Monday, March 3, 2014

Our (Family) Plans: How Pregnancy Loss Changed Our View of the Future

A reader asked the following question and I decided that it was a good starting point to share how we are moving forward with our family plans following two miscarriages.

Does pregnancy loss affect your view on having more kids? Well, yes and no and maybe.  

It affects it in the sense that it's no longer a given that David and I will have a large family.  We always assumed that we would have a family of 5+ (living) children but with two miscarriages, I'm realizing that having a large family may be much harder than we thought and may not, in fact, even be possible for us.  I had a very uncomplicated first pregnant and while it took us longer than average to get pregnant, we did not experience infertility and we kind of took having children for granted.  We're much more aware of the blessings of children and the unpredictability of fertility.  So in that way, it completely changed our view.

Has it changed how many children we want or how we will decide to space or children, etc.?  I'm not sure yet.  We still want a large family, but it may change whether we actually plan to have a large family (as much as you can plan those things...) A lot of that will depend on whether we discover a cause for our losses and if that cause is treatable.  We will be learning Creighton (a method of Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness) and charting our cycles for our doctor to examine in order detect hormonal imbalances or other underlying issues.  I do know that my progesterone was low during this last pregnancy and we were supplementing it.  We will also be doing testing for clotting disorders.  If a cause is found and there is a well-known treatment (that is affordable to us), then we may still be able to have many children and will have some confidence going into future pregnancies with a medical "plan" in place.

If a cause isn't found or it's a cause that isn't treatable, or if it is too expensive for us to treat, I know we'll eventually try again anyway - the odds of carrying a child to term are still in our favor.  I don't know how long it will be before we are ready emotionally and physically to do so.  If our next try results in another loss, I'm not sure what we would do going forward.  I imagine we'll keep trying.  David and I feel very strongly that we will have another living child but we also feel strongly that we will have more miscarriages.  I think miscarriages will definitely prompt us to put more space between pregnancies because two losses close together have been very physically and emotionally exhausting for me and I feel like I need to be completely recovered before we try again.  (Or as recovered as possible.  I imagine the emotional pain will never completely cease, but that is will at some point reach it's low point.)

I sometimes feel a desire to pursue adoption instead.  It seem easier, like less of a risk though I know of families who have also experienced the painful loss of a child when an adoption falls through. The expense of adopting is certainly a hurdle for us, although medical tests and treatments for a pregnancy might be as well. I also believe that adoption is a special calling, not just a "last resort" for couples who cannot conceive or carry to term, and while I have always had a little seed of desire to adopt regardless of whether we can have a family of biological children or not, are not feeling that is the path for us to take at this moment.  We will certainly consider adoption often over the years as we continue to seek to expand our family.

After Lucia was born we wanted to never using NFP again and simply get pregnant when we get pregnant, but it seems as though that may no longer be the option.  I would love the idea of surprise pregnancies, but I have a feeling that ours will always have to be carefully planned for some reason or another - either to help us get pregnant or to know when we need to do supplementation or other treatment to reduce the risk of miscarriages - and that makes me a bit sad.  I don't like the idea of pregnancy being more of a medicalized and highly planned experience instead of a completely natural one, though I am certainly grateful to medical science if it can help us reduce the risk of losing another baby.

In short, yes, it absolutely changes our view of our future family, but I'm not exactly sure how or to what extent yet.  It's something that is going to evolve as we gain new information and as we go through more pregnancies. For the time being, the testing and charting will put off another pregnancy for some time and, while I know the waiting will be difficult (already is difficult), I'm actually quite glad to have that decision made for us at this time.  I am looking forward to this period as a time of healing.  We're going to focus on making a full life for our family of three, getting involved in our community, getting healthy, and dedicating time to new endeavors (I'm going to finally take my sewing machine out of the box).  Most of all, we're going to start living in the present and let God take care of the future. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mandi. Sometimes I think there's too much pressure on young Catholic couples to have big families. The reality is that not many women are physically able to carry and give birth to 4, 5 or more children. The women who are able to do so with ease are truly blessed! Posts like this one are a good reminder that big families are not the only mark of openness to life.

    1. Ellen, I don't necessarily feel any pressure from outside us, though I sometimes wonder if people are starting to think we use contraception/are not open to life since our daughter is 2 and there is no obvious child on the way. We truly have always wanted to have a large family (well, I have since a small child and my husband and I have talked about a large family since we first started dating), so it very much is the death of our personal desires. Not that I think that it's impossible, but I now understand that it's not certain like I thought it once was.

    2. Sorry, I didn't mean to make an overgeneralization about Catholics and big families. I came from a family of 7 and my husband came from a family of 6 and we always assumed we'd have a big family and desired it as well. And now that we've been married 5 years and discovered how hard it is for us to get pregnant and deliver babies (my first was a c-section and possibly the rest of my kids as well) we see that while it's not a bad desire to have a big family, it's not always a realistic one. You're in my prayers, Mandi.

  2. A beautiful and brave post! God bless you and David as you move forward. You are in my prayers and my heart.

  3. Mandi, I continue to pray for your beautiful family! I agree with Ellen, that your candidness about your struggle is a good (and I think needed for many) reminder that we can't judge a family's openness to life by the size of their family.

  4. We had to let go of our desire to have a large family as well We do have 4 kids, but that's in 13 years of's hard when I see all these Catholic families that have more children than me and their oldest is younger than my SECOND child. We always wanted more, but we're just not that fertile and it just hasn't happened. I also appreciate your candidness on this blog. We will pray for you.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. The years of fertility are so much harder than they seemed like they would be. It is soooo hard to let go of control of this, and just let God. So hard.

  6. After being married for almost 5 years with no baby in sight (infertility) I know that my husband and I also look at how other's view us for not having children and if we are using contraception. Our battle with infertility started out very private, it was something between us and my best friend, however; it has grown and now is something that we share with family and close friends. There are some people that we choose to tell and some that we don't choose to tell. In our "circle", I would say we, personally, have told about 25% of the people, that we are faced with infertility. (I don't know how many people know through what other's have told them, though.) We often hear, "You're next!" or "You've been married for 4.5 years and still don't have any children. Aren't you Catholic?", but it's something that we "brush off". It hurts, but we know what we are and are not doing. We are abiding by the church's teachings. I think a huge part of dealing infertility, of any kind, is being honest and knowing that you are doing what is right for you and for your family. Knowing that God will do His job.

  7. Just wanted to make sure you have also been checked for a uterine issue (you probably have but just want to throw that out there). About 11 percent of repeat miscarriages are caused by abnormalities in the shape of the uterus, and one of the most common ones (a uterine septum) can most often be easily fixed in a simple surgery that takes 5 minutes.

  8. I know what you mean about not wanting to plan a pregnancy so much- after 2 very easy pregnancies (their bdays are 51 weeks apart- first one was born right after our 1st anniversary...)I was exposed to black mold in our housing- this ruined my health (I think)- we lost a baby at 20 weeks- baby was perfect, placenta was calcified like it was 42 weeks old :( so....the next time I got pg, I told the docs to give me progesterone and heparin- I did that at week 1 with both that pregnancy and my last one- boy is 7 and girl is it is worth it....even if it feels a bit too medical


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