By now, the idea that we are expecting a tiny addition to our family has begun to sink in fully. The shock of it all was pretty real for about the first three or four weeks upon finding out. And with that finding out, so many thoughts bounced around my brain. Besides the ones that had to do with practical aspects (ohmygosh…two under two? Life shall be crazy. I will never sleep again. Lucy will never learn to sleep on her own. The new baby will be a terrible sleeper like Lucy was. I will somehow need to grow a third arm just to get through each day. I will probably never shower or wear non-pj clothing again. How will we leave the house, and return, in one piece?) there were deeper thoughts that required far more wrestling to fully reckon with.
Namely, I was afraid that people would judge me for having two babies in so short a time-span. Guess what? That did not happen. Every person so far, from close friends to extended family to strangers on the street, has only expressed congratulatory sentiments at our news. Why did I think I would get raised eyebrows or secret judgmental thoughts? Probably because that’s how I was judging myself, and others in my situation, in a way. I have come to realize that everyone else simply sees that there is a reason to rejoice: new life, a sibling for Lucy who will (hopefully) be her best friend throughout life. I haven’t needed to make any of the excuses I was coming up with in my head: “Well, it was a big surprise” (even though it was). “Hopefully the next ones will be more spaced out…” (even though I do hope that!). There is never a reason why one should feel the need to make an excuse or apology for the occurrence of new life.
The point is, this was a way in which I’d unwittingly allowed the sneaky Culture of Death to invade my thought process: yes, children are a blessing, but we should probably be very responsible and space them out at least two years by using NFP, and somehow we’re failures and freaks if we don’t. This, coming from someone who has always wanted to be a mom to a large family and loves babies. I just always assumed (and hardly realized I was doing it) that it would be more on “our” terms, more deliberate.
We had the same sort of thought process when we were praying about whether or not to wait on getting pregnant right after we got married. Thanks to NFP, we knew that there was an extremely high chance of returning from our honeymoon with a living souvenir. We knew that there were no truly serious reasons (financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise) to wait, but we both felt the pull of the world, and the whispering in our ears, “But don’t you just want to have some time together? Who wants to just get pregnant immediately?” We recognized that this voice and its message had a hollow ring. It belonged to the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and so we decided the “we want time to get used to being married” argument wasn’t a serious reason for us. It might be for some people, and I cannot judge that at all. But for us, it was just selfishness. We decided to be open to the possibility of a honeymoon baby, if God willed it, and … He did.
In much the same way, my getting used to the idea of this surprise second pregnancy so soon involved throwing off a mindset that isn’t rooted in true selflessness. Part of me assumed that “normal” child-spacing is about two years, since that seems to be the pattern in many families (and I’m talking about NFP-using, non-contracepting families). Believe me, we were doing the whole exclusive breastfeeding thing, but not every woman’s body is the same. Imagine that! I was charting, but post-partum charting is a whole different animal, and I truly didn’t see any forewarning signs. So really, it was again God’s will that this child was conceived. There was no “failure” about it, even if it turned out I had made an error in charting (I still don’t know). There are no “child-spacing norms” we need to conform to, other than the ones that God has laid out for our particular marriage. An NFP manual or doctor can’t dictate that; only a prayerful consideration of our current state in life and trusting in God can.
As always, marriage and parenthood continue to teach lessons about humility and dying to self. I was humbled to realize that I had always considered closely spaced children as something…well, not beneath me, but just not something I’d ever personally do. That mentality isn’t fully open to life. And dying to self, well, see my list above. I know it is just dripping with optimism about life with two babies. But really, I have no doubt that God will teach me some very intense lessons about myself and the degree of trust I need to place in Him to make it through the days. Even if He doesn’t grant me the gift of a third arm.