Just Cause

I've considered writing a post on this topic for a while now.  Each time deciding that it was just not the right time; or that it is such a personal topic I won't dare open myself up; or giving into the fear that I won't ever express myself adequately.  I also feel horribly guilty writing about my just cause for postponing pregnancy, when there are so many of you who want nothing more than to be pregnant.  And then I was given the opportunity to express my thoughts/feelings in a somewhat incognito way by just commenting on Rae's post.  At first, nothing really came of my comment, and I was secretly happy because I still wasn't sure that I wanted to go here.  But (there's always a 'but' isn't there?), a few days ago, Rae emailed to apologize for a comment that was left in response to mine; to let me know that she had deleted it and was sorry if I read it before she got to it.  Being that I am the cat that curiosity will kill someday, I told her I'd like to see the comment.  I'm glad I did.  It gave me the push I needed to write on the subject of just cause as it pertains to postponing pregnancy.  So, Rae, thank-you for being willing to share the comment with me.  And Moe, thank-you for your comment.  In fact, I started to reply in another comment and realized I just had to much to say.

Because this is in response to a comment, I've included the comment below.  My reply is in bold type, Moe's comment is in italics.  (I do not have an address to a blog of Moe's or I would link to it.)

First, I want to thank you for your comment.  Many of the questions you've posed are questions we've considered in discerning whether to work to avoid pregnancy each month.  It is not something we take lightly (anymore).  I want to respond in pieces, because there is more than just one issue.  So, here goes.  

Dear Rebecca, How good you are to follow the church's teachings and refrain from artificial means of contraception! Good job!

This sounds a bit condescending to me.  Whether your intent was to be condescending or not, I assure you, this path of following NFP didn't come easily to us, in fact it came after 12 years of being on birth control, the last 5 of which The Man and I were married and contracepting.  So, instead of taking exception, I will say thank-you for the encouragement because I sure hope that is what was intended.

If you work with special needs children then how great it is that you are prepared to take care of a special needs child if God sends you one. Many of us dont have that experience and just have to trust that God gives us what He knows in His infinite wisdom we can handle.

Yes, I do feel very grateful for the knowledge I have of special needs children.  And child development in general.  It saddens me to see how much frustration arises because of unrealistic expectations of parents for their children.  Will any of this make me a good mother?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Regardless, I will be grateful for the knowledge I have if I have children some day.  Should this be a reason for me to abandon any other reason I have for avoiding pregnancy, I don't think so.

I'm a little confused though, about your comment on the expense of a child. Do you think they are expensive? Seriously, they arent really very expensive, not in this country anyway and certainly not to the extent that one can't have enough money in the bank. We live in the land of plenty!! I know many a happy family with 4+ children who live quite happily with an under 100k/yr salary....i guess it boils down to priorities that you and your hubby have set...which is ultimately between you and The Big Guy. 

Do I think children are expensive?  Absolutely.  An under $100K/yr salary?  I'd love to classify us in that range, even close to it.  Maybe if we each took on an additional full-time job we'd get close. And until recently we had no health insurance.  None.  Oh, and thanks to the whole gross instead of net system of determining 'need', we also don't qualify for any social services.  So, yes, we have set priorities, but please don't assume that we are making almost $100K/year.  Yes, we live in the land of plenty - for the few.  The rest of us struggle day to day because we don't make enough money to be 'wealthy' and we make too much money to be 'poor'.  So, yes income plays a factor into our decision, but it's certainly not the only factor.

God has given you the free will and obviously a well functioning reproductive system (if nfp is working for you-unless of course you are infertile and dont know it yet) to choose to be a mom so it really isn't up to Him to decide for you, right? so, when you say it is up to Him then are you implying that you will then be giving up the NFP and trusting in Him? I'm just a little confused by that last statement regarding it being His decision. Our society, sadly, is scaring peolpe to death about having children..."too expensive", "possible birth defects", "not enough me time", ......what has happened to the spirit of HOPE....how many times are we told in "The Book" "Be Not Afraid" , "Fear Not", "Trust in Me"...?  

It's interesting that you equate our not having children with our not leaving it up to God.  The Man and I pray about this every month.  In fact, every day when we are in our fertile days.  And to date, we've come to the same conclusion every month.  It is not God's will for us to have children at this time.  It's also interesting that you assume that I am afraid.  Sure, I have fears (big ones) related to having children, I dare say every woman does.  But those fears are not what I base my decision on.  I base my decision on my trust in God.  My trust that His will for my life will be clear to me and for the fortitude to remain faithful to it.  It's not easy to remain abstinent on our fertile days.  I want to say that again:  It is NOT easy to remain abstinent on our fertile days.  I think that is a piece that gets lost sometimes.  If we didn't feel we had just cause to avoid pregnancy at this time, we certainly wouldn't choose to be abstinate on the days that we most desire each other.

Rebecca, please find some good women who love motherhood so that they may show you how beautiful it is!!! And then pray very hard that you dont make the same mistake that many women do and think they are fertile forever because then it may be too late and you may not have the choice any longer.

I frequently say a very similar thing:  that as far as I know I have a well-functioning reproductive immune system, but that it won't last forever.  And I've even written about the guilt that I feel that I don't want children.  I have plenty of friends who love being moms and I love being around them and their children, they are what give me hope for the future.  And I have given much thought to the consideration of what will happen if I 'wait too long' and it is 'too late' for me to biologically have children and every time I think about it the same conclusion stares me in the face - adoption.  There are more than enough children in this world who need loving homes.  And guess what, many of them have a disability.  What if this is what I'm called to?  One thing I can tell you is that right now, we cannot afford adoption.  It is expensive.  I'm very aware that I will not be fertile forever, and I accept it.  I also accept that I may never be able to afford adoption.  What I don't accept is that because of those two facts, I must work to achieve pregnancy now.

Coming to this conclusion, discerning that it is not time for us to have children, is as God-centered and directed as any other decision we make in our life; even more so than most.  Is this the case for all couples?  Probably not.  And that is my point in taking the time to respond to your comments.  That maybe there is someone reading this who feels that the Catholic Church teaches that married couples must have many children.  No, it does not.  It teaches that we must be open to life and that we must discern when it is responsible to bring a child (or another child) into the world.  And maybe, there is a person reading this who is using NFP with a contraceptive mentality because they think that is what the Catholic Church teachers.  Again, that's not it either.  What the Catholic Church does teach is that we must be open to life and must be responsible parents.  For us, to date, being responsible parents means not attempting to achieve pregnancy.


  1. Bravo! You are a great example of discerning what is appropriate for you at this time, and for having the confidence and charity to respond kindly to those who simply cannot understand.

  2. Thanks for being so honest about this! I think it's wonderful that you are following NFP, and if that's not difficult enough, your path is different than a lot of people using NFP. That means that those that are contracepting don't understand why you would use NFP and many of those that use NFP don't understand why you wouldn't have children, at least at this time. That's not easy, but I think it's great that you are following the Church's teaching and following God's will for your lives.

  3. You and your dear husband have clearly thought through (and prayed through) all of this... much more than most couples, I might add! God bless you for it!

    I have selfish reasons for wanting you to have children: I think the world would be better off with faithful people like you as parents to future saints. :) But like I said, that would make me happy, and it's not about me.

  4. I heart you in a big way for this and many, MANY other reasons... Not that you need it, but I fully respect yours and The Man's decision - and I say this with Thing 1 and Thing 2 running around! You are both so awesome with my kiddos; I won't lie that I've wondered about why you've chosen to postpone. But you've come to the decision to not have kids much more responsibly than our decision to have kids (snicker, snicker). I mean, yeah, we love these two like no other, but life is Significantly More Complicated now that they're here! :) Keep praying, keep discerning, and trust yourself.

    And, on a side not, $100K/year?!?!?! That is definitely a skewed view of reality... We're now in a similar position to you - too rich to be on assistance, too poor not to need it... but then again, we're managing. It's surprising what one can do without when one needs to; also surprising what one deems a "necessity" when one makes 100K/yr. A fallen world to be sure.

    Anyway, xoxo!

  5. To be fair, I think she meant that the $100K a year was to raise at least 4 kids, not one. I do know that my mom raised us 4 on my dad's airman salary of $30K. Yes I know, inflation has occurred since then, but I do think we overestimate how much kids will cost.

    That being said, of course only you and Cliff know your situation. I think the part of your story that I am most curious about is how you mention that you "don't want kids", in addition to having discerned that you both shouldn't make yourselves open to the option now. It seems most people on some level have some desire to have kids, at least eventually. And of course people will concern themselves with and seek to understand your dreams when they seem in direct opposition to their most desired dreams (wanting vs. not wanting children - as a separate issue from being able to have children). As a separate topic I would be curious to know why that is, of course that would be me just being nosy :) I would think that that would be the statement that most people would raise eyebrows up about, NOT the fact that you've discerned that having children now or in the near future, is not what you're called to do.

  6. Thank you for sharing, and also, thank you for sincerely using your conscience in discerning this! I will continue to pray for you and your husband that God will lead you where He wants you. :)

  7. Oh wow Rebecca...wow...you did a great job with this post...My tubes are tied and I know that I would get email and comments if i posted on this....BUT the fact is KIDS are EXPENSIVE this is something we struggle with every single day and we have 3 kids...that was NOT my reasoning for tubal...my reasoning was my youngest child almost died 7 days after her birth...soooo I guess my whole point is no one should ever judge another no matter what the format even in a comment i am sorry you felt like you had to defend yours...
    whoa I am off my soap box now
    stopping by all the SSS participants blogs to say hi today!

  8. I'm starting this comment off with absolutely no direction in my mind where I'll end up. I just want to make that clear. :)

    My response also comes from a more secular point of view. But you know that. :)

    I've never really had a fear of having children. Of their cost. Of their burden. Hubs and I have been surprised by all three pregnancies, the first (our six year old) before we were married. Even then, I did not worry. Maybe I'm an exception. Maybe I truly didn't grasp the enormity of what we were undertaking.

    I do know this. I'd found a way to make everything before him work. I would find a way to make THIS work. I can state with certainty that I have always been under the feelings of "what will be, will be", and that's never been in moments of financial security. I've never lived in moments of financial security. Not once in my entire life. :)

    I also believe that if I had the strength in faith that you have, that Michelle has, if I put full thought and preparation into what I thought God would want for me before each of my pregnancies, I might have followed a different path. I might have followed through on actually using birth control. I would have realized the significant impact daycare costs would tally on my paycheck. I may not have my blessings that I do.

    The only true faith I have practiced consistently is that I have always felt that things will work out. Maybe that's because I have a great familial support system. Maybe that's because I have an inflated belief in my capabilities and survival skills. Maybe it's because God knows I'm trying to find my way to his comfort like you have, and therefore given me hurdles to show that I have a support larger than what's here on Earth. Maybe he knows that I could handle the challenges that a baby presented to me, but knows that my struggle is deeper in trusting him. BOOM - baby, and thus a growing sense that something larger than goodness in people and trust in myself is out there.

    Maybe he knows that you already have his love, and you already feel him in your life. He might know that the challenges and rewards a baby presents are not within your means. It's easy for someone like me with three great surprises in the form of babies to say "they aren't that hard, you find ways to make it work". What if things I struggle with on a daily basis are easy for YOU? I've been blessed with gifts to receive one thing, you've been blessed to receive gifts in another form.

    Knowing what's our decision to make and what we need to leave up to "chance" is a personal experience. And it appears to me that you and your husband give it much thought, and care, and true understanding of what you need when you need it will become clear in due time. :)

  9. As a mom of just one right now, children are absolutely costly... a cost that is willingly assumed when you're ready for it! Ways can be found... when you're ready! I love my son and he was the best thing to happen to us, but we were ready for it. Take you're time... you will know when you're ready. Let God lead you and you will know when He has prepared you for child... if! You may just be the super cool aunt and uncle. That is ok too!

  10. I'm going to try to respond to everyone here:

    Rae - thank-you.

    CM - Your description of how we don't really fit in with either side is right on. Thank-you for your kind words.

    Leila - Thank-you. You are very sweet to say that you think we'd make good parents.

    Katie - well, I guess now you know some of it. I realized after reading some of the comments that I did focus on the $ issue, mainly b/c that is where this commenter focused, but there is more to it than this. I don't worry that God wouldn't provide or that we wouldn't find a way. And I know that if we said we'd have kids when we have 'enough money' that would never happen. (More on this in reply to Allison/Matching Moonheads).

    Allison/Matching Moonheads: She said a salary of under $100K. (Just clarifying, not arguing :)). Please see my reply to Katie, just above for more on the $ issue. Yes, I do say that we don't want kids and it never occurred to me that just because in my head, since we've been NFP users, 'not wanting kids' has equated to 'not discerned that it is God's will for us to have kids at this time' that I was not expressing that clearly. When we started using NFP, we started from a "we don't want kids" mentality completely. Part of NFP is being open to life and using this discernment process that I talked about (you and MIke are excellent teachers!) and we have embraced it completely (and are so glad we have!). So, while pre-NFP it was a pure 'don't want', post-NFP it is still simply simpler to say we 'don't want' kids than to say 'we haven't discerned it is God's will for us to have kids'. I see the confusion in this and will work to use more accurate wording. At this point, we are open to and following God's will for our family. I can see where it would be difficult to understand someone's dreams that are in direct opposition to yours. I can only explain in it by saying that just as my lack of desire for children does not resonate with you so does your desire for them not resonate with me. Yes, in the past 11 months, the topic of children has taken on a new 'feel' as we've practiced NFP and I do feel differently than I did at the start.

    Sarah - thank-you for the prayers.

    Georgie - wow, I can't imagine what a scary time that must've been for you. Thank-you for being brave enough to share your story. It is a great reminder that there is always more to a story than what we first see/hear.

    Tooje - a beautiful reflection. I agree that what some of us perceive as 'no biggie' others of us would crumble under. It is why we each experience a unique life. Thank-you.

    Noah Andrew/Christy - Thanks! We know better than to ever say 'when there's enough money', but we also know that it's not our only reason for not having children right now.

  11. I enjoyed reading this post. I have often wondered and, as you mentioned in your comment to matching moonheads/Allison - how you approached avoiding pregnancy as you embarked on the NFP journey vs. how you approach it now, almost a year in really shows how including God in the decision makes a HUGE difference. Of course, my background is faith-based and my husband and I have often discerned whether to be open to another child or not without regards to finances. I'm not sure why this is. Probably because as Tooje notes...for us we figure, we've always made things work before a new baby...we'll make things work after as well. Or in our case, God will...at least that's how it seems to us.

    You seem to have a wonderful approach to the idea that you might wait "too long", but know this...one of my very good friends was an only child. He was conceived in his mother's womb when she was mid-40's. She often tells how she and her husband never did anything to prevent it, but it just never happened...until she was 44 (I think that's right). That man has been pivotal in so many Catholic conversions that I know of and really he helped along my own reversion to full Communion with the Catholic church. He now has 8 children and guess what? His mother lives with them in her own little apartment in his home. They thought she would die about 15 years ago so they made room for her in their home so she could be happy in her waning days...which have now lasted 15 years.

    Anyway, just because you're older doesn't mean God can't work a major miracle. And I'm not saying you'd be open to the same Gift...but I'm just mentioning that even though the likelihood of bearing children is lower in older years, if it's God's plan for you...it's God's plan for you.

    Even those of us who are fertile, are reminded that it's all part of God's Plan if we are to have children at all.

    Bless you for keeping your relationship open to three (you, The Man and God).

  12. Ok, I think then I was just confused on the semantics part in that second line in the last part of your response! I thought you were trying to hint at reasons new/different than what you had previously mentioned.

    You can tell you've definitely been in the NFP world for a long time when you hear "don't want children" as being something TOTALLY different from "have discerned not to have children"! Thanks for your patience in responding, especially after we've already talked about that! :)

  13. As one who has enough years in to have passed childbearing age, I do have a couple of observations. General observations offered as food for thought with no presumptions or opinions attached to them.

    The longer one puts off pregnancy, the less likely she is to allow a pregnancy - due mainly to advancing loss of enthusiasm and naivete that comes with advancing loss of youth; and due to ever-deepening investments of self and habits otherwise, as time passes.

    The older one is as a first-time mother, the less likely she is to have no regrets about it - due to inevitably facing the unforeseen issues that every older woman faces whether she has young children or not.

  14. I grew up without financial security and yet we always ate 3 meals a day, so I guess financial reasons have never weighed very heavily with me. That being said, I have other reasons to consider spacing my children and postponing in the future. Having a child is never an easy flippant choice! And I agree with your assesment on salary! For now we are in a stable position, but this is the first job we've ever had health insurance! For our first 2 births we paid cash with the support of a christian medi-share program, although looking back now I realize that we would have easily qualified for medicare. We are absolutely considering postponing for a time when we transition out of ministry, because not only will we be taking a salary hit, we will lose our health insurance and Hubby will be in school. Anyways, sorry to ramble. Great thoughts!

  15. p.s. I need to add this. My observations, above, do not apply to women who want to become pregnant but can't. The gift of a child is paramount and welcome no matter when it happens and whether it happens by conception or adoption.

  16. A little late to the conversation, but I wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this. I also thought Rae, CM, Alison, and Michelle's comments were good.

  17. Thanks for posting this...seeing how you expressed yourself gives me lots of ideas for how to answer people who are questioning our decision to not have children right now.