This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
By Valerie Gardner
As a convert to the church in 1971, it was difficult for me to even fathom having more than two children, since that was the model I’d grown up in. That was also during the time when the church was, in many ways, discouraging use of birth control. I was so new in the church, I was young, and I was not mature enough at the time to know that some of what I had experienced with ecclesiastical leaders amounted to them overstepping their authority.
Several years later, when my husband and I had three children, I started to question and struggle in earnest to know when our family would be complete. We were not in a good place financially, and I didn’t feel like I was in a good place emotionally or mentally, to be adding to our family. We discussed it at length, and basically my husband let the decision be mine. My husband was a very involved father, and very willing to help shoulder the workload, but since I was a stay-at-home mom, the bulk of the burden would be mine. As I fretted and stressed over this decision, I somehow felt that we should have another baby, but I was just so unsure. I made it a matter of serious prayer, and one evening, as I was pouring out my heart and my tears to the Lord, I had an unforgettable experience. I literally felt His arms around me, and heard Him speak words of comfort and direction meant just for me. I was told that, yes, we were to have another baby soon, that it would be a boy, that everything would be okay, and that our family would be complete. That was 34 years ago, and I have never doubted that answer.
That specific and powerful experience has been my touchstone through many other trials and doubts. I cannot say that I have had very many specific answers to prayer over the years, but the Spirit has gently reminded me numerous times that, “when I said everything would be okay, I wasn’t talking about only that situation.” Each time I read a scripture that admonishes me to “remember”, I think of that answer. I am reminded that the Lord knows each of us so well, knows our needs, and knows how to communicate with us individually and specifically.