Having Twelve Children

 
“It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times…” So begins Charles Dickens’ epic novel A Tale of Two Cities
 
I could relate.  Having four children under the age of four was both joyous and draining.
 
My first pregnancy had ended in miscarriage.  Heartbreak and months of infertility, surgery and the statement by one doctor that he didn’t know if we’d ever have children ended with an ultrasound that showed a surprise pregnancy.  Those memories later helped me cope with endless diapers and sippy cups, when I would say to myself, “I’d rather be doing this than have NO children!”
 
We had two sons and two daughters and at times I felt like the most blessed woman alive.  Except for the times when I was exhausted with nighttime feedings and laundry, and went down the road of self-pity and believing the myth that this would last forever.  I assure you that babies and toddlers grow up.
 
We eventually let the worst of times get to us.  The decision was made for my husband to have a vasectomy.  I felt torn but somewhat relieved.  I knew that someday those four children ages 1, 2, 3 and 4 would all leave home at practically the same time and that bothered me.  But everyone advised him to “get fixed” (it’s actually “get broken”) and so we went through with it.
 
It didn’t take long for me to realize that it had been a mistake.  I read somewhere that a doctor has written a book stating that virtually everyone who gets sterilized regrets it at one time or another.  The thought of no more babies—ever—became very sad.  I didn’t nag my husband or beg for more children.  I did pray (and cry sometimes). 
 
After about a year and a half, my husband had a personal spiritual experience that included a commitment to let God plan our family size.  He and a friend flew to Chicago where he had a second surgery, a vasectomy reversal.  Those are his stories to tell, and some of them are quite funny.
 
Eleven months later the first of our eight reversal babies was born.
 
Yes, there have been challenges and financial struggles.  I could tell story after story of miraculous provision.  I could also tell of all the times I needlessly stressed myself out because of my thoughts and false beliefs.  But God in His mercy gently leads those with young, and that has been me for 29 years and counting. 
 
I’m fifty-two years old and I’ve been around the block a few times.  I realize that people’s backgrounds and circumstances shape their experiences and choices on having children.  I’m just sharing perspective from my own experience:
 
No matter how many children we had, no matter how close together and how difficult the circumstances, we weren’t sorry we had them.  I might have been really scared thinking about having more or being pregnant, but I didn’t regret that baby once it was in my arms. Ever.
 
So far we’ve contributed six upstanding citizens.  That’s a lot of tax dollars, folks.  We have a public school teacher who was Teacher of the Year at her school last year (now a stay at home mommy), director of a state university student ministry, program director for a YMCA after-school program, college ministry intern, photographer/musician (now a stay at home mommy) and a law enforcement officer. Six to go.
 
Every one of our children are persons.  Individuals.  Not a herd.  We love each one of them just as much as parents love their only child.
 
Our large family life is not wild and dirty and chaotic, contrary to popular belief.  I’m not saying there aren’t large families out there with that kind of life.  There are small families out there with that kind of life, too.  We’re actually fairly quiet, have a cleaner house than lots of people with no children, and have a lot of fun together.  It’s a wonderful life.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t get a little crazy sometimes:
 
I didn’t go to bed one night and wake up with twelve children.  I had them one at a time so I grew as a mother and a person.  It truly doesn’t seem like we have that many.  Well, except when all twenty-one are home.  And the numbers are only going to get bigger.
 
Children are adults most of their lives.  Little boys grow up to be men:
 
Little girls grow up to be women:
 
So there’s our story.  We’re not members of any church denomination that is known for large families.  Our large family is the result of a very personal spiritual experience (and of course other very personal experiences). 🙂
 
We’re extremely grateful to have six children still at home.  Another one leaves the nest for college this summer.  Eventually we will have no children at home but I imagine it will be pretty rare to be home alone.
 
The best of times, the worst of times—that describes anybody’s family life.  But let me say it for the record:  No regrets on having twelve children.
Please leave a comment below.

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48 Comments

  1. Charlotte, you have brought tears to my eyes and really encouraged me. I have really struggled lately with managing our large family lately and fears because it is getting harder and harder to provide for all of them. But thank you for putting it all in the right perspetive.

  2. When I saw this post, I was anxious to read it because I lived a big part of it with you, Charlotte.  I agree whole heartedly.  We both know that our large families were looked upon as  a crazy herd and it’s just not like that.  It’s each and every one.  I loved walking through memory lane with you this morning.  

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to much of it. I have 11 children ages 7months up to 26 yrs with 6 grandchildren 🙂
    Reading your blog, truly is lovely.

  4. I couldn’t have said it better myself! 😉 Awesome explanation, Charlotte. It’s almost bizarre the way the Lord led so many families the same way . . . only it shouldn’t surprise us when the Lord is working in our hearts!!!

  5. I love your story! I can’t remember how it was that I found your blog. I think I was looking for organizing ideas. I am part of the “40 Days for Life” in Charlotte, NC where I pray alone, or with my husband for the lives of the innocent unborn babies, their mommies & daddies, the abortionists and staff, and of course, our President. And, before that I counseled women in a crisis pregnancy center. I find myself in situations explaining the sacredness of life (with a family member who believes that unwanted children are better off unborn/aborted… as well as believing that “homosexuality is a gift from God” … or defending life with a complete stranger who believes he’s a Christian in a parking lot.) Today, before Bible study, I’m praying more and more for the Church to wake up, kick the complacency aside, and stand up for our liberty in Christ. Your children are both handsome and beautiful. And, my 3 precious ones are, too… living all over the world and these United States, serving in ministry and the military. God bless you.
    “Hold fast to the faithful Word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that you will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine andto refute those who contradict.”  (Titus 1:9)

  6. Charlotte – although I always enjoy reading your newsletters, this one really touched me.  You have such a beautiful family and for you to share the reasons for such a personal experience with all of us is truly humbling.  Blessings to you and your entire family!

  7. Beautifully written, Charlotte! My husband and I also had a change of heart about having children. For about 17 years we waited for more children to come. God has seen fit to bless us with two children (now adults. They really do grow up!). Just because we “trust God” with the size of our family does not mean we are going to end up with lots of children. But that is all okay! I have total peace about God’s plan for our family. And I want to say, too, that there ought to be no judgement on those who, for whatever reason, plan their family in another way. I have friends who would love to have more children but they can’t. And that is between them and God. I think the point is to love children and view them as a blessing from God – no matter how many you have. Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your story!

  8. Wonderful post. I brag about my eight children and am very “proud” to have them, not because we have the perfect family but because God used my children to mature me and bless me in spite of my imperfect parenting.

     And, yes, my husband and  I are delighted to release these world changers onto the world! We have one daughter who is the night manager at a maternity home, a son who works with kids on the brink of a felony conviction in a tough outdoor program, another who teaches bible clubs in local elementary schools and leads the elderly in activities at a nursing home, another who mentors teen girls and is a “Mary Poppins” for an exhausted pastors wife of five little ones, teen boys who work hard at tough jobs, a ten year old who is a volunteer dog walker, and a six year old who hugs everyone he meets. God is good.

    Jill Farris
    http://www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com
    http://www.jillcampbellfarris.com

  9. Thank you for your post! Very encouraging… I like that you are doing a homeschool tip as well. Reminding new mothers that it is a little at a time, line upon line, precept upon precept, is much needed. This is true with any new thing… TTAPP, eating changes, math, chore lists, Bible study…
    Sharyn Kelly

  10. I remember WELL some of those early years and it always makes my heart smile.  Our older children have fond memories of sharing times with your family.  Your readers digest account was beautiful and well put. 
    Love you!
    Janie

  11. Hey Charlotte!  I am right there with you!  I have eight (so far, and open to whatever God blesses) and it is very much a challenge sometimes and sometimes I do wonder why I am on this crazy ride. :0) But I only have the oldest being 14 so I have yet to see them leave the nest, though I do know that is just around the corner.     :0(    But I would definitely not trade our life for anyone elses.   Thanks for sharing!  My husband has in the past been told he should get that problem “fixed” but luckily we were convicted early on about having God plan our family size.  I sometimes feel at capacity right now but other times (as my baby soon approaches 3 yrs old)  I long for another baby, but I know that is all in Gods hands.  I also would
    like to be healthier first, knowing that age makes that harder but that is why I want to be into T-Tapp (just need consistency :op) Thanks for helping me see “the other side ” of things and that it does get better.!  Sincerely Christina, MOMYS to eight beautiful blessings!

  12. Thank you for sharing your testimony Charlotte.  What a blessing children are.  And yes! They do grow up and seasons change.  Life is always an adventure. 🙂

  13. Thanks so much, Charlotte, for sharing your wonderful story!!!!!!  LOVE all the photos, too!!!  Congratulations on having raised a beautiful family!!!!

  14. I love, love, love it!  We have nine children (plus 4 to meet in heaven).  Each one is somewhat like a piece of the puzzle of our lives we didn’t know we were missing until God sent them to us and the “puzzle” picture just grows more beautiful with that piece added.  I adore large, godly familes!  I am truly blessed beyond measure!

  15. I love your story.  It’s amazing how many of yours were reversal babies!  We donated all our baby stuff to the church after baby #4 came along.  I thought four children was all we would ever be able to handle.  We now have 6 children and want more!  LOL

  16. This was really great, Charlotte.  We have four, thinking we were just going to keep going, but my body just doesn’t function well.  I’ve been sick and week and too thin, and we decided no more babies.  Family life was miserable.  But DH is done with school now and I’m on day three of a T-Tapp bootcamp/ skibrushing.  I feel so good IT’S REDICULOUS.  I don’t know if we’ll have more children, but I have great hopes that at least we will be able to love and teach well the ones we do have if I keep on tapping!  Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. I forgot to mention that in two days of tapping and brushing I GAINED two pounds, which I needed, yet my middle has shrunk up!  And I went from being horribly depressed to unbelievably cheerful after the second bootcamp session.  You were the deciding factor for me to buy t-tapp months ago.  I only wish I could have given it my all before now.

  17. As always, thank you for your beautiful words. I can only imagine the courage behind them. I’ve been married for three years and have not yet been blessed to have children. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I cry. Most of the time, I’m just happy to be living my life, and I look forward to the day when I will have children (because I know I will). And by the way, I  LOVE that you have 12 children. I’m only 23 (not old), but I come from a family of 8 children and I’m glad that I was never lonely. You are such a great example!

  18. Charlotte, I don’t know if you will remember my husband and I visiting you when you lived in Hydro, with our first baby in tow.  I believe you had 8 then.  I left fully impacted by your children, marriage, and home.  You were part of God speaking to us about our family, and I’m very grateful.  I do agree that each child brings us something we would have forever missed without them. And for pete’s sake, the vasectomy doesn’t fix it, it breaks it! Yes!  Thanks for sharing the story.  It’s obvious God has been moving on the hearts of families to be blessed with children more than ever before.  PTL. 🙂  (We are expecting #10’s arrival any moment now.)
    Sincerely,
    Jennifer 

  19. It’s good to read your story today.  I’m soon to have my 8th child (8 in 11 years) and I’m exhausted.  I’m 40, and when I realize I could still have babies for 7 or 8 more years (like you and many others have), well, it’s hard to keep going on like this.  We’ll keep praying about it, and let the Lord lead us as He will.
    –Gena at ichoosejoy.org

  20. Thanks for sharing, your story is similar to ours. Husband had a vasectomy and later a reversal. We too, are not part of a church that advocates large families, just a personal conviction that God gave us to trust Him with our family size, whether that was a few or many. We now are expecting our 5th reversal baby -one in heaven. Our only regret is getting the vasectomy in the first place.

  21. Thank you so much for this article. We started our family later than most and after having one amazing son we suffered two miscarriages. But God has promised us more children in his time. Although that scares me in some ways your words are very encouraging. You are a wonderful mentor and I believe you have been put in a place of influence to help thousands of families and women. Thank you.

  22. I am the oldest of seven children; my parents also had a conversion after two well-spaced daughters and went on to have five sons. I did not always appreciate it as a child but as an adult I am so grateful. My parents were blessed with five grandchildren in the last eighteen months and now two are execting again! My husband is from a very small family and never had any exposure to babies. When our son was born he held a baby for the first time! My kids are so blessed to be around babies so much and I think that, like my brothers, they will be better fathers some day because of it.

  23. Charlotte,  I think your family is awesome.  We only had 3 children but we now have 10 grandchildren and I say, “the more the merrier”!  You are honored for your sheer devotion  to each and every one of your children.  They are children who are kind and loving and becoming talented adults.  You and your family are loved.

  24. Dear Charlotte,
    I enjoyed reading about your family.  Our story is similar, but without the vasectomy.  After our third was born, my husband heard a sermon about how it is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, and was very much convicted about his own desire to manipulate that situation.  We have since left it in the Lord’s hands.  After number 7, my husband was really a bit overwhelmed with the pressures of life, and when I told him that number eight was on the way, he had a bit of a tantrum, then he looked at me and said, What do you want to do about this, just keep trusting God?  When he heard what he had just said, we laughed hysterically and realized our fears were silly.  Number eight is now four months old and I can truly say we are enjoying his infancy even more than any of the others.  As we watch what life is currently like in Nigeria, Syria, and realize our greatest trial is being given a beautiful perfect infant to cuddle and love, we realize how selfish our fleshly desires really are. Your family is beautiful!!  Maybe someday we will be organized enough to have a nice photo done like yours.  Then again, maybe not!!
    Amber

  25. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Charlotte. You are such an encourager!! I came from a family 8 ~ 4 living. My husband and I always wanted a large family, but were told a few months after our marriage we could never have children. That was so hard. God has since blessed us with two amazing sons. Our youngest is 9 and we have prayed and yearned for me, but I am coming to a peace about it. God does know best and we have been through great trauma this past year and my parents are at the stage of needing care. I sometimes wonder if I would be able to do what God has called us to do right now if I had the large family I wanted. It is hard, sometimes, because I feel the need to say…but we didn’t just want two…we want more. Sounds silly, but in some certain circles you are made to feel like the world with only 2. I know God has perfect plan and we are trusting Him. I am SO VERY blessed by the two we have…even though I spent many wasted years wanting what I didn’t have instead of focusing on the blessings before me. Thanks, Charlotte!!

  26. Beautiful post.  I can relate to so much of what you have said.  My man and I have been married for almost 20 years and are expecting our 13th child this fall.  God has been so abundantly good to us!  I, too, am a T-Tapp lover.  So nice to meet you.  I’ll be back.

  27. Simply amazing! You have a beautiful family, and you look more like one of them than like their mother. Your (almost) before and after pix, sitting on the bed, are my new inspiration. I hope T-Tapp can do for me what it has done for you!

  28. Beautiful story love the  “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times…” I can so relate. I have 9 beautiful children after I was advised not to have one. I am very blessed. I enjoyed reading this especially what some people assume your life is like once you have more kids than the national average. Congrats!

  29. Loved reading your story.  I also am a mother of 12 children, ages 29 to 8.  They are truly blessings.  We had 6 girls, then we had 3 boys, 2 girls, and finished with a boy.  We have homeschooled all of ours, too.  It is a lot of work, but so rewarding.  My oldest got me started doing T-Tapp just last week.   I would like to loose about 20 lbs.  Thanks for your encouragement!

  30. I’m amazed that you had your 12 kids after months of infertility. It gives me hope as a woman in her 30s who hasn’t even had 1 yet. I can see why you have such a solid faith. Your children have grown up beautifully.

  31. Beautiful story! What a gift that you and your hubby landed in the same place. That is not always the case. I’ve had six c-sections and we are barely making ends meet every month = a husband who believes we should avoid pregnancy. I weep often in desire for more children, even more pregnancies.

    I love your post because it didn’t come across harsh to those who are not in the same place.

  32. Your story really touched my heart. I have two girls (grown women now) and sometimes it has felt like twelve, as I always encouraged them to invite their friends around! Sadly my eldest has gone her own way now and doesn’t want contact with any of the family. I would be so grateful for your prayers. God bless you all.

  33. Oh, I love this story. I have been reading your blog for around a year now. So many things you have written have encouraged me. But this is by far my favorite thing I have read from you. What a wonderful story! We considered a vasectomy after our third child, but thankfully stopped short of it. I remember it was so much harder then, with three young ones. Then God changed my heart, and several months later changed my husband’s. We decided to let Him decide our family size. We actually prayed for ten children! Now we have six, and don’t know if we will get to have more. I *cannot imagine* missing out on our younger three children! Children are such a great blessing. God truly knows best!

  34. Such an amazing family! Thank you so much for sharing! We had 3 & many people thought that was a lot but I love the fact of a big family & even though mine is small I am happy that I have at least the 3 but you are an inspiration! Thanks again!

  35. WOW! Thank you for the encouragement…you are a blessing and inspiration! I’m going to save up to purchase the T-Tapp and pray for another child! Blessings.

  36. Loved your story. As one of twelve children I’m sure my mom would have related. She treated each of us individually also and not a herd as so many believe.

  37. Charlotte I just wondered how many kids you had after 35? I want 12 but I’m 36 and have 2! How many kids did you have after 35? I feel like i pop out another 5 if I’m lucky. Just wondered what your thoughts were. I know that any child is a gift from God. I so regret getting an iud for the last six years. I am just now getting it out. After fighting immense post parting depression with psychosis I feel like it was my only option. I know am medicated and feeling better and ready to try again! Thank you,

    Angela

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