My husband and I are waiting for our baby to be born in another state. If all goes as planned, some day soon we’ll get the call that our baby’s mom is in labor, and we’ll catch the first flight out. We’ll ooh and aah over the sweet little bundle and cry over the loss that his birth mother will feel. We’ll load up our little one and spend hours staring at his sweet face. We’ll do all the things that first-time parents do, and we’ll feel that universal excitement mixed with terror at the responsibility ahead of us. The only difference between us and other new parents is that we are far from new. Our upcoming addition, the longed for and prayed for baby of our dreams, will be our seventh child.
It doesn’t make sense, does it, to have six children and still long for more? It doesn’t make sense, but the desire is real.
If you wonder whether a mom could want a seventh (or eighth, or tenth) baby just as much as she wanted the first, the answer is yes. She still gets that ache when a friend announces her pregnancy. She still pauses in the baby section to gaze at the little nightgowns. She glances at the family portrait hanging on the wall and imagines another face in it.
Most women know when their family is done. It may be after one child, or two, or three. She may decide that she and her husband make a lovely family all by themselves. She may keep adding more and more children without that feeling ever kicking in. It’s not a matter of being discontent. It’s about knowing God has a bigger plan.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Wanting more children when you already have more than the “norm” is a lonely place to be.
The longing for another baby is intense, but the momma with many keeps it to herself. Others look at her with a bit of wonder mixed with pity. When she shares her desire for a new bundle of joy, she is not met with enthusiasm. She will likely hear some variation of “You want another one??” Yes, she really does, but now she knows not to share her feelings. She keeps them bottled up. Like a small child with a beloved but battered toy, she keeps her desires hidden and only takes them out when she is alone.
What if it takes years? How can she explain the devastation as time passes with no baby. Who would understand? Certainly not the people who think she already has more than she can handle. They don’t identify with her. Deep down they might be repelled by her. A woman with many children who still wants more? They can’t help but judge. It’s like seeing a person on a ventilator enjoying a cigarette, or a morbidly obese person chowing down on a plate of cheese fries. It’s obscene. They don’t want to think that she could be happy with many, especially when they aren’t always happy with few.
And then the baby does come. Where is the celebration? A quick congratulations as they pass in the hall. Comments like, “I don’t know how you do it. I never could.” That baby is a gift from God, but our society’s preference for small families makes her into something shameful.
Can we agree to honor all children, no matter how many came before? Can we strive to understand that God has a different plan for each family. God wired us all differently, and who are we to criticize God’s handiwork?
The next time you come across a mom with a new baby or one on the way, make a big deal out of it whether it’s her first or fourteenth. You know why? Because a new child is a really big deal, and that precious momma needs to know that someone is excited for her. If a friend shares her desire for a child, whether it’s her first or fourteenth, offer to pray along with her. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll be able to share her feelings again without fear of disapproval.
If you are that mom who still desires children even though others think you’re crazy, believe me. I understand. Children are a gift, and you never have to feel embarrassed because you want more of God’s blessings.