Saturday, May 10, 2008

I understand in theory, but not in practice

One of the coolest parts of being a parent, IMHO, is seeing how BJ's and my personalities and features are expressed in our kids. Mary Grace has my personality (dramatic, attention-seeking, silly, funny, borderline crazy...) and BJ's eyes. Claire has BJ's personality (easy-going, nearly always happy, calm, content...) and my cheeks. Looking at the two of them makes me want to have a dozen more kids, just to see what other interesting and lovable combinations our genes can make.

And I will admit that it's hard for me, considering that Claire was a surprise, to prevent pregnancy. Every month I think, "What wonderful child am I not going to have in 9 months because I have this IUD?" I know this is a little bit nuts, but it crosses my mind. I think to myself, "If I had had this after MG was born, we wouldn't even have Claire!" and since I can't imagine life without Claire, it makes me wonder who else I'm missing.

Even though I'm politically pro-choice* I could never terminate a pregnancy, personally, unless carrying to term would jeopardize my own life. Even if I found out that a child I was carrying had a chromosomal abnormality (like Down's syndrome), I would not end the pregnancy unless it was clear that the child wouldn't survive. Even before I got married, I knew that abortion was something that I, personally, couldn't do.

So, knowing that sometimes eggs are fertilized when you have an IUD, and that the IUD makes it impossible for them to implant and grow into children... That's hard for me, too. I think about the potential, the children that could've been, and I have to remind myself of the days when I can barely handle two kids - much less every kid that I could possibly have.

What I'm slowly getting around to is that I understand the Duggar Family's reason for not preventing pregnancy. I understand the thoughts and feelings that have led them to decide that God will bless them with as many children as He sees fit, and they'll find a way to manage it. I get it. I've been very close to trying to talk BJ into a similar philosophy (although, in this house, there would be a limit to the total number of kids happening. I'm not crazy).

But, wow. 18 kids. Having to schedule one-on-one time with Mom. Kids raising their younger siblings. An industrial kitchen. Driving a short bus. I just don't think that makes sense. I don't think it's fair to the other kids, as evidenced by the looks on the faces of some of the little ones when Mom Duggar made her announcement in the video.

There just isn't enough of me to go around as it is. Frankly, I don't know how they find the time to make all these babies!

BJ and I have been kicking around the idea of going for #3. But I worry. I worry that we don't have space in this house for another child. I worry that a third child will make it hard for me to give Mary Grace and Claire the attention they need. I worry that there won't be any attention left for BJ. I worry that the cat and dog will starve. I worry about all the same things I worried about when I was pregnant with Claire, actually, and that sort of helps. I mean, I know it all worked out with Claire, so it'll find a way to work out if we have another, too.

I wonder if there's a point when you can say, "Hey, we're managing 9 (or 13 or 15), what's one more?"

How did/do you decide what size is right for your family?

*I am politically pro-choice because I don't want the government to compel any woman to carry a pregnancy to term, and because the practical ramifications of saying, "You can only have an abortion if the mother's life is in danger, if she's been raped, or if the baby is the product of incest..." are too difficult to overcome. If they said that, women who wanted an abortion would randomly accuse men of rape or incest, whether or not it had happened, to secure the abortion, then drop the charges later. What is that going to do to these men and their reputations? Who gets to decide if a mother's life is in danger? It just wouldn't work within the limitations of time and our legal system, and so abortion must remain safe and legal, IMHO. If you need to roast me, do it in the comments, and try to be respectful.

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