When Bob and I got married, we didn't set out to have a big family. I was still in college, and just a few months after we got married, I had a blood clot in my right arm that resulted in me being hospitalized for over a week while doctors tried to dissolve it. After that, I was put on Coumadin, a potent teratogenic drug, so I was on birth control pills, so I would not become pregnant while on the Coumadin. (Ironically, now that I am off the Coumadin, no doctor will ever put me back on the Pill, because of its increased potential for clotting!) I had surgery to remove my right first rib (which was constricting the vein, causing the clotting) 2 years later, right before I graduated from college.
The surgery solved that problem, but combined with our PCS to Colorado a month later, my body pretty much shut down. I had always just expected that I would be able to get pregnant whenever I wanted to, in this case, now that I had graduated, so it was a bit of a shock that it wasn't happening, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself. Bob was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain, and he was working this weird schedule of all 3 shifts, a different shift each week, with an 8 day work week. Since he rarely had regular weekends off, and I wasn't working, we got to do a lot of fun things like camping when it wasn't very crowded, and it was a good time for our marriage. I did worry that maybe we would never be able to have kids, though, since I was really having no cycles whatsoever.
Anyhow, a little over a year later, Bob was selected to be the aide for a vice admiral, the deputy CINC of Space Command. With that new job came a more regular schedule--and lo and behold, I got pregnant a month later.
After Nathan was born, we weren't too serious about any kind of birth control, since we had so much trouble getting pregnant, so it was a surprise when I found out I was pregnant with Luke right after Nathan had his 1 year birthday! I figured my body had sort of been shocked back into working or something.
After Luke was born, I stopped nursing the earliest with him (6 months) because he was so small. I also was not really interested in becoming pregnant again right then, so we used birth control if we thought about it, LOL. There is an over 2 1/2 year gap between Luke and Caleb, so something worked.
I got pregnant with Caleb right after we moved to Ohio. He had all the allergies, so I stopped nursing him at 9 months because I just couldn't deal with the "no dairy, wheat, eggs, or nuts" cooking rule for myself too. And I got pregnant later that month!
A month after Jonathan turned 1, we moved to Virginia. The first year after moving is always hard, when you are trying to get established, and it was definitely hard with 4 little boys running around. I was tired and emotionally drained, and I was absolutely not interested in being pregnant. I was definitely thinking at that point that babies were just coming all the time, whenever I wanted them, and I did NOT want one. I remember telling Bob, "Don't even touch me!"
But a little while later, things settled down, and I started thinking that maybe it would be nice to have another one. So we stopped using any birth control . . . but no pregnancy happened. In fact, it kept on not happening. I eventually started charting my temperature and fertility signs each morning, and I discovered that I was having there really long (greater than 40 day) cycles, with only a very small (less than 2 day) fertile window. I guess babies weren't just happening whenever I felt like it! Not being able to get pregnant made me realize that I really did want another baby very much. We were very happy to find out in July 2005 that we were expecting again--and we definitely didn't take it for granted!
After Anna was born, I was completely and totally shocked to discover that I was pregnant again, and that I had gotten pregnant when Anna was about 4 months old! I know people can get pregnant nursing, but that had never been my experience. I was always fertile right around the time I stopped nursing! At that point, Bob and I both really realized that we were totally not in control of this area, much as we might like to think we were. Clearly God was giving us children when he thought we needed them, to force us to depend on him and look to him.
After Grace was born, we just sort of gave up on any birth control. We were lazy about it to begin with, and God had shown himself to be faithful. Since her, I have only gotten pregnant as I was nursing less/the previous baby is around a year old, so that definitely IS my body's pattern--God just reached down and sent Grace to us as a special gift!
The question people always ask (or at least think, even if they are too polite to ask, LOL) is, "Are you done now?" And we always say, "Who knows?" (or if you're talking to Bob, "We'll see what the Lord has in mind!") I'm 40 now, and life is really busy now that we have high schoolers (although that conversely makes it easier to have babies, since I know what I am doing there, and have help so I can actually enjoy the babies more!) Before I had never really been able to see "being done", but now I am easing into the idea. At some point, it will be nice to get rid of all the tubs of children's clothes and shoes down in the basement--we'll have so much ROOM down there then! But we're not going to do anything drastic, that's for sure.
And for those who think that they really DO have this area under control, then I'm sure the Lord will use some other area to remind you that he is higher than your plans, and you don't have all the control in life that you think you do!