Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

We’re Not Just Bodies Walking Around

May 9th, 2013 · 156 Comments · Mary and Martha Moments

A rebuttal of the Weston A. Price Foundation's recommendations for child spacing and a bit of Catholic theology on NFP and suffering :: via Kitchen Stewardship

It seems like we live in a world where everyone thinks they have a right to an opinion about everyone else’s family size (and parenting strategies, but that’s another post entirely).

Many people think two is the most appropriate number and are fascinated by asking the question, “Are you done now?”

Some Catholics get a little outspoken and think you have to have a zillion kids. (Or sometimes people misinterpret things and think the Catholic Church says you have to have as many kids as possible. It doesn’t.)

The Weston A. Price Foundation apparently thinks you’re hurting your children if you have them any closer than 3 years apart.

The pressure to have the perfect family – size and spacing – is intense!

Whatever happened to a husband and wife making their own decisions, in the eyes of God, about their family size and arrangement?

Who Gets to Decide?

I received an email from a Catholic reader who had discerned with her husband that they should have a large family, and they conceived their second child around baby number one’s first birthday, just as they had hoped.

During her pregnancy, she was doing a lot of reading around the real food blogosphere and listening to podcasts, and she was beginning to feel that the belief of many – presented as fact – was that it was reckless to have children less than three years apart. The mommy fear was pricked that she was setting up her children for a life of health problems: braces, glasses, and worse, simply by choosing to have a large family.

She wrote:

The authors were adamant that child spacing is the only way to truly have a healthily perfect family. They seemed to blame parents that had large families for their lack of control and thus causing pain for the children following the first one through dental, facial and genetic deformities.

I’m sure you’ve heard of “second child syndrome,” which Dr. Cate in her book “Deep Nutrition” goes into extremely lengthy details about. The first child is always the supermodel while the following children will spend their lives in the doctors offices getting glasses, braces or medications. Of course you can make a better second child if you wait a minimum of 3 years before you try conceiving again.

This was new information to me, but my heart really went out to the reader.

I know what it feels like to think that your children’s health is of optimal importance and the pressure to care for them in the best possible way. We’re bombarded with opinions, research, celebrities, bloggers, doctors, and information from so many directions, and it’s hair-raising to try to figure out the best way to feed a family.

Does the Second Child Draw the Short Stick?

John plays in the dirt

My third child doesn’t seem too unhappy here…  ;)

I looked into the child spacing recommendations a bit more, and here’s what I found:

Food Renegade interviewed Dr. Cate Shanahan here, and I’ll excerpt the bit about this topic in particular.

FR: What is “second sibling syndrome”?

Dr. Cate:

It’s the set of consequences that come from a kind of gestational sibling rivalry. These days, most mothers can not nourish themselves optimally before conception or during pregnancy. And close-birth spacing exaggerates the differences in health between siblings. There’s benefits and drawbacks to being first.

The first born gets first dibs at all the nutrients in mom’s body (minerals from bone, fatty acids from brain, etc etc). So there are definite advantages to being first if your mom did not follow an optimal diet. If baby number two is born in short order, mom’s body will likely be depleted of one or more nutrients for baby number two because baby number one took all she could spare. This relative deficiency means baby number one usually has a wider jaw and higher cheekbones than number two, for instance.

These days, being baby number one has a special disadvantage of its own because most women eat far to many carbs. This often makes their bodies relatively hormone insensitive, which means that their uterus will not perform optimally the first time around. And that performance can impact baby’s skeletal growth and symmetry. For baby number two, uterine blood vessels and hormone receptors and other infrastructure have all be laid down, and the uterus grows faster for number two. Because of this, baby number two is often more biradially symmetrical and has features indicative of optimal hormone sensitivity compared to number one.

You can see examples of the trend here.

Totally fascinating, presented factually and non-judgmentally…however…it’s really easy to read all this as a push to “do things properly.” I also have not read Deep Nutrition, so I’m not sure how the subject is handled in the book.

The Weston A. Price Foundation does specifically recommend three years for proper child spacing, and their warnings are a bit more in-your-face than the interview above:

From the Weston A. Price website:

One of the most interesting traditional practices reported by Dr. Weston Price was the deliberate spacing of children in primitive societies. Throughout Africa and the South Seas, it was considered shameful to have a child more than once every three years.

Modern science validates this practice. We now know that the ideal interval for preventing physical birth defects is three years; this is also the optimal spacing for the emotional health of children. And allowing at least three years between pregnancies permits the mother to recover her nutritional stores between children and to provide sufficient attention to each child–and to her marriage!

Fertility Awareness can help create a healthy well-spaced family. It encourages communication and cooperation between husband and wife, and illuminates the fact that the family’s health depends on the cyclic nature that characterizes human reproduction.

While I am happy that the WAPF is promoting Fertility Awareness (another way of looking at Natural Family Planning), I would rewrite the last paragraph as follows:

Fertility Awareness can help create a healthy family by putting God first in all things. It encourages communication and cooperation between husband and wife, and illuminates the fact that the family’s health depends on the strong relationship between the parents and a trust in God for their well-being.

I know plenty of large families with children close together who are more emotionally mature and balanced than only children and children who are spaced “optimally.” We can nickel and dime each other with research until we’re blue in the face, but the fact is that no one knows exactly how personalities, nutrition, birth order, child spacing, schooling, and more come together to create a human being.

A commenter at the WAPF article above hits the nail on the head:

As much as I love this site and the information it offers, I’m so disappointed to see that its authors fall for the same old trick of trying to use science to determine numbers and frequencies of bearing children. The human body reproduces at a rate corresponding to the health of that body, and I have known many women who have had a “large” family (by modern standards, anyway) at a rate much more frequent than once every three years, with no adverse effect to their health or to the health and happiness of their families.

In fact, I firmly believe from first-hand observance that they and their families are healthier than the average “enlightened” families with “properly spaced” children. One day perhaps we will understand that God did not create us in such a way that our bodies would accomplish feats of nature that were automatically unhealthy for us – in other words, if it’s possible, it’s because it’s meant to be so.

These are children we’re talking about, not just bodies that we need to care for and raise right. There are other considerations beyond physical health – social well being, emotional maturity, spiritual growth.

Siblings teach a child more about the world than perhaps anything else in one’s entire life, whether they’re Irish twins and best friends or ten years apart with almost a parent/child relationship. No health book or organization is going to tell me how varied their ages ought to be.

Who Has a Say in Your Family? Man, Wife, and God.

kids playing on new swingset

Here’s the bottom line – God says children are good, and if He desired 3 years between each child, then the average “natural” child spacing with breastfeeding would be 3 years, and it’s much more like 2 years – and I think that’s children two years apart, not just pregnancy 2 years apart.

I also don’t interpret that to mean that God wants everyone to have as many children as they can, two years apart, throughout their child-bearing years. All. People. Are. Different. We all have different gifts and talents, levels of patience, and coping mechanisms. What is “just right” in the eyes of God for my family might be horrible for another couple.

I myself happen to have extremely long periods of amenorrhea (breastfeeding infertility) after childbirth: 19, 23, and 21 months and counting. My children thus far have nursed a few months into the next child’s pregnancy, a mortal nutritional sin in the church of WAPF.

And so far, in my data set n=3 children, or n=1 family, they have successively only gotten healthier.

The even more important bottom line, that I need to be reminded of as much as anyone, because natural living really can be a slippery slope into idolatry before we even notice it, is that food, caring for the environment, health, and the WAPF are not a religion.

My faith is in God, and I believe that the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and a line of leaders going directly back to St. Peter and the apostles.

A lot of people have a beef with the Church over contraception, saying things like, “Nobody gets to come into my bedroom and tell me what to do.”

That makes perfect sense, except for the fact that God, your Creator, is everywhere, created you in your parents’ bedroom (or wherever it happened), and is the author of life itself. To kick Him out of anywhere is…well…ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense at all.

God, who created the world, designed it with certain rules. To say that He can  no longer be in charge of governing His own rules – like the one that says egg + sperm = baby, and the one that says man + wife = forever, undivided – is to make ourselves a god.

It’s a wonderful gift that God gives women cycles of fertility and infertility, and that man is brilliant enough to have figured out the natural signs, allowing us to, in cooperation with the Lord through prayer and discernment, use those cycles to achieve or avoid pregnancy, without putting anything unnatural between man and wife.

The marriage bed is sacred, as long as we allow God to be there.

The table, on the other hand, while a holy endeavor and part of a woman’s vocation in her family, is not exactly sacred. We would do well to remember to keep our trust in the Lord through our meal prayer, no matter what sort of food is being served. (Again, speakin’ to myself here, people.)

Whether sexuality or health is at risk of becoming an idol, let us leave our moral choices between us and God, without human organizations pressuring us with opinions where they don’t belong.

Is a Large Family Going to Hurt Your Children?

kids in the chair at Andrew and Jeff's house

Here’s part of the letter I wrote back to my concerned reader:

God, man and wife make a triangle, and I’ve always used the visual image that as the husband and wife both move closer to God, they slide up the sides of that triangle toward to point and are thus also brought closer together. Children come from that relationship, not anyone’s relationship with their own body, with food, or with a human organization.

If God is calling you to have a large family, I respect and honor that so greatly, because I don’t know that He’s given me the fortitude and perseverance to raise a brood and survive to tell about it! If God has many in store for you, spacing them 3 years apart would likely put you so close to 40 that the WAPF would have many things to say about the risk you put your children at just by conceiving that late in life. Phooey on that. No one chooses a child’s timing but God, through a man and wife’s discernment.

One thing I’ve always loved and clung to about the Catholic faith is the value of suffering. I, too, have found myself worried about my children’s long-term health, or even beating myself up over certain health decisions based on a negative outcome either in the short term (like a brief illness which is nonetheless annoying and painful to the child and family) or in the long term (worry about Crohn’s or other chronic and/or deadly diseases).

In this Internet-information-driven world, it’s easy to do.

However.

God says suffering has meaning. Who am I to say that I want to protect my children from the opportunity to offer up their suffering as a prayer for this fallen world, to unite their pain, whether that be braces, glasses, or an autoimmune disease, with the Cross of Christ for the good of the world and the salvation of their own souls?

Too often I lose sight of the prize, of the gift of Heaven at the end, and I focus on the little temporal details that affect my day, my hour, my minute. It’s not up to me to protect my children from the pain of the world 100%, but to teach them how to cope with anything and how to cling to the Body and Blood of Christ, keep the faith, and live eternally in Heaven with our whole family someday.

I will pray for your little one in the womb and all your future saints for God, and I ask you to do the same, and may the post I write someday be inspired by the Holy Spirit and not my own weak and selfish nature!!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me and inspiring my own!!

Whether we “hurt” our children by setting them up for potential physical complications is a risk we take by living in this fallen world. There are all sorts of hurts out there, which our children are at risk of experiencing just by being born, period.

Our job is to make any “hurt” part of living, not something to be scared of.

And I’m preaching to myself, here, believe me. I’m not exactly known for “rolling with the punches” even though I wish I was more that kind of person.

Let us consider potential silver linings to “second child syndrome,” keeping in mind that every child is a gift, and every day on earth is a gift as well:

  • How many ways could the Lord use an “imperfect” second child to better a family?
  • How will the first child learn to be more patient and loving because of 2nd child’s ortho appointments?
  • How will baby two’s imperfect vision allow the parents an opportunity for sacrifice, to see clearly the Lord working in your family?
  • How does NOT looking like a supermodel perhaps protect child two (or 3 or 4 or 5) from some of the negative peer pressure in high school that comes with “beautiful people” and “the popular crowd?”
  • How can we allow God to work through our suffering, rather than limiting Him to only showing his goodness through happiness?

I want to remind even myself today that all suffering has meaning. That if my child falls ill, it will be an opportunity for me to demonstrate faith, peace, perseverance, and the power of prayer.

We’ve learned a lot about many lives of the saints this year in our family, and so many of them had serious difficulties, physical and situational, in childhood and beyond. Their faith was strengthened by the trials, and I have a hunch there would be fewer saints in Heaven and on earth if there were no trials to overcome.

In closing, I challenge the pressure to give our kids the best start possible by spacing them at least three years apart. I disagree that anyone outside God and a couple should have any input on the size and spacing of a family. One child, ten children: all are blessings in the eyes of their Father in Heaven.

I don’t think that one’s health should be their top priority, since after all, we’re not just bodies, but beings infused with an immortal soul by God Himself. Our bodies are a gift, but they are not the primary gift of life.

I think that suffering has value, great value, and that we all – I’m first in line – need to remember to keep life balanced and not live in fear of sickness or pain.

We don’t need to run toward it and ask to be made ill, to eat junk food irresponsibly and make ourselves sick, but I hate to think of all the moms (raising hand first, again) who are more at risk of a stress-induced illness with all the worry they harbor over their family’s optimal health.

There are no perfect children.

There are no perfect parents.

No one has perfect health.

There is no perfect family…

…except for yours, when you live in the grace of God and do your best to live in love.

———————————————

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156 Comments so far ↓

  • Rachel

    Yes! So well-said. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

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  • Beth via Facebook

    Yes. Quite annoying so I respond with “well, I’m not conceiving one at the moment if that’s what you’re asking”. Usually shuts them up.

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    Rachel Reply:

    Best. Response. EVER.

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  • Amber

    You are amazing. Love you so much more for writing this…

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  • Dacia via Facebook

    Love this! Especially the part about suffering. I do have to say that I am the exception to the second child rule though. ;)

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    blessed Reply:

    I’m an exception too! ; )

    That second child thing cracks. me. up.

    I can fully believe there is some science behind the birth order and how kids are–but our family would fall into that second category where the first child is the one who is more physically “deficient” and the second is the most robust of them all. But at age ten she is already getting acne, poor thing. I guess maybe we shouldn’t have had her after all.

    (For those who don’t get sarcasm–my second daughter is a treasure, just like my first and third and fourth. I don’t think God wants us to have more, but if He does we welcome whomever He has planned for us)

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    Joyce Lenardson Reply:

    I’m the 2nd child of 14. We are all basically healthy, even the twins. The 3rd child has an genius I.Q. He was born during the depression, when food was rationed, before g.m.o. foods & the sprays. We are all successful, hard workers & are strong practicing Catholic’s with one brother being a priest and a Sister a Sister. I’m blessed with 9 children with gluten being the only problem. I’m sure G.M.O. foods are responsible for that!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Hah! My sarcastic little heart just gave yours a virtual high 5! Acne, poor thing…too funny. :) Katie

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  • Kristen (Smithspirations)

    Thank you for tackling this! We are expecting our fifth, and all of our children are about 2 to 2 1/2 years apart. The comments are starting, and so I try to just ignore most of them and keep with the same attitude you’ve presented here.

    It’s nice to see others who follow the dietary principles of WAPF not be afraid to disagree with their very hard-lined approach to breastfeeding, child-spacing, and child-bearing ages.

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  • Annie via Facebook

    Many great thoughts in there!

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  • Loren

    Thank you for writing this! That is so true about suffering, but it is one of the hardest things for me to accept.

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  • Laurie

    Hi Katie!

    It seems like there’s always someone ready to tell you how to run your life and what to believe, doesn’t it?

    I’ve got a smaller family, but I have several close friends with larger families. All of the kids are special and loved.

    I did read Dr. Cate’s book (and found it fascinating). (Review is here: http://www.commonsensehome.com/book-review-deep-nutrition-why-your-genes-need-traditional-foods/) She does clearly show bone structure progression in siblings, but she’s not militant about how many kids you should have or spacing. She just outlines a nutrient rich diet to give you the best odds of having healthy kids (and staying healthy yourself).

    I’ve read other material that indicated that while first borns may excel at many things, when it get’s down to it, IQ levels between siblings tend to be pretty close together. I’m number six in the family, and I think I turned out okay. :-)

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    Joyce Lenardson Reply:

    God provides! My Mothers #8 & 9 were twins. The boy had such a high I.Q. he drove us nuts. After Collage & Electronics’s job, he became a Priest. His sermons were brilliant. Unfortunate for us, he drowned while crabbing with a brother in a boating accident. He lived a good life & beat us to our hopeful destination.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    All of our loss, I’m sure, Joyce. If only I’m blessed enough to have a priest for a son! God bless your joyful attitude; your mother taught you well! :) Katie

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  • Judy via Facebook

    Oh, Beth, good answer!!

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  • Awesome Sauce

    Wow. I just wrote on my blog the other day about how annoying it is when people ask ‘you aren’t going to have any more, ARE you?’ That’s bad enough, but wow… now my 5 kids are breaking the laws of science?!? I enjoyed your post. Eye-opening! I had no idea. Now you’ve got me on a Google-frenzy. This is nuts.

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  • Sarah D

    SO many amazing points here and SO encouraging! Thank you for your insight and for reminding us all that it is up to God and not us. He knows what’s best and gives us the ability to handle any challenge we are given.

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  • Kimberly via Facebook

    We had a girl, then a boy and have heard it since then. We have had two more girls since and get all kind of interesting comments. :P

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    blessed Reply:

    We had three girls and then God gave us a bonus baby and it was a boy, and everyone says things like “oh, so you finally got your boy.” As if there was something lacking in the girls that made us dissatisfied. Oh, wait, there was. The magical PENIS.

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    Cory Reply:

    I had a girlfriend growing up who had two sister and a brother. When people met the parents sans children, the usual statement was, “oh, you kept going until you had a boy, eh?” It always cracked them up, because the boy was the oldest…

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    Rebecca Reply:

    WE got the opposite comments after 2 boys, oh you finally had a girl, now are you done? etc. We are done, unless God decides otherwise, because that was the decision we came to after much prayer and conversation with each other. I would have been happy with 3 boys just as well.

    We also had tons of comments when our second was born just 11 months after our first, who was an infertillity baby. The second was very unexpected, but after I got over the shock of being pregnant again with a 3 month old, it was a joy. A harder pregnancy to be sure, taking care of an infant as a new mom and pregnant also, but we made it work.

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    Donna Reply:

    Rebecca, I am right there with you. My kids are now 8 (boy), 3 (boy), and 2 (girl). The two youngest are exactly 50 weeks apart. The MDs told us we wouldn’t be able to conceive again, so we were overjoyed when we found out about #2 after we refused fertility treatments. When #3 came along, she was a HUGE shock. Everyone kept saying, “Well, at least it’s a girl this time. That should make you feel better, or make it easier.”
    I agree with being happy whether the last was a boy or girl. We were just happy the baby was healthy and I survived because both were really rough pregnancies.
    In between the boys everyone kept asking if we were going to have any more children, but we didn’t feel the need to share with the world our conception issues. People can be so insensitive; it’s not like it’s any of their business anyway.
    I have a lot of friends with big families, but 3 is enough for us.

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  • Amanda via Facebook

    Ha! I’m so not bold enought to say that Beth, but it’s a good response!

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  • Glennda via Facebook

    Thank you for writing this! I love the part about suffering as well :) And, I’m a first born with more than my share of health issues.

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  • Amanda S

    Great article Katie! I think this is my favorite piece you’ve written. I wanted to highlight on my monitor several things you said! LOL…..

    Thanks so much :)

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ooo, that might not be so great on the screen…but you could Facebook them! ;) You are too sweet – thank you. :) Katie

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  • Bethany

    Great post. I think it’s arrogant and presumptuous for groups like the WAPF to make sweeping recommendations about this. I’m not Catholic, but I really appreciate the Catholic perspective on this issue.

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  • Ann

    Thank you so much for this post. Such great points and something I needed to read today! I’m LDS and we believe in the sanctity of the family and that children are a blessing; many of us have large families and that definitely clashes with the ideas of the world.

    It’s so important to remember that the family is a work of God and that we’re not just bodies, like you said, but eternal beings. Treating our bodies well is so important, but not the end goal of our existence.

    Here is a great talk on the subject: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/topics/marriage-and-family?lang=eng&order=alpha#2011-10-2030-elder-neil-l-andersen

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    Julie Reply:

    Good post, Ann. I’m also LDS, and I was thinking the whole time I read this: “Katie, you sound like a Mormon!” :-) BTW, I’m a first-born (of seven) and I’m the one with the glasses, braces, infertility, etc. etc. etc. My sibs lucked out! But we’re all smart and beautiful and blessed.

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  • Ronda via Facebook

    And what does this have to do with Kitchen Stewardship?

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  • Noël via Facebook

    I had 3 kiddos in 3.75 years. While breastfeeding on demand and everything. This was NOT in my own personal life plan, and it has been quite the journey in trusting God to give me the grace to live the life he’s given me… and, if I could go back and change anything I don’t think I’d change a thing. (Also, DS #1 had the most complicated pregnancy and the most complicated health issues… go figure.)

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  • charis

    thank you for writing this. i think some of this so called “science” (even from wapf) is bogus. i have 5 boys in 8 years span of time (about the 2 year spacing and a bit less), and they are each smart as a tack and many have said my 5th is the cutest of the bunch. my 4th is the most articulate at the youngest age.

    now, my 1st born is incredibly smart, but my 2nd surpassed him with a totally different carefree personality to accompany his smarts. my 4th and 5th have been amazingly healthy, and the 1st three relatively healthy. my 1st has the most dental needs that i am trying to figure out holistically if possible. they all have great vision, unlike their mama (who is a first born myself).

    i agree with you that it is between a man, wife, and God about the size of family – if a family feels they are complete with 2 kids or 10, it is them alone who are joined with God to raise these kids. thanks for tackling this – i really do appreciate how you weave faith into healthy living.

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  • Jess Rebecca via Facebook

    Well said!

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  • Ashley

    “For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

    Katie, I appreciate all of your writing, but especially that you are not afraid to point back to God. It is He who opens & closes the womb, who forms every life. Every child is a gift without question! Perhaps the best response to people who question would be lovingly pointing them to God, as well. This could be an excellent opportunity to witness!

    Blessings to you & your family.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ashley,
    Thank you! One of my friends was lamenting to a friend that she wished she had some sort of habit like a nun or monk so people would know she was Catholic and to inspire others to remember God during their day. He said, “See those 5 kids walking behind you? That’s your “habit!”

    Isn’t that beautiful! Our kids are our witness, for sure. :) Katie

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  • Jeanne via Facebook

    Wow. Not “wow” at you nut “wow” at the rest. I have three. My eldest has the most health problems (namely, ASD). His sister *is* three years younger and had a slough of digestive, respiratory and skin health issues, though with real nutrition, most of those have cleared up. My youngest, the “surprise” who arrived two years after her sister, is the healthiest of my children. Not an issue since birth … she’s also got the sweetest and happiest demeanor. I suspect that WAP’s assumptions are a bit weighted …

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  • TRish

    Thank you for a GREAT post!!! ?Our 4th was born 8 weeks early, but is talking sooner than any of the others. Every baby is made just how God wants, and although I disliked having a preemie for countless reasons, I see it was God’s plan for Clare and our family to teach us what we need to be Saints! :) If we are prayerful, God will lead and He will take care of everything the way HE sees fit, no matter what we or anyone else think. His plan is perfect, unlike our human inclinations. :)

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  • Jess

    We have 6 kiddos and one on the way. They are spaced 15-22 months apart. My 6th baby was born with a rare, random syndrome, all my others are extremely healthy, two of them are academically gifted and the others are very bright. I have had strangers at birthday parties glibly imply that my daughter’s syndrome was due to the spacing of our kids! Nevermind that 22 of the other 25 people I know of in Australia with this syndrome were first or second borns!!!! My “one on the way” was not planned by us and was conceived (miraculously!) at a time of high stress when I was eating out of hospital vending machines, cafeterias and fast food outlets much of the time. If I did not believe God was in control, I would be a basket case about now.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jess,
    God bless you! Shame on those naughty people who don’t even know you. :( What a good reminder that God is in control; thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story here, and I pray that no. 6′s condition is nothing but blessing for your family. :) Katie

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  • Faith

    Thank you, Katie, for writing this post. I really appreciate your Catholic perspective on this topic, but moreso than that, I want to say how much I appreciate how charitable your approach was. I feel like you managed to juxtapose Catholic faith and trust in God for these family decisions with the scientific arguments of the WAPF, without belittling those arguments.

    I often see people criticizing nutritional or scientific information based on their personal experiences, assuming that what is (or appears to be) working for them is what is best. You have managed, instead, to point out that, while the WAPF recommendations may be what is optimal solely for the physical health of a child, the best interests of a child and a family have a lot more components than simple physical health, the most important of which is God!

    Thanks again, Katie, and may God bless you for your courage and willingness to speak His truth on your blog.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Thank you, Faith – I may not always feel charitable (!) but I’m really glad it came across that way! ;) Katie

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  • Kimball

    REALLY well articulated! I couldn’t agree with you more on this one. It is so incredibly presumptuous to feel the right to have an opinion on another couple’s family planning. You perfectly summed up some of the thoughts that swirl around in my head- as a fellow real food & health blogger and Christian, I agree wholeheartedly that it is very easy to allow health, wellness, food, natural living, etc become an idol. The key is exactly what you said- to use the knowledge we have to honor God through our bodies and lifestyles, not to honor our bodies and lifestyles! I have 4 children (9 and under) myself, and I love to use them as an opportunity to spread God’s word. As you can imagine, I get plenty comments when I’m in public with them. I’m quick to respond to the commentary with “Yes, I am so very blessed.” While I do agree that the health of a mother is a good thing to consider when going into a pregnancy, I believe it is very short-sighted of WAPF to assume that moms are optimally healthy going into pregnancy #1, yet not during the next pregnancies. Each of my pregnancies (and babies) have been healthier than the last, as my knowledge of real food and health expands.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kimball,
    First, did you know that’s my last name too? Funny! Love your blog title.

    I don’t know that I said this:
    “to use the knowledge we have to honor God through our bodies and lifestyles, not to honor our bodies and lifestyles!”
    but it’s really good! Glad you found that in my post and that it resonated with you. We are so very blessed! :) Katie

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    Kimball Reply:

    Yes, I did. Everytime I see your full name written out somewhere I get confused for a split second. :) I’m named after someone whose last name was Kimball. Everyone thinks it’s my last name.

    This really jumped out to me:

    “The even more important bottom line, that I need to be reminded of as much as anyone, because natural living really can be a slippery slope into idolatry before we even notice it, is that food, caring for the environment, health, and the WAPF are not a religion.”

    Sometimes I need a firm reminder of this point.

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  • Faith via Facebook

    This might not be very “Kitchen”, but it’s the Stewardship that keeps me returning to Kitchen Stewardship time and again.

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  • via Facebook

    Ronda Barnow The mission of Kitchen Stewardship is to balance a family’s health, budget, the environment, and time through the eyes of faith. I think children and their nourishment/health and anything the wapf says is pretty much dead on center of my mission, being a good steward both of and for my family.

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  • Tricia via Facebook

    I get asked that and all mine (5) are adopted!

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  • Rebecca via Facebook

    Hands down the best, most thoughtful response to the kind of thinking I run into (and have probably been guilting of propagating at times) so regularly. Us Protestants could stand to learn a thing or two from our Catholic brothers and sisters in this area.

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  • Beth

    A year and a half of amenorrhea! Wow! I get a whopping 12 weeks. My brother and I are Irish twins, so I guess it runs in the family. I also breastfed through most of my second pregnancy and had a 9 lb + baby who has had none of the sensitivities and allergies that her older brother has. When I was pregnant the first time I received a copy of You: Having a Baby by Dr. Oz. The only thing I remember from the book was that there is a particular gene and if the father’s copy is activated the baby will receive nutrients at the expense of the mother’s health, but if the mother’s copy is activated, the mother will be kept healthy at the expense of the child (in circumstances where there are not enough nutrients for both). I found this fascinating and wonder if it explains a little bit of the disparity in outcomes that different women have. Obviously there is much we do not know about the whole process of building little people! I do know that having babies too close can take a toll on one’s health. My mom got really worn down, never made it to 40 weeks, had chronic bronchitis and problems with her teeth. But it seems like it is a very individualized thing. As a second child though, I think the genetic inferiority idea is obviously false!

    On the topic of what to say when someone asks about your family size. My mom’s stock answer to “Are these all your children?” Was “No, these are not all my children – I have a couple more at home!” ;)

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    LOL x2!

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  • Emily

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’m not sure I’ve ever commented, but I just want to say this might be my favorite thing you’ve ever written. I think the whole WAPF stance is crazy. You’ve brought out great points. It’s so easy to get caught up in this–just wanting to keep our families healthy–that we turn it into an idol. We do need to trust our bodies. I have three kids so far, all about two years apart, and both times I nursed into the next pregnancy, and with the first two I tandem nursed as well. You just can’t make blanket statements about what will be right for everyone. Like you said, that’s between the couple and God. (Incidentally, I loved your point about the Church ‘being in the bedroom.’ I’m not Catholic, but if one believes that the Church speaks for God, then, uh, yeah, they have every right to be anywhere, just as He is.) Anyway, we all have enough that we worry about, and while I absolutely feel that nutrition is very important…it simply isn’t the only important thing, or even the most important. We are all just doing our best.

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  • Sarah via Facebook

    We just had our third and some people have basically told us to STOP (one person has said it outright to me). Funny….I want more :)

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  • raisingcropsandbabies

    I have never even heard of this stuff. I had 4 kids in 4 years… (the first 3 in 2-1/2 years). I’m like the WAPF’s worst nightmare! While I envisioned having my kids spaced 2 years apart, my fertility came back at 6 weeks post-partum.

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  • Naomi H

    Thank you so much for writing this post, I admire your courage to do so. While we all want the best for our children, some thinking smacks of perfectionism, like DNA choosing if your child has blue eyes or brown. Since having twins, I wonder about the twin scenario. While they might have less nutritionally, they are already learning before one year old not to grab or push!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Aw, see, that’s a perfect example of life beyond nutrition! Love. And you have twins < 1yo and still time to read a blog and comment! ;) Super mom! :) Katie

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  • Johnalee via Facebook

    As a mom of seven kids, one born severely multiply impaired, I have been asked several times at different degrees of politeness. My usual response is the answer lightly “One at a time.” But I wholeheartedly agree with the thought that it is between God and the husband and wife and no one else.

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  • Randi via Facebook

    I loved this post! Thank you for sharing.

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  • Kim A.

    I am a mommy of six, ages 11 on down. Katie, I don’t know where you find the time to write such wonderful articles on our Catholic faith, but I am in full agreement with you. God will and always has let my body and my us and and know when it’s time to have another, and -in retrospect- its always when we try and “plan”it ourselves that we end up with angst. “Jesus, I trust in You” has so much more meaning the more children I have. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?? God bless you!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kim,
    Thank you so much! I can do this because I only have 3…and a wonderful mother’s helper for 3 hours on Thursday mornings. ;) Katie

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  • Lacey @ KV Organics

    Katie, love this post. With our #5 due next month, we’ve been praying and seeking the Lord a lot lately for our next steps with regards to family size and in relation to other callings we know are on our family. On the one hand, there are plenty of voices that think we’re nuts for having 5. On the other, there are plenty of voices that suggest strongly to never prevent pregnancy and just let God decide. We choose to listen to no voice but the Lord’s, knowing that His voice can speak differently to different people while still remaining true to who He is and how He has set the boundaries of all creation. And it is the most incredible thing that He invites us into real relationship – to be and become fully ourselves in submission to Him. There are SO many variables, and the key question, as you said, is not about optimal size and spacing, but are we seeking the Lord daily for our path. Thanks for writing this! Hugs to you! :)

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  • Connie

    I enjoy most all your posts, but this one made me grin. Actually giggle. I guess after 12 children in less than 20 years and the newest one born almost a year ago at age 44, we have broken ALL the rules. I am okay with that . . . now. I can actually smile and giggle with confidence because we listened to Gods plan for our family and he alone knows what is best for each of us. It doesn’t matter that it is not your plan or Weston Price’s plan. This absolutely has been God’s plan for us. I am very healthy. And our younger children are even healthier than the older ones were. He asked us to trust Him with our family and we have. Always easy? NO!! Always cheerful about the sacrifice? Absolutely NOT!! But our family size is an integral part of the plan that God has for making us all into the people He needs us to be. So I smile and giggle because I KNOW that God is greater than all the scientific knowledge and earthly “wisdom” that fill our libraries and Internet. Read, listen, study, but ultimately trust in God.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Love it, Connie! Way to be REAL! :) Katie

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  • Angie W

    LOVE this post! Been reading for years and this has to be one of my top favorite posts! Thank you for writing it!!! :)

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  • Jennifer

    Um… I’m the firstborn in my family, and have, by far, the WORST eyesight and teeth of the three of us, though we all had braces and the “second born” did end up needing glasses in her late teen/early twenties. The baby of the family has no vision issues at all. I’d say that makes Dr. Cate’s observations rather… inconsistent and unstable- if I’m being polite. Genetics is a lottery. The things a person does to ensure good health and nutrition only goes so far.

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  • Jennifer

    P.S. I also inherited my maternal grandmother’s bunions and my paternal great-grandfather’s hammer toes. My sisters both have really pretty feet. More things that fly in the face of Dr. Cate’s beliefs.

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  • Ashley

    Thanks for the post Katie, I know there’s a lot of good information out there and even bad information that sounds good. It’s easy to feel like you have to obey all of it. I am so thankful for everything I’ve learned from the Weston Price Foundation and I think the information about child spacing is helpful, but no substitute for God’s leading!

    It’1s also interesting to think about why are we so unsure of ourselves that we so willingly let other people tell us what to do even for major life decisions. And not just people close to us, but anonymous people we have never even met. I do it all the time and drive myself nuts. I’m pretty sure Sally Fallon isn’t going to be furious with me if I eat canned beans when I forget to soak dry ones. ;)

    Thanks for the blog.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Ashley,
    You did WHAT with the beans! Don’t answer the doorbell tomorrow, girl, it might be Ms. Fallon herself. ;)

    Totally kidding, of course – you make a pretty fascinating point, especially in this “everyone knows everything about everybody” Internet/social media world, how easily influenced even the strong of mind among us are…
    :) Katie

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  • Christy

    Thank for this article, so many times in my life as a mother, people have called me crazy for having 6 children, each 2 years apart. I just smile because I am truly blessed, each child a wonderful miracle. My children are healthy, smart kids, and as normal as they can be in our family. As a Catholic family, we are the image of Gods love. Thank you for standing up for family, and writing this wonderful article

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  • Cait

    This is so great! Thank you for writing this. We are Christians but not Catholic, and committed to being open to God’s number of children for us. Which we hope is not too small! I have been concerned lately with the little snippets I hear about the perfect detox and diet before you even THINK about conceiving, plus the spacing and everything. I happen to (so far) not be super fertile or at least while breastfeeding. I’d love to be pregnant already but don’t plan to stop breastfeeding my 15 month old on the chance that that’s stopping me!

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  • Cait

    Oh, and looking at friends’ families, I’ve always had a theory that the kids got prettier down the line! At least when past the awkward stage :)

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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