Happy Easter! Christ is risen!
Our holiday was extra special this year, because we shared the joyful news with our families that our fifth child is due to arrive somewhere around October 8! (Personally, I’m hoping for October 4 – feast of St. Francis of Assisi – but with my track record he or she will probably arrive earlier than that.) We were blessed to be able to hear his/her heartbeat via Doppler on Monday, beating strong and fast at 153 beats per minute. The start of this pregnancy was a bit tumultuous due to some unexplained bleeding, so the beautiful whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of our baby’s heartbeat was sweet music to my ears.
The news was received by our families (most of whom are Protestant, as my husband and I are both converts) with much surprise and some concern, so I compiled a brief FAQ to answer many of the questions we’ve already been asked (and some I expect have been asked behind our backs).
Q: Five kids?! Are you crazy??
A: Yes, if by “crazy” you mean “supremely blessed”!
Q: Where will you put them all?
A: In bedrooms, with bunk beds eventually. If necessary we can also pitch tents in the backyard. Arizona’s climate makes that a viable option.
Q: Was this planned?
A: When that becomes your business, I’ll let you know.
Q: Don’t you know what causes that?!
A: Yes, and we’re very good at it.
Q: Are you trying to overpopulate the Earth?
A: No, just outnumber the idiots.
Q: Haven’t you ever heard of contraception?
A: Of course we have. We simply choose not to use it for many sound and logical reasons.
Q: You’re done after this one, right?
A: We figure we’ll stop once we get an ugly kid. Hasn’t happened yet. In fact, they just keep getting cuter!
Q: Are you going to get fixed?/Is your husband going to get fixed?
A: No, because we’re not broken. In fact, our reproductive systems work perfectly!
Q: Are you going to quit your job? [Note: I work full-time outside the home.]
A: Not unless the government bans pregnant women in the workforce.
Q: How will you pay for their college educations?
A: If we based our family size on if we could pay college tuition, we’d have to have a negative number of kids. Have you seen how much tuition costs these days??
Q: Don’t you have a TV?
A: If you think TV is better than making love, you’re doing it wrong. (I stole this one from Simcha Fisher.)
Q: How are you going to afford five kids?
A: We plan to write a best-selling book in which we demonstrate how to deflect rude questions from nosy people. We’ve had a lot of experience so far.
All joking aside, I have to admit that if you would have told me on my wedding day in 2001 that in 2013 I’d be pregnant for the 7th time (in addition to our four kids on earth and the one in-utero, we’ve lost two children to miscarriage) in 11 years, I wouldn’t have believed it. At the time of our marriage, both my husband and I were Lutheran and contracepting, with the idea that we’d have two kids, maybe three, but certainly no more than that.
Our journey to the Catholic Church caused us to reevaluate our decision to use contraception, and introduced us to NFP. Our awesome experience with NFP and the improvement in our marriage, in turn, led us to intensely study and reflect upon the Catholic Church’s teachings about sex, marriage, and openness to life. As it says in the Apostolic Constitution promulgated by Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes,
Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents. The God Himself Who said, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) and “Who made man from the beginning male and female” (Matt. 19:4), wishing to share with man a certain special participation in His own creative work, blessed male and female, saying: “Increase and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.
We have found these words to be prophetic for our lives. Our marriage has been vastly enriched by the addition of each of our children. We can’t imagine our lives without any of them. Even our two little ones who died before we had the chance to hold them in our arms remain an integral part of our family. They are our intercessors in heaven, and every day I give them a special intention for which to pray.
I’m profoundly thankful that our hearts and minds opened to cooperation with God’s plan, instead of heeding the call of the secular world to have fewer kids and more possessions. We may never be rich in worldly wealth, but I do know that the riches we store up in heaven by co-creating souls with God surpass any reward that this world could possibly offer.
© 2013. JoAnna Wahlund. All Rights Reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.