Thursday, 21 July 2011

Family unplanning

Image from here
Have you noticed how differently everyone tackles the family making thing? Some have lots of children close together, while others space them out. I heard about one family who has four children, each seven years after the last. 21 years of parenting a 0-7 year old. Ugh.

The consideration for how many children to have and how close together to have them is one that we all agonise over. What is the best gap? How many children will satisfy the parental urges?

The funny thing is, that both of these questions are often beyond our control.

While some people get pregnant the minute they even consider having a baby, others try and try and try.

While some people have no trouble having their first child, they experience secondary infertility and the gap between children grows and grows, and sometimes never eventuates.

While some people carry babies to term, others miscarry or have premature babies, both impacting on the gap between children and/or the number of children they eventually parent.

While some people plan for one child, they wind up with twins, or triplets (which happened to a friend of mine) and their lives take on a whole different track.

For some, family planning turns out exactly as they wanted (creating the 'perfect scenario'of reduced sibling rivalry). For others, their family make-up is not what they expected.

In my way of thinking, in the end, 'you get what you get and you don't get upset' as we say in our household. There is little to be gained from lamenting a life that hasn't eventuated. So you ended up with four children under four? So be it.

I know that I am lucky. I don't know what it is like to not be able to get pregnant. I know that many people would like to find themselves in the scenario that I am in; with too much love and many children to cuddle.

But I do know that nothing comes from being unhappy with your life, from not accepting your situation. Nothing is to be gained from living a life you don't have. Do everything you can, by all means, to make the life you dream of but don't let it define you.

What are your thoughts on family planning? Can you really plan a family or are there just too many variables?


Mrs B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs B said...

Sorry I accidently deleted my comment.

I dont think you can really plan a family. We started out thinking we would have at least two, but then health circumstances have meant we only have one.

I had a difficult pregnancy, 10 weeks in hospital then a bad invasive birth which left unable to have or carry any more children. Little B then turned out to have multiple food allergies and mobility issues.

I made peace early on with have "an only" and we have made our family fab as it is. But it doesnt stop "helpful" friends suggesting ways we could try to have more.

Renee said...

Whatever will be will be - I guess we can 'plan' to a certain extent but we can't control everything. Before I had kids I thought I wanted three spaced an even 2 years apart. I now have two girls 22 months apart, we aren't sure if we'll have another but even if we do there will be at least 3 years between it and our youngest girl. We'll see! Not fretting about it at all!

A Farmer's Wife said...

I fell pregnant with Farmboy really easily and although the pregnancy was a little problematic, things went well.

I then had some health issues, miscarried and struggled to fall pregnant with Farmgirl - this meant that in terms of timing we very much "got what we got". Since then I have been advised that another pregnancy would have the potential to be risky for myself and so I count myself lucky that I have two beautiful kids. And also that I chose to have them when I did.

In our family we say "you get what you get and be glad that you got it"!!!

Fertility and pregnancy is an issue that is fraught with uncertainty.

A Farmer's Wife said...

And my grammar is appalling - I meant "Fertility and pregnancy are issues that are fraught with uncertainty"

I'm blaming it on lack of sleep.

Megan Blandford said...

The whole thing is so hard - emotional and frustrating and surprising. Having had to try for 2 years to have number 1, and almost 2 years and counting for a hopeful number 2... I've learnt not to live my life by what might or might not happen.

There is no magical right time to have kids, and there is no perfect age gap between siblings - it's just a matter of muddling along, I think.

Mel said...

I think it depends on your definition of "plan".

I think everyone has an idea of what they want for their family, but whether or not that eventuates, or whether they change their mind after having or even just trying for their first, is another story.

We had no trouble with our two - in fact, our daughter came along a lot earlier than expected - 14mths between our two was supposed to be 18-24mths, but we wouldn't change it if we had our time again.

We have watched, and continue to watch, many friends struggle with fertility. The hard part? Hearing stories of teenagers and unfit parents falling pregnant over and over again, and yet our friends who would be the most amazing parents and who have set up the perfect environment both financially and emotionally to raise a child, unable to have children. Life is unfair at the best of times.

Olusola said...

I think you can dream of the home you want to creat as long as you dreams leave room for your child(ren)to be who they will be. Yes I think you can plan your family as long as your plans are flexible enough to accommodate life's lack of predicatbility

Mrs Catch said...

I laugh when I think of my careful plans for children. It was either two or four. Got five. Number four was twins!

~CSaM~ said...

Hubby and I are currently debating this at the moment.

I would love to start trying again for a little babe, he is not too keen. We have thought of the pros and cons for a 2, 3, 4 + age gap, but as you say... you get what you get!

Photographer Mum said...

Hubby only wanted 2, I wanted 3. Our number 3 was being discussed when we found out we were pregnant with him. Now I want another one but he is keen to get the snip, which I am uncomfortable with as it is so final and we aren't 30 yet (next year). We currently don't have plans for more, but many of my friends are convinced we'll end up with #4. And I think I would like that. But 3 for now is good.

ClaireyH said...

Planning is great, and if it works that is great too. But rarely does it go so perfectly.

I had a friend with four children, they were tossing up the idea of whether or not to have another and eventually decided that you never regret a child in your life but you might regret not having one. So baby number 5 came along. They are extremely happy, but if they could have planned it, a girl would have arrived...not boy number five.

Sam-O said...

I had almost 8 years of fertiity treatments, then we switched to try IVF and I expected another long run - Baby number 1 was our first go.

2 frozen attempts and 5 more full IVF cycles led to baby number 2 who is just shy of 3 years younger.

I always thought I'd have 2 and definitely none at 40. Here is am 40 and going for number 3 as I realised I would have really liked 4...

Plans schamms. I think if you get too caught up in the plans you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Kymmie said...

Such a great post Coo. I think when we become parents, it's hard to plan anything. I had planned for one, then wanted another, got pregnant, lost it, and then had a three year age gap. Not planned at all. But grateful for what I have. SOOOO grateful.


Diminishing Lucy said...

Oooh how I love this post!

We resigned ourselves to a life without children as a result of unexpected infertility.

Made a plan, began to create a life that edged out the gap of kids. Moved interstate, took on new and scary jobs.

Got pregnant.

And then again.

And then again.

And then again.

And now, whilst I never bargained for three so very close together (we were three under three for a long while...) we make the very best of life as we have it. Despite the chaos.

That said, we were lucky.

If I could ever make a Miss Universe speech, I would not wish for world peace as much as I would wish for every woman to have the children she wants and for there to be no heartache, ever, from miscarriage or stillbirths or cot death.


Lauren said...

How very true, you really do 'get what you get'. My husband and I planned our first little girl and 12 and a half months later, our second little girl came along (on the pill!) It is tiring but I count my blessings every day, my aunt has tried every treatment over and over and is yet able to carry :(

Katharina said...

I think people whodon#'t have a family are talking about planing. People who have kids just live theit family.
When i was pregnant about 4 years ago, i had so much plans about getting as sooon as possible back to the job etc. Today I#m most the time at home, trying to give my family a home.
It is not what i planned but it is what my son needs to be a lucky and confident person.

Anonymous said...

Great post. We planned the first and the second, and the third came along by surprise (blessing). I laugh, because it looks like we planned our 3 boys, 2 years apart. But that's just the way our life played out.
You can't plan a family, but I've learned it's important to take contraception seriously. Babies aren't just for christmas!
I would like one more, ... maybe 2. We shall see what life's lotto has in store for us. ;)

Erin said...

Fertility is a Gift, a very precious Gift, and I am so conscious that we have been blessed and so many other couples hunger for a baby. My heart goes out to them constantly.

For us we have never planned, there are so many variables. Each pregnancy is carefully discerned; health and meeting the needs of the other children are big factors. All well in these areas we say Yes, and have been so blessed.

Maxabella said...

You get what you get and you don't get upset. Not even when you're so sleep deprived you cry even before you get out of bed... x

Anonymous said...

We're unplanners. 2 unplanned and I dare say if we expand again, it will also be unplanned x

Mama of 2 boys said...

I really like this post and I love how you lay all the 'scenarios' out like that. I think of those scenarios regularly and I often think of all the families I know and how wide and varied they are and continue to be. I think it's all kind of fabulous. I love the ones who believe they've planned all and the ones who fly by the seat of their pants... literally. I agree that there is no point basing one's life on something that may or may not ever eventuate, but for me personally, I know if I had experienced trouble falling pregnant or never been able to have children, I would be a shattered person right now. As hard as motherhood is, the alternatives are so far harder, in my eyes. Thanks for making me think this evening Multiple Mum xo

Jaimee Hunter said...

Little girl dreams while growing up said I would be married at 25 and have at least three children before I was 10 years older. God had another plan. I was engaged at 32 to my college sweetheart after waiting 13 years for him (and turns out his then 10 y.o. daughter). Three months before our wedding I had to have a hysty. Two months before our wedding our daughter's mother checked out of the country. Darling girl needed a mom more than she needed a friend so that's what she got. What's that saying, "Man's greatest plans are God's greatest folly." My good friend told me, "If you want to hear God laugh, make a plan." I think that's practically saying the same thing. Nevertheless, family planning does happen. My brother and sister-in-law have had a plan since they dated in high school and have stuck to it by the by for almost 20 years. :-)

Hi I'm Rhonda. said...

I'm probably a little over sensitive to this subject since we've been trying to get pregnant for over a year now. I have an 11 year old from a previous relationship and now we can't get pregnant. It's frustrating and almost hurtful to hear someone say that "you get what you get and you don't get upset" or that I should accept the realities and not let this define me. While this secondary infertility does not define me, it is hard to not focus on it at times. Sure there are times that I don't think about it. Then there are times that I grieve because I want a baby so badly. There are days when it does define me. And that's okay too.

Cathy said...

very well written post although knowing many people who have had or are having trouble conceiving, it would be hard to say to them 'accept your lot'. Diminishing Lucy - love your last sentiment. Totally agree.
We took a while to have our first (6 years into our marriage) then fell pregnant very quickly with our second (to everyone's shock - they are 15 months apart) and then we waited 3 years before having our 3rd (we needed to recover). Everyone has a destiny to fulfill I suppose...

Lovely Light said...

I don't have kids yet...I'm turning 30 his year, and I know my time is starting to run out...But I really don't want to try to "cram in" kids fast to beat the fertility issues that start to come with age. I'm an only child, and have mixed views about it...I guess I'm just so confused!

1000 Homes of Happiness said...

So many varied responses to a great post.

I am a planner and have since learnt that life doesn't always work this way. After years of infertility and IVF we were thrilled when our twinnie girls arrived and then, 18 months planning no fertility treatment along came little Bloss. I would adore another, I just require a body that thinks the same way as my head and heart xoxox

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

So interesting reading everyones comments regarding this. Great post MM.
It's a funny little thing this planning...

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