A Reader’s Question:
Well, I just found out that I am pregnant with baby number five and though I know the news should be met with unalloyed joy I found it necessary to look up your website for inspiration. Consider yourself “bookmarked.” At what point, if any, did you stop hoping there would be a line in the test window? My husband and I will always be open to the possibility of new life, but each pregnancy is more tiring than the last. I don’t know how far apart your children are spaced, but did you ever feel guilty because your youngest child will not be the “baby” as long as she should be? Do you ever feel like you can’t give each child enough attention?
Ahhhhh, the mother-guilt starts early, doesn’t it? Even if intellectually we can recognize each tiny new life as an irreplaceable gift from God, that knowledge alone does not prevent our very human reaction of recoiling at the thought of so much discomfort, so much stress, so much work, so little sleep, so little freedom, and so little rest in between.
Babies are indeed blessings– but they can be burdensome too. Having babies is hard work. Having many babies in a short number of years is harder still. Giving voice to the thoughts and fears that come along with an unexpected pregnancy should not cause you guilt. This is a perfectly normal and human reaction. Christ himself suffered fear and dread the night before his crucifixion– not because he would have any other than God’s will be done, but simply because he knew the cross that lay ahead. And he dreaded the pain.
As for your fears about the possibility of older children feeling slighted by the new baby, I would simply tell you this: Although there may be some feelings of jealousy at some point, my experience has always been that the presence of a new baby in the house blesses everyone, littlest ones included.
Your toddler might lose her “baby” throne, but she will gain big sister status. She will gain a new little person in her life to love without limits and who will love her back unconditionally. She will gain a lifelong companion. She will learn the value and importance of caring for those smaller and weaker than herself. She will learn to share. To cooperate. And to love. Surely there are worse things that could happen to a kid.
Of course a mother does have a finite supply of time and attention to give her growing brood and your worries about dividing your attention are real. In my experience, however, having many children eventually becomes a help in this area. As your children grow it will not be so necessary for Mommy to pour every glass of juice, to tie every shoelace, to soothe the baby, and to entertain the toddler every moment of the day. Older kids do many of these things easily. And with enthusiasm.
For now, though, bear in mind that you are newly pregnant and hormones are sure to be running wild with your emotions. For now, be content to answer God’s latest call to motherhood with a simple “yes,” regardless of your worries and reluctance. Your future may not be pain-free, but it surely will be blessing-filled. May God grant you peace as you seek always to know and do his will for your family.