Sunday, April 11, 2010

So, since Anda let the cat out of the bag anyway (unintentionally)....

So we had this little secret. And our kids knew. And  Anda whispered it to her best friend. Who told her mother. Right in front of a bunch of the ladies in the ward. Right before I walked in and then had to confirm it.

So the cat is out of the bag:  We're expecting baby number 6 in mid-December.

For us this is incredibly happy news. Even with five pregnancies behind me, it was really difficult to suffer through 5+ months (only 5 this time! It's taken over a year more than once!) of trying unsuccessfully for another baby. While I realize that's unfair to friends I have who have been trying much longer for just ONE baby, it's still painful to want that and not have it happen. Even when you already have some to be grateful for and love.

We are SO thrilled about this. I'm telling you that right up front because when you tell people you're expecting number 1, they get all excited for you. Also with number 2. Number 3 they admire you. And then it goes downhill from there. 4 is still socially acceptable unless you had difficult pregnancies or your last is still a baby. 5 you cross an imaginary line from "cool" to "stupid". And, quite frankly, we're both a little skittish over the backlash from SIX ("are you NUTS?! What were you thinking!?").

So, to answer the most common questions I get right up front:

Yes, we understand birth control and how to use it.

Yes, we did this on purpose. In fact, we worked at it for over 5 months and had to take medicine for multiple months to get it to stick.

So, yes, we WANTED six kids.

Yes, we planned the timing. Actually, we think 23 1/3 months apart is kinda spaced out--we were planning for 19-21 months again (but it ended up not being our choice).

Yes, we're excited.

No, I'm not crazy.

No, Tim did NOT decide this for me and Yes, he can speak for me in saying we're excited about it.

Yes, they all have the same dad. That's one of the reasons I made this choice--it's a whole different thing having a bunch of children in  a stable, happy family situation.

I think it's a boy, but I would welcome a girl. I just think it's a boy. No, I really don't CARE which--I'd be glad to have either. (When people ask Tim, "Do you think it's a boy or a girl?" he answers, "Yes.").

Yes, Anda is hoping it's a girl. And no, we're not praying for a girl (and neither is Anda) at this point because the baby's gender was determined at least a month ago and all the prayers in the world won't change it now.

No, we're not done. Yes, we plan to have more. We're thinking eight children sounds right for us, but we would gladly have more (I saw a picture of an ancestor with 11 kids and my first thought was that she must be the happiest woman on earth and wouldn't I love to have a dozen children!). No, I don't think I'll actually HAVE a dozen (until they get married, and then with spouses and children I should have MORE than a dozen someday. Hooray!). Why 8? Well, each of our children, when they were 3 years old, has drawn a picture of our family, and all of them have included 8 children and 2 adults. So we thought that would be a good spot to aim for, but not be too strict. I might stop at 6. We'll do what we feel inspired to do, so who knows. Are YOU planning on  having more? And why did you stop at 3? (Okay, I never say that. But I want to. Also, "I don't know how you could stand to stop at 2 or 3. I would spend my whole life worrying that someone was missing!" and I never say that, either, because I believe firmly that God has a plan for our families and our lives, and for some families that includes 3 kids, and some none, and some 15, and that if we follow HIS plan, we'll be happiest of all the options we had--and that it's not MY business to determine the plan for you or to criticize your choices in that.)

Yes, Tim wants a big family, too. When we were dating, even, we used to tell people if we ever got married, we wanted to have 14 kids. And we were serious.

Yes, I've said we were done after each of the children was born. And then I changed my mind when they started talking and walking.

No, actually, I hate babies (I've loved my own--but for the peopleness of them, not the babyness of them). When someone else walks into a room with their newborn, I invariably think, "No, I DON'T want to hold that. Why would I?" But I love toddlers and kids.

No, pregnancy is not easy for me. Actually, I loathe it. Actually, I get sick for a good chunk of most of my pregnancies, and pretty much find it a miserable YEAR-LONG experience because I also recover very slowly (not inclined to leave the house, for example for 4 months after instead of the "usual" 2 or less, don't feel like exercising for 18 months after). Plus epidurals leave me with numb spots on my body for 6-8 MONTHS, so there's all kinds of weird discomfort associated with pregnancy and childbirth. But some things are nasty and worth it.

And thank you for admiring me for doing it--Tim is admirable, too, and God bless you, too, you poor thing!

No, we don't know what we'll name the baby. We never do until it's born. But we like to give our children names that are also attached to some hero they can look up to (like a scripture hero, or a family history hero). Consequently, we do have a list that includes names like Isaac, Jacob, Sophie (Sophronia), Elizabeth.....solid names with solid role models attached to them. One of us has always known the baby's name shortly after each was born, so I assume we'll figure it out. The kids have added such names as Tag Grapejuice, Felicity, and James Iguana to the list for good measure.

I'm not ever sure how to answer people who say, "I could never do that." or "How do you do that?"

Honestly, my first response to the second question (which I've never let out publicly but want to some day) involves explaining things in detail and then saying, "Really, your mother should have told you all about this."
Usually I end up mumbling something like:

Well, I'm one of the lucky women who doesn't have to go to work every day.
You have to do what's right for YOUR family, and this was what's right for MY family.
Well, I am lucky and have a really happy marriage, so we can handle raising a big family.
It's not really that hard--two isn't much worse than one once they aren't babies anymore because they keep each other occupied. I actually get MORE time to myself than I did with one baby. And 5 isn't so different from 3. Especially since they're not ALL babies. The big kids pretty much can take care of themselves--and help with the little ones.
Oh, well, I let some things slide. I don't keep house, for example. (Which is true but always gets a laugh--it's so unbelievable that they think I'm just joking.)

The comments that Tim gets are different, but incredibly not supportive and, with both the comments both of us receive looked at as a whole, reveal a societal ideal that says babies are a curse women can and should avoid, and that REAL women want jobs instead of babies, and that the joys of womanhood are tied up in career, social status (which is based on career and money), and using our talents (to get social status and money, of course)--anything but raising children. (Which is actually REALLY funny to me because, despite all the "modern" women's vehement condemnation of the Victorian woman, this is the exact ideal the Victorian women were set up for--the richest and most powerful women then also aspired to have few children and have someone else raise them.).

Basically, Tim and I both get condemned on every side because "obviously" I am not an empowered, free woman (like they who are forced to follow society's current ideals are any more free than the '50s woman who was expected to marry and have babies and no talents except housekeeping? NO. Different constraints, but still enslaved women. Sheesh. How could the feminists be so blind?!). We've been condemned for making Tim make all the money. We've been condemned for "not allowing" me to become who I "want to be" and have a career (since, obviously, I'd never WANT to be a stay-at-home mother?). Tim has been condemned for presuming to understand what a woman would want (even his wife) and speaking for us (in saying things like "We're really excited about this"). We get condemned for having babies when we're poor because it's irresponsible (I figure we won't always be poor, but then it will be too late to have a lot of babies, so we have to do it now).

We also make people who have fewer kids than us uncomfortable--they always feel obligated to defend their choices in childbearing. Why? I don't know.

And then when people find out we're homeschooling....we'll we're REALLY weird. (They always say, "I could never do that" and I always want to say, "It's actually easier and takes less time and stress than getting 5 kids off to school in the morning and then supervising homework at night".)

And, surprisingly, the underlying assumption of all of this is that I must be stupid (like, with a seriously low IQ, not just foolish) or I would NEVER choose babies over a career (which is funny, because I feel like I've delayed a career to develop my talents and interests, not given up on one forever), and I would understand that the public schools are far superior to anything I could do at home (never mind that I was a professional educator for 8 years before I had my first baby!).

So you can see why I've hesitated to announce this one. It used to be greeted with joy and excitement. Now it's greeted with discomfort (on their part) that leads to awkward conversations (at best) or subtle or overt condemnation (at worst).

In some ways, feminists have (ironically) destroyed our society for womanhood. What a shame.

My sister in law who has very carefully timed her children by the Spirit (same as we have and with different results) said you get criticized either way--for having another right away or for pausing. You can't win either way. I think she's right.

But WE are EXCITED about our announcement and totally thrilled at the idea of having six children.

So there.


Unknown said...

Congrats to you, Tim and the kids!

Becca B said...

I read your post aloud to my husband. That's a lot of sense all at once, and I appreciated reading it. Thanks!

Lisa Lu said...

Congratulations. That was a great blog post! What homeschooling method do you use - or do you have your own? Tell Tim hello and well, happy pregnancy to you both!

Becca Jones said...

Thanks, all!

Lisa, we're kind of eclectic. Some days we unschool. Most days I manage to get everyone to do a couple days' worth of lessons on (we're anxious for their upper elementary and middle school lessons, though!).

We also use lessons I write myself and post on my other blog, I also collect resources for homeschool families/parents and post them there. So there's a LOT to dig through. I recommend using the index!

Are you homeschooling?

caseyandmelody said...

Hey I didn't know you had a blog? I'll follow you! i'm on here too. I'm still fairly new though. Oh and I also like your explanations on having your 6th. I never even thought about all those things. Lol, Casey wants 6 (he even said it while we were dating) but I wonder once I get into it what that number will actually be.... well, congratulations with it all! Very exciting.....

Becca Jones said...

Melody, I found your blog the other day (I don't remember how....) and I was delighted. You're a really good writer, so I really have enjoyed reading what you've written.

How come I'm not surprised Casey wants six kids? It seems so in character for him! I'm interested to see what happens, too!

Unknown said...


Congratulations! I'm glad you are happy. I wanted you to know that I am a feminist and admit it freely. For many of us, the issue is choice. Women have options now that they never had before, and that is a good thing. They have the choice to work. They also have the choice to stay home (well, some do - some can't afford it), and that should be equally acceptable. Women have been burdened too long with all sorts of limiting rules, prescriptions, and expectations that hamper their ability to follow their own path. That is what feminism is all about for me. Condemning women for their choices (as long as they are freely made) is not the point - we should celebrate their ability to choose.

I also don't believe it is an issue of work vs. baby. I have both, and love my life. I do not bow to societal expectations in the way I do things - I set my own priorities an do what I think is right. The issue is not all or nothing, black or white. I did not choose a career OVER my children. Many women (and feminists) want both, not just career, and another of the goals of feminism is to make that choice more viable for women since employment is often still not structured to accommodate family. That, in my opinion, is perfectly acceptable - there is nothing wrong with a woman wanting to be fulfilled in a career and as a mother at the same time. It doesn't work that way for everyone - but that's the point - everyone is different and should be allowed to decide what is right for them.

In the end everyone has to do what they feel is best for their family and let others do the same. I have received plenty of condemnation for my own choices, but from the opposite camp as what you've probably experienced. I have been told outright I was a bad mother for not staying home, but it doesn't bother me because I simply know it's wrong.

It's the judging of the life choices of women - from both sides - that really needs to stop.

Good luck with your pregnancy - I hope it all goes smoothly and that you are all very happy.


Becca Jones said...

Deborah--you're the same kind of feminist I am. I don't usually self-identify as a feminist because in the places I've lived, it has a specific, political meaning (even among the feminists!) that I don't agree with.

But I am TOTALLY with you. Every woman should be allowed to choose what is best for her family. Amen to That!

Kimbooly said...

Need to vent much? ; )

But I do really get where you're coming from. I laughed out loud about the reactions you get from people depending on which kid it is (#1, 2, 3, etc). Especially out in CA. I didn't think you'd get that response as much in Utah where there are a lot of big families.

And my comment on fb was not to say, "How do you do it, are you crazy?" but more impressed that there are people out there who can handle having more kids (which is awesome). I can be genuinely happy for others and still wonder if it's something I am capable of doing.

A lot of things I agree with you word for word, like that we've talked about how many kids we want, but really we take them one at a time and plan them based on inspiration and gut.

The homeschooling comment really made me think. It's very possible that it would be easier to homeschool than get them all off to school and then supervise that darn homework. But I know about me that I'm not an organized person, and there would end up being huge gaps in my kids' learning, plus I'm not a morning person so my kids would play video games for half the morning, waiting for me to wake up to start some schooling. So I admire those who homeschool and say kudos to them, and also am ok that I don't.

Anyway, I love how your post starts, and so many things in it. Like how it's hard to be trying for a baby even when you have some kiddos already, and even though those 5 months for you are a drop in the bucket for some folks who try for years. It doesn't take away the want for you with your experience. It took us over a year to concieve Carter.

AND, I get tons of questions like you do, about if we want more, if we're done, if we'll try for a girl, if we want a boy or a girl, yada yada. I think a lot of people are just trying to show interest, but it gets old when you get asked the same questions over and over every day.

Oh, and you didn't answer the only question that I have! After all your answers! Even though I could do the math for a December baby for roughly how far along you are, as of today how many weeks are you? And, how far along were you when you told your kids? Our kids were THRILLED when we told them I was pregnant with Carter. It was a very special morning. And then Nathan went to church and told everyone in primary that day. So keeping it mum didn't last too long. : )

And living in CA definitely gets me LOTS of questions, since a lot of families have 2 kids, 3 kids tops.

And.... I start a lot of sentences with "and." I guess I should stop babbling. : )

Becca Jones said...

It continually surprises me how much alike we are! (Oh, btw, didn't you LOVE "Fat Tony"?)

Homeschooling: I'm not organized either. So we do school really relaxedly (is that a word?). Also I'm NOT a morning person. We usually start lessons after dinner and finish before bed. It works for us.

It has surprised us both that, while we expect our neighbors here in Colorado to be surprised, members of the Church and also friends and relatives in Utah are surprised. And that surprised US! I guess 6+ kids isn't even common for LDS families anymore. ;)

Becca Jones said...

Oh, and how far along? 5 weeks officially. But I have this inkling that things didn't line up traditionally and we are 5 weeks along with a 4-5 week old embryo instead of a 3 week old embryo. Just a hunch.

We told the kids the day we found out. They'd been talking about "when you have the next baby in your tummy" for about 3 months already, so they were excited but not surprised. We did think they'd wait a month or two before it became public, but not so much.

morelightthanburden said...

Love you and all your thinking!! You're awesome!

As for whether LDS and/or Utah also give strange looks for lots of kids (meaning more than 4) . . . ABSOLUTELY! YES! And they say the same things, "I don't know how you do it. I couldn't do that."

My thought is usually that I don't think they know what they are truly capable of. That's one of the secrets of being a mother of lots of children. That's one of the secrets of being a woman.

Another is like you said, they play a lot together and so it takes more time off, truly.

Also, they help each other which has two great benefits; they learn to serve and pitch in and it lowers your work (somewhat, but who are we kidding?).

Also, like my sister-in-law always says; one takes all my time, five take all my time.

Lastly, about having lots of kids. Like you say, the culture of big family is wonderful! And I figure it this way; I may not be a perfect mom, but I'm a pretty good one. The more children I can bring into my home, the fewer end up abused on the street in New York or in a hut in a war-torn country. If I can raise 7 with 80% happiness and success or 3 with 100% happiness and success (however you are going to define those words), and be happy myself and not a crazy, grumpy, mom, I'm going to do it! After all, when we talk about exaltation and eternity, what are we going to be doing there? Has anyone ever really considered? Think on it. We say we believe we are going to have numerous posterity. So, I figure if God loves me and wants the best for me, and I know He's perfect and can't lie, than being a mother (as His prophets have also said) is the best and happiest, most fulfilling thing for me! Better learn to love it now!

Just a few thoughts. I loved the discussion here . . .

By the way, depending on their background and receptiveness and the time and situation, when people ask me about all my kids, I give them any combination, or even all of the above.

I even heard of one GA (not Georgia) family (can't remember who), who used to be approached with these questions and one time it came in the form of, "What are you trying to do, multiply and replenish the whole earth all by yourself?" Do you know the answer this witty woman gave? "I can't think of anyone better to do it!" Love it.

That about sums it up for me.

Congratulations!! What a wonderful thing! I truly am so happy for you and wish you an as-sick-free-as-possible pregnancy!

P.S. Sorry if my use of commas is all a hash, it's something I've always wondered about. I tend to use them more how I hear them in my head, conversationally where I would want pauses, etc. Not sure if I'm using them correctly. Input?

Thanks for being who you are and for your good example to all of us. You really are a marvel and a wonder (no hyperbole).

Brooke said...

Would it make you feel better to know that in my neighborhood, my family is considered odd because we don't have six children? People say the most foolish things. Although, I've always been fond of Bill Cosby's famous comeback: "My wife and I have five children because we didn't want six." Congratulations on having a new little one -- I hope your pregnancy goes well.