LARGE FAMILY THOUGHTS: Mom of Five, and Pregnant For the Ninth Time

:)  Even starting this post, I feel a sense of pressure- I want to express myself clearly, but not hurt the heart of the woman facing infertility, and not criticize or sit in judgment of the mom of two.

I want to share some of the blessings of having a large family, and not come across as if I don't count the cost.  I want to share some of the challenges and not scare away women who are already hearing fearful messages about motherhood from culture.  But I'll just do the best I can, and trust God to use this sharing for good in your heart and mine, and for His glory.

I want to share what God has taught me, how He has changed me, and how the landscape around me has changed, as our family has grown.

Please read this as a personal tome and not as a prescriptive tutorial.

When we married, we knew that we would be large-family weirdos.  :)

Well, let me take that back... I had been told by my gynecologist at age 16 that I had poly-cystic ovaries and would have difficulty getting pregnant, and might not even be able to have children.  Doug knew that going in.  So we knew there might be obstacles.

But still, we talked about large families and having lots of children, and both of us were "in" for that vision before we married.  We weren't super-spiritual people... by that I mean, we didn't have outward vestiges of holiness.  I'd dated around and been reckless and rebellious for years of my life (in ways I now regret), and he was a hippie artist from a divorced family who drove a VW camper van.  While we were both genuinely children of God, we were singed and scarred from having the majority of our worldview influenced by the world and culture around us.

Somehow, though, we both loved children and both loved Scripture and entered marriage with hearts open to the possibility of having lots of children.  Whenever we expressed that shared desire to people, we got a lot of responses like, "yeah, just wait until you have one or two...", which made me sad.  It is truly sad that Christian people try to dampen the vision and desires God puts on the heart of two young people.

Nonetheless, despite our open hearts, God had a lot of self-importance and career-idolatry (both for me, with politics, and for Doug, with painting) to move out of our hearts, which he did in those early years, and still does from time to time (just last week, I had this daydream of being a Senator...).  :)

Jumping ahead to parenthood, to move the story along, after a difficult first baby labor and delivery, and after deciding to stay home with him, I purposed to enjoy every single minute with Ethan.  And I really did.  At his first birthday party, I remember reflecting back and being so thankful that I'd tried to listen to the wisdom of older moms: "take time to enjoy him; they grow so fast!" The biggest lesson of that first baby was that it's not about me... everything took longer and I had a different body and different life than I'd had going into it, but when I welcomed the newness and reveled in the changes, seeking wisdom as needed, there was inexpressible joy.  

Focusing outward (on others) rather than inward (on myself) was a wonderfully freeing change of attitude.  I still was a crummy housekeeper and a terrible cook, but I was learning some things about being a loving wife & mom.

Soon I was pregnant with Baxter, and he too was a welcomed blessing in our lives and hearts.  New lessons came with him: with a natural delivery and immediate breastfeeding (which I wasn't able to do with Ethan, as he had been whisked away to the NICU for a week) came an influx of hormones and attachment/bonding that I hadn't experienced so easily with Ethan.  There were so many physical and hormonal benefits that I hadn't known the first time around.  I internalized the truth that God made our bodies to work so wonderfully!  

I also began learning about prioritizing needs, as all moms of more than one inevitably have to learn. :)

When Baxter was about a year old, I got pregnant again, only to start bleeding about 2 days later.  It was an early miscarriage-- the kind that doctor's offices irreverently term "chemical pregnancies".  Thankfully, by this point, God had firmly convinced Doug and I of His good sovereignty, and I felt certain, even in the midst of the physical process of miscarrying, that God would give us the children He meant for us to have.  I still believe that.  That does not mean I didn't hurt, but I really did have a quiet confidence in God's goodness despite present circumstances.

The next month, to our surprise, I was pregnant again.  5 days later, I miscarried yet again.  People around me thought I was crazy, I think, for not being uncontrollably emotional about these two losses, but I held fast to confidence in God.  I knew He had not abandoned me and would make something beautiful of this. 

The next month, I got pregnant with our beautiful Maranatha.

No one questioned our decision to get pregnant for a third time.  I think it seemed natural to people; "oh, you finally got your girl."  We'd smile and think, "Lord willing, we're not stopping here, but thank you."  :)

While pregnant with her, we packed up our home, sold most everything we owned, and moved to the opposite side of the world, to China.  She was born in Thailand.

Having a daughter certainly gave me a different sense of responsibility as a woman than I'd previously experienced, with the boys.

I felt that I needed to understand what the Bible teaches about being a woman even better, that I needed to be a godly example for my daughter, not only of personal holiness, but of grace and kindness.  The Bible talks of a "gentle and quiet spirit" and I'd always seen myself as having a forceful, passionate, and loud spirit, LOL.  I needed to be able to help her understand how to navigate the natural biological functions of womanhood, the biblical roles of womanhood, and our culture's views of women.  I began thinking and reading about these things more.  This blog was started, in a large part, because of my grappling with these things as I strove to understand what God means for women, regardless of culture, and what God means for Christian women, here in this culture.

During this time, too, Doug got sick.  The LORD taught us so much about suffering, problems, and pain.  We learned to trust Him when we were smack-dab in the middle of a season of suffering.  We did not know how it was going to end, but we grew dependent on the LORD.

That summer, as things leveled out with Doug's health, we moved to Istanbul and found out the same week that we were expecting Silas, our little stowaway.  :)

Reactions to this pregnancy were decidedly different than I'd experienced before.  Friends were excited but still asked, "so this was a surprise, right?"  Relatives' reactions ranged from pleasant to "oh no!" and "Well, if you're happy about it, then congratulations."  Having a 4th baby seemed so intentional, I guess.  :)  So much like embracing insanity.  :)  So "in your face"... like deliberately choosing something so unnecessary.  But we looked at the precious smiles, and sweet moments with each of our 3 unique children and knew that God was right-- children are truly a wonderful blessing.

While these were some of the most tender and sweet days, I admittedly was entering what would be the most difficult season of my life thus far.  In a small apartment, in a new culture, without language skills, with four children 6 and under, my days were mostly eaten up with physical tasks- tying shoes, making chicken spaghetti, breastfeeding, picking up army men, changing diapers, putting on coats, pouring cups of milk, snuggling.

My blog became to me a place to outpour all of the thoughts I'd stored up through each day (this was 2007-2008).

Even in the midst of wonderful times with our children, I faced personal discouragement, and when two old friends came to visit me (separately), I realized how much I had changed, though I still couldn't express in what ways I was different.  I was grappling with how to lovingly train my children, cutting anger out of my heart, my role in and out (?) of our home, choosing contentment, and learning hospitality.  Living overseas, despite the fact that we were often hosting large groups in our home, loneliness and isolation were real and present concerns in my life at that time.  OH, how I longed for a good friend.

I read and felt the truth of Isaiah 40:11: "He gently leads those who are with young."  God looks at those who are with young through gentle, tender eyes, and He knows we are made of dust.  I took to heart His kindness, and grew more dependent upon Him.

God's Word became more precious to me, and God used all these struggles to break me of my sense of pride and self-reliance.  I hadn't realized it before, but I had skated through my early years of child-rearing in my own strength.  I gave cursory nods to God in prayer or by trying to apply Scripture, but I still carried it all out in my own strength, confident in my own abilities.  During this time of struggle, God showed me how much I had taken glory in my own talents and strength.  He stripped me of the sense that I had it all together.  And I thank Him for it... I still work to not fall back into the thought pattern of self-reliance.

When Silas was about a year old, we learned that we were expecting again, when we were about 2 weeks out from a move.  Thankfully, a moving company came to pack and physically move our belongings, so I didn't have to lift things, etc., but it was still a stressful, unsettled time.

I believe it was the day after our move that I began miscarrying, at about 7 weeks along, 2 weeks farther along than our other miscarriages had been.  Certainly this was more difficult, emotionally, as I'd   had more time to get excited about the baby coming.  But physically, it was much more difficult than the previous 2 miscarriages.  I was spent, utterly exhausted.  Silas was still nursing many times a day, I was homeschooling Ethan, taking Turkish language lessons, and I had a house to unpack and organize, and new neighbors to meet.

Here is where God ministered to me through my husband.

We had previously thought through various stances concerning birth control, and come to the belief that in general, for us, fertility and family should be our default position.  Biologically (generally speaking), God has given women a long window of fertility, and he has put our hormonal levels of desire at the very point in our cycle when we are most fertile.  It seems straightfoward to us that God set it up so we would (on the whole) be fruitful.

However, unlike what some people call a "quiverfull" mentality, we also believe that we are to be thoughtful stewards of our bodies, souls, and families, like anything else.  He who starts building a tower without considering the cost is reckless.  Doug Wilson comes the closest to explaining our point of view in this article, which is similar to how a farmer views stewardship of the fruitfulness on his land: BIRTH CONTROL.  (My favorite quote: "A man can have a high view of apple trees and still not plant them a foot and a half apart in his orchard.") Children are wonderful, AND we are stewards.  Consider carefully, AND trust God.  Both/And.  Anyway, moving on...

At that time when I felt used up, post-miscarriage, mid-move, and with four children six and under, Doug "lived with his wife in an understanding way."  He determined that we would take measures to prevent pregnancy for a time-- both to allow my body to rest and heal, but also to allow me the opportunity I'd not ever had-- to nurse a baby for as long as both he and I desired to do so (after my two miscarriages while nursing Baxter, I'd always weaned ASAP once I found out I was pregnant).  We made it to 18 months, when Silas began weaning, and I enjoyed about a 6-month "rest" (though I know to some people that sounds absurd-- that with four children, and a nursing baby, I was resting, nevertheless, and at the end of those six months, I felt like a new woman).

Through Doug's love for me, understanding my heart, and meeting my needs, I saw another picture of Christ loving the Church, tending to her, caring for her, protecting her in her weakness.   He loved me and cared for me and it fed my soul and allowed us to steward what God had given us well.

We prayerfully decided to again be open to children, and like a true "Fertile Myrtle" :), I got pregnant with Moses.  This time was different.  Pressures of life overseas, limitations of living in an apartment, the expense of traveling (either for vacation or to see family), the weight of childrearing without any support from a nearby family member or friend willing to occasionally help lift the load... we knew something would have to give, and for the first time, I experienced pregnancy considering the possibility that it might be the last.

Even with painfully sharp ligament spasms, and normal pregnancy "ailments", I sought to again enjoy every part of it-- the first flutters, the full-on kicks, the sonograms, the labor, and the delivery... and I did.  Someday I'll write about my last 3 labor experiences; I intended to years ago, and should do so soon.  My labor with and delivery of Moses was quite different from all the others.

Anyway, he was such a precious addition to our family, and for the first time, really, I got to experience some of the absolute outright joys of large family life.

First of all- people didn't criticize us anymore (namely, those same relatives who had rude comments the 4th time around), at least not to our faces. :)  Maybe they finally realized we were going to do what we were going to do without considering their disdain or disapproval of our "choices", and so they began embracing each personality as individual and began seeing us as a unique family, too... not just a carbon copy of theirs, and not something to be compared or contrasted to theirs... just unique.

But what was most overwhelmingly new about this time was that our older two boys-- eight and six years old-- really began entering in to the enjoyment of baby Moses in a new way.

Instead of solely being like a small young sibling, just asking when they would be able to play, and learning to help by bringing diapers and such, they actually began saying things like, "mom, did you see the way he scrunches up his cheeks when he smiles?"  Or, "oh, mom, he's so cute; I can't imagine a cuter baby in the whole world."  Or, "have you seen him _______?"  They began interacting with him in ways that previously only Doug and I had done-- they were able to see and watch him every day and relate to him more like how we as adults related to him- doting on him, noticing all his cute details, treasuring moments of just holding and snuggling this newborn baby as the unique times that they are.

It was amazing to us to see how much they loved him, how much he meant to them.  Truly, it softened and shaped their hearts in a way that surprised me.  There was something decidedly different about having older children around with a newborn than there had been about having a bunch of little ones close together.  Though that had been fun and special in its own right, this was even better.  I began to see how God has designed for us to learn about and know about family life... I knew Ethan and Baxter would be better fathers for having experienced the delight and wonder of Moses as a newborn.

In bullet-point form, here are a few things:
  • to embrace and accept the chaos of daily life
  • that messes are made very fast, and pile up quickly, in a large family
  • that messes are cleaned up quickly and easily, when we all work together, in a large family
  • to enjoy moments of quiet but not feed in my heart an unhealthy appetite for them (i.e., "me-time")
  • to depend on the LORD and look to Him for guidance and trust that He will give it
  • to rest in God, looking to Him as the source of acceptance in my life, and not expect it or look for it from other humans
  • to care for my own soul, being a godly steward of it
  • that children really are a blessing.  Each of our children brings something so special to our family life (Ethan- curiosity, enthusiasm, and wonder, Baxter- hilarity, acceptance of others, and softhearted faithful friendship, Maranatha- artistry, tenderness, and passion, Silas- our funny, sensitive, snuggly little squishball :), and Moses- the baby who we are all convinced is the most precious in the world), and we truly can't (and wouldn't want to!) imagine life without them.  Each personality God has brought into our family's life has enriched each of us and added color and joy to our family.  
  • Each child does not just "add" to the love in our family- they multiply the love, as we each develop a new relationship with this new person.  When we married, there was one relationship in our home-- the one between Doug & I.  With the addition of Ethan, there were 3 relationships-- with Doug & I, Doug & Ethan, and Ethan & I.  With the addition of this 6th baby, there will be 28 relationships going on (simultaneously!) in our home.  That is a lot of love, a lot of learning, a lot of sanctification, a lot of relationship.  So many opportunities to experience love, seek & express forgiveness, learn to understand others' perspectives, serve one another.  I praise God for this!
  • that I am not going to be magically "zapped" with biblical wisdom and insight-- if I am going to be a wise and godly woman, wife, mother, and friend, it will come with discipline and purpose on my part, as I yield to God, letting Him instruct my heart.
  • that my role as the wife & mom in a large family will only be eternally successful if I quit relying on my own strength and yet, as unto the LORD, purposefully grow in skill and wisdom, walking in the Spirit, and trusting God for the outcome.
And there is more, but I'll stop there, for now.  Except to say this:

We are pregnant for the ninth time.  :)  We hope to meet our newest little "valentine" next February.  The kids are so so so thrilled (all of them!).  

I am (more than ever) aware of my own frailty and limitations, and yet, (more than ever) aware and completely confident in God's goodness in giving always and only what is good, and what will bring glory to Him.  I am so thankful that He is going to root out even more of the selfishness that resides in my heart.  God truly does sanctify us through childbearing.  I am so grateful that He will teach our children more about love, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control, and more, through this new baby.  

I am so excited to meet him or her, and just as each of our children has done, to see how our family will be changed by this new person.  God has been so gracious to us, and never stops pursuing our good as He seeks to make us more like Jesus.  When we yield to Him, and walk in the Spirit, He is so good to do amazing things in our hearts and families.

I thank Him here and now for what He's doing in our family, and pray that this has encouraged your heart.


Deborah said...

Congratulations, Jess! I'm so happy for all of you!

flyinjuju said...

Congratulations! That was a beautiful post.

OurCrazyFarm said...

Such exciting news!Congratulations!
When our #4 and #5 came home through adoption we got the same "crazy people" looks:))
Thank you for the beautiful, encouraging post!

Conn Family said...

Congrats! Thank you for sharing in a non-condemning way. Also, thank you for the Doug Wilson article (I speed through it but will go back to read more thoroughly). I have a friend that I cannot even talk about this with because of her attitude (have as many children as possible, as soon as possible, regardless)- this is frustrating because we're not the same people with the same family, etc. And it comes across very judgmentally. Your thoughts do not come across that way- so thank you.
As our pastor says, children are a blessing but they are also a burden- they take much time and care. May He bless you during this time. :)

Tracy said...

As always, really, really great post. I love reading what the Lord has taught you through the years. I just loved every part of this article...and passed it along to another mom who I knew would love hearing your wisdom as well. One of the best things the Lord gave us a few years back was a friend who has 11 children. She is about 15 years ahead of us time-wise, so many of her kids are nearly grown. But after each child I have, I can look at her children and say "but if YOU would have stopped at three, you wouldn't have a Ryan...what would the world be without him? And if you would have stopped at Ryan, you wouldn't have an Ang!" And knowing what amazing people each of her children have become (and each of my children are, too) it's like looking at presents unwrapped down the line. Blessings to you as you rest and prepare for the next phase in your life!

Joy said...

Congratulations Jess! Thank you so much for your posts! I cannot tell you how encouraging you are to me. Your balanced and Biblical perspective really helps me to think through the issues in my life. Blessings on you, Doug and all your little ones!

Janelle said...

Hi Jess,
Congratulations!! As usual, your post was wonderfully written and edifying, I learned a lot, and I enjoyed getting to know you better. I only check two blogs regularly, and yours is one of them. I find it helpful and encouraging.

I also wanted to let you know who I am and update you. I'm that gal (now 37) who was in Central Asia who wrote you a year and a half ago for advice on courtship long distance with another missionary. You sent me that very helpful list of questions from another missionary friend of yours. Less than a month later we were engaged (by skype) and 6 months later we were married. We're now expecting our 1st child (due August 19th) and hoping to be back in Asia in January.

I will continue to enjoy your blog, now for parenting advice! Thanks you so much for sharing the gifts and experiences He has given you with us out here. Wish I could know you in person!

Blessings, In Jesus Christ,

Jordan said...

Hi! Thank you so much for sharing about your large family! And congratulations on your new baby. I hope you are feeling well...and excited!

This topic of family size, children being a blessing and birth control has been hot on my mind. We have been married 3 1/2 years and have 2 babies...a surprise, at first, then a lesser surprise and now that my son is 9 months old I already go back and forth about wanting another baby...also realizing I have a lot on my plate and I want to give my children the best life I can (though when I say "best life" I probably mean something very different than most people would think).

Anyway, I read Doug Wilson's piece on birth control and really don't know what to make of it - especially the closing questions - because how can anyone afford children? I don't feel like I had everything "under control" with just 1 baby, now I have 2, and it's hard but God is helping us and it has been so incredible. I suppose this leaves room for individuals to seek the Lord, spouses to consult one another's wishes and needs - but ultimately I don't think I can "handle" much - I want to depend on the Lord, and I know He also wants us to use prudence and wisdom...but this issue is a tricky one for me...

Do you have any more thoughts or explanation about spacing or specifically answering D. Wilson's "questions" about family planning? So many seem fear-based.

I'm thankful that no matter what, God is sovereign and opens and closes the womb.


P.S. I so appreciate your blog...:)

Candice said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your journey, Jess. I know posts like that take time and energy to put together, and you blessed many I'm sure because you put your story out there. I especially appreciate what you said about your husband caring for you/guarding your health in the midst of childbearing/childrearing. We have eight precious little ones, and I do see the Lord chipping away my self-reliance and pride more with each passing year. He is good, and so faithful. Blessings to you and congratulations as you work on growing that little blessing! :)

Christy said...

Congrats to you on baby #6! And thank you for sharing your large family thoughts here. I appreciate the article by Doug Wilson too.

We just added baby #4 to our family, and this is always a stressful, difficult season for me. So I especially appreciate your reminder of what a blessing children are in our lives. I've noticed, too - like you mentioned with the birth of your Moses - that my older boys are enjoying our new baby more than they did the previous one. They love her sweet smiles and coos and get so excited about them. I love sharing that perspective with them this time.

Look forward to hearing the other three birth stories sometime too! :-)

Tanya said...

Wonderful article, Jess! Thank you for sharing about being a mom of a large family. I've been reading your blog off-and-on for several years. My experiences as a mom of seven and decisions we've made along the way have paralleled yours in so many ways, although our understanding of God's view of children was changed after he surprised us with #3 when our oldest two were 4 1/2 and 7.

Now at 42 I've experienced two miscarriages in the midst of health problems over the last two years, so we are at an unexpected place in our decisions about fertility. I had always believed that I would allow God to close my womb in his timing (a topic which no one ever seems to write about, to my knowledge). We are praying about where to go from here.

I loved what you wrote about your older boys with the new baby. I have experienced this too. I am constantly amazed by my teenage daughters' love for their younger siblings even with all the challenges of helping out with a sick mom much of the time. I never dreamed I would be managing the needs of hormonal teenagers and breastfeeding infants at the same time! I believe my experience as a grandmother will be completely different from my own mom because I won't be so far-removed from mothering my own little ones when I start having grandchildren.

Congratulations on your latest blessing! Thanks again for taking the time to share your story. :)

Beth Celestin said...

As always, such an encouraging post!


Janel said...

I'm happy for you Jess!

I hadn't seen the Doug Wilson article before, but I really like it. It's pretty much where I'm at as well. Thanks for sharing it.


Ruth said...

Congratulations! What sweet news!

Liz said...

I love the nsights from your journey. I relate so much. We are expecting our 5th in February too. I completely agree on the older sibling fun :)


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jess! I love reading about your parenting adventures because I am on similar timing. My kids are 10, 8, 6, almost 4, and almost 2. We are expecting baby #6 in December. The best advice on birth control we've gotten is from a father of 10. He said it's like everything else in our lives lived before God, "It's by faith." And while I believe the Lord gives some couples freedom in the area of birth control that right now we don't have, we continually keep the matter in prayer and seeking His face for His will for us as we steward our fertility. Loved reading about all the different responses to baby #6. For us, we've received, "oh no's" and celebrations. Jennifer

Victoria said...

You have a beautiful family! I loved your story. My husband and I have 5 children who are 11, 9, 8, 21 months, and 9 months old - 4 daughters and a son. I have experienced 8 miscarriages myself. Wishing you all the very best with your new little blessing. :) God bless!

Tara said...

Thanks for taking the time to share so transparently about your motherhood journey! Many blessings to you and your fam as you prepare to welcome a new little one!

Hannah said...

Hi! I just found your blog after googling "Babywise" and have been reading through so many of your posts.

Thank you so much for sharing this! I am from a family of 8 kids (4 biological and 4 adopted) and my husband and I have always known we wanted a large family. We're expecting our first in October:-)

I think you very accurately portrayed how having many children is hard work but a true blessing.

I look forward to reading more along with you as we prepare for our little one!

Renee said...

CONGRATS!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Your family is so beautiful!

Lindsay said...

Dear lady,

CONGRATULATIONS on number 6!!! How bountifully the Lord has blessed you through the children, the experiences you write of, and even the miscarriages. Thank you for sharing what you've learned a long the way. And for doing it so lovingly. :)

Thanks also for mentioning the PCOS amidst all the struggles, joys, and lessons you shared. I'm another one with PCOS. Diagnosed at age 27, while unmarried and wanting a family so badly, I sobbed my eyes out in fear of what it could mean for marriage and children. (I also have: autoimmune thyroid disease; a "high positive" antinuclear antibody level which could just be from thyroid disease, could mean nothing, or could mean I'll develop another autoimmune disease; insulin resistance despite being thin; and a collagen defect that means I'm more limited in what I can do due to pain and injury - a fact that in itself convinced one godly friend I wasn't the right wife for him. I can't get private insurance and feel like a big risk to potential husbands sometimes.) If you don't mind me asking, has anything in particular seemed to help the PCOS? I've tried targeting the insulin resistance--which perhaps you don't have--through eating changes, vitamins and supplements, exercise. . .and eventually my body worked regularly for the first time ever and my fasting insulin level dropped by a little over half; but several months ago things messed up again, so I'm trying some old things [e.g., some of the same eating habits, taking vitamins again] and making some tweaks, and am always on the look out for something to learn/try. It helps just remembering there are many men who have happily married women already diagnosed with PCOS. :)

You would love, I think, a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. For you like to understand how many things work. This book will tell you your main fertility signs (i.e., your cervical fluid pattern, basal body temps, and cervical position) and how to use them to tell if and when you've ovulated. And by having you chart the info, it will help you work with a Dr. if anything ever goes (or appears to be going) wrong. I can't tell you how much I wish I had this info growing up (and how much I wish I'd appreciated a woman's bodily functions before spending so many hours, dollars, tears, and fears trying to avoid infertility, diabetes, and male-pattern changes; something this book may have helped with, though I think the Lord makes me in particular work so much for things like fertility and managing bad joints and jobs because I'm naturally so blind, unthoughtful, and unthankful...).

If you'd like, I'd be happy to share some links to books and such that seem to have contributed to some success in my PCOS management, along with other things I've read of that seem promising (e.g., vitamin D, d-chiro-inositol).

I hope I haven't said way too much!!

Love in Christ,

Megan said...

Jess! This is so timely for me, as I am getting adjusted to life with four. I can totally relate to what you experienced going from 3 to 4... right now, this week, I've been realizing how much I had relied on my own strength and abilities to manage everything with three, and I mostly could do it. Now with 4, I'm out of my depth! And it has been such a joy in our home to see our two older ones doting and loving on our new sweet one. Since she's adopted, I've wondered how they would relate to her, what it would be like to have her get in our bed in the morning... it's just been so....normal. So wonderfully normal. Thank you so much for sharing this with such wisdom and grace! It was a pleasure to read!

Kaitlin @ Homemaker Design said...


I have stopped in to your blog a few times but had to comment this time. I love this post! Some wonderful truths here - and I think the Lord has used some of what you wrote to speak to me in an area I had concern about. :) One thing I particularly loved was this bullet - "I am not going to be magically "zapped" with biblical wisdom and insight-- if I am going to be a wise and godly woman, wife, mother, and friend, it will come with discipline and purpose on my part, as I yield to God, letting Him instruct my heart." AMEN!!! Praying that for myself!!!

Anyways, I've delved into some of your older posts and plan on reading more...when time presents it's self - we were just blessed with the birth of baby #3! :)

CONGRATULATIONS on baby #6 - what a blessing!!!!

melissa said...

I haven't visited your blog in quite some time - congrats on #6!

Polly said...

Congratulations on your next sweet baby. :)

I agree with you on all your points and loved the list of large family benefits. Totally agree with the 'stewardship' combined with 'children are a blessing' mentality. We're at two children now and it appears two is our number though I know God has His own plans, and I'm up for 'em!! {I distinctly remember the hospital pediatrician telling us, when our second child was born, that he and his wife THOUGHT they were two-child-parents too, until #3 was born, and then "we figured, well, why not?!" and they had EIGHT. All homeschooled. :) And all but the youngest were grown...and I remember he said "I envy the place where you are right now, starting out with everything" (he knew we were homeschooling...)."

I think of that often when the days are hard (me=not as selfless and patient as I wish I could be).

God is good, all the time. Praying for a healthy and wonderful pregnancy for you.

Jaime said...

congratulations! and thanks for such a thoughtful post.

Kondwani said...

Thanks Jess.
I think I have days (today being one!) when I feel very much like you did when you had your fourth - slightly exhausted, at times isolated. If you ask me to tell you all the positive things, I can list them and indeed believe them. But the loneliness can feel heavy. It encourages me that you have also walked through such a season and come through the other side.

Sanders said...


Great post - thanks for sharing so transparently.

I think I'm going to ask the hubby to read through the Wilson link and discuss together.


Catherine Vos said...

Thanks for sharing so honestly. We had 3 in 3 years and decided to 'count the cost' and stop there. I have always felt somewhat guilty and a failure, like I should have been able to cope with popping out babies repeatedly. Thanks for presenting the idea that there are biblical perspectives towards counting the
cost. I needed to hear that.

The Lindell Family said...

Congratulations on your new little blessing! It was encouraging to read the story of your journey and how each child has shaped you and your family. It made me reflect on my own family and the blessing they are. Thank you! :)

Belinda said...

Congratulations! What a sweet blessing:-) I, too, have been diagnosed with PCOS but sadly not as early as you were diagnosed or we might have been more mindful of the obstacles that we would have. I am almost 40 and have been infertile for 8 years. We know it is all in the Lord's hands and I am very blessed with my 3:-)Thanks for another great article!

Melissa B said...

What an awesome testimony of how God has taught you and blessed you through the growth of your family. I intend to print this post out tomorrow and save it (the printer is in the baby's room!).

Today I took my kids to a park with a huge network of wooden play structures. It was really neat to watch my 6-year-old son gently encourage my almost-2-year-old, "Come on! This way!" and wait patiently for her to follow him and imitate him in going down slides, etc. It's neat to see the developing relationships between members of my family--3 kids so far...maybe another in the future...maybe. :-) I agree with your position: "Children are wonderful, AND we are stewards. Consider carefully, AND trust God. Both/And." I love my babies so much and I do trust that God will provide if we end up having another, but there are a lot of factors to consider.

Congrats on your new little one.

Jess said...

Just got this comment and accidentally hit "delete" instead of "publish"--

"Wonderful post. We have 6 children (16, 13, 11, 9, 5, 2) and have experienced 3 losses. Your post resonates with me as I am in a very similar place in terms of how God has been working in my life. Many blessings to you as you continually seek Him more and more!


Phyllis said...

Thank you for sharing all this! So encouraging! I am also loving seeing my oldest enjoy his baby brother now. And the apple quote is just golden. :-)

Coralie said...

This is an old post, but I keep coming back to it. I keep trying to read through all of it, but can't. I have PCOS and my story is a little different from yours. Eleven years of infertility and loss, until suddenly having three children in my late thirties. After desperately wanting a large family for so long, my three (under 5) are all I can take and my body can take and my quiver is suddenly full at three.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the post, and let you know that even though our stories are different, I praise the Lord for your story and your willingness to share it. I also want to thank you for sharing it as your story, instead of "a prescriptive tome."

I wanted to reassure you that some of us with different stories are not hurt by yours.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post as usual! I wonder if you've ever considered natural family planning? Although my husband and I consider having children our "default," NFP has given us a wonderful awareness of how our bodies work. We know exactly when I am fertile each month and can prayerfully discern the conception of each new child without the moral quandaries of birth control. We know many couples who have been able to conceive thanks to the information given to them by NFP.
Just for the record, NFP is NOT the "rhythm method." It is a very accurate way of charting a woman's temperatures, mucus and cervical signs throughout the month.

Jess said...

Elizabeth, I have heard of it, read a bit about it, and concluded that it's just not for us. Neither of us is consistent enough to keep up with such a system. In the end, for now, we just do what works for us, but I have a good many friends who do all of the tracking etc., with NFP and enjoy it and find it helpful (both in conceiving and prayerfully preventing pregnancy). Thanks for the comment.

Daniella said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and am really enjoying it. I could spend way too much time here at once. Look forward to exploring it further :)

michelle said...

Hello jess.
Just read your amazing blog. Wonderful. I have 4 beautiful children under 9 & had 2 misscarriages last year. Praying for the gift of another life. I have realize how little trust i have in God the Fathers providence and have realized how little i have relied on him in the past, untill now!! Each month has brought a feeling of disappointment as i wait for a bfp! But now i have let go of my owm desires and realize that being open to life and having faith is what i need to do.
God blesd you and your family

Christine Smith said...

It's a blessing to have such a nice family! congratulations!