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.