Or, The Story of our Family
4.5 years ago, I was newly married and ready to start practicing NFP. Andrew was in his 2nd year of law school so we thought, "Well, maybe after law school is done we'll go ahead and have our first baby" thinking, silly us, that we were the ones who decide when to have babies!
4 months of half-hearted charting & periodic abstention and, surprise surprise, we were pregnant with our first baby!
9 months later, our first child was born. John Paul's birth may have taken 60 hours of labor, but looking back, that seems easy compared to the work we're going through raising him now!
When John Paul was 9 months old, we were apparently having a really good week (meaning he may have gone like, a 3 or 4-hour stretch sleeping one night, instead of the usual 1.5-2 hours between nursing) and decided, "Hey, let's have our second baby really close to the first! It'll be awesome!"
One afternoon babysitter (Happy Birthday to me!) and we were pregnant with Cecilia. This was an interesting pregnancy, because Andrew was studying for the bar so I absolutely couldn't take it easy. This meant John Paul and I invented such brilliant games as, "Mom lies on the couch trying not to puke while John Paul throws metal mixing bowls on the coffee table" and a game I like to call "Cheerio scavenger hunt" which involves letting your newly walking 10-month-old roam around the apartment picking up and eating anything that might resemble food.
Most of these things were Cheerios. Some were not.
A move to Northern Virginia, a long-term subbing position, a new job for Andrew, and another move into a rented townhouse, and Cecilia was born!
She and John Paul were BFFs from the start, but I still wanted a little more space between Cecilia and the next baby. After all, raising two kids is HARD!
I laugh at my former self, panicked by the early thought of taking two children to Mass, the grocery store, or anywhere by myself. How easy things were back then!
Mainly though, I wanted to let Cecilia nurse longer than John Paul, who weaned at 15 months when my supply dried up during my pregnancy.
So, lucky us, I wasn't fertile again until Cecilia was nearly a year old (I think of this as a truly magical time, and it's one reason why I'm such a breastfeeding fan)! Andrew said to me, "Well, you never know, we might not get pregnant on the first try so we should probably start trying now!"
Did you know that a woman's chances of conceiving twins are 8 or 9 times higher when she's nursing than when she's not?
And you probably knew that if there's even ONE set of fraternal twins on the mother's side, that also significantly increases the chances? For instance, my grandmother had a set of fraternal twins in her third pregnancy.
Yeah, I had vaguely heard of that.
Ta-da, we were pregnant again!
This time around, however, the following thought process apparently occurred to us:
Me: Hey, you know what's really overrated?
Andrew: No, what?
Me: Prenatal care!
Hence the fact that we didn't discover we were having twins until, oh, almost 30 weeks along.
But it was cool, the pregnancy and labor and delivery went smoothly and we've got two pretty chill little sisters for John Paul and Cecilia.
I'm not quite Catholic enough that I was willing to go with Andrew's name choices, Felicity and Perpetua, but Mary (Claire) and Elizabeth (Anna) go pretty well together. And people can tell just by the "John Paul" that we're a Catholic family!
For some reason, though, I'd like to wait a couple of years before we go for #5. I mean, I'd like the twins to be weaned before we get pregnant, but I've never weaned a child while NOT pregnant (Cecilia was almost 18 months, I was 20 weeks pregnant with what I *thought* was one baby).
But my chances of conceiving twins in a subsequent pregnancy are now 1 in 12 without anything else factored in. Add to that the 8 or 9 times higher chance of conceiving twins while nursing (do you think nursing twins increases the chance even more?)? You do the math.
Yeah, we're not ready to get a cargo van.
So now it's time to explore the world of post-partum NFP, since we never really bothered with it before. I LOVE my OB practice, because they're a Catholic, NFP-only practice. One of the doctors came to check my out before we were discharged and asked us how our son felt about having 3 little sisters. When we told him John Paul was DEVASTATED that the twins were girls he said, "So I guess we'll see you back pretty soon when you're ready to have some more boys!"
Only a Catholic OB would automatically assume that, of COURSE we're having more than 4 children!
So what's the magic number? I don't know. More than 4. Less than 20? But here I am, 26 years old with 4 children already. We certainly do leave things up to God, and thus far He has provided abundantly. It is HARD to be trusting, but everything has worked out so far, and I'm confident that we'll have the exact number of children we can handle.
And then maybe one more, just for good measure :P