I love babies, especially my baby. I think they're adorable, magical, and that they inspire love and hope in just about any decent human being. That said, I don't want eight of them. Nor do I want five, three, maybe not even two of them.
After my baby girl was born this past December I found myself struggling to make sense of a persistent feeling that had made itself at home within me: I didn't want a big family.
I had been planning on a big family. "Good" Mormons don't place a limit on the number of spirits they'll provide bodies for unless there is a really good reason (i.e. mum will die if she has another pregnancy). I had been planning on letting nature take its course. I worked very hard to be enthusiastic about having lots and lots of babies.
But then my DD (dear daughter) was born. And suddenly I found myself not only wishing I could focus on just her but also feeling guilty for wishing thus. I wanted to be a "good" Mormon. But I didn't want to have lots of kids.
When we left the church and I realized that my family size, and my body were under my authority, and not that of fifteen men in Salt Lake (nor any of their predecessors) who had never, ever met me I literally heaved a sigh of relief. DD did not have to be first in a long line of children. In fact, if we so decided she could be our first and our last, our "alpha and omega" you might say.
Suddenly I realized that I wouldn't be spending the next ten to fifteen years pregnant and/or nursing. I wouldn't be spending the next two decades being a full time stay-at-home mom. When DD started school I could get a job, volunteer, etc. (unless DD ended up with a sibling after all, in which case it would be once he or she started school). "Heck," I thought, "I could even get a part time job before DD starts school if I really want to."
Suddenly the world was open to me.
Now, I don't know if DD will be our last. I think it'd be awfully nice for her to have a sibling. And I think I'd like to give birth again and have an opportunity to raise another baby. But the fact that I get to choose (guilt free) brings me great peace, as does the fact that I now know there is also nothing wrong with "postponing" any (possible) future babies until DH (dear husband) is done with medical school (if that's how we want to do it). Postponing is a no-no for "good" Mormons. In fact I had felt no end of guilt over not having my first baby until I had been married for three (*gasp* THREE!) years.
Leaving the church is about many things, not the least of which is freedom; not just freedom to watch what movies you want to watch, or freedom to drink what beverages you want to drink but freedom to determine what is best for our family sans guilt/judgment/fear/etc. Most days I find myself pausing just because the gratitude for that freedom overwhelms me.
Life is good.
ETA: Plus it's nice to not feel like I'm raping the planet by having a huge family.