When You Want To Give Your Child A Sibling, But You Can’t

selahonstreet

I heard her crying upstairs in her bed, and went up to check up on her.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

I thought she was going to say she had a bad dream.

Or that she needed a night-light on.

Or she had to go potty.

But what she said next, nearly took my breath away…

“I want a sister,” she said.

My heart felt a deep piercing.

“What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right.

“I want,” she said through sobs, “a sister,” she said.

My heart burned. I sat down on her bed and pulled her close to my chest. “Oh, honey,” I tried to comfort her cries. But now tears filled my eyes, too. Tears from this deep hidden place inside me, that I kept trying to bury down. But that night, they came.

We sat in the dark of her room, holding each other, and I watched December snow fall outside her window. And I wondered what she had seen in her dreams.

That made her wake like this.

We never talked about siblings. Though I guess she was old enough to notice, all her cousins had brothers, or sisters. And I didn’t know what to say.

It was a beautiful desire—that suddenly felt too real, and too sacred to dismiss with a simple drink of water and pat on the head.

My husband and I had already been trying for two years…to have another baby. To give her a sibling.

And we couldn’t.

But as I held her and felt her little heart beating against me, these words just came out:

“I can’t give you a sister,” I said, “But you can ask God.”

You can ask God.

I didn’t know what He would do. Or how He would answer. But under the glow of green stars shining on the ceiling from her pillow pet, she asked Him. For a sister.

Or a brother.

With more faith in her young, little heart, than I had mine.

She asked Him. So simply. And put it in His hands.

The only hands,

that can form life.

***

Sometimes you want to give your child a sibling…

But you can’t. 

Since my daughter was born, I have heard so many moms say that the “perfect” age gap between kids is “two years.” (That way they’ll grow up to be best friends, and you’ll get through the diaper stage all at once, and they won’t be spoiled, etc.)

But sometimes you can’t make “perfect” happen. Even though you want to. Even though you want to give this wonderful gift to your child.

And you can feel anxious as you “try,” because every day you are getting older. And your child is getting older. And that gap between your child and any future sibling is getting wider and wider.

People ask you, “Do you want more kids?”

Or, “When are you gonna have another one?”

And you are left fumbling for words.

Because how do you express in a sentence (and often to a stranger) that you don’t get to choose how many kids you have? Or the time in which you will have them? And that when you have a baby…it’s because, and only because, God has done an incredible, unexplainable miracle in you?

I don’t really know what you can do about it.

But…

You can ask God.

Because He will answer you. 

In His time. And in His way.

***

Just four months after Selah prayed for a sibling in her room last December–God did yet another miracle in me. Even though I was faithless; He proved Himself faithful.  And as surely as I write this, I feel the kicks of a baby boy inside me, who I had no idea was coming to us all along. This December.

And I’m in awe of a God who gives life. In His own perfect time. And His own perfect way.

To an outsider, it may not look “perfect.” Selah and her sibling won’t have a perfect 2-year age gap. They’ll be four years apart.

And Selah’s not getting a sister, she’s getting a brother.

It’s not the tidy advice I read in the baby magazines…

But somehow…it’s still perfect.

Perfect for one reason only: it’s God’s plan for us.

***

Dear One, trying to conceive another child…

Who decides what is “perfect?”

Who decides how old you should be when you have a baby? Or adopt a baby? Or foster a baby?

Who decides, how many months or years they are apart? Or what genders they should be?

Who decides if you will have one, or two, or more?

Is it not God?

Is it not the Maker and Giver of all life?

The Holy One…who is perfect in all of His ways?

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

His way is perfect.

***

I just want to say that while I was missing all the deadlines for “perfectly” spaced children…while I was failing to conceive…and while my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed” to…

Something beautiful was happening.

With this beautiful gift we named “Selah.”

God was giving me time with her.

And time is a very precious thing, when you get to spend it with a long-awaited miracle.

I was given time–to spend holding her on my chest, and breathing in her scent, and slow dancing in the moonlight to lullabies. I was given time to build forts, and bake cookies, and fall asleep with her for her nap.

And these were some of the best years of my life.

And I say this with tears…

I would not trade them for anything.

And perhaps “secondary infertility” wasn’t a curse, but was instead a wonderful blessing?

***

I don’t know what God has planned for you and your family. I don’t know if He will give you more babies, or not. I don’t know if they will be 18 months apart…or 18 years apart. Or if they will come through your womb, or through adoption, or foster care.

But one thing you can be sure of, whatever it is…

It will be perfect.

It may not feel perfect at the time. It may not look perfect to anyone around you.

But I assure you: it will be perfect.

Not because it’s your way. Or anyone else’s way.

But because it’s God’s way. 

And His way is perfect. 

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30


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  1. I can’t love this enough. God knows the struggle in my heart. I cried when I read the title! my little one asks me as she notices others with siblings . His way is perfect shall ever be on my lips when I doubt His plan. Thank you for writing this today! May He bless you and the new one on the way!

    • Thank you JR! I know that flood of emotions and all that comes with it. But yes, may His perfect will be done. Much love to you and your little one! And cherish your time together <3 🙂

  2. I discovered your blog yesterday morning and wept over so many of you barrenness posts. And then last night my miracle happened. I’m just speechless and without words. My son will be 5 next month and we are just shy of 3 years of trying for another. He’s asked for a baby brother so many times, and this post just made me cry all over again. I feel like you are me, and writing my story! I’m so glad to have found your blog.

    • Oh Stephanie, Praise God! That is wonderful! So excited for what He has done, and what He is doing in and through you!! Thank you for sharing! <3

  3. This is my struggle. I miscarried 2 years ago. My daughter & her sibling would have been almost exactly 4 years apart. I get tired of the question, “Are you going to have more?” Do I get to choose? I’ve been pregnant 3 times, and am incredibly blessed by one amazing 5 1/2 year old. I am learning to be content with what I have…with what my family looks like, even though it is different than anything I had planned.

    • Amber,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to go through what you did. However, I am glad God is giving you peace and helping you to be content in what He has given you in your daughter. I know it can be so hard when you keep getting those questions. May God continually comfort you and give you peace. Much love Amber. <3

  4. Thank you so much for writing this. I am still waiting for my second; my first is 3, and it took me 2 years to conceive him. I’ve lost 3 babies so far in the process.

    I was that oldest child that didn’t have siblings for awhile. It took my mom almost 7 years to have my sister, and then I got another sister and brother 2 and 4 years later. And you’re right; God’s plan was perfect. Having such younger siblings kept me “younger” and innocent (I was still playing with dolls at 16), and made me very nurturing and experienced with young children. It shaped me into who I believe God meant me to be. I am a child at heart and have cared for children and those with special needs my whole life.

    I wanted to share this perspective because a lot of times we think of wanting more children in terms of God’s will for OUR lives and forget that God is using number and spacing of children to shape our children’s personality and future as well.

    Congratulations on your second child and I pray you have a healthy pregnancy! I ask for your prayers as I wait for my second–if God has that in store for me.

    • Wow, what an amazing perspective you offer! I love how you said it’s not just about God’s will for OUR lives but ALL the other things and people affected, even in the future. What a sweet relationship you have with your younger siblings. May God fully satisfy your heart as you wait on Him. Much love, Rebekah

  5. Rebekah,

    I appreciate the raw vulnerability of your posts.

    I’ve been learning how to implement a method to know when I’m most fertile and I was wondering if you knew about it- it’s called FAM (fertility awareness method). Recently a friend told me about it and I was amazed that no one had mentioned it before. In our case we’re newly married and would like to wait a little while until we have children, but it is definitely applicable to those wanting to become pregnant.

  6. I stumbled upon this article today and WOW it was as if God himself was speaking to me. Thank you. You have given me comfort and strength during a very painful and faithless time. God bless you and your precious family.

    • You are SO welcome Lauren! I’m so glad God is speaking to your through it. May He continue to encourage your heart and give hope to your spirit! Much love, Rebekah

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. Just this weekend, my nearly 4 year old son said “Maybe someday we’ll have 2 kids in our family.” Without going into any of the details of our 2.5 year struggle to have a second, I told him simply that I’m not sure if that will happen, and asked how he would feel about just having 1 (i.e. him). His response: “hm, nah. I think we should have 2!” I told him it was really up to God and if it was important to him, he should pray about it. Well, the next day, he did just that, without any prompting. My brother is the result of my prayers, so who knows, maybe God will shape my son’s faith in a similar way. Either way, we trust that God has a plan for our family, and know that plan is good.

  8. Incredible testimony! When I look back now the 1:1 time I had with my son was very precious. We waited 4.5 years before he had a sister. Although I had that continuous longing for another baby it was a time of huge spiritual growth for me and very precious 1:1 time with my son. All in God’s timing even thought it is not always what we want at the time he knows best. Now he does more than I can ask or even imagine as expecting my 3rd baby and will get the 2 year age gap between 2 & 3 😄 love reading encouraging testimonies so thank you for sharing xxxi