Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Dear Fellow Mothers and Fathers or Friends (with good advice and wisdom),

I have a few questions I need help answering and think maybe you can help. I'll give you more background information than you'd ever care to know, but might help you better understand my dilemma.

While we were dating, Josh and I often talked about the number of children we'd like to have. Each of us came from large families (7 kids in his family and 5 in mine)so our plan always included having a big crew of our own. We felt settled with the idea of 5.

Life didn't go as we had planned. Shortly after we were married, we realized that we had little control over our own fertility. (To this day, we still don't know why becoming pregnant takes so long for us...) It took a couple of years, fertility treatments and countless doctor appointments to finally conceive Jacob. Likewise, Kaylee was a product of medical intervention and heartfelt prayers. For those of you who struggle with infertility you can appreciate the absolute discouragement and deflation that comes with each failed pregnancy test. It is an emotional journey to say the least. One full of questions, few answers, countless needle pokes, tests, charts, doctors visits and tears. On the flip side of that, with each positive pregnancy test comes an indescribable joy and true understanding of the word "miracle".

Following the births of Jacob and Kaylee, the next two pregnancies seemed like literal miracles to me. I was just starting to get that inkling that it was time to begin the pregnancy "process" when I discovered that I was already expecting. It was a welcome relief from all of the anxiety-filled months and/or years of "trying" that I had become accustomed to in the previous pregnancies. Nevertheless, the years of trying and waiting and disappointment meant a longer child bearing phase than we had anticipated.

So here we are, prepping to become parents to our 4th and possibly final child. I have mixed emotions and feel conflicted. So, what is it exactly that I'm conflicted about? I have felt the last year or two that maybe 4 children (not 5 as previously mentioned) was the magic "Carver Crew" number. I was feeling pretty settled in that feeling until I learned that baby #4 was a boy. (FYI, I love boys...and girls!) For some reason, however, I always imagined having 2 little girls in my family. I was sure that this last baby would be a girl, and I could then move forward confidently in the decision that we were DONE. I could clear out all the extra baby stuff and finally have some space in my garage. I could focus a little more on me and truly getting back in good shape. I would be able to designate more permanent living arrangements for my children, knowing our family was all here. I could commit more time to helping in my children's classrooms, encouraging them in their talent development. I could start to prepare for the future that happens after the child bearing stage. So many reasons for wanting that DONE feeling. None of which are really that important when considering the grand scheme of things, I know.

If I'm honest, part of me wants that DONE feeling because I doubt my own abilities to be a good mother to more than 4. I already feel inadequate and am not sure that with all of my shortcomings I would be able to provide the loving, peaceful, positive atmosphere a 5th child would need. I wonder if the stress of 5 would do me in. (I personally don't want to occupy a bed at the local mental asylum, but think that could very well be my fate.)

I know baby #4 is not even here yet which makes this conversation so premature, but when you are trying to decide whether to make an "investment" in a new stroller system and crib and which things to save or to get rid of, the question of more children weighs heavily on one's mind. Every time I get the urge to go get rid of the baby girl clothes and accessories, I stop myself. The thought of selling them or giving them away makes me sad. However, the idea of a possible 5th child freaks me out. It's something Josh and I have talked about often lately. I'm making it a matter of prayer. I just wish I knew...

My question to all of you out there is this...How did you know? And when did the DONE feeling come? How did you know that it was Heavenly Father's will and not just your own desires or fears?

Conflicted in WA


Karina Rigtrup said...

Oh my goodness Jen...been here. I'll start by saying I thought I was done after 2! I had prayerful confirmation of that fact. 4 years later the Spirit overturned that confirmation. We felt strongly that we were supposed to have a 3rd. THAT WAS SCARY! I really didn't want more kids, but I trusted the Lord. When prego with our 3rd, I KNEW, KNEW there was a 4th and it was a girl. So now we have Lula.
Ok so here's my advise. I know I'm not the best Mom around. I am not a nurturing, sweet, natural born Mom. I pretty much belong in the loony bin most of the time. I was perfectly willing to cut the losses and reduce the damage I would cause by only having two. The lesson I've learned is that the Lord has more faith in me than I do, so I'm just going to have to trust him!
Trust the Lord. You'll get your answers when he's ready to share them. It took 4 years to get mine!

holly said...

you are not alone in this question jen.......i thought we were done when we got pregnant with our 4th. joseph and i had decided that 4 was our # when we talked about our family. however, when i found out that our 4th was a girl, i felt conflicted as well. like you, "I" had planned on having a boy to even out our group....didn't happen. thus the conflict. the
5th pregnancy was an absolute surprise! needless to say, antibiotics and birth control do not mix well (tmi i know)! thus the twins, a boy and a girl! 1 month after they were born, things were "fixed"! i felt after giving birth to the twins that my body was so done. i couldn't imagine doing it again. physically and emotionally i was spent (and still am sometimes)! the crazy thing is, i'm not sure that we are done....maybe adoption in the future, maybe not! Heavenly Father is in control. you can hang on to your things until you are sure! it will come......i have learned that life is full of surprises and they come when you least expect it! i do know that our children love one another. i know that they are supposed to be here together. i know that the years to come will be hard, challenging, enlightening, and full of joy as a parent of 6. i know the feelings of being overwhelmed and of wanting to make sure that each is "filled" with what they need. i the quiet moments, i know that all will be well. it will for you! enjoy the quiet will find the answer!

Carrie said...

Beautiful pregnant woman... such a hard question!
I totally get the whole wanting your body back, purging of the "stuff", and wondering if the number of children outnumbering your arms and legs would put you over the edge. :)

First and foremost, you are a wonderful mother! I know that you put high expectations on yourself. Stop it. :) You are doing a marvelous job. You will continue to do fabulous things with your children. You will do your best because that is just you.

Here are a few things that I thought of after I read your post.

1. This is a personal and big decision. I would encourage you to wait and make it after the storm calms and your new addition has arrived for awhile. You'll be thinking clearer. Your children will be a tad older, dynamic changes will occur. Plus you'll be into a new groove and schedule.

2. If it's not eternal it's not important. I love this quote. I have to tell that to myself a hundred times every day. It helps me to stay focused, it helps me to be patient and it helps me remember what's truly important on a daily basis (despite my yearning for a clean house and a good hair day.) :)... I totally understand the desire to purge the stuff, get your body back and just know that "that" part of your life has been decided and you can focus on the next stage of life.
"This too shall pass."... that day will come for you. Try not to allow the "baby stuff decisions" to get you down or make you feel overwhelmed. If it's salvageable, I say use it up and make do. I know that by the third boy and the fourth child, that you are probably sick of looking at the same clothes, stroller, and crib... but hang in there! Remember, if it's not eternal, it's not important.

3. and Last. :) Heavenly Father knows you so well. He understands your concerns and your fears. He has promised us that he will never give us more than we can handle.. (is this really a true statement? :) He will fortify you with patients, love and understanding. If you and Josh decide that four is best for your family, He will take your council and understand. And if he is absolutely adamant that there's a fifth, he will let you know. :) And I know that you and Josh will put forth the work necessary to receive your answers.

You are wonderful! Bring your tornado over to play with my tornado any day... :) Love you!

Jennifer said...

This is such a tricky personal question. Four may be the J&J Carver Crew number, but there's obviously nothing definite right now. When there is something that you need confirmation of, the Lord will send it.

One major issue is if you're wanting to do something permanent. I really feel that if you are wanting to do that and personally feel that is the right thing for your family, with prayer you will receive confirmation.

Personally, I don't think that means that you are not going to have more children either biologically or through adoption, but rather that the Lord wants to you to feel comfortable moving on with the life you have. I knew that when Chad had his vasectomy it was the right thing for our family. I do not believe that means that Heavenly Father will not send another child to our family if it is His will. I know it is in His power to undo that or send a child to us through other means if He sees fit. I'm comfortable with that knowledge. I'm comfortable with knowing that if I really am supposed to have 5 or 6 or 10 children, it will be His will and a way will be provided.

I truly believe that the comfort and knowledge you seek will come. You are a truly exceptional woman and I know that you will handle whatever the Lord gives you gracefully. My advice would be to put this issue out of your mind until this new little man gets here, but if it is something you really feel needs to be resolved before that, then do what needs to be done.

The temple really is the place to be. I went to the temple every week for the last 6 weeks of my 2nd & 3rd pregnancies and 4 weeks of my last (she was early) and it got me through. When there is an answer this huge you are seeking, there is no better place to be. With my 3rd we were the witness couple 4 of those 6 weeks, not so easy when you're as big as a house. We had been thinking 3 was our number, until he was born. We thought we were sure, even told people we were sure, but we knew we weren't 100%. Kalai was born, he was perfect and tiny and a month after he was born I KNEW we weren't done.

Chad got fixed a month after I found out I was pregnant with Kaila. We didn't even know she was a she, but we knew we were done. When she was born, I knew even more. Our family felt complete. It's an awesome feeling and I know you'll know.

Now I have to apologize because I realize that I probably didn't help at all. In fact, I probably confused you more. I'm sorry. I'm sure I didn't share anything you didn't already know, but I felt I had to share anyway. I just want you to know that I'm here for you. I would love to have your kids over so you and Josh can go to the temple, anytime. (After our house is sick-free of course) Seriously, please take me up on it. My prayers are with you.

Jen said...

I have to thank the 4 of you who have commented so far. You have NO IDEA how much your advice means to me. I feel like an emotional wreck with so many things competing for my time right now and so many decisions to make and loose ends to tie up in my personal, family and church life before the baby comes. All 4 of you are women I admire tremendously and are such great mothers yourselves. It has been reassuring for me to hear your stories (all so different,yet the same...) and know that I am certainly not the first mother to struggle with these feelings of uncertainty. You've all helped me to see that it's ok that I don't know my decision (or rather Josh and I don't know our decision) yet, and have offered such heartfelt, sound bits of counsel and wisdom.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Amy said...

You've gotten some really great advice here, Jen. It is a hard decision. the number of four was always our "magic" number too. I had always wanted that number and luckily got it. I was very concerned with doing something permanent even after getting pregnant with Hannah. My fear was what if something went wrong, what if I wanted a 5th? I was really on the fence on what to do (and I had to decide because I was having a csection and the Dr wanted to do it then). We prayed a lot about it, talked about it togather a lot. I knew Eric was good with 4 and wasn't ready for another. One night in bed I just kept thinking about it and finally realized that it would be okay to be done with 4. I felt at peace with it. I knew that having more than 4 probably would put me over the edge.....and sometimes it does with the 4 I have. I would be able to be a better mother to my little ones if I wasn't stretched too thin. That wouldn't be fair to any of them. I got the tubal right after having Hannah. I was really worried it would be difficult to let go of that "baby stage" of my life. I loved having babies in my house. Hannah stayed a "baby" for a long time (I still think of her as a baby. lol), but I've not had that longing for a baby. I've not had that baby fever hit at all. And even though my stage in life is changing from what I've known for the past 11 years - I'm okay with that. I think it is a personal decision with each couple - and the answer sometimes takes awhile to receive. I worried about it for months and then in a moment I knew what we'd pretty much decided was okay. :) Pregnancy is always such a hard time to make a decision like this.

whitemarshes2 said...

Jen, we all want to be more organized, and I really wanted to move onto the "get the kids through school successfully, develop their talents, control my sanity" phase. We thought we were done after Aubrey (I should say I thought we were done). I knew Brent wasn't sure so I got an IUD (which is good for 5 years). Not permanent, but pretty darn good protection. Then, after about 3 1/2 years we were at the temple and having another baby was all I thought about the whole session. So, needless to say, after I aligned my faith to the promptings I felt we decided to try for one more. payton is truly a blessing and she'll just have to help me develop the older kids talents by going with me to volunteer in the class and cheer at all the games. It is such a personal decision, but don't ever doubt your motherly abilities, you are an amazing person. You could mother 20 kids and do well at it. They would all be lucky to have you as a mommy!! Just get through this one pregnancy at a time, if you don't want to do anything permanent yet, don't. You can always do that later! Good luck! -Tari

Anonymous said...

Jenny P here - You have received lots of good advice - and I am sure whatever choice you and Josh make will be the right choice. I can tell you this, after I had Anson and Tori - I really wanted to be done, for all the reasons you listed - and then some. But in my heart of hearts (when I was really being honest with myself), I knew I wasn't to be done... So thankfully, the Lord gave me a 5 year break. Then, I knew it was time for us to have another. The hard thing was when that pregnancy ended in an emergency, almost life ending - ectopic rupture. So, conflicted, depressed, and wondering if I really was a faithful good mother, Michael and I wondered if we listened to the right voice - and if the Lord would require us to sacrifice again. A year and a half later, when we were NOT expecting at all, we found out we were expecting! Addison is amazing, and we are blessed to have her - and when I was pregnant with her - I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that I was done. Now I am at peace. It is difficult, and I am not the Mother I want to be, nor the one I could have been with just two - but I am the best working Mother of three that I can be, and our family is eternal, so some of the challenges I face now, will not always be this way. But if I had limited my family, I would have missed out on raising this special soul. So, this may be TMI - but I hope it helps you in some way.

Photographer: Rebecca Pierce said...

It's so nice that you don't really have any urgent reason to make this decision right now! People always ask us if we'll do it again, and I always tell them what I have always said for the others...we don't commit until we commit.

I understand, however, wanting to know now because there's something to be said for knowing when it is your last so that you can be sure to really pay attention to the last everythings...the last pregnancy test, the last announcement, the last nursery to prepare, the last delivery, the last day one, day two, day twelve, day thirty of your little creation's life, the last latch, the last first day in nursery, the last emergency diaper run, the last...

You just have to know when it's the last one!!!

That being said, I don't know if this is my last, I 100% don't plan on it being my last, so I'm not in the same boat as you, but I don't have control over whether or not it's my last, so I don't KNOW that there's another one, wanted or not.

Anyway, you have all the tools, and life happens unexpectedly and impressions change and whatever ends up happening, you will feel right about it. Even if you did sell all your girl things, and even if you wind up having another's all part of the Carver plan.

Just leave your mind open and time will tell!

Anna BenAnna said...

Wow! I just got on your blog to see the big birthday party everyone was talking about!! But, I'm so glad I got to read this blog and the comments! It has helped me! I really have a hard time closing phases and I have to try not to think of Molly as my last, but Ben is so sure that he wants to be done. It is scary, but good too. I hope I get that done feeling. Right now, I still have yearnings, but I think I will have to rely on the temple too to make sure I am at peace with it. Best of luck for the rest of your pregnancy and try to enjoy every moment!