I’ve reached an age where many of my peers are letting go of their baby items. Whether it’s a huge garage sale, advertising items for sale on social media, or giving away items to others who can use them, the message is the same. We’re “done.” We’re moving on. The baby phase is over. And while I and my peers may have recently entered the “older parent” category, I would wager that very few, if any, of us are physically incapable of bearing any more children–at least by any natural biological occurrences.
I sometimes joke that I’ll have our big baby item garage sale once I reach menopause, but beneath the joke lies a serious truth: it is God who determines (or should determine) when we are truly “done.” It is God, our master designer and creator, who knows best when the baby phase has truly ended.
Certainly, some couples are faced with reasons to postpone pregnancy for a time, or even indefinitely, and this can be done effectively using a method of natural family planning. But within the devastation of a cancer diagnosis, within the agony of infant loss or miscarriage, within the burden of financial difficulties, the window of hope and trust should remain open. God will sustain us in this vocation of marriage that seems to ask so much of us sometimes.
He may provide a cure for our disease, healing for our emotional pain, or a way out of a hole of debt…or He may not. But, regardless of what happens on this earth within our earthly bodies, our vocation of marriage calls us to keep the hope of heaven alive in our souls and the hope of new life alive in our bodies.
Shortly after I lost one of our precious babies to a miscarriage, I was tempted to start parting with the baby things we had stored away. The knowledge of having them in our possession combined with the thought they might never be used again was so painful. For the first time, I realized that being open to life also meant being open to death.
But something held me back from giving away our baby clothes, toys, and high chair. My body, and my heart, were telling me that the possibility of more children still existed. There was still hope, and the only chance of that hope being manifested into action was to throw my trust completely into God’s hands.
And now, we are indeed expecting another baby. My fear of something going wrong is gradually evolving into trust in God’s care, and I’ve been thrust into a whole new level of appreciation for the miracle of life. Every new day, every little kick, even every painful stretch of the muscles supporting my growing baby are gifts, and I’m working toward accepting the fact that our children are not our own–that even if this baby should be taken from us as well, he or she was never ours to begin with. It is sometimes through the most unimaginable pain that God gifts us with the grace to become truly holy.
So until our newest little one arrives safely in our arms, and after he or she is well past the baby stage, our bins of baby clothes, our toys, our booster seats and high chair will sit and wait–signs of hope for the future and of our trust in God to care for us like the loving father that He is.