Christian Faith Family & Parenting Only Child Pregnancy & Baby

Deciding to Have an Only Child

Deciding to have an only child 2

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If you are new to my website, I highly recommend reading a few of my previous posts before reading this post about deciding to have an only child. They are long, but this post will make more sense if understood in the proper context. You will not fully understand my perspective or the path I have walked in this area otherwise.

Please also note that I wrote this in 2007. If I were to write it today, I would write it differently. But I have opted not to edit it because it reflects where I was at the time when I wrote it.

Our experience with childlessness
Everything changes

Living peacefully in the world of good enough and choosing to formula feed
She’s here!
Our planned c-section birth story

350 Days

I sometimes find it hard to believe that in a span of 350 days we:

  • were still in the midst of our childlessness, not knowing if we would ever have a child;
  • discovered on our ninth anniversary that we were having a baby;
  • learned I was physically unable to deliver a full-term baby without a c-section;
  • went through a physically challenging pregnancy that included gestational diabetes;
  • went through a more challenging than average c-section with complications;
  • enjoyed the first three months of our daughter’s life; and
  • chose to take permanent steps to prevent me from becoming pregnant again (unless God should choose to override our decision).

That’s a lot to experience and process emotionally, spiritually and physically in 350 days. In fact, I’m still processing it. And based on some of the letters I received from a few different women, I’ll be processing this the rest of my life.

Making the Decision

If you ask David, he will tell you the decision to not seek to have any more children was pretty much made the day Caroline was born. After watching me go through my pregnancy and then the delivery, he was quite sure he did not want me to go through it again. So he was pretty steadfast about what should be done. However, we committed to giving ourselves some time, praying about it, and not rushing to make a decision that might be based purely on emotion (and exhaustion).

I waffled a lot. I’m sure some of it was hormonal. Some of it is my personality. I have an overdeveloped sense of obligation. There is something in me that is willing to suck it up and do the “right” thing, even if it is to my own detriment. I’m not talking about biblical sacrifice or putting the needs of others first, but doing something because I feel falsely obligated to so do.

In this situation, I struggled with feeling “obligated” as a “good Christian woman” to continue trying to have babies. But I know God gave David to me to protect me from myself and I have learned to trust David’s judgment and love for me. In this case, I knew deep down inside he was right, even when I waffled more times than I can count.

Contributing Factors

The number of factors contributed to making this decision relatively easy. I think the decision would have been harder if we were only faced with one or two of the factors. But the combination of our ages (44 and 41), the gestational diabetes, the inability to deliver, the c-section complications, the toll the pregnancy took (and is still taking) on my body, etc. all made the decision easier to make. If I were 25 or even 30 I think this would have been much harder to accept.

That isn’t to say it has been easy. I’m very sad that I will not carry another baby, especially after experiencing the entire pregnancy/delivery/baby cycle. I would like to have carried another baby, knowing what happens when it is all through. As miserable as my pregnancy was, I thoroughly enjoyed some parts of it. So even though I don’t long to have another child, I am sad about not being pregnant again and feeling the baby moving around in there.

Trusting God and Many Other Questions

I have wrestled with a lot of questions in making this decision. The biggest one for me was why I could trust God to choose if and when we would have children, but after having Caroline I was taking steps to close that door. Did I not trust God any longer in this area? Was my faith weak? Was I being hypocritical in making this choice? Was this decision being driven by fear or faith? The only way I can describe it is like this… When we were experiencing our childlessness, I had a quiet confidence that God was doing what was best. Of course I wavered at times. I’m not going to say that I never struggled with doubts or times of despair. I did. I don’t see how you could go through it for that many years and not struggle with those feelings at times. But for the most part, I had faith that God was doing what was best and that there must be a reason for all of this. So while I had faith to not have children, I did not have the same confidence to continue trying to have more. It was not that I feared having more children although I did have a healthy fear of putting my body through another pregnancy given that it struggled so to get me through this one. My faith was not tested to have another child. Instead, my faith was tested to NOT have another child. It was not the fear of having more as much as it was facing the fear of NOT having more. It was whether my faith in the sufficiency of God would allow me to be at peace with only having one. So instead of asking myself if I trusted God to bring me safely through another pregnancy, I was faced with questions such as:

  • Did I have faith that one is enough?
  • Did I have faith to deal with the rude comments and judgmental people I am sure to encounter?
  • Did I have faith that Caroline could have a happy childhood as an only child?
  • Did I have faith that God would provide Caroline with the circle of loved ones she will need as an adult given that she will have no siblings and that she has older parents and grandparents?
  • Did I have faith to trust that even if God chose to take our only child that we would be ok?
  • Did I have faith that we would be cared for in our old age and that the burden would not be too much for Caroline?

I also struggled with thoughts such as:

  • Was I morally obligated to have another child for Caroline.s sake? To continue trying?
  • Am I a bad Christian for being happy about having only one child?

I went through all the typical only child questions. But in the end I knew that siblings don’t guarantee happiness or even relationships. (I’m sure there are plenty of people who read here who can testify to the fact that having siblings doesn’t mean diddly squat in terms of guaranteeing happy adult relationships.) I also knew that an only child doesn’t have to grow up selfish and spoiled. If the child is selfish and spoiled, it is because he/she has stupid parents, not because there is something inherently wrong in an only child.

Militant Quiverfull Teachings

There are several things about the militant quiverfull folks that drive me batty. And by militant I mean the people who think it is always wrong to not trust God with the size and timing of your family. I know there are people who would call themselves quiverfull who are not like that. And that’s great. I think it is great that God has given some couples the ability and desire to have large families. But He doesn’t give that to everyone, no matter what people say. But there is a vocal contingent in the quiverfull movement who make my blood boil when I read some of the stuff that they write.

Some of the ideas they perpetuate? I don’t buy the reasoning that having a large family is the best way to impact our culture for Christ. Yes, it is a way, but not the best way or even the most expedient way. I’ve grown weary of the stories that women write that imply if you aren’t willing to risk death to keep having children, you are a wicked woman who lacks faith. Women write stories online and in magazines about how their doctor advised them not to have any more children because it would kill them, but they kept right on having them. Well, we’ll never know if God blessed them because of their faith or in spite of it, but to make risking death the mark of a godly Christian mother irritates and offends me to no end.

I also take exception to the idea being promoted that having children is the primary means of sanctification. It is A MEANS of sanctification for those who have them. And it may be the primary means for some people. But if it is the God-ordained primary means across the board, then single folks and couples who are unable to have children must be second class citizens of the Kingdom and are at a disadvantage when it comes to their sanctification. Hogwash. God can sanctify people with or without children. As someone who was single for a long time and then childless for a long time, I can testify that God had plenty of other means for working on my sanctification! 😀

Moving ForwardLiving and Learning with an Only Child

So, that is how we arrived here. It’s funny. In some ways I should have seen this coming years ago and maybe I did. I never saw myself going through childbirth. It is almost like I intuitively knew that I would never experience it. I also never desired to have a lot of children even though I was willing to do so if that was the calling God had for me. Given my personality (as well as David’s), one is perfect. I think I’ve known that for a long time as well, but felt compelled to be open to whatever God might have for us. I don’t regret the choices we’ve made, especially in being open to having children for most of our marriage. We don’t have to look back and wonder if we made a mistake in putting off having children for so long. We were willing, but God had His own timing.

And I think that having gone through such a long period of childlessness made us more confident of our decision to be content with one. There is so much pressure on Christian women today in these areas and such guilt heaped upon women who truly love the Lord that I really believe that women need to come forward and share a different perspective. Despite what is being taught hammered in some circles, it is not God’s will for every family to have a dozen children, or ten, or six or even two. Couples make difficult choices – in faith – whether we understand all that goes into those choices or not. I hope that many women will find freedom from guilt and pressure by reading this post.

Deciding to have an only child

53 Comments

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  • As I’ve said before, you must be obedient to what God has shown you. I am constantly telling people that it was God’s wisdom that He gave me my two children twelve years apart. (I have had three pregnancies but our first son was born too early to survive.)

    I am convinced God not only places children in the families of His choice but also in His timing. I doubted that timing when Christopher was born. I thought I was going nuts. I had a terrible pregnancy, temporary brain damage during the C-section–it actually caused short term memory loss for a couple of years, and a very hyperactive toddler.

    Seventeen and a half years later, I can see God’s wisdom. I was three months pregnant when I had a pregnancy test as I’d been told I’d “probably” not be able to have more children. So, believe me, he HAD to be in God’s timing because I didn’t expect it.

    I believe God gives us the desires of our Heart as we follow Him. He gave you that desire and you have the CUTEST little girl.

    I remember when Laine sent out those particular letters. I wanted to shout out an “Amen, sister”! 🙂

  • Thanks, Sallie, for your sharing your process with us. It is important to me to know and recognize that God leads His people in many different ways. When my husband and I were engaged, I had a hard time hearing from women who had prayerfully decided to limit/plan their families. It seemed that the women I knew either decided without a lot of thought to use birth control and plan their families, or they prayerfully sought the Lord, and decided to land on the “quiverful” side of the camp. So it’s a benefit to me to read someone who prayerfully considered the issue and took the steps you did. Thank you.

  • Thank you for sharing Sallie, I’m really going to miss your blog when you decide to quit. I’m always encouraged and challenged by your posts.

    We have decided to only have two children. While there are moments I would like more, I do know that multiple miscarriages, PPD and difficult pregnancies are issues that I don’t want to face again. My husband really doesn’t want to face them again so I listen and trust that the two children I have are what God wants us to have.

    God is using our family of four and I know He would use us if we where a family of eight, but I am content knowing that we are done, it’s exciting as my Rebecca gets out of the infant stage to know that sleepless nights are no more, soon diapers will be gone. It makes me treasure those moments when she wants to cuddle or I watch her sleep in her crib knowing she’s my last “baby”, but there is excitement of knowing that our life is moving in a different direction past the baby stage.

    Bless you!

  • I believe the Bible is silent on the subject of birth control.

    Sometimes the quiver full argument embraces the story of Onan, but I don’t think it’s applicable. He had a specific command to raise up a specific seed, and refused.

    Since it’s silent, it seems to me it’s a matter of Christian liberty for all of us. If God is opposed to birth control, surely He would tell us.

  • Sallie,
    IT breaks my heart that you (and quite possibly me too) will have to endure the comments by fellow brother’s and sister’s in Christ about the size of our families. Perhaps it is because I was raised in the Methodist church, but this whole “quiverfull” mentality is quite new to me. THough I have been judged many times in my life about choices and decisions, I never thought that the size of my family would be the topic of conversation and dissent. These decisions should be made prayerfully, but a couple is not responsible to the world for their choices. You do not have to defend yourself to anyone.
    Perhaps I am influenced by my own Nana’s experience who had a horrible delivery resulting in horrific bleeding. Her doctor told her that it was better to live for two, then die for three. So, though she always wanted more children, she only had two.And what a beautiful two women she raised. God-led, spirit-full women who have raised children the same way.
    I think that’s what God wants. Be the best parent you can to Caroline. That’s all you “Have” to do.

  • My blood boils as well for those who have shown you their distinctly unChristian attitudes in this matter, Sallie. I for one am very suspicious of a massive group that lives their lives based on a few lines that are found in the Old Testament. I suppose we should be glad that their lifestyles revolve around this one: “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full.” Imagine if they followed this teaching with as much gusto: “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken…his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” We would have the Stoner movement, and the streets would be awash with the blood of angst filled teenagers!

  • The main point that came across to me in Laine’s writing was not so much that it should not be told as it should not be asked, and especially not made into commentary or criticism. I think if someone wants to share their story, it’s not inappropriate. But if it’s not volunteered, frankly, it’s nobody’s business.

    I think you told your story beautifully!

  • Sallie, I am SOOOO going to miss your blog. This was one of your best entries to date. I appreciate the links to the other sites….very thought-provoking. I am certainly not going to comment on your decisions, because I feel they are PRIVATE!! But I am so thankful that you shared your heart with us. Best wishes to you and your precious family.

  • Oh, and one more thing that bugs me: that so many people feel the need to witness about abstaining from birth control more than they witness about Christ.

  • My next-door neighbor has nine grown children. Why nine? Because the last birth was the only one her husband attended (back then, of course, most men didn’t attend the births; they smoked cigarettes in the waiting room!). When he saw what his wife went through during labor and deliver, he said, “That’s it!”

    So, I think he would empathize with David.

  • Great post, Sallie. I think every one of us has likely been burned by legalists turning areas of Christian liberty into Christian DUTY (in my case, it’s been our decision to have our kids in public school.) My hat is off to you for seeking obedience to the Lord for you and your family–that is all any of us can do.

  • Dear Sallie, I really appreciate what you’ve written . I have two children on earth and my first child with the Lord. I too get rather dismayed at the quiverfull idea!? I wonder if some of these people have any idea of the physical and emotional trauma involved in childlessness, a difficult pregnancy / birth. I write as a thankful mum and also as a midwife practising in the UK.

  • What a wonderful post. I love the way you realized what the true test of your faith was (not to have more children rather than having more children).

    You are a wonderful writer. I will miss your blog for sure.

    Best wishes.

  • Bravo, Sallie.

    I can’t add more, really. Except to say that we all need to keep in mind a conviction and Biblical mandate are NOT the same things. As Shannon said above, Christian Liberty and Christian DUTY are two distinct, different things.

  • Before you read this Sallie, remember, I did agree with you about the blog ads!! ; )

    I knew this was coming, so I can’t say I was surprised. I’ve got one comment. an anecdote and a personal note.

    Based upon everything I read and learned about Cesarean sections over the past 18 years, and from following your pregnancy from the beginning, I do not think it is 100% certain that your cesarean was medically necessary and I still don’t. Anyone who wants to know why can e-mail me.

    And now the anecdote.
    My Aunt Opal only had two children, interestingly for one of the reasons you cited, that the pregnancy and delivery was difficult and my Uncle Paul did not want to see her go through it ever again.

    A few years before she died, I was holding my fourth son at the family reunion, and my 80+ something Aunt Opal came over to hold and admire him. Her only son had been killed in a freak truck accident while repairing his rig on the side of the road. She held my baby boy and with tears down her face told me that her biggest regret in life, was that she did not have more children. She was sorry that she let the pain and difficulty of pregnancy and childbirth hold her back from having a bigger family. In hindsite, that time of childbearing is brief, but the soul of another child is infinite.

    I held onto those words, even when I had a stillbirth at 44, and then a new baby at 46.

    And on a personal note, my mother is 80, she has cancer. I know that she will probably be gone in the next five to ten years. I am so grateful that I will have my only sister to be with me during that time, to laugh at the memories and to cry in grief. She has been my companion since I was a toddler, the only one who truly understands my entire life experience. She is also the reason I wanted siblings for my children.

    I understand your reasons Sally. I just can’t agree with them. I support your right to express them on your blog however. Different strokes as it were.

  • I do not wish to step on any toes…so please forgive me. However, I do not think that a person who has medical difficulties should force her body to produce more children so that she will have “extras” should something happen to one of them. It is not a guaranty. A few years ago, in my state, a family lost all five of their precious children at once. The younger 4 were visiting the oldest daughter when someone broke in (I believe it was the daughter’s ex-boyfriend)and killed them all. In more recent years, a young mother lost all 3 of her children when a rig fell onto her vehicle while she was traveling on the highway. Life holds no guarantees.

  • I don’t understand the argument about how it’s better to have a lot of children in case some of them die.

    Would your pain of losing one of your children be less just because you have more at home?

    I think not. At least, I hope not.

  • Sallie,
    It saddens me so much to hear other Christians placing such conditions on faith. It does not require more or less faith when determining family size. You and your husband have to decide before God what is right for your family. We live in such wondrous times with all the advancements in medicine. Women who in previous generations couldn’t conceive can now carry normal healthy babies. God has given us the knowledge needed for these medical advancements. Likewise, the advancements are there to protect women from the dangers of having more children (and there are dangers…in previous generations childbirth was the leading cause of death for young women!).

    I am just a few years older than you and faced hyper-fertility (is that a word?). From the time I was 20 to one week after I was 30 I conceived 8 children. I gave birth to 4 full term babies and lost twins in my 6th month (they were not viable). I lost the other two in miscarriage. After the loss of my twins, and given the fact that I conceived too easily and it was taking a toll on my physical and mental health, my husband and I decided for me to have a tubal ligation. This decision was not made lightly, much prayer went into it. I have never, ever regretted that decision. I am now nearing the end of raising children, my youngest two are 16 and 18. My two older girls are in college and more or less on their own.

    I applaud your decision. It sounds like you and David carefully considered your options and prayed about the outcome. God blesses those who rely on Him for all wisdom. He has already blessed your little one with wonderful, loving parents. She will be an amazing instrument for the Lord one day, I am sure. And you should never, ever feel condemned or judged for a decision you know was made with God’s help.

  • Ladies – Thank you for all the comments and encouraging words.

    Renae – I LOL at your comment! 🙂

    Rocks – Have you ever done a post on choosing public school? I might have just missed it since my blog reading has been sporadic at best in recent months.

    I realize that in posting what I did that I was opening myself up to all kinds of comments, but I cannot let Elena’s comment slide.

    Elena – I almost deleted your comment but decided to leave it up because it illustrates one of the points I (and others) was trying to make. I am going to try to be as nice as I can be in saying this but I don’t know of any polite way to say what I’m going to. I felt your comments were arrogant and insensitive. What you implied about my c-section was that 1.) my doctor is either a liar and/or an incompetent practitioner of his profession; 2.) that I am too stupid to find a way to deliver naturally because if I had only read more I could have forced my body to do something that it is unable to do; and 3.) that you can determine how I should have delivered my baby without being qualified to make that determination either professionally or by at the least having examined me and my unborn child. The stories you shared were not helpful, but are in my opinion some of the most appalling examples of fearmongering I can imagine. Telling women that they should have more babies because their child might die someday is sick. I don’t know how else to describe it. For any woman to have more children for that reason is acting out of fear, not faith. I don’t think you really read what I wrote in my post because I made it clear this was one of the issues I had to deal with in faith. Instead I think you read what I wrote through your own grid with blinders on. Your comment served no real purpose and I’m sure offended more than just me.

  • I wish you had just deleted it then and sent me an e-mail.

    It seems there is no way to politely disagree with you without ticking you off. I long suspected that, which is why I have RARELY commented here.

  • Sallie,

    I have always enjoyed your blog and will surely miss it! Let me tell you how much I appreciate your honesty when you discuss your struggles. I am so happy for you and Dave as you set out on this adventure of parenthood with precious Caroline. As a mom of 2 I have loved every moment of it and wouldn’t trade it for anything! Thankfully God has blessed me with healthy pregnancies and deliverie, therefore, I may add to my quiver! I can tell you that I too have a take on the quiverfull idea. For some people, their quiver will have 5 or 6 or 10, but for others their quiver is full with only 1 or 2. And maybe for others, they won’t have any in their quiver at all but can give of their time to invest in others. (As you did as a teacher before you had Caroline). Who is anyone to judge when a person’s quiver is full right? Ultimately, God is the giver of all life and He has given you a precious little girl to love and enjoy! I for one am glad that He filled your quiver with her 🙂

    I wish you the best as you continue on this marvelous journey!
    Love,
    Courtney

  • Darn! Courtney said almost exactly what I want to say, she just beat me to it :). The Bible says be fruitful and multiply. It doesn’t give an exact number, or even a range to work within. What a boring Christian community we’d live in if we were all called to the same spiritual gifts, the same type of families, the same number of kids, etc.

    Thank goodness God allows for personal choice and freedom. And, thank goodness He gives us all heads on our shoulders and puts people in our lives to help us make the WISEST decisions for ourselves and families as best we can.

  • Sallie!

    I am sending virtual hugs your direction!

    I have several thoughts swirling around but the first one is that I was an only child and it was a wonderful experience! My parents were both in their early 30’s when they adopted me and I remember enjoying their company through the years, never really noticing that my life was special. But it was. I was the apple of my dad’s eye and I didn’t have to share him with anyone else! My mom and I, though very different…she is an introvert and I am very gregarious….did many fun things together. Now that she is 85 and has been widowed for 13 years and has lived in our home all this time, we have many good times and shared experiences that we enjoy remembering.

    One of the best things I remember about being an only child was being included in all the “grown-up” fellowship times my parents had. I cannot remember ever being left with a sitter except my grandmother. They took me everywhere they went and I learned at an early age to be a little lady. I also felt so valued and learned so many interesting things because I spent so much time with adults.

    The other thing that comes to mind is this…I have such a heart for adoption because I was adopted and if you believe that the Lord might lead you and David to have more children, that is always an option. I know it is expensive but the Lord will open the door for that if it would be of His good pleasure.

    I have given birth to 6 children and have had 3 miscarriages. When the doctor told me that I couldn’t have any more babies, I was devastated. I sat in the parking lot of his office and sobbed for half and hour. You see, I don’t think size of family matters at all when it comes to being able to have children. It all comes back to that desire that the Lord places in your heart to be a mother. I am certain that you will, all your life, look back at the choices you have made and wonder about it. I am also certain that you will feel some pain and regret. But I also know that the Lord gave you a husband and a brain to make wise decisions for your own health, which is really about caring for your family. I think making your health a priority, for the sake of Caroline and David, was a sacrificial choice. And, perhaps the Lord will give you many grandchildren and great-granchildren as He has given my mom!

    Blessings to you….

  • Let me get this straight in my mind. Sallie, your post was about another post in which you had received abuse for a decision that was made between you, your husband, and God. In it you clearly stated to anyone who read, “I’m sorry to be so harsh, but I’m not going to put up with personal attacks in my home (my blog) and I know how controversial this topic can be.” Then, a commenter went right ahead and put their negative two cents in…and YOU are the one with the problem? You are easily ticked off? I could go on about how said commenter once called a devout Protestant woman mentally ill because she did not believe in Catholicism…but I can feel the heat rising in my neck…and after all I am but a member of a defective, ecclesiastical community. 🙂

  • I read your blog daily even though this is the first time I’ve commented. I have felt “connected” to you because you have a Caroline and I have a Carolyn- also my first child, born in June 06, so just a few months older than yours. Months ago, I read back over your posts relative to your pregnancy with Caroline and your thoughts on childlessness prior to this. I’m a younger mom (26) and did not struggle with a lengthy childless period, but I found your thoughts and openness on your own experience so very insightful and helpful as I consider how to interface with people of various life experiences. I think you strike such a wonderful note of balance in a Christian community of people who all sometimes seem to scream their opinions as Bible truth- about all kinds of things. I think that God’s will for a family doesn’t always look the same for every family and I am encouraged by your openness to His will for yours. I also wanted to say that I respect your desire put your family first- ahead of your blog- but I have to say I will miss you when you are gone, and will keep checking back to see if you decide to come back in some fashion! Thanks for all your wonderful thoughts. I have really enjoyed what you have to say about life, family, and faith.
    EB Irving

  • Thank you for sharing this Sallie. I think no matter what we decide to do, people always have something to say. I have three boys and have been asked when I will have a girl, don’t I regret not having a girl, and when the next baby is coming. Of course I have wished many times for a girl but I wouldn’t trade my boys for anyone! Still it offends me when people imply that I didn’t pray hard enough for a girl, or that my family is not complete without one. And it’s no ones business when the next one is coming, or whether we have decided to stop. But I know the questions will come anyway, and people will judge me one way or another. As they will you. But we are living for God, not man.I’m glad we don’t have to please everyone (altho of course there is something in each of us that WANTS to please everyone, I guess, that’s why it’s hard to bear people’s judgements sometimes). But isn’t it most hurtful that the judgemental comments usually come from Christians?

    Anyway, I’ll really miss your blog. I’ll look forward to your newsletters. And I wish you all the best with David and Caroline. She is such a little cutie! And so blessed to have a mom like you!

  • It looks like we have different opinions on whether or not that comment was rude. Elena, I really do believe that you did not mean to be rude or offend. But I think the whole point of Sallie’s posts (and mine…and Laine’s…and Lindsey’s) is that when you say things like that it is offensive. The whole reason I wrote that series was in the hopes that women would see the hidden meaning their words carry–whether or not they intend that hidden meaning.

  • Fantastic post. This is why I love reading your blog. Much like a previous commenter I had a *wonderful* experience as an only child. I have a very close relationship with my parents, one that I think is rare in this day and age, and one that I do not think would have been possible if I had not been an only.

    Your comment about fear vs. faith is profound. Having more children out of fear that something awful might happen or because you might be left alone is, in one sense, very selfish. Children shouldn’t be produced as “spares” or emotional insurance for their parents.

    I’m so glad you’ve shared your thoughts about this with your readers. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • I’ve known many mothers of onlies who do regret not having more. Only one has ever said the “in case one dies” thing. The most regret comes especially from the ones who chose not to have more.

  • Sallie, the reasons that you give are the same reasons that I had for not wanting to give birth again. Within a new marriage, I’d give it another go (but would require IVF), but for that other marriage, quitting at 2 was the right thing to do.

    The decision was done with prayer and counsel; it was made in faith.

  • Just a word of clarification before I head to bed…

    Elena and I have had previous interactions, including during the Blogs of Beauty Awards when she was critical of me on her blog about choices I made regarding who qualified for the awards and who did not. My comments to her today might have seemed harsh, but I (and others) have been subject to her strong and sometime hurtful opinions in the past. Because of these past experiences, I was not willing to let her make those comments here without responding to them. I hope that clarifies why I responded so strongly to what she said here.

  • I also wanted to comment that I don’t think that Elena was trying to be offensive in her comment. Yes, she started out with a c-section comment that got my dander up too, since the same thing was said to me. I’m not a quiverfull advocate, and I think you should have only as many children as the Lord leads you to have. That’s between you and Him. But, I don’t think Elena was trying to scare you into having more children with her anecdotes. It seemed possible to me that she was trying to illustrate her point of view that having one child might be something you’d regret later on, albeit with an unfortunately gruesome story. She was also sharing her point of view as another older mom. Sally, I don’t know what hurtful things have been said to you in the past. I am sorry about those, because I’m sure they hurt. But I’m not sure that Elena’s comments deserved the angry response from you that they got. I just hate to see people getting angry at each other over something that could just be a misunderstanding.

  • Sallie,

    This very topic is one that God has been so graciously teaching me about lately.

    The main lesson I’ve been learning is that God wants to create each of our families as unique and personal as He has made each of us individually. He is so creative… let Him be Who He is!!!! Let His children be who HE created them to be… and that is not YOU.

    Someone already made the point above that if God felt so strongly about the number of children for each couple, He would have said so. I heartily agree.

    I believe it is for every marriage to prayerfully consider this question for their own family, and to make wise decisions as to what God is CALLING them to. For some that will mean 1, for others, 11. And still for others no children at all.

    That said, once we make our decisions, He keeps reminding me that we need to be willing to give them back to Him and let Him trump our finite will and wisdom with His infinite wisdom and power (Sallie, this is more in reference to those who don’t have the extenuating circumstances, though you already acknowledged this even in cases like yours). As an example, recently I think God has been impressing what we think may be His plan for our family, and then He goes and makes an “amendment” to it all. Just didn’t allow it to be so neat and tidy for us to say, “Yep, this is what we’re doing!” Instead, He put us in the position to continue seeking Him in this area (until we come to this bridge again).

    But isn’t that exactly where we should be??? On our knees before Him, and waiting for Him to lead; even if that means being willing to be happy with a few or many. The leap of faith looks different for everybody. So I am actually thankful that God didn’t give me exactly what I wanted, but was smart enought to keep me on my knees. He hasn’t given His final answer… yet. =o)

    And as far as asking “private” questions, I think what is acceptable and appropriate varies with different people and circles. Many I know ask out of geniune interest and love, and other just want to be “in the know” about what really isn’t their business. And to honest, these questions did irritate me until I realized that most do ask because they care, and it’s usually easy to tell their motives. And I haven’t found it to be that hard to give vague answers when it was called for. It’s actually quite easy to answer when the next baby will be coming along… “Oh, it’ll happen/be here before we know it!!!!” usually gets a friendly “Don’t I know it!!” in return.

  • As a Christian woman I find the comments of some guests to be disheartening. I believe we must all think twice before stepping into someone’s home and letting our fingers do the talking. I have learned from past experience that hurtful or misinterpretted things can be said in the heat of the moment when we are sitting alone in front of an inanimate computer screen that has no feelings. I appreciate Sallie for her honesty and devotion to writing her thoughts here on “her blog” – things that are on her heart or the very useful and thought provoking information she shares.

    However, it is not for me to judge her for any of the decisions she makes. Matthew 7:1-3 says “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” I would never go into someone’s home where they have invited friends and say things that would make the hostess feel “less than”. Mark 12:30-31 says “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Sometimes I just need to keep my mouth closed, or in this case, my fingers off the keyboard.

    As a Christian woman I would like to continue to “fellowship” with others who love the Lord with all they blog. I also want to respect a woman in her home as I would want to be respected in my own home. Personally, I would not invite someone back to my home (or to my blog) if they were always looking to cause trouble, especially if they aren’t able to back up what they say with scripture on these “touchy” topics. If I want to reach out to others to tell them about God, I wouldn’t want them to leave confused. I think Sallie’s response is appropriate for someone who is continually being disrespectful.

    Katherine

  • Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. While I do want more than one child (we have a one year old now) I completely understand and respect your decision to have just one. You explained your convictions with such grace and dignity. Your stance on this issue is obviously well thought and prayed out and hard to refute. Also, thank you for the link to the writings from Laine’s Letters. I was moved by those as well.

    I am relatively new to your blog and the blogging world for that matter. I will miss your wonderful words. But, you are definitely doing the right thing in putting your family first. Thank you for being willing to take such a stand and to make the appropriate sacrifices to do so. I am inpsired by faithful women such as yourself. Give Caroline tons of kisses and enjoy her every moment.

  • Oh, Elena. LOL. I’ve read her comments all over the blog world and frankly have often wondered how she has the time for all that surfing, blog reading, and commenting. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess… she’s explained her decision to spend so much time on-line, and I take her at her word. And, she feels strongly about her topic (Catholicism, childbearing, faith, etc.), so maybe I would do the same thing if I felt God leading me to speak out on the Internet to people I’ve never met.

    I have always tried to read her stuff in the best possible light, but yowza, feeling qualified to make complicated, major medical decisions based on blog reading and some technical reading on your topic of interest?

    She also did something here that I notice is a pattern for her… if someone disagrees strongly, then she attacks the person rather than the comment (which she actually did pretty mildly here, I thought), as in her “ticked off easily” pronouncement.

    I think of I John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with word or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” God has convicted my heart many times over the years with this verse… how to love with actions, and in truth. It’s very hard, isn’t it? I pray the same for Elena, because I’m sure she loves the Lord and is very committed to loving Him in all areas of her life. I pray that God would lead her to love with actions (specifically, her Internet activity in question) and in Truth (being very careful to not expound her opinion as God’s Word, calling something a Biblical mandate that is not Biblical mandate). And the same for all of us in responding to her and others of faith with whom we disagree or are hurt by.

  • I am going to miss you, Sallie. I am struggling with my third pregnancy in less than 4 yrs. I have bad nausea and vomiting and am exhausted all the time. I feel like my three year old and one year old don’t have a mother, right now. I have been thinking of putting a “hold” on future pregnancies for a while after this third one comes. I get pregnant very easily and when I am pregnant, my children and husband are neglected. I have a responsiblity to the children I have. When diapers and meals are put off for hours because I am puking bile in the bathroom, there is a problem. For a while, I was against birth control, but am reconsidering it. I think my husband would like to have his wife back, too.

    Another thing, I don’t think the layperson understands about c-sections is that doctors need to do these procedures. They are under a lot of stress from lawsuits. If something goes wrong, they are liable. Even if there is a chance that a natural delivery COULD happen, a doctor probably isn’t going to risk it. They are in the business of saving lives, not gambling with them.

    Again, Sallie, I will miss your blog!

  • Sallie,

    Thank you for sharing. We are currently stuggling with the question of adding to our family. I am not able to have a bio child, but I was graced with a beautiful daughter through adoption. She is currently 12 months.
    I feel that through all my struggles with infertility God was leading me to mother this child.

    I struggle with things like is it fair for Megan to be an only child? Is it fair for her to be the only Chinese child in our extended family? Is it fair knowing we will one day leave her with no brother or sister to lean on?

    It is hard for those looking into someones life to understand it completely. I feel that God has an individual plan for each of us. I will sit back and enjoy the wonderful life that He has given me and if I am meant to have another child He will make it so.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  • Hey there.Hugs to you. One of the things I love most about you (as others have also said) is your non nonsense, sensible thinking that is not dogmatic. At the end of the day, you are telling us how the Lord has led and blessed you in varous situations, and I for one am very thankful for your balanced (and practical) opinions and example.
    I am struggling with my second pregnancy and it is my DH who sees it- and feels the gap should be longer next time- if there is a next time. Because that, like all other things, is in the Lord’s hands.

    New avenues of service have opened up to me as a mummy-new contacts etc, but many have closed and some I miss dearly. The Lord will equip us with whatever we need for the sitautions HE will bring about- you may be blessed in areas of service and witness that others will never be because they spend their time raising children (which is a witness and service in and of itself).We are each different, unique individuals in the Lord’s hands. He guides as is bext for us- and others cannot always see this. I go back to one of my favourite posts of yours- ‘cookie cutter Christian’s’- when are we going to learn?
    Will miss you greatly.

  • I can’t add much substance to what’s been shared already, but I so appreciate your thoughtful posts like this one. It so obvious that this decision, like any other made in prayer & with God, is a good one. I’ll miss your regular blogging 🙁 — but, of course, you’ve chosen the right thing.

    Love the new photos of Caroline — and *I* think she looks more like David!

    Bless all of you.

  • I wish you could “share” some of those Christians who tell you you should have more children over my way! I am surrounded by the opposite…my husband and I hope to have many more children (we have one who is just younger than Caroline), and most of the Christians around us tell us we’re crazy. There’s a very pervasive anti-child bias in the Northeast, even among Christians.

  • Hi Sweet Sallie~

    I just wanted to tell you that those sweet pictures of Caroline are ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!!!!!!! I have every confidence that Caroline will have a precious and wonderful childhood (ONLY CHILD or NOT)! You should never have to defend your position to anyone regarding how many children you choose to have or not! Unless the LORD deems otherwise – it is and should be completely your personal decision!

    Sweet blessings!
    Renee

  • I, too, will miss your blog, Sallie. God has used your blog to teach me so much. He has been teaching me for years to hold my tongue when my opinion is not asked, particularly in matters of birth and infancy. I am a doula, lactation educator, and childbirth educator, as well as a doula trainer. I am passionate about many things, as you might imagine!

    When you posted about your choice to feed Caroline formula, I had some strong feelings. The Lord brought me up short with Romans 14:4 “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” It was an opportunity to grow for me, and I thank you for being so honest and open.

    The same passage applies so aptly to this post and all the wonderful links. Why should people judge you for having one child, or me for having six, or my dearest girlfriend for not having any? Or question why that is? God shapes His vessels in all sorts of ways, for all sorts of amazing purposes. Instead, we should encourage each other to walk with the Lord, respect our husbands, and be the best stewards we can be of the resources (spiritual, informational, medical, etc.) the Lord has provided and guided us to. The Lord’s purposes WILL be accomplished, and our puny human judgment cannot fathom what He has in mind when He makes us different one from another.

    Thank you for challenging us to grow, Sallie. Your blog will be sorely missed, but I know the Lord smiles as you obey His leading in closing this chapter.

    Oh, and comment #12 made me laugh, remembering my husband’s comment about his vasectomy. “After you gave birth five times, this is the least I can do!”

  • I have not read your blog in a while, but in the past have greatly enjoyed your posts about simplicity and faith. So I’m sorry to hear that you’re quitting blogging, although I totally understand. I’ve never started blogging because I don’t have the time! But I have been blessed by you in the past and I hope that this season of your life is sweet.

    Regarding this particular post, I just want to encourage you. I, too, had to limit my children for health reasons. I struggled so much, because I had always desired a large family. I have three children, and to be honest, sometimes I think this third was too much. I love him and couldn’t imagine my life without him, but my pregnancy with him changed my life and damaged my body. Of course I believe it was worth it, but if I’d known before I was pregnant what would happen, I know that I, and my husband especially, would never have risked it.

    I’ve read some of the comments, although not all, and I wanted to respond just to your post. Many holy people were only children: Samuel, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus (according to ancient traditions), even Jesus! I’m sure there are more, even in the Bible, much less throughout history. Not everyone is called to have a large family. When I talked with my pastor about our decision to cut off the ability to have more children, he said, similarly to what you said, that for some, it is a form of asceticism to do something good, but for others, the asceticism is not doing that same thing. It broke my heart not to bring more children into our family, but it was the right choice for me.

    I very much respect your faith and your desire to love God and serve Him faithfully. Blessings on your family and your life as you simplify and minister to those closer to you!

  • Sallie,
    I wasn’t going to comment on this thread, after it took the negative turn, but I just had to tell you:

    Caroline is SUCH a beautiful little girl. Every picture you share is just so full of life and precious! What a delight that God gave you such a daughter!

    Blessings,
    Jess @ Making Home

  • Well, I must confess that I found Elena to be a bit offensive. However, over the past few days she has blogged herself silly over this issue…trying so very hard to prove everyone else wrong and herself gloriously righteous. The title of her latest post “The Last Laugh”, said it all for me. She does not care about showing forth Christ like compassion or love. She is spiteful in general, and even more so to evangelical women. Christian women need to rise up and combat the evil spirits of pride and guilt that grow among us. Lift up…do not tear down. We are called to be sisters…not enemies. Those who come as enemies are easily recognized. Next time a negative comment comes up on any of our blogs (and this is just my opinion) we should delete and block. Why waste time in the company of the ignorant when we can bask in the words of the wise?

  • She’s only being so spiteful towards non-Catholic Christian women now because she’s run through all the Catholic women bloggers…and men, too. She’s persona non grata at a good number of Catholic blogs, and it looks like she’s running through the non-Catholic Christian blogging community, too.

    The Catholic Church does not even teach that one must remain open to life all the time throughout one’s fertile years. The Catholic Church teaches that it is up to each couple to prayerfully decide when it is wise and when it is unwise to become pregnant.

    If you and your spouse have carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully considered the matter, then there is no room for debate or discussion here. It is beyond ill-mannered and insensitive for any person, much less someone who doesn’t even know you, to suggest that you are in the wrong or should re-consider your position.

    I also found the implication that one should have many children in case one or more dies deeply disturbing. Children are human beings, not parts in some machine we can replace should they die. They’re individuals. You cannot replace a dead child, and it’s probably highly damaging psychologically to the child one conceives with that thought in mind. Can you imagine the pressure that child will be under — to be known as Little Johnny’s or Little Janie’s “replacement”? I feel physically ill just thinking about it.

    I understand the point about family being a comfort, but deliberately conceiving children just in case you lose some along the way is creepy to the max. shudder

  • Sallie, thank you so much for sharing so much of your life with us, and the painstaking decision process that has gone on behind the scenes. Your posts are such a blessing to read – especially ones like this. What great wisdom you and your husband have! Oh I am going to miss your blog so much…! But I do understand your reasons. Blessings to you 🙂

  • Sallie… Our only child, our daughter, is now 27 years old. She’s the only child we were able to have ‘the old-fashioned way’–a case of secondary infertility, I suppose, which is more common than you’d think. Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you with this: All these years later, I can’t recall anyone making nasty remarks about our having just one child. Oh, early on, a couple relatives made questioning remarks (“What about the family name dying out?), but other than that, nothing that comes to mind as really hurtful. Mostly, I would encourage you just to go through life with your daughter, enjoy her, allow her to have plenty of friends over, and never make a big issue of the whole only child thing with anyone. It’s no one else’s business how many children you and your husband have and I’ve seen that if I don’t make a big, controversial issue of it, others don’t either. My husband and I loved raising our daughter as an only child–we had so much fun together!– and all these years later, the three of us are still very close. I wish you much joy and wisdom as you raise your daughter… treasure and enjoy your little family to the fullest…. Blessings, Debra

  • I found your blog by googling “my toddler hates busy bags” and found a treasure trove of amazing posts. I think you’re my “mom soul sister”. My 2 year old is very spirited and emotional. She’s also very smart (not sure if she is gifted). I’m a fellow Believer, and it’s very likely she will be our only child (I had cancer while pregnant with her so I hear ya on the “difficult pregnancy”), so this article really spoke to my heart. About trusting God to have more kids or trusting God to NOT have more kids. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I’m off to check out more of your spirited child posts!

    • Kirsten –

      Thank you so much for your comment! Knowing what I’ve written connects with another mom in a significant way just makes my day. Truly.

      And I love how you found my website. LOL!

      I hope you can get a lot out of the posts here. This is all the information I wish I had had when Caroline was two. 🙂

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Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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