Growing your family raises a lot of questions. I know because as I type this, our laptop is sitting on my ever-growing belly. Our family has grown from 7 to 8. And in no time at all, little miss will be joining the outside world.
You did the math right, and this makes baby number six. Although, maybe I need to rework the math because I’m not sure I believe it! She wiggles, and I have had all my usual pregnancy symptoms, but I’m still in shock that we will soon be raising not five but six children.
Our four sons and one daughter will gain a little sister. Well, they already have her; I just get to carry her in-utero until she’s ready to come out and join this crazy, chaotic, unconditionally loving family!
When you find out you’re having another baby, all the emotions hit you—excitement, happiness, love, uncertainty, anxiety, and everything in between. Growing your family can be a time of great joy! But if I’m completely honest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all of the time.
Sometimes we choose to grow our family, and sometimes we don’t.
Growing up, I thought pregnancy came naturally to all women. Like a heartbeat, our body did what God had amazingly designed it to do. But, as an adult, I learned that isn’t always the case with everyone.
I joke that I’m a “Fertile Myrtle,” but I know now what a blessing it is to be able to bear children. It’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I have never felt the loss of a child, and I pray I never do. I know mothers who have experienced this loss, and I know their pain is unimaginable.
There are the obvious joys when it comes to growing your family—like baby cuddles and cuteness—and then there are the less desirable fears.
The Joys and Fears of Growing Your Family
Growing your family requires lifestyle changes.
Your current lifestyle may change a bit. Depending on the ages of your older children, you may need to babyproof the house again. Then again, if your kids are close in age, you probably never un-babyproofed the house.
With a new baby, you’ll need to remember to fully stock the diaper bag with the baby’s needs, run errands around the baby’s nap and feeding times, and be careful wearing any nice clothing as it may end up with spit up or poo on it.
Your budget will change over time as well. It’s ok to wear hand-me-downs and NOT shop brand names. Consignment shops are a fabulous place to find gently used brand-name clothes, well-loved play or pajama clothes, and dress or play shoes. You can even find some of the most fun toys at a significant discount!
Siblings gain another sibling by growing your family, which helps them grow in love, patience, and understanding. Yes, your lifestyle may be different for a little while, but schedules and routines start to smooth out and become more predictable once infancy is over.
One of my favorite changes is that we once again get to experience that first few years of cuddles, snuggles, giggles, playtime, bath time, absolute adorableness, and so much more. Witnessing my child’s joy and delight, hearing their laughter and excitement in such simple pleasures as hugging a teddy bear or popping bubbles brings me the purest happiness I have ever felt in my life.
Growing your family will cause your relationship with your spouse to change.
You’re not just husband and wife anymore—now you’re mom and dad. Men are typically cast as the strong, rough, hard-working, no tears, just grit kind of personality. I love a manly man, but a real man is different.
A real man can have hands as gentle as cotton to hold and care for his baby, words as sweet as honey to soothe and talk to his child, and a level of protection for his children that exceeds a momma bear!
Watching my husband nurture and care for our baby grows my love and affection for him tenfold, and it will do the same for you and your spouse.
Seeing each other in these new roles, witnessing each other’s strength, courage, and commitment to being a good parent will grow your bond as husband and wife. Having a strong marriage is key to raising children on a firm foundation of a family.
No doubt, growing your family will change your relationship with your spouse—mostly for the better! There are instances when one person can’t handle the self-sacrifice and love it takes to care for and raise a child.
If it’s your first or sixth, it is always good to nurture your relationship with your spouse. So keep the flame burning bright with fantastic ways to date your spouse.
Maybe the excellent communication you once had with your spouse has somehow dwindled with each new arrival and all the accompanying responsibilities. No worries! Brush up on your communication skills and learn how to have effective communication for a happy marriage.
Sometimes, the bad habits we brought into the marriage are exacerbated with the arrival of each child. So first, take some time and evaluate if you have any of these toxic marriage habits. Then, open up to your spouse about your desire to live your best life together without hurting.
You can count on your body changing!
For those of us who have lived with a smaller than average breast size, pregnancy can help with that! The extra production of estrogen, progesterone, and HCG due to pregnancy kick starts your milk-making process. On average, a woman can anticipate an increase of about 2 cup sizes! That’s for sure some good info to know when buying a nursing bra before the baby arrives.
You may also experience that “pregnancy glow,” which is attributed to increased blood flow. An increase in blood flow and hormones has also been proven to promote stronger nails and promote hair growth and less hair loss.
Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of body changes that come with growing your family. I love feeling my baby move and wiggle as she grows, but that’s the only fun part for me. Unfortunately, this has also been the least “fit” pregnancy of all of them.
I’m already past my heaviest pregnancy weight, and she still has more growing to do! I see my face and think, yep, that’s my fat face. I used to wear small/medium maternity clothes, and now I wear large and extra-large.
Weight gain, skin changes, hormone fluctuation, ligament pains, stretch marks, back pain, food aversions, nausea and sickness, engorged breasts, and swollen everything are some of the uncomfortable body changes pregnancy throws at you.
And all for what? For this…
I may look at myself and feel disgusted, but only because I am my own worst critic. My husband still says he only sees the beautiful woman he married 14 years ago, and I would go through it all over and over again just to have that sweet baby to hold, love, and cherish.
Having a child will do that to you. It will break down your selfish walls and create a garden of love and sacrifice for the human life you’ve helped create.
The delivery isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world.
As if growing another human life in your womb was not AH-MAZING enough! Now your body gets to operate as a transformer! Changing shape and size all in an effort to birth human life from your womb. Simply miraculous!
I’ve been through delivery five times. Three times I had an epidural, twice I did not. I don’t know what this next delivery will bring, but I hope to skip the epidural again. My labors are not short by any means either. I know my body can do it! Let’s just hope I feel the same once the delivery day arrives.
Maybe you’ve seen that video of a woman giving birth unmedicated: all the screaming, the sweat, the tears, and the crying. Perhaps you’ve heard of the ring of fire, the use of a vacuum, or been told about an episiotomy. WOW, it’s a lot to take in, and none of it sounds good. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.
We’re told to make a birthing plan, and I will tell you to do the same! Decide weeks beforehand if you want medication or to go with the flow. If the doctors know you are anticipating an epidural, it’ll be there when you need it. If you decide to get one at the last minute, you may be too far along in the process and can’t receive it.
I know I want to be able to walk around or use a birthing ball. Once we arrive, my husband will let the staff know my expectations, and we will go from there!
There is no guarantee it will all go as planned, but letting the doctors and nurses know what you expect to happen will help the experience run more smoothly. My only regret is not walking around enough. I let myself be convinced that I should lie down and labor through it all, which is always the worst for me. Gravity is my friend when it comes to giving birth, and I need to work with it, not against it.
Growing your family causes the health and wellbeing of your baby to ALWAYS be on your mind.
There are plenty of books, websites, and advice out there to help guide you in this arena. Do a little research, listen to people you trust, and enjoy this ride! Baby baths can be tricky, but with practice, they become a time of joy and play!
The same goes for feeding your baby. There are tremendous health benefits to breastfeeding that do not come with bottle feeding, so I highly recommend every new mother give it a try! However, everyone is different. What works for one mom may not work for another, and what works for you with one child may not work for the next child.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, feeding your baby is a time of bonding and sometimes hilarity! Watching that little tongue try and manipulate a spoon or seeing your 8-month-old spit peas on his father can be pretty comical!
Listen to your gut, but don’t hesitate to call on advice from your pediatrician or another trusted parent.
We all want our baby to be happy, healthy, and grow and develop in a healthy and normal way. We do our best to make that happen, but sometimes, it’s just not the case.
Instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, look at what is. Medicine, technology, community advancements, our ability to learn how to make education adaptable to each person’s specific needs, and so much more have come such a long way!
Though medical diagnosis can be devastating, we can take comfort in knowing that our options for care and betterment of life are so vast now more than ever.
The ability to love your child.
Growing your family will cause your heart will grow. It will forever grow whether you add one child or 15+ children to your family. God’s love for us is eternal, and I feel that gift was passed on to us. We may not be able to compare to the same magnitude of God’s love for us, but we sure do have a lot of love to go around!
When I was pregnant with our second son, we were head-over-heels excited!
Then one day, it hit me.
Could I love this baby the same way I love our firstborn?
Once he arrived, I was bursting at the seams with love for this little man! That is when I realized that my mom was once again right. Love for this child didn’t steal love from our firstborn—it made my heart grow even larger! And, I can assure you that it has grown with every child.
What if my older children don’t like their new sibling?
Whether or not your older children will like their newest sibling hinges on you and your spouse. If you consume yourselves in the new baby and ignore your other child(ren), then you’re setting them up to hold resentment against their newest sibling.
I have found that keeping my children involved in the pregnancy and taking care of the baby is a huge help. When the baby is active, I let my children feel her move. When the baby is born, I encourage the kids to sing her a lullaby, make silly faces or noises for her, or hold her hand. They fetch diapers for me, I take plenty of pictures of them holding their sibling (they LOVE the photos), and I do my best not to flat-out ignore my other children while tending to the baby’s needs.
I share with them when mommy needs a break because growing another human can be exhausting. They immediately turn on their caregiving instincts and help out a little more. They show concern for me and the baby and gain a sense of responsibility and courage to do what’s right.
Teaching older children self-reliance is also a benefit of growing your family. Our 5-year-old doesn’t need mom to get him a drink, he can reach the drawer of cups, and a sibling can help turn the water on and off. Our 13-year-old has been taught the basics of doing laundry (and I put up a “how-to” sheet), so he has no excuses not to have the outfit he wants for school. The list of responsibilities goes on and on.
Teaching chores is also a fabulous tool! You are their mom, not a full-time housemaid. Developing our chore chart was a HUGE help once our 5th was born. I wish we would have done it sooner!
Having a new baby does not stop the learning and growing process for your older children—it only gives them more opportunities to learn and mature.
A quick way to grow resentment for a new sibling is to use pregnancy and the baby as an excuse when it isn’t. Take your kids to the park, join them on a field trip, or just sit with them and listen to their day. You are still the parent and are obligated to act as such regardless of what you’re going through.
Health circumstances can prevent you from doing what you normally do as a parent, which is understandable. What I’m getting at is that pulling the pregnancy card so you can lie around and watch Netflix and ignore your children is a big no-no!
What will the judgemental people think?
Who cares? The average family size is two kids or less. As you can imagine, we’ve had plenty of looks, comments, and questions like, “you know how that happens, right?” There will always be pregnancy shaming, and there will always be people who think you are crazy and irresponsible for growing your family.
Society has told us that we are in an over-population crisis. Well, experts disagree. This story comes from experts, and after reading it, I’m inclined to believe it’s pretty true.
Honestly, though, who cares? Don’t let the feelings and opinions of others ruin your family’s happiness. Growing your family is a decision made between you and your spouse and no one else.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”—Psalm 127:3-5
Live your life and do what is best for you and your family!
Growing your family is exciting and a little scary. The list of joys and fears is nearly identical. In my experience, the joys always trump the fears.
You will never regret growing your family. You may wish you could’ve done things differently, but adding another precious life to the family is worth more than diamonds, gold, and hot coffee! So let us know in the comments below your joys and fears of growing your family!
Maybe you know someone who is having anxiety about their newest pregnancy. Feel free to share this with them! Help them see that we all experience joys and fears with pregnancy.
It’s good to work through it all and to know you’re not alone—there is a silver lining around every dark cloud of worry.