The Day the Air Conditioning Man Told Me He Got Fixed

Leila Miller - Fixed


A friendly young air conditioner tech came over to check the system at our home.

Small talk led to him asking, \”So how many kids do you have, anyway?\”

\”We have eight.\”

Shocked, laughing, \”Oh, are you crazy?!\”

I was not offended; I could sense a good heart. \”Ha ha, well, two are in college, and so only six are in the house right now.\”

Then he went and said it: \”We had three, and then I got fixed.\”

I didn\’t even hesitate, and said with a smile:

\”Oh, were you broken?\”

Nervous laughter, hesitation. He really was not expecting that.

I continued: \”My husband definitely isn\’t broken, ha ha!\”

Embarrassed smile, trying to figure out what to say, not quite meeting my gaze: \”Well, my wife decided we were done. Three was tough. She is from a big Mormon family, eight brothers and sisters… her sister has six kids… so after three…\”

\”Uh-huh.\” (Because I honestly understood.)

\”…she said she couldn\’t handle anymore. So I got, you know…\”

I smiled warmly and explained how we hit the same fork in the road, almost took that route: \”Gosh, we had the same situation! We had three, and my husband was going to go get…\’broken\’ [I chuckled again, he accepted the joke], but then we changed our minds. He was Jewish, I was a lapsed Catholic, then we had big conversions of heart and went on to have five more kids, all boys.\”

I sensed his approval, \”Yeah, that\’s so cool. Amazing. We just…I don\’t know. It\’s a lot of work.\”

\”I know, it really is. But nothing worth doing is easy. And these boys would not exist….\” I gestured toward the two boys nearby.

He nodded. \”Yeah, you are so right. We would have been just like you, with eight, if we hadn\’t have….\”


We chatted some more. I told him how everything changes, everything is a season, as it\’s supposed to be. Things become doable as time goes on and children grow up. I explained that we have four of babysitting age now, and my husband and I can go out together on a whim — and we do. We have a total of five drivers in the family, which changes the dynamics completely. And, far from being put upon, all the children have begged for a new baby, often scolding my husband and me for being the only ones standing in the way of another sibling.

I also reminded this nice man that my kids are going to paying for his Social Security one day, as we have so few young workers coming up to support the aging Baby Boomers. Doing our part for the economy. He laughed and nodded in agreement.

He seemed eager to assure me that he loves children, loves that there are many young faces at his home: \”We have all those cousins for the kids, and the neighbor kids come over, too. We have lots of kids around the house all the time, and it\’s great.\”

I told him, honestly, how wonderful that is. Big smiles. Have a great day, thanks again, very friendly.

And I am sad. He seemed sad, too. I think he knows what a blessing children are. I sensed this was not his decision. I sensed that he loves his wife, he loves his kids, and he is a good daddy. I sensed that he cut his family short too soon and would have been overflowing with love for any other child(ren) that could have — would have — blessed his marriage.

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109 thoughts on “The Day the Air Conditioning Man Told Me He Got Fixed”

  1. Pingback: To the commenters who queried… - Innocence/Experience

  2. If a man coerces a woman into getting sterilized its “violence against women” and probably a jailable offence just by accusation. If a wife coerces a man to get sterilized its “women’s empowerment” and there will be no talk of penalty. That is why I advocate all young men should choose a real adventure over romantic entanglements with women.

  3. This is a sensitive area where we definitely need to speak the truth but with lots of love. Unfortunately, the time to speak about it is before the sterilization ever takes place. Afterward, although our intentions may be good, our words will appear judgmental, or worse, feel to them like we are pouring salt in an open wound.

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann! I agree.

      My husband and I personally approached at least two couples (in charity and love) before a sterilization, and unfortunately, both went ahead with it. 🙁 But at least our consciences are clear and we did not remain silent.

    2. PS: I should have added that as far as mentioning it after the fact, it really depends on the situation. We should speak if it seems the time is right and we speak in love. Reversals are almost always an option, should hearts be stirred and changed. And I always go by the maxim: “Truth comes with graces attached.” The key is discernment, and that is something we all need to learn. And that doesn’t mean to speak only when people are happy to hear what we have to say; sometimes it will mean great discomfort on our part, as I learned with another true story from my life:

    3. Leila, you are so right. It takes discernment to be able to recognize an opportunity to enlighten someone who would otherwise never realize the serious nature of an action. And it takes courage to follow through on the Spirit’s prompting, in a gentle yet truthful way. By the way, I remember reading and saving your April post “A True Story” – it was very inspiring!

  4. I’ve known many people who later regretted their sterilization. However, many times that decision is made under duress (economic stress, medical issues, overwhelmed with many young children) and not simply because they don’t want more children. It sounds like this was the case with this man’s wife. Don’t assume that everyone’s motive is anti-child.

    So many of us have had multiple c-sections and must use prudence when pursuing another pregnancy. If I hadn’t has c-sections, I’d probably have four kids now. I have two children, one miscarriage, and perhaps will try for one more soon. However, I’m well aware of the medical risks involved in having more than three c-sections. I don’t plan to have my tubes tied, but I understand how that would attractive for someone under similar circumstances.

    1. Hi Priscilla! I hope (I thought) I made that clear in the OP, that I totally understood why folks would be overwhelmed at the thought of more children. Never did I assume an “anti-child” attitude. 🙂 After all, as I mentioned, my own husband and I were bound and determined to get him “fixed”, and we are not anti-child. God bless you as you discern regarding another child!

    2. Oh, I wasn’t responding just to you, Leila. Some of the other responses were imputing an anti-child attitude on people who have been sterilized. I think being open to children is wonderful, but there are so many factors that each couple must discern together. One of the best things about using Fertility Awareness is not having to make any permanent decisions. Circumstances can change and it allows couples to adapt to those changes.

    3. Under duress– I think I’ve mentioned it before, but either way:

      I’ve had two non-emergency c-sections; each time, before giving me pain medication, they’ve asked if I want to be sterilized.

      One time, I’d been in labor for about three hours while the doctor tried to get there (second daughter showed up early) and the other I was giving birth alone. (husband deployed, mother watching our daughters)

      Each time, I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about how easy it would be to be pushed into the wrong thing– when I KNEW it was wrong– just because I was so scared.

    4. Foxfier, this is so true. So many women are pushed and pressured to be sterilized when they are at their weakest, most vulnerable moments. It’s criminal in my opinion!

    5. Priscilla, while I don’t know your circumstances, I can certainly relate to a degree. I am a c-section mommy who had four beautiful children by section and one in heaven. I’m not sure if your loss was another c-section, but if not, I can tell you that the research I have done shows no significant raise in risk between section 2 and 3. Also, are you aware that the AMA is advocating trying vbac now after one or TWO c-sections? I know it is so hard to be in that situation where you see so many blessed all the time by babies and knowing that even if we wanted another one, we really should wait for our health or perhaps not be able to have another child biologically at all. And the silent judgement we may feel (even if its in ou head) about not having more or closer together. Also, a good doctor is worth their wait in gold. My doctor understood and supported me, was knowledgable in NFP, and also told me that I was just fine to have another child if I choose. I just wanted to give you a ray of hope that c-sections do not neccesarily mean a certain number of babies. God Bless.

  5. Sorry I’m late to this exposition of very strange behavior by stark61555. I am always interested in very angry people and why they seem to need to attack everything and anything. stark, if you can slow down enough tell me who you hate the most and why.

  6. We lost our 6th because of uterine fibroids. Very very sad for us. We would have had more, but NFP worked despite my irregular cycles. Doctor said I could get pregnant again but never carry to term-decades ago. Sad too that 4 of our 5 no longer believe nor go to Mass. Lots to pray and sacrifice for. Those who have to ridicule or are hateful in commenting must have some guilt, or envy that large families are happy and God does provide. Lots of home schooled families in our parish…to admire and thank God for.

  7. Words of encouragement to young parents – your faith, work , and perseverance will pay off.
    Some things my college aged kids have said that remind me now it was all worth it:
    * sorry I didn’t pick up I was at mass (on a Wednesday)
    * My professor wanted me to read “Heather Has Two Mommies” to first graders – I
    * My Evangelical roommate doesn’t think its necessarily wrong to pray “to” Saints now after we talked
    * Can’t do it Tuesday dad, I am teaching RE at my parish.
    * I refused to sign up for food stamps or go to the food bank when encouraged by school authorities, “for Pete sake I choose to go to graduate school I’m not starving.”
    Ten years ago I never dreamed I would hear these things, God is faithful, finish the race.

  8. Nice article: My wife and I have six children and little brings me more joy than when one of the “older” ones drive many miles to watch one of the “little guys” high school events, be it sports, music etc. When I observe one of my younger children eyeing their older sibling in the stands, the younger knowing the older came of their own volition it gives me a sense of joy that may be a fore taste of Heaven. Children 1 or 12 are truly a great blessing from God.
    (This is not to say it is easy we had six kids ages 12 to newborn making </= 30k a year and building a house, while living in a 2 bedroom cabin. When I look back to that time, now 14 years ago I have no idea how we did it other than God's providence and faithfulness.) God is faithful.

    1. Six kids? That doesn’t make you holier than everyone else. Just that you got married younger and well pay more bills. I will never have a mortgage or labor pain ever . Deal with it.

    2. I got married at 34.11mons. I have had a career all my life. I am tired of these homeschool never worked mothers who thnks we are gonna pay for them in the 2030s and 40s. No way.

    3. If you took my post as holier than thou I apologize. I am a sinner, and at times a poor parent. Just reiterating the author’s fact that among many of God’s blessings are children – even when a child as a ‘blessing’ is the furthest thing from a parents mind.
      I have had many bills, you are correct, God has been faithful with near miraculous financial blessings in our lives’.

    4. Cy, God bless you for trying, but I looked up this person’s history on other blog posts. Nasty and bitter all the way around. I believe he/she is a troll, just trying to amuse him/herself by stirring up trouble. Sad.

  9. I couldn’t have kids and neither could my hub. Your GOP views cut our insurance to fix this. You are guilty on both ends. Deal w it.

  10. A very judgmental piece. Just cause you have 8 kids doesn’t mean you are going to heaven. Not everyone can have kids. Awful & self righteous!

    1. Apparently, you didn’t bother to read the piece.

      There is a massive difference between being unable to have children–or it simply not happening– and sterilizing yourself.

    2. stark61555, why are you here, and why are you so completely off-topic and bitter? Perhaps you need to read more thoroughly, and be more charitable. I am suspecting you are simply a troll, because otherwise your behavior and tone is very bizarre. No one else here is acting like you are. Your rudeness and off-topic remarks are uncalled for.

      Too bad you don’t have compassion on couples who cannot have children. Not every couple is going to have kids. People who get married late just do conceive AS MUCH OR NEVER. NEVER….. IS SOMETIMES GOD’S WILL.

    4. What are you yelling about? By the way, you need to ascertain facts before you accuse. I got my start in blogging because of my desire to help out infertile friends of mine; my heart was breaking for them. My research led me to the blogs of infertile Catholic woman. Some of the holiest women you will ever meet, and many of them are now my friends. Very sad that you are ranting against a straw man.

      And, as before, your comments have nothing to do with the actual article and deliberate sterilization (a completely different circumstance than the suffering of infertility).

      By the way, the line about confession and kids I did not “produce” makes absolutely no sense. What on earth are you talking about? How about this: Let us pray for one another.

    5. Stark,

      Maybe you’re a troll, maybe you’re not. I’m going to address you as if you’re not, for what it’s worth. It would help if you would tone-down your vitriol, however, and just hear me out. (Actually, hear all of us out!) It’s obvious you’re really hurting and I’m sincerely sorry for that.

      In the anti-life and anti-child culture in which we all live, I assure you, those with large families encounter much more scorn than childless couples. (Though that’s not the main point I intend to make here today, it had to be said.)

      No one here is pointing fingers at those who cannot conceive. Leila’s post is about those who medicate away the gift of their fertility or who surgically get “broken” to avoid having children, at all, or to limit how many they have. Look, I even have children and feel as if I have a too-small family compared to many of our family members and friends who have 5++. Consequently, I can even *sort of* understand how you must feel around couples with children, especially large families.

      Once, in a group of women, many of whom have large families, I explained how I felt as if I looked like someone who had chosen to have only three children. When, in actuality, we experienced infertility and that is the ONLY reason we had just three. They all quickly said they had never thought anything about our smaller family size and I believed them. I could have chosen to continue worrying about that, but I chose NOT to. Likewise, you can choose not to feel the way you do toward those who have children. How you feel about this and respond to folks really is in your control.

      Of course, I cannot guarantee there aren’t people thinking differently of you for having no children but I contend you also cannot assume everyone is looking upon you negatively or even with this in mind. Due to my own situation, I am SURE not to assume I know anyone’s circumstances of why they have no children or why they have perhaps only one. When couples in this category have opened-up to share their story, typically their small family or childless state was not by choice. Often, their stories are heart-wrenching and it sounds like yours is, too. I learned long, long ago we never know what people are experiencing. This is not some profound way of thinking. Most well-adjusted adults finally come to this conclusion somewhere along their path in life and I’m certain the only thing you’re being thought of negatively for here is your hateful approach to this blog’s author and all the commenters. It makes me sad for you. Truly.

    6. Thanks for this! I appreciate it.

      Stark clearly has no idea that I got my start in blogging largely because of encouragement from a group of infertile Catholic bloggers. Those ladies are some of the holiest, long-suffering Christians I have ever seen. I look up to them spiritually. So, this person’s implication that folks here are insensitive to infertility is just the height of ignorance.

    7. The GOP in our state Fla cut our insurance. We could not have kids andneeded med care 10 years ago. Could not get it. PUtting this in your face. Awful.

    8. ….you are complaining that MediCare in Florida wouldn’t pay for IVF? On a Catholic blog? In response to an article that had nothing to do with politics?


    9. I’m convinced that most internet trolls have ADHD. They can’t concentrate on a single point long enough to even remember what it is they are complaining about.

    10. A lot of the “trolls” are activists that volunteer or, in some cases, get paid, to scan sites and post rude and uncharitable comments in an attempt to poison the site. They take on a “persona” and live that on-line.

      I suspect that stark61555 falls into that category. If not, then the fact that stark61555 has some deep seated hatred and resentment toward people he or she has never met is clearly indicative of psychological and spiritual problems, and that would be very sad indeed.

  11. Have as many children as you’d like, as long as the rest of society doesn’t have to pay for them. Your need for spiritual well-being shouldn’t come at any cost to someone else.

    1. Actually, I think it’s my children who will working and paying for everyone else’s social security, etc. You’re welcome. 😉

      Children are our greatest resource.

    2. Hi Leila. “Guest’s” comment made me chuckle. I just finished reading “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting.” I feel very good about my five kids and realize that instead of begrudging large families, people should be thanking us!

    3. Thanking you for what? That you can look at us as stinking pond scum and that our gonads don’t work? Get off the internet and do us a favor, u judgmental freaks.

    4. I’ve looked up your other comments on other blog posts, stark61555. You are a troll, clearly. Nothing but nasty comments.

      Folks, this one’s a troll. How sad people’s lives must be when they have to go around trolling the blogs.

    5. I’m late here. Please don’t be so harsh. Many people wish they had a family like yours but they can’t. This can cause people to become bitter. It’s not like they can just ignore your blog and the pain will go away. They are reminded of what they are missing every time they see kids, or a couple, or a family. Many pray for the pain to go away but it doesn’t.

    6. Truth Seeker, I hope you were actually referring to “Stark61555” when you said not to be so harsh. I believe he was the name caller, asking us to “get off the internet… u judgmental freaks”. No one was judging anyone who is infertile or has a small family. My greatest sympathy (and something I work to help with, through promotion of NaPro Technology) lies with those with infertility issues, and that’s been true for many years. Infertility is a pain beyond imagining.

    7. I’m not defending Stark’s comments, who, based on other comments I think is a she. I just think there may be a lot of pain and bitterness in her life which may cause her to lash out in forums such as this. I just think it may be better not to respond rather than respond harshly.

    8. Truth Seeker, you are right, she is a woman. Thanks for that correction. And if you click her username, you will be brought to a host of her other comments on different forums. This is an unemotional fact: She is rude and ugly in her speech. I agree that she is deeply, profoundly wounded. That is heartbreaking. But that does not excuse her bad behavior, her nastiness towards others (all of whom have wounds), or her trolling. I know many of the infertile Catholic bloggers personally (they took me in and helped me get my start in blogging), and they are not rude and ugly, despite their almost unbearable pain. They are saints, as far as I am concerned. So infertility does not justify her nastiness (I’m not claiming that you think it does), and while ignoring is sometimes an option, it’s not an option when someone is disrupting the conversation repeatedly, or when they are provocatively offensive. Sometimes, we must tell people they are wrong and need to stop (the readings from Sunday’s mass speak to this).

      Just as I would not accept such rude behavior and name-calling from my own children or any guests in my own home, I really don’t allow it in my comboxes. Anyone is free to contact me privately ( and we can talk. I have talked to (and befriended) many abusive readers that way. But trolling is a no-no on the blogs. Let us pray for her.

    9. PS: She’s lashed out against the Catholic position on marriage as well, and she is married herself, so clearly she is not confining her venom to big families and issues of infertility.

    10. Catholic but not conservative

      All your children will be working and paying for social security, Leila? Even the girls? I always thought home-schooling large orthodox Catholic families like yours raised your girls to parent, and only to parent. What if one of your sons married a lovely woman who chose to work full time to support the family and he stayed home to parent? Then he would not be paying for everyone’s social security either. There are so few advocates for natural family planning that are like me that I cannot stand to listen to them anymore. We used NFP but I have never once heard a speaker or couple advocate or teacher of the method that is anything like our family. Nor are they adoptive parents like us. I am a woman that has always worked full time in a very demanding career and am the primary financial support for the family. My husband works for a non-profit, but also works full time. We have two biological children and one who joined our family by adoption. The couples who teach the method are never like us. Indeed, I was raised in a family of nine children and my husband was raised in a family of seven children and both mothers worked full time. So the stay-at-home, home-schooling type of woman is just not like me. It’s great for those of you who do it because that is what you choose. Just realize there are a lot of Catholic women out there like me. And the fact that I have only three children has nothing to do with abandoning NFP, and believe me, many of the NFP advocates have assumed so. No one in this conversation ever addresses the fact that your NFP badge is not ten children. It is faithful and loving adherance to the Church’s teaching.

    11. It seems you have a chip on your shoulder. Here are the “big orthodox NFP families” who are friends that I know (by the way, I don’t homeschool):

      1) Mom and dad both work full-time, expecting #5 any day.

      2) Mom and dad both work full-time, have five grown children.

      3) Mom works full time (accountant) and dad stays home and homeschools the four kids (and they are foster-adopt ready).

      4) One of my best friends has three bio and four adopted children (she does not homeschool, and I have many friends who have adopted children).

      5) Mom and dad both work full time, three kids.

      6) Mom and dad both work full time, two kids.

      7) Mom and dad both work full time, three kids and expecting #4.

      8) Myriad moms who are engineers, attorneys, PR ladies, real estate, scientists, etc., who for the time being are not working in order to raise children (there is great financial benefit to society in well-raised children by the way), and who may or may not go back to work.

      9) If I ran down every NFP family I know, I would not be able to get to sleep in time to wake up early for my son’s cross country meet, so I will stop here.

      I am not sure what your point is, exactly, or how it applies to my post? The truth is, due to contraception and abortion and an unwillingness for Americans to be open to life, we have a shortage of laborers for the future. That’s just a fact. My comment about social security was very specifically in response to a very rude comment just above. If you’d care to read that, you’ll see what I mean, and what I was responding to.

      You said: No one in this conversation ever addresses the fact that your NFP badge is not ten children.

      Why would anyone need to? That was not the point of the post. Again, not sure why you have come out swinging, but God bless you for adhering to the teachings of our Faith.

    12. Dear Catholic but not conservative, you’ve made many assumptions in your post. I am the mother of nine. I have worked in a field I love from the time I was 20, when my oldest was an infant. I have earned my master’s degree, starting while I was pregnant with my sixth, and finishing with my class while pregnant with the next child. I have branched out into a second career while continuing the first, and now own my own business. I know plenty of mothers of large families who work or own businesses. I know one beautiful mother of six who shows her art work in major galleries. I know another who worked for NASA and now has a couple of businesses and runs websites.
      As to my daughters and how I raise them, one wears dresses and skirts every day of her life and wants nothing more than to be a stay at home mother with a large family of her own. The other loves jeans and tennis shoes and is pursuing a Ph.D in linguistics and neuro-science.
      Please don’t make such assumptions about large families or Catholic families. 🙁

  12. This reminds me of a couple I know who mutilated themselves in order not to have a fourth child and a subsequent fifth because, “28-years old is much too old to be having children!” I suppose I understand, they have to work. She works 3-days per week in a job where she started at $105,000 annually when she was 22 years old, and he has a cushy government management job where he is clearly raking in $75,000 or $80,000 minimum. It must be tough clearing $200,000 and having 3 children with alliterated names ranging from 12 years old to 3 years old.

    Someday, when I am forty, I just might have a child… a first child, because at 40 I will be much too old not to start.

  13. Great story. Just think of how amazing our world would be if all the people God intended to be on earth were with us today…

  14. Here’s my opinion. It is only an opinion based on intuition but I believe it to be true nonetheless.

    No matter what any one person may say or even think when they see families of 5 or more children out in public, they are secretly envious. They wish in their hearts that they could have discovered what it takes to be open to children and I mean REALLY open to children.

    In the final analysis, though, what it comes down to is this: people who are open to children, and I mean REALLY open to childre,n have come to the conclusion that it is God who is the Creator of all life and it is God whom we ought to serve in this life.

    1. Those who can be so open to life are very fortunate and often don’t realize just how truly blessed they are.

      Fertility problems, difficult pregnancies, fussy/high needs babies, post-partum depression, economic issues, and lack of social support can make being open to life far more difficult for some couples than for others

      For us, having eight older children seems doable. Having seven children and a new baby seems nearly impossible. I am most amazed at how people can take care of several children and a new baby. I don’t understand how one can take care of a little one and still parent the older children.

    2. Out in the Country

      We have eight – the oldest is college age and the youngest a few months old and we have a special needs child with a profound genetic defect as well.

      There are two secrets to know: 1. Trust in God. That pretty much addresses of your list of reasons why it might be difficult. 2. Raising a big family with a wide age gap is certainly doable. The older kids have more power – and responsibility. As they approach adulthood, I expect them to behave like … adults, starting with helping to lead and guide the younger kids, do more advanced chores, etc. They also help with the baby when my wife and I help, both my girls and boys.

      So, it is actually easier to raise the baby, not harder. In fact, my fear is that the baby will be spoiled due to the fact that he always has somebody to hold him and pay attention to him.

    3. We have 16, eight boy and eight girls. The oldest is 25 and the youngest will be 2 in Oct. I know how blessed we are and how the dynamics of raising a large family show through my children in amazing ways. The older children learn responsibility and through that learn self worth and self respect. The younger children learn sharing and to be concerned with someone other than themselves, ie. their younger siblings. But most of all, we all learn that God is the author of all life and that we are precious to him. We learn to trust him with our entire lives because in the end, we are his and always were.

      You will never be rich, monetarily, but who cares!!

      God Bless you all! Jay

    4. How do you get the older ones where they need to be when you have a baby in tow? If you homeschool, how do you find time for lessons?

      Most importantly, when do you sleep? Or do you?

      Other children can help, but they have school and activities and they need sleep too.

    5. Out in the Country

      I’m not sure I understand your question. How does the presence of the baby affect a complex logistics problem of routing the other kids to certain places at certain times? It seems to me that the problem remains essentially the same with or without the baby. But, even in the case of a complex logistics problem, the older kids can often reduce the complexity of the problem by driving themselves and/or driving some of the other kids or by watching the baby while my wife and I take the other kids to their destinations.

      Yes, we do get sleep. 🙂

    6. The older children can’t drive until age 16 and they also have to be a certain age before they can watch a baby alone. What do you do before they reach that age? Transporting a baby is a challenge in itself, especially if you have one who doesn’t like carseats and screams incessantly until she is let out.

      How does one parent during postpartum recovery? Many fathers have to be back to work shortly after the baby is born. (I got two days leave.) Many grandparents are still working, too.

      As for sleep, we never got much during babyhood, even without older children.

    7. Put another way, all of our children have been high-strung, high-needs babies who don’t sleep much. How does one take care of such a child and still parent the other children?

      Those who find babyhood easy should count their blessings.

    8. This will sound like a cheesy testimonial, but after the first five kids, I discovered the Miracle Blanket. Honestly, the next three kids (including one with colic) never had a problem sleeping. We were never sleep deprived. Here you go:

      (But if it’s not snug — and that’s a bit problem parents make — it will not be effective.)

    9. This is definitely going on my pinterest board if it is as good as you say it is! Swaddling was a game changer with our colicky daughter, but as you say it has to be TIGHT in the proper places.

    10. Out in the Country

      One of the side effects of my child’s genetic defect is that she does not sleep much at all. It was very challenging at first, but then I decided that that child should be treated no differently than any of the others. After that, the issue dissipated (over time). The solution? A consistent, repeatable environment. All human beings, but especially children, benefit from an environment that is predictable, reliable and consistent. By focusing on that, our special needs child, along with all of the other children, came to expect certain things at certain times – e.g. bedtime. There was a little turbulence at first, but then things settled down and all runs now as well oiled engine. Like all things, it requires a lot of effort and persistence, on the part of parents, but it works and pays off in the end.

      In their teenage years, they rebel not to cause problems, but to see if the same repeatable, consistent environment is there for them that they had in their childhood. One of the biggest mistakes parents make with teenagers is that they relax the rules. WRONG. A teenager’s world is changing radically every day, with the prospect of “leaving the nest” looming closer each day. Although that is exciting, it is also terrifying. Thus, a fixed point in an ever changing world is soothing to them – even if it means they get in trouble – the absolute reliability of Mom and Dad still being Mom and Dad is very important.

      That is why it is paramount that parents continue to discipline their children into their teenage years, even when it is a real pain for us – in terms of time and effort. Believe me, there have been times when it would have been much easier just to let the kid get away with something. But, I have to look out for them, not me. It benefits the children tremendously to have this “fixed point” in the chaos of their teenage years.

      As far as blessings – ALL parents, including those with high-strung children like you, are BLESSED. It is what we do with our blessings that determines whether or not we are happy and calm, or unhappy and stressed. But, the “secret”, if you want to call it that, is the same for success in any other field: hard work, perseverance and patience.

    11. I think what James is trying to say is that people who can easily handle large families are very blessed, because they have the physical, emotional, and financial resources to be able to handle a large family. They often don’t realize that not everyone has those things, and they and just assume that everyone can do what they do. I encounter this attitude all the time on Catholic blogs, even among people who are not providentialists and believe that NFP can be used for serious reasons.

    12. Out in the Country

      Yes, I understand – you desire that our success is due, not to effort and sacrifice on our part (which would imply that you could do it too), but instead to us winning the lottery of life via being “blessed” when others have not. I have to reject your assertion. Every human being is blessed by God with skills and abilities that He expects us to use to promote His way of life. He gives us everything we need to be successful at doing His will. But, this usually means having to give up what we want, having to work until exhausted or some other sacrifice to make those results a reality. With prayer and God’s graces, it will happen. I cannot speak for anyone else, but we HAVE made those sacrifices – physical, emotional and financial – not because we got “blessed” by some magical pixie that granted us wealth and superhuman powers, but, because we CHOSE that path and forced our selfish sides to conform to that path. It was, and is hard, but worth it.

    13. What your argument boils down to is “I can handle a large family, therefore everyone can handle a large family.” This is simply not true. Not everyone is called to have a large family. We have ALREADY made physical, emotional, and financial sacrifices, and we are still overwhelmed. When I had my first child, I had to go back to work when she was only 3 months old. My health and immunity went way, way down. I had mono, ten colds a year, and shingles, which is an extremely painful rash that happens when your immune system is suppressed that’s usually only seen in the elderly. I wish I could have stayed home with her, but she was a surprise pregnancy before we could afford to have me stay home. I am SO sick and tired of Catholics picking on other Catholics who use NFP and telling them their reasons to avoid aren’t good enough. If they are disciplined enough to chart and abstain, that proves they have a serious reason to avoid. A couple who would avoid for frivolous reasons would just use contraception. It is very patronizing to dismiss people’s valid concerns and tell them that they can handle another child. You have no idea if someone else can handle another child.

    14. Out in the Country

      No, my argument is not of the “just because I did, so can you” variety. I was asked specific questions about how I handled specific situations. I answered those with examples.

      I believe in general, hard work pays off. And, hard work with God’s help, always pays off. “With God, all things are possible.”

      Perhaps you might want to see what YOUR argument boils down to from my point of view: “You can only do it because you got LUCKY. No skill, sacrifice, or work is involved on your part. ”

      Do you not see how that might be insulting?

      Lastly, you accuse me of looking down upon you because you use NFP. Please identify which post said that. You will be hard to find it, because we use NFP, and so I would be condemning myself When did I say that you should have another child? I never did. You are very defensive to the point that you are “bearing false witness against thy neighbor”.

      You may want to pause and think why you are so defensive of this subject that you falsely accuse others of uncharitable conduct.

    15. I believe in general, hard work pays off. And, hard work with God’s help, always pays off. “With God, all things are possible.”

      Isn’t this the Prosperity Gospel?

    16. Out in the Country

      Well, let’s see…if we ignore the fact that this particular thread is a discussion about the difficulties of raising a large family and overcoming them,

      and, ignore the fact that the response above was directed toward defining what it takes to do God’s will,

      and, ignore the fact that this an orthodox Catholic blog, which therefore adheres to Catholic teachings on materialism,

      and, accept Protestant interpretations of the Bible,

      and, have a materialistic focused, rather than God focused life,

      then, yes, I guess it could be viewed that way.

    17. James- hugs from a fellow survivor of a high-needs baby. 😉 I’m in the middle of my pregnancy hoping to get lots of rest before this new baby and my high needs baby-turned toddler is up through the night or up at 5 or 6 to start the day! I keep thinking with her spunk that she is going to take the world by storm. If I can plough through this and help to mold her passion with virtues, what a lot of good she can do as she matures in this dark world with her bright light!

    18. I have the same concerns as James. I am surprised by your response – of course having a baby makes logistics harder! It makes everything harder. Taking the kids to activities with a fussy baby in tow is extremely difficult. Plus you have to plan around nap times, etc. I have three kids and I really struggle with this stuff. Plus, like James said below, the older kids can’t drive until age 16. What do you do until then?

      Right now just one of our kids does one activity – the 9-year-old takes piano lessons. I have to take the 4-year-old and 2-year-old with me while she takes her lesson. Right now it’s not too bad because I can take them to a nearby park while she’s in her lesson, or just walk around the shopping center. But we are expecting a fourth child soon, and I have no idea how I’m going to handle piano lessons once the baby is born. Fortunately I have a husband who gets home pretty early and a mother-in-law who lives nearby, so we will probably be able to work something out. But what about people who don’t have those things? And what happens when the older kids start doing more activities and you have more little ones?

    19. As a mother of eight, I can tell you that somehow, things do tend to work out, especially if we don’t let the culture influence us with all the activities. Right now, I only have one child in a sport, but they have all done sports at one time or another, as well as theatre (at one time or another) and dance (seems like a million years ago now… my girls are both grown). Also, with music, I found teachers who would come to my home. We don’t have a piano, but we got a keyboard. As the kids get older, they do sports after school (they don’t have to be driven to them), etc. Also, I would only put my kid in a sport if there were other moms I love and trust who are on the team and we are willing to help each other out. Bottom line, I can’t explain it, but things work out.

      Oh, one more thing: The more you can surround yourselves with other like-minded families, the better. The older, veteran moms are usually a big help for the younger moms who are still in the “mommy tunnel” with no bigger kids. My “mom-terage” is so great… we all help each other, carpooling, support in ways big and small. But as for my family, we are much less into “extracurriculars” than some others might be. As soon as the older kids can drive (either to their own events, or help drive younger kids), their extracurriculars expand. It all works out just fine.

    20. Out in the Country

      Ummm…no. The presence of a baby does not impact logistics problems unless you make the assumption that the baby needs to be dumped somewhere that is not in the original destination set. For us, the baby is an additional member of the team and will be going to one of the destinations, and therefore, does not affect logistics.

      To your specific example, our solution was to feed the babies before we left, which resulting in them sleeping through almost everything. When they did not, we had a bottle ready. That is disruption avoidance planning, not logistics.

      Of course, it is self-evident that you can make it far more complicated by adding baby to the disbursement list, but, that should be a corner case, not a normative one.

      The same solution applies to your piano lessons problem with the new baby. Get to know your baby and his/her schedules. Do some planning – know when baby is hungry and feed before leaving. Know what keeps baby happy. If baby is fussy all the time, find a reason and a solution (almost all of our eight were fussy and we solved each one, with one being a big deal as it represented an underlying health problem – so doing root cause analysis is always required – writing it off to a “fussy” baby is bad).

      As far as your speculation about your older kids in the future, etc – I can only say to use the brain God gave you to plan and coordinate, be sensitive to your little ones, pray often, reach out of family, friends and Church, and you will find that everything works out. But, I will say this: everything working out is usually predicated upon the parent’s having to make a sacrifice in their personal lives. Sadly, that is the deal breaker for a lot of people in this day and age.

    21. What makes you think we haven’t made sacrifices in our personal lives? We have ALREADY been doing this, for years, and we are still overwhelmed. OF COURSE I feed the baby before leaving to go anywhere and take a bottle (or a nursing cover,) but it’s still incredibly difficult to take them places at that age, especially with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old to keep track of.

    22. Out in the Country

      (A) Where did I say that you haven’t made sacrifices? I am sure that you have. I was merely pointing out that when working with God, those are usually expected and ongoing.

      (B) Ok – you’ve tried several solutions. Great! But, why do you keep bringing up problems (you did again in your most recent post) only to get angry when someone offers a solution to you? You ask “what about this” and “what about that” and I answered you point-by-point. Then you get angry — “of course I did this” and “of course I did that”. How would I be expected to know what you have tried or not tried? Why get angry with someone trying to offer ideas to solve your problems?

    23. Everyone can be that open to life. Most of us do realize how fortunate we are. We have 7 children that range from 14 years down to a 1 year old, not one of them slept through the night before they were 2! We have one income and I don’t make a lot of money, we have a two bedroom home, the 6 boys all share a room, 3 sets of bunk beds…not sure where the little girl is going to go yet! 🙂 None of this is easy no matter what anyone says! As a parent you get pushed to the limit time and time again. But with faith in God and the understanding that He is in charge you can be certain that it will be okay in the end.

    24. EVERYONE can be that open to life?!?! That’s a very bold statement, and not what the Church teaches. The Church teaches that it’s up to couples to decide how many children they will have. As long as they are using NFP if they are avoiding and would never abort an unplanned pregnancy, they are not sinning. There’s no way I could handle seven children who didn’t sleep through the night until they were 2. It seems like parents of large families always assume that everyone can do what they do, and that is simply not the case.

    25. Not quite, sd. See the Catechism 2366-2372, particularly:

      “A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.”

    26. I think you are misreading that passage. I simply don’t see how NFP can possibly be used “selfishly.” People who think it can be used “selfishly” are almost always people who have never used it.

      First of all, charting is really annoying. It involves meticulous observation of signs, recording the signs, and interpreting them. Sometimes it is very difficult to interpret fertility signs. So many things affect it – diet, medications, stress, etc. Sometimes you have to modify your diet and go to pretty great lengths to get clear signs. It’s much harder than just putting on a condom or taking a pill.

      Secondly, it involves abstinence, which is a sacrifice. Sometimes it involves a LOT of abstinence when signs are difficult to read. Unless there is some other problem in the marriage, most couples will want to have sex.

      I just can’t envision a situation where someone would go through the hassle of charting and the sacrifice of abstinence if they didn’t have a serious reason to avoid pregnancy. It just seems to me that if they are willing to go through all that, a serious reason is a given. If they didn’t have a serious reason, they wouldn’t bother. They would either have a baby or use contraception.

      Mark Shea had a good analogy for this. He said telling couples using NFP that they need to make sure they don’t have selfish motives is like telling someone going to confession that they need to make sure they will sincerely try to not sin again. The vast majortiy of people who go to confession will sincerely try to not sin again. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother with confession. Likewise, the vast majority of NFP users will only use it if they have a seriuos reason to avoid. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother with NFP.

    27. Mr. Shea’s example that you quote would support the need to urge people not to use NFP with a selfish intent.

      Just because most will not do something does not mean it’s not worth mentioning.

    28. What a great attitude- and from a dad!! It is much harder to envision a large family when the husband has a seemingly low tolerance for the everyday stresses of family life, ie waking toddlers, changing poopy diapers, cleaning dishes, etc.

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  16. Ah – I so would have loved to have had more than my three (who are wonderful!). I kept “adopting” their friends and my students. They assure me that they will provide me with lots of grandchildren. 🙂

    1. Same here. I married late and only have one, but she brings home broken teens who get some sense of normalcy through our limited contact.

  17. Good encounter. Thankfully, getting fixed may be reversible. When your AC breaks again, would you ask for him to work on it. Then you might dare to tell him of this option. Worth a try, don’t you think, given the consequences of your previous talk?

    1. John, he was just a random worker whom I’m pretty sure I’ll never see again, but that would be a great option for next time I have a similar discussion! So, thank you! I tend to think, however, that this particular man’s wife would object to a reversal. She seemed to be the one who coerced him into being sterilized in the first place.

  18. Pingback: The Day the Air Conditioning Man Told Me He Got Fixed - CATHOLIC FEAST - Every day is a Celebration

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