Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I Keep Having Children


"The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." ~The Family: A Proclamation to the World

There's a common joke in the world today when people see a large family. It goes something like this:
"Are you Catholic...? or Mormon...? Ha ha ha!"
Really, it's a very OLD joke, because I think we all can see that there are actually not many Catholics or Mormons having large families these days. (I'm only guessing about the LDS birth statistics, but being an active member who moves around a lot, I think I have a fairly good grasp of the average size of most active LDS families. Of course, we still have larger families than most, but anyone can attend a church activity or meeting and see that LDS family sizes are noticeably shrinking from what they once were.)

There are the occasional exceptions to this (like our family), but as a rule, most families, regardless of religion, routinely use birth control or sterilization to stop having children.

Five of my seven lovely daughters, posing after church.

Multiply and Replenish

Today's definition of a "large family" is very different from what it used to be. I have heard gasps of disbelief and exclamation when I have overheard young LDS (Mormon) moms tell someone that they have-- wait for it-- FIVE children. 

The responses range from "Wow, you're a SAINT!" to "Are you CRAZY?" and even "Oh, my gosh. I would KILL MYSELF!"

When people ask how many children I have, I respond in various ways, based on the situation. Sometimes, when I can tell that they might go into shock if they really knew the actual number, I smile and say "A lot." Most of the time, it's just a question people ask to begin small talk. Usually they are not looking for something as earth-shattering as hearing that I have had a dozen children from my own body, no twins. 

I mean, who could be THAT insane?

Brennan with Grayse

Training for Real Life

I think one of the shocking things about having lots of children to many people in our society is that they imagine that I have a dozen two-year-olds running around, driving everyone crazy, and tearing my house apart.

But then, when it occurs to them that I have older children, they start to talk about how nice it is to have older kids to help. Unfortunately, often they then go into how they hope my big kids get a chance to have fun, and that they aren't "raising my children for me."

Yeah, they uncovered my evil plot: I have more children that cost money, time, effort, resources because I want to enslave my older children so they never have any fun. No fun allowed. EVER.

One thing they have right. I want my older kids to know what it is to be a parent. I want them to think about someone else's needs outside of their own. I want them to grow up knowing how to love and serve others. I want them to know that the universe does not entirely revolve around them.

Muah-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!!

Diabolical, I know...


My five handsome sons

Suffer the little children to come unto me

There is a relatively new movement of Evangelical Christians having large families. (A very famous family, the Duggars, are part of this growing philosophy. And yes, we love their show at our house!) They call it "Quiver-Full," and I have been asked by people who don't know what my religion is if I am part of it.

I have said yes. Which is kind of true, because I know what the movement is about, and I happen to agree with the principles of it, even though I'm not Baptist.

I've also said, "No," and then explain that I am LDS (Mormon). Sometime, when I give that answer, the person may back away slowly, nervous of what I might say next. But then, they might remember the old joke about Mormons and Catholics, and now have a story to tell about a REAL, LIVE Mormon lady they actually met who had a ton of kids.

Hey, I'm willing to provide that service! But no, my pathetic obsession with being the center of attention is not the reason I have a large family. I promise.

I have children because that is what the Lord has commanded my husband and I to do.

And no, I am not now going to go into a diatribe about how selfish other couples are, and about how evil birth control is, or about how I'm trying to buy my way into heaven by having a houseful of children. (This is for the fellow LDS sister who asked me the other day why I wasn't translated yet.)

All I am saying is that the Lord has asked me, through personal revelation from the Holy Ghost, to welcome each and every one of these children of His into my heart, my home, and my family. 

I don't know for certain all the reasons why the Lord wants me to have this many children, but I DO know that I am far, far, FAR from perfect, and that this is one way the Lord is teaching me to get over myself by serving others.

I am fully aware that I still have a LONG WAY to go.

My mom with her siblings and my grandmother.

Doing My Part

Growing up, I always knew that I personally wanted a large family. I come from a long line of large families, especially from my mom's side of the family tree. My mom is number five of eight children, and I have always LOVED being with my entire extended family. My very BEST memories of my childhood are tied to those close, loving, BIG, family relationships. I knew that I wanted to be just like my beautiful and stalwart grandmother by having a large posterity around me forever. To this day, that vision of having all my children and grandchildren around me throughout my life thrills me to no end.

And I already get to have that joyful noise and warmth around me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My life is filled with joy!!! How could I regret inviting any of these awesome people to be such a big part of my life? How? How? HOW?

I couldn't. And I haven't. I feel really good about that.

Now that I have a big--okay, MEGA-sized-- family, I am learning all kinds of really neat things about big families.

The reality of life is that the world needs CHILDREN. 



It's actually kind of scary. 


Who will be the next generation of citizens, parents, teachers, leaders, when so many of them are tragically slaughtered in the U.S. and all over the world every single day?


My heart breaks for those I know and love that have not been able to surround themselves with all the children they hoped and planned for. 

Infertility is a HUGE problem, and it frustrates me to see how so many wonderful couples want children, and then compare that to how many couples reject welcoming children in to their families. 

I don't know how to sort all that out, and I'm grateful I don't have to! But I know that the Lord is over all, and that He will work it all out in the end.

Our precious twelfth child, Davy

One more

It should come as no surprise to my readers that I am now expecting my thirteenth baby, due in mid to late April of 2014. 

Am I surprised? 

Yes, and no. I really thought our Davy was the last. 

But then, I thought that about baby #7, and then about baby #10, and then about baby #12.

The Lord is asking me to step into the dark once again. He wants me to trust His plan and bring one more baby into our family and into the world. 

I have had some very sacred experiences with the spirits of my unborn children. I am careful about what I share, but I can honestly say that I know that each one of my children is supposed to be here. I know that they are meant to be a part of our family-- that God sent them specifically to my husband and me to raise.

I am doing my very best to help them return to our Father in Heaven. Thank goodness for the Lord's help in doing so!

I assure you that I feel that responsibility keenly, and that I take it very, VERY seriously. None of my children are "a mistake." They were invited by my husband and I, and they were sent by God.

I testify of the divinity of parenthood. It is a holy calling and the greatest work ANY of us can do. I am so grateful for the chance to be a small part of the grand design.

With gratitude and joy,

52 comments:

  1. Wish I had known about all this when I was young.

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! Give your little girl a hug from me. I sure miss my Activity Day girls!

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  3. Congratulations! I love your attitude about family size. We need more mama's who share the joys of large family life! Compared to you, I'm still just starting out, but to the world I'm turning heads with my four littles. But, like you, I feel that bringing children into this world is one of the most important things in life. :)

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  4. A new baby on the way! How exciting!

    When I attended BYU, I appreciated the fact that artificial contraception was not available at the Student Health Center, even for married women. However, plenty of my neighbors at Wymount Terrace (Family Student Housing) were "on the pill" or using another form of artificial contraception.

    We Catholics are taught to be fruitful and multiply and we are taught to be receptive to life (conception) in every act of marital intimacy. Practicing artificial contraception and procuring or assisting another to procure an abortion are all mortal sins. People decide of their own will to commit those sins, but Church teaching is clear. Deo Gratias that the way of repentance and reconciliation is open to all.

    Agape always,
    Cynthia

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    1. Cynthia, I so appreciate your comment! My husband and I have some very dear friends who are Catholic, and they inspire us as they continue to welcome all the children God has in store for them. Their faithfulness in keeping the teachings of their church gives me so much hope! Thank YOU for being a light to the world, as well!

      Hugs,
      Rachel

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  5. May the Lord continue to bless you!!!

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  6. I LOVE you!! Not because you are perfect, but because you are willing to welcome children into your home. My biggest regret is that I didn't have enough faith to have a baby when I felt I should. I have since come to understand that 1 Nephi 3:7 applies to having children. When the Lord gives a commandment (Multiply and Replenish the earth) He will prepare a way for us to do the thing he has commanded us. It takes FAITH, not money or time, to have children, and the Lord will not give us more than we can handle. A baby is a blessing for faithfulness, barrenness is a curse for faithlessness. In other words, the Lord will never punish us by sending a baby, rather (I believe) by not keeping sacred temple covenants to multiply and be fruitful we will be barren. Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post. My Mom was #12 of 15!

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    1. Thank you. I love you, too! You always have such beautiful comments! :-)

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    2. I am really bothered by this comment, and I am hoping that I am simply not understanding what the poster is trying to say. As an infertile woman (blessed with three children through adoption) who is a friend to dozens of other faithful LDS infertile women, I do not feel that babies are rewards for righteousness, and I do not feel that barrenness is a curse for faithlessness. Babies are sent where they are sent because that family needs a growing experience. By the same token, babies are not sent because that family needs a growing experience. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Barrenness is not a curse but an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. Some of the most faithful women throughout history were and are barren. And God gives babies to all kinds of women who are not faithful and do not deserve them. I'm really hoping that this poster is meaning "barren" in some sort of different sense than what it means to me.

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    3. I did not mean to offend. By barrenness I meant couples who having just made covenants in the temple then use contraceptives for any number of years so they can postpone having children only to find that when they want to have them they are unable to do so. I KNOW that many faithful LDS couples can't bear children for unknown reasons. In my reading of all the scriptures I have come to know that the Lord truly controls conception while allowing nature to take its course. I'm so glad that you were able to adopt, you are a blessing to three spirits. I have taught out children that the purpose of marriage is to begin a family and that means allowing children to come without postponing. When He gives us a commandment and we make covenants He will prepare a way. Again, I didn't mean to put down or offend any who have struggled with infertility from day one of their marriage.

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  7. Beautifully written, Rachel! You and your family are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Montana! We love you and your sweet family! Kiss your little guy for me!

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  8. Soon, we'll be set apart for having families AT ALL.

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    1. That really IS a scary thought! Did you see that recent article about being childless in Time magazine? It really made me sick to my stomach thinking that people actually buy into that kind of thinking. :-(

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  9. You can probably guess but I LOVED this post. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cocoa! I am loving all your posts this month. Thank you for all you are doing to promote the Family!

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  10. Love you! Great article, and I love all the links you shared.

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    1. Thanks, Christina! Your recent article REALLY inspired me, as you always do. {Hugs!}

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  11. Congratulations! I too have always wanted a large family and its painful that my spouse and I don't share the same vision. Since he is the head of household I have to accept his choice to not have more children though that is not my wish. My mom is one of 15 and I love being in the midst of large families.

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    1. Tiffany, you are doing the right thing! Thank you for being an example of righteousness by putting your husband first. Marriage really is a partnership, and we cannot-- and should not-- force our spouses into doing things they cannot do. I know the prayers of a righteous spouse can have great power to influence, but in all things we must accept the things we cannot change, and find joy where we are. {{{Hugs!}}}

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    2. Thank you so much for this comment. I found your blog while researching the church's stance on vasectomies. I just had my 4th baby (and 4th boy!) and I am completely overwhelmed and the thought of another child makes me want to whither away (ha) but i would fully welcome and accept another little one if The Lord told me that is what I need to do. However, my husband is 150% done and there is no changing his mind. I would never want to jeopardize our relationship. I accept him for who he is, and pray to my Heavenly Father that if we are to have more children, that he needs to convince my husband first :) For the first time in the days I have been researching this topic I feel at peace.

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  12. I'm excited for you to be expecting another! I really enjoyed growing up in a large family. I love reading about large families and seeing how they manage everything. It's too bad large families are looked down upon, even by members of our church!
    Though I'm also dismayed at the judging that goes on when people do not have a large family. We can't ever know all the reasons for that. Our church teaches us specifically that how many children to have and when to have them is between the couple and the Lord and we should not judge each other in this matter. Just look at the variation in family size of all our church leaders, who I believe are very faithful people. It's anywhere from about 2-13+ kids!
    I'm so grateful we can each receive personal revelation on the subject if we are willing to go to the Lord and seek it out. Obviously Rachel, you and your husband do this well and can be at peace knowing this is exactly what the Lord wants you to do. Congrats again!!!

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    1. Thanks, Holly! I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. :-)

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  13. You are an inspiration. Good for you for doing what you know to be right in your heart!

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  14. Oh Rachel, you are an inspiration. Good for you for doing what you know to be right in your heart. Children truly are a blessing and Congrats on #13! Love you! :)

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    1. Thanks, sweet Kayla! I love seeing the wonderful mother that you are, and how you interact with your BEAUTIFUL babies. I love you, too, cousin!!! {Hugs}

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  15. Congratulations! How utterly cool to be able to say one has more than a dozen kids! After a tough first delivery and recovery we take one child at the time, but the dream of a large family is there...

    Though we can't say anything about any specific couple's choice as to the number of children, the trend of smaller families is worrying. I do, however, think some of the younger couples may go back to having larger families. At least I suspect that might be the case amongst my friends and acquaintances.

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    1. Sarah, your willing heart and words inspire me. May the Lord bless you in all your mothering efforts!

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  16. You know when someone gets on a blog, reads it then says, 'Wow, I needed this this morning," Well guess what? I needed this this morning! Thank you for writing it!

    Last night I had an amazing conversation with my older brother about some spiritual experiences he and his wife had concerning a child that they lost very early on. It made me think about my own little family. We currently have 3 children (ages 4, 3, and 1) but my husband and I want like 7…ish children. People both in and out of the Church think we have A LOT of kids with just 3 and about DIE every time we tell them that we want more. I was married at 18 and got pregnant right away and I had an elderly Sister missionary at the Conference center practically shake her head at me in dismay when I told her so. It was very upsetting and a sad, sad thing, honestly that early marriage and childbearing are disapproved up by many out of and even IN the Church.

    Anyway, I am, however, stuck in a scary situation of having to have c-sections. I want a large family but my sight is covered so to speak as to how I will have that large family if I keep having c-sections. Reading this I really realized that it is something I have to seek from the Lord and get a revelation of my own on the subject.

    Congratulations on your new little addition on the way. I'm sure that little one was fist pumping in Heaven with excitement to come down and join such an awesome family.

    God bless!

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    1. Yes, seek inspiration from the Lord on this matter! It became tough for me, when the Lord told me to keep going, and the doctor was saying "stop", using scare tactics, and pressuring me to tie my tubes. That was baby#4. We have five - all c sections - and feel that we're not "done" yet. It requires tons of faith, now that I know the increased risks for me at this point.

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    2. Thank you for your sweet message!

      I married young, too, and was also surprised at the reaction of lots of people. But I'm so glad I did it, and don't regret taking this path. :-)

      I know that the Lord WILL inspire you and your husband about what you should do an when. No matter what the answer is, I know he will help carry you through.

      {{{hugs}}}

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  17. Loved reading this post this morning. Amen! Children are a blessing and I'm so grateful for each one Heavenly Father sends. It was so sweet this weekend when one of my younger boys was talking about 'when you have the next baby'. I'm not pregnant. Baby #8 is just 2 months old! And yet to this son it was just expected that he'll be blessed with more brothers and sisters and he was looking forward to it.

    I think the biggest negatives we have received over having children really kicked in when Mason (#7) was born. NOT because we had so many, but because he has Spina bifida and many serious medical challenges. People were sure that we would stop having children so we don't risk having another child with "problems". I was shocked, to be honest. Imperfect bodies are temporary and not required for salvation. We will welcome any child Heavenly Father sends because He always helps us in our weakness to care for His children. I have seen time and again where He magnifies my imperfect efforts as a mother, He makes up for what I lack and blesses my children abundantly.

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    1. THANK YOU for your wonderful words, Tristan!

      I especially love this: "Imperfect bodies are temporary and not required for salvation."

      I needed this reminder, as I was thinking about my autistic kids the other day, and pondering on the possibility of having another one with autism.

      My autistic kids teach me sooo much! They have such pure hearts and are free of guile or deception of any kind. How can this possibly be a bad thing???

      They teach me every day what it means to be a child of God.

      Again, THANK YOU for this important reminder. {{{Hugs}}}

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  18. Congratulations! Exciting thing bringing another person into the world, and participating in the miracle of creation. As I've gotten a little older, I find that I view the whole process more as the miracle it truly is, rather than take it for granted.

    I am one with five, and I'm amused by reactions of "Joe public", especially when I once referred to my children as "only five". Interesting how everyone's situation is so unique.

    Wishing you the best in your pregnancy, and hope you're feeling well.

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    1. It IS! It is a miracle! You said it beautifully! {hugs}

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  19. Congrats! You are an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Arianne! You always inspire me!

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  20. I have a feeling people think I am really weird.1. I have 5 kids and I do not think that is a lot. 2. We have been trying for number 6 for 2 years with 3 miscarriages. My doctor has recommended IVF and that is what we are doing. We did one round I got pregnant and miscarried I just finished the frozen embryo transfer I have 6 more days to see if I get a positive pregnancy test. We could end up with triplets and that makes me happy. I would like a big family.

    What makes me the saddest is that my in laws think my husband and I already have too many kids. It is hard when others of the same faith as you think have a big family is the wrong thing to do.

    I do wish having babies was easy for me but it isn't we have been married 15 years nursing is our only birth control and we only have 5 kids, we have been pregnant 11 times but 6 have been lost through miscarriage.

    Congratulations

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    1. I am praying for you!!! I know the Lord knows of your willing heart, and He will bless you. Thank you for being such a great example! {{{Hugs}}}

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  21. Wonderful post, Rachel! I don't think we've ever talked even though I keep seeing you at local homeschooling events but it was lovely hearing your personality come through in this post :) You put it all so eloquently...much more so than I can when people gape at my 6 kids. I also feel it part of my life's mission to be a witness of the Lord's blessings to those who are faithful mothers (and I mean the faithful in spirit, regardless of physical ability to bear children). I regularly tell my younger siblings to just have the babies, and the blessings will come. I will use you as an example of faith when I falter in the face of negative comments or worry about silly things like the effects of pregnancy on my body. And congrats on the upcoming babe!

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    1. How is it that we have still not had a live conversation???

      Thank you for your kind words! One of these days we WILL get together! :-)

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  22. I think it is awesome that you are having your 13th. What is really neat is that I have 6 children and now 31 choice grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Just think of your future posterity it will be so wonderful.
    Blessings!

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  23. Thank you, Rachel! I love what you have written here. My two oldest kids and I are sitting here cheering for you and your family. We love your family! We are SO grateful for our six kids--and that is with infertility problems. We have worked very hard to find a way to bring these precious children into our home. Life gets a little crazy sometimes, but we have so many wonderful memories together. Thanks for the reminder that these children are a part of a great eternal plan for our family. :)

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  24. You know the thing I love about this? I am only a 19 year old, recent high school graduate, only active member in my family, and not looking to get married too soon and just reading one post has made me smile and appreciate The Lord for sending me to this website. Thank you so much. It's wonderful to know that there really are wonderful strong Christlike women like you and those you feature on your blog. It gives me strength and stronger faith, knowing that even when I do have a few doubts that I really am on the right road. Thank you. I look forward to reading more.

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  25. Loved this post too. I am currently 13 weeks with #8, but my 10th pregnancy overall. My oldest will be 12 soon. People have said some really hurtful things, but I just smile and say that we feel like we have been called to have such a large family and pray we will be blessed with more. But, I am even more grateful to the women who tell me, "I had one more because you did!" Rachel, you are an inspiration to me, just many women have said to me, and I pray for you to have a happy and healthy delivery with #13 and continue to be so outspoken about the need for larger families in this world, especially in the Church where I am disheartened to see the number of children dwindling to about 4 per family. I understand that for medical or other reasons, some families cannot have more, or have children at all, but I wish that more women who can have children would choose to be blessed by more. Again thank you for your post! God bless.

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  26. Thank you for your honest words and for your willingness to step into the dark again. It is hard. It is wonderful. HUGS

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  27. Thank you so much for your kind words and inspiration! I needed this. Thanks again!!

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