Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Answering large family objections, Part 2 - My, how old you are!

Part 1 here

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Another common objection to having lots of kids is the mother's age. At the ripe old age of 36, I am considered an "elderly grand multipara," something I can only laugh at.

It is no coincidence that God designed women's bodies in such a way that they go into menopause in plenty of time to see even the youngest child into adulthood, barring any tragedies (which, as the name implies, can strike anyone, at any age).

There are many studies that show that older mothers usually have better pregnancy outcomes, increased fertility if they started having kids when they were young, carry to term more often, have higher rates of twinning, and have smarter kids than younger mothers.

And really, it should come as no wonder. Whereas I was deathly ill and throwing up 30+ times a day with Solomon, I have learned how to prevent that. Whereas we could not afford all of the best supplements as newlyweds, and had a $40 weekly budget for all our groceries and toiletries, nor did we have any knowledge of what "healthy" truly meant, we are now in a position where I can buy the top of the line supplement of any kind, and afford the most nutritious foods. Whereas I used to have to do all my work as usual, even when sick and pregnant, I have now reached the "Queen Years" where my older children are willing and able helpers. Years of being pregnant have taught me some "tips of the trade" that young mothers simply have not yet had time to learn. Everyone knows that the longer you do something, the better you become at it.

Nowhere outside the realm of motherhood are the 40s considered "old" - these should be our prime years, and if you have lived a life following God's rules rather than partying, drinking, doing drugs, switching partners, and generally living a hard life - they will be! 

Of course, the mother's age being a factor is a relatively new notion, as throughout history nature has of necessity been allowed to run its course. We were recently given an old family Bible that had a family registry in the front. The couple who originally owned it had married in 1901, and their first child was born in 1903. They went on to have a total of 13 children, all born about two years apart. Two died in infancy (one at 1 month old, the other at 8 months old). Clearly, this couple did not practice birth control, had children during all their reproductive years, and went on to live long and presumably happy lives with their children and grandchildren (who were also listed in the family Bible). I really don't think that the thought on their death beds was, "We should have quit after the first two kids, and not had those ones in our 40s."

In other words, this is likely, Lord willing, not going to be the last pregnancy for us, as I anticipate probably another decade of being able to have children. You know what they say, having children keeps you young! :)

22 comments:

  1. I'm just curious. How is it that you can afford 9 children, top of the line supplements, and the most nutritious food, on a pastor's salary? My husband works hard, makes almost 100,000 a year and we still can't afford to eat all organic and the best supplements. Just wondering.

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    1. We have 4 children on a "poverty level income". We use no government programs, have no debt, live in Southern California, have 2 years worth of salary in savings, and can afford ALL organic food. Also, my husband has to eat a very high protein and caloric diet after a terrible accident (he gets no assistance for this, no special payments, he only has his salary). Do we go on vacations? Have t.v.? Have those expensive phones everyone is walking round with these days? No. But we have everything we need, and tons of stuff we want. 100,000 a year, I'd be richy rich! Coupons, co-ops, don't buy a bunch of junk food, make food at home, buy oats, if you have a lil back yard grow your own food. We are all super blessed to live in such a wealthy country. I am so thankful for the amazing amount of abundance we have! To God be the glory! 100k wow, I can fall asleep with dreams of that, thinking all the amazing charity work I could do! I could grow all my own food, and grow food for my extended family and neighbors! A charity garden! Have a sign up "pick what you need for free!" and have little signs with the gospel on them throughout the garden! I would have to move for that though :)

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    2. Like Prim above already mentioned, we save a lot of money by not just shopping at the store for everything, especially Whole Foods. I oversee a total of 4 co-ops, that cover most of our produce, all of our milk and beef, and many of our dry goods and other groceries. It is a lot of extra work, but shaves anywhere from 30-90% off regular store prices. When we get a killer deal, we stockpile that item for as much as 1 year. We have 2 deep freezers for this. Our monthly grocery budget is $1,800, but it's not rigid - some months, if there are cash flow issues, I can spend considerably less thanks to our extensive food stores, other months like around the holidays, I might spend more. On supplements, I just try to find the cheapest deals online, or by getting in on large co-op group buys. That adds about another $150/month for all of us.

      Spending in these areas are our priority, and therefore make up a large chunk of our budget. We are very frugal in all other areas. Most families would be shocked to sit down and calculate how much money slips through the cracks. For instance, I never go to the mall, and don't even buy clothes new at department stores, no matter the discounts (because I'd inevitably walk out with stuff I didn't plan on buying). I go years between setting a foot in stores that are designed to entice us to "have fun" and spend too much, such as Target. I go to Wal-Mart, which I hate, so I avoid going there and when I do go, I try to get out as fast as possible. In fact, if I can order stuff online, I avoid even going to any store, because it almost always leads to impulse buys. I go to Starbucks once a year if that. We eat out sometimes, but mostly cook at home, from scratch, which is cheaper and healthier. We don't have cable TV, don't do long or expensive vacations (I think we have only been taking 3-day trips to nearby Southern California once a year for several years now), don't have expensive hobbies. I aim to only fill the gas tank in my van once every two weeks, and will stay home or combine errands if necessary. Whenever possible, we try to find things used, and inexpensive, by shopping around or waiting until a good deal comes up. We are making do with our small house rather than going bigger and taking on a larger mortgage. We don't carry debt besides that, which saves more money. And so on - just a lot of everyday things we all know to do. I may not have an income, but I am able to save a lot of money by not having a day job, which actually has a greater impact because a penny saved is like two pennies earned, thanks to taxes.

      In spite of all this, I feel like we live a very abundant life, because we are. Your husband makes more than what we make, and it doesn't sound like you have 9 kids, so with all due respect, you should be able to make it work if you want to.

      Money is like time. We all have a limited amount, but what we do with what we have varies vastly. It's not that we have more, it's that we are managing it differently.

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    3. Your resident pro-choice liberal reader weighing in. I wish we could put the affordability issue of kids to rest. It's nonsense. Though I disagree with the theology uou teach your kids, I believe regardless of the parents' $$$, raising children in frugality leads to intellectually richer lives. Anybody can toss money at a problem (Ie: I am bored, I need this widget, I have to have a black skirt for my concert.) Problem solving skills are gained from finding alternatives. Kids are not that expensive, if you don't get sucked in to keeping up with the Joneses. Adults could do well to remember that too. I think whatever angst my brood feels at not having Smartphones, say, is made up for by the stability they have in knowing the house is paid for, food is abundant,(if not pre-packaged) and college will be paid for. I made a conscious decision to live according to OUR priorities, not "theirs" when I left work for good just before the birth of my first. And, after doing this for several decades, I have to say, finding the frugal/creative solution to certain problems is actually fun!

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  2. Hi Zsuzsanna,

    I have three children ages 7, 4 and 1 and would love to have more but my husband says he does not want any more kids. I am a healthy 38 year old. My pregnancies have only gotten better with age (surprisingly). Any ideas how to sway his opinion?

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    1. I don't have any ideas, but from personal experience I can say at some point, if you don't 'sway' him, you need to let it go. We have two and my wife wanted more. I'm not saying this is 'your' situation, but the fact of the matter is that she just couldn't accept the fact that two was all that 'she' could, after a fashion, handle; and that's not working outside the home, either. As long as I was coming home from 8-10 hours of work and starting my second job as a dad - doing things that she had plenty of time, money, and health to take care of during the day - things were fine. I was not, however, under any circumstances going to add more to that job I had once I got home. As I said, I'm not judging your situation that I know nothing about, but sometimes there's a very good reason that a man might not want more children.

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  3. You do you Zsu, you do you.
    I never had the feeling your kids were props (in ref to large families whose children are publicity props) I've always felt like you knew and cared for each one as much as a normal family would, but with the right amount of pullback to make sure the mother-child dynamic still existed. As long as you are careful and financially able, I don't see why you should be judged to your right to have as many children as you can.

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  4. Congratulations. If my calculations are correct you will be thirty-seven years old when you deliver this child.

    There is a lot of prejudice against "older mothers" these days. In my opinion it's a backlash against secular women who decide to delay childbearing until their late thirties or forties.

    What a lot of critical people fail to remember is that "older women" have been producing children for the entire history of the human race!

    What is relatively new is having one's first child at age thirty-seven.

    Anyhow...best of luck to you and your family.

    :)

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  5. We have 7 children, mostly grown now and I've never encountered "haters of large families”. Certainly people are curious about why we would want so many children and I agree with you that children are the best thing about us, however many people recognise that large families are not for them – their reasons are as varied as the people themselves. Whilst it is great to be able choose to have large families, I do wonder how god’s design would cope if every woman alive now produced say 10 children over her lifetime – the earth’s population would swell from 7.2 billion to in excess of 40 billion in a generation.

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  6. I think my concern would be for my family...every pregnancy brings with it risk to both mom and baby. Knowing that I have a husband and a houseful of little ones who desperately need me around to fulfil that unique role given to me, I would not cavalierly say that I still have 10 years of childbearing years ahead of me. I say this as someone who lost a dear friend in a homebirth, in addition to knowing several other situations where things went very seriously wrong for the mom. I can understand that the workload of caring and parenting for them seems do-able, however with maternal age, also come more pregnancy risks. In years gone by, yes there were older women having children...but have you forgotten the maternal death rate in those times? Not the best argument in my opinion.
    I did enjoy your part one...I found myself nodding along for most of it.

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  7. Like a previous question, what do you do when you desire another child, yet your husband says his quiver is full? I would never intentionally get pregnant (we only use nfp) if he is not on board. He bears the full responsibility of providing for us so I can be a stay at home mom and homeschool.

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  8. I've always found the "You're too old to have a baby" thing weird. (That is, since I really thought about it! Before then I didn't question the logic.) Both from a creationist standpoint and an evolutionist standpoint, the time when a woman is too old to have a baby... is when she is past menopause and is unable to conceive and carry a baby. If she can conceive and carry a baby, then she's not too old! If she was too old, then the Lord (or evolution, if you're an evolutionist) would have timed menopause earlier in a woman's lifespan.

    Our culture also exhibits an odd dichotomy - celebrating women who put off childbearing for career and then bear a child late in life, while denigrating a woman who has acknowledged the Lord's sovereignty in childbearing and consequently is bearing children in her "elderly multipara" years (i.e. at age 35 and older).

    I love also how the Lord has timed a woman's reproductive years so that a woman who welcomes the children the Lord sends will oftentimes have her last child at the time when her first child is married and welcoming children (that is, grandchildren start appearing when one's own childbearing years are over). What a blessing to have a life in which children are always present.

    Thank you for this article! And I'm dying to see your NVP-management/prevention summary post too!!!! :)

    Love,
    Diana

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    1. In my opinion "our culture" does not uniformly "celebrate women who put off childbearing for career." When I was married and in my twenties and thirties I received a lot of disapproving feedback for appearing to do just that, In reality I hadn't decided whether or not to pursue parenthood. I filed for divorce at age thirty-eight so that was the decision breaker! I have no regrets however. The situation was, and is.

      But an "elderly multipara" aka at least thirty five year old new mother is just that whether she is having her first child, her third child, or her ninth child! What is the difference?

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    2. Louise - I apologize if I came across rudely and hurt your feelings. What I wrote is a true reflection for what I have observed, but I certainly did not mean to be unkind - and I apologize if I was so. You and I have seen different societal phenomena from different vantage points, and I have no doubt that there is truth to both. Again, my apologies.

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    3. Diana, I do not feel you were "rude." I just wanted to point out that young married women who delay children are not always "celebrated." When I remained visibly unpregnant a full year and a half after marriage (I got married at 24 BTW) plenty of acquaintances weighed in with disapproval. Not hate but definitely disapproval. Anyhow, that was my experience. Have a nice day! :)

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  9. I say good on you!
    Circumstances weren't kind to me, I would have loved to have had 8-10 children, but it wasn't to be. I am blessed with 2 now adult children. Every day I am sad that I didn't get to have that 'big loving family'

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  10. Louise, you said 'But an "elderly multipara" aka at least thirty five year old new mother is just that whether she is having her first child, her third child, or her ninth child! What is the difference?'

    The difference I see is that only one of those women is a "multipara." Elderly doesn't change, but the woman expecting her first baby is a nullipara, the woman expecting her third is a multipara, and anything beyond 6 is grand multipara. They're medical shorthand for "how many babies this woman has already had."

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    1. I thought "nullipara" meant a woman without children. I'll have to check the definition.

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  11. first baby is primipara actually.

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  12. To address that "What is the difference?" question...the difference is that women who are having their first baby at an older age often have a much rougher time with pregnancy and birth than a younger woman. If it is not a first pregnancy, being older is not a risk factor. Our bodies were just made to have the first baby at a younger age, apparently.

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    1. I'll have to research that...not sure if it is true. Sounds to me like another fallacy to shame women who postpone parenthood. And the number of prior pregnancies definitely does not affect the risk of Down syndrome. But I am firm in my belief that every choice has a risk. Have a nice day, everyone!

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  13. I, too, had a babe in my 40s: our long-awaited, eagerly-received, miracle was born when I was 42. Not how I planned it, but God had bigger plans!

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Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.