How many kids do you want to have? Are you going to keep going? Did you always know you wanted a big family? People ask me these questions all the time. They are interesting questions for a person like me.
I feel like motherhood happened to me without my consent or planning. In fact, part of me never wanted to have kids. When I was a teenager and my mom and I would fight, she’d say things like, “Your kids are going to be 10 times worse than you are!” And I would retort, “Well, I’m never having kids!”
When Andy and I first got married, I had this great plan to use the rhythm method for birth control, which means you track your ovulation and take your temperature first thing in the morning. On the days you are ovulating, your temperature when you first wake up is a few degrees hotter. Before ovulation, 96-98 degrees is normal for most women. After ovulation, 97-99 degrees is normal.
It worked for 11 months.
Andy and I were just petrified when we found out we were pregnant. First of all, we were in Canada when we found out. Second, we found out because I was insanely sick with morning sickness. I had no health insurance. I had just been accepted to Claremont Graduate School so I could earn my masters and Ph.D. in English and start my career. Everything about the timing was wrong.
I remember sitting across from Andy at Starbucks in Vancouver. I still remember the look on his face as he confessed how he really felt about it.
“I don’t want to have a baby. I feel like I need to escape, run away. But I can’t.”
Even though I felt the same way, I was mad at him for saying it. “How could you say something like that? I can’t run away. You can’t run away either.”
So began our adventure of pregnancy and parenthood together–10 years ago. We were 24 and 25 years old.
Thank God we had 9 months to prepare. It took awhile, but we eventually accepted our fate and became excited about having a baby–even though I threw up every single day. All day long.
So when people see me pregnant with my 5th, they always believe that I was this maternal creature who was just made to have babies and raise them peacefully in a little house in Los Angeles.
No way. I entered motherhood kicking and screaming, the same way my first baby entered the world 9 and a half years ago.
Becoming a mother was one of the most difficult, identity-crushing things that could have possibly happened to me. But you know what? It’s only in retrospect that I can see how much purpose motherhood brought to my life. How it saved me from being self-absorbed. And how it taught me that as a woman, I am strong–so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.
So I look forward to the birth of my 5th baby in November. I don’t know why we had 5. We were done when we had 2. Two girls was perfect. Then 2 girls and a boy was perfect. Then 2 girls, a boy, and another girl was more than enough. Now another girl, and it will be just an overflow of children and joy in this small house.
I never earned my master’s degree or my Ph.D. It was a sad decision to quit grad school after my first semester at Claremont. But my baby needed me. And she still needs me.
One day, I will finish my degrees, but in the meantime I will do what God has called me to do right now:
Raise children. Love Andy. And write books.
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