated eggs failed. So all the talk of telling our uterus who is boss is really a lie. Please pray for this couple, who are pretty devastated.

    On the other side of the “God is in control” equation, I am friends with someone who was born after vasectomy attempt #3 failed his parents. My husband’s brother also had a child five years after going through the big “V”. Apparently, when the Bible talks about a shoot coming from the stump of Jesse, sometimes, it is literal fact. So when my husband and I, after giving birth to child #4 at 38 years decided our quiver was full, and had him undergo “the Big V”, we humbly acknowledged that all we were doing was “raising the bar.”

    • Still Feels Single But am finally Married (Kelly) August 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      You know the getting preggo with the big “V” is very rare. But my hubs just got it done and we are understanding if it works.

  23. Also, I’ll go into TMI territory. It would have been easy for my dh and I to use some kind of contraception (other than the pill or an IUD, for the reasons above). We weren’t overly convinced of the Catholic teaching on this–not against the teaching, not 100% gung ho about it either. I can tell you from experience that when we are open to life, EVERYTHING goes better. Divorcing sex from procreation puts all kinds of bad snares in a relationship: taking each other for granted, using each other, etc etc….

    Also, we have four kids, and now that I am 44 yrs old and not in the fertility range, we’re seriously talking about adopting. You get to a point in increasingly families where making room for another at the table becomes increasingly easy, both spiritually and practically. And trust me, my salary has not increased the past five years.

    my two cents….

  24. Just popping in because I have to disagree with what several people have said about how we’re actually “supposed” to be having babies as teenagers. Many girls are having periods by the time they are 11 or 12 and are physically capable of getting pregnant. That does not mean she is physically ready to carry a child and give birth. I’ve done some reading on parts of the world where teenage girls are reguarly giving birth and unfortunately many of them have complications during birth because their bodies are not fully developed. I’m thin. I’ve always been thin. I had my first period at 13 and any doctor would tell you that I was “fully developed” at sixteen, yet now at 27 my hips and pelvic cavity are definitely wider than they were at 16, making my body more prepared to carry a child and give birth.

    • Thank you for posting this. I was hoping someone would make this point – teens are considered a high risk group for a reason. And anyone who thinks that a teen boy is the best bet for a father has either never met a teen boy or never had a father.