I had an unexpected, serendipitous pro-life, pro-family conversation with my oldest daughter. We’ve been working on baby books and talking a lot about babies and pregnancy (and G attending Josie’s birth, which has led to LOTS of questions about Labor and Delivery). My daughter said “having a baby seems really hard, is it worth it?” I looked right at her and spoke from the heart “I carried you, was that worth it?”
She gave me a big smile and a hug and we both had a lot more to think about. A pregnancy, a new baby, with all of the difficulties, it is a life, it is a person. One of the things that does get easier if you are able to have several children is the understanding, as they get older, of how very “worth it” any sacrifices may be, in fact how minor even large sacrifices seem when compared to a life.
I had my first four children in 3 years. I loved them, and sometimes loved the intensity of it all, but it was impossible for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that they would gradually turn into people who could play scrabble and (mostly) find their own shoes. For a while I was very, very angry at people who encouraged me to be open to having more children. My life was so, so hard I was barely surviving. Then, gradually, things began to ease up. By the time all of the “older 4” were over 3, I could see room for another baby. We took a leap of faith and plunged ourselves back into the exhausting hardness by having two children within another year. When I get up in the night or change a diaper or hear about Lego creations ad nauseum, I tell myself, this will not be forever. When I gather by the fire to read Little House or snuggle someone who still fits in the crook of my arm and smells like lavender, I tell myself, this will not be forever.Perhaps this is an addendum to my previous post, but I have to say once again that I don’t find any of this easy, I don’t find it easier to be so busy I don’t have time to think, to be exhausted day after day. I have “easy” pregnancies, I throw up non-stop for 6 weeks, can’t get out of bed, but after that I am fine until the last month or so, when I am too huge to move much, but so excited that I don’t care. This is one of the things that I tell people who ask about my family size, because it is much more heroic for women who have really hard pregnancies.
The things that have changed inside me between having one child (or four) and now are mostly my understanding of personal sanctification and my understanding of the absolute wonder of these individual people who are born into my life, both of which make the sacrifices of family life so much more worth it.