Honestly, in North America in 2013, being the father of 6 is practically a scarlet letter. To the granola crowd I am personally contributing to the overpopulation of the earth. To the childless-by-choice crowd (which seems to be growing all the time) I am a breeder, lacking the self-control or intelligence to limit my brood to a size that enables me to be self-actualized through 80 hour work weeks or through gobs of travel and expensive experiences. To those who actually choose to have kids I am clinically insane, because “I can barely handle my 1 (or 2 at the most)”. I get stared at when I take them all out – shopping or otherwise. My family’s chariot, a 2005 Chevy Express 15 passenger van got labelled an “Indian van” while we were in Surrey (not by us – sadly there is racism in Canada too), because only the Punjabi population, where extended families all live together and work together use them. Then we moved to Southern Alberta, where our van was relabelled the “Hutterite Van” because only the communally farming Hutterites used them for personal transport in this area. To think of such a vehicle as a “family van” is beyond the imaginings of most people in this day and age.
How did we wind up with 6 kids? By the way, when we had our fourth, the “Are you trying to be the Duggars” comments started, so you can imagine the comments and backhanded compliments we get now. Firstly, no, we are not Mormon or Catholic. And no, we don’t have religious reasons for having so many kids… unless you consider it a religious reason that we would NEVER EVER consider an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy.
We love our kids. From the moment we discovered we were pregnant with each one (or two) we have celebrated. I LOVE infants. I LOVE my wife when she is pregnant – she is beautiful and incredibly hot when she is in full bloom. I don’t know what it is – maybe part of it is how secure it makes me feel in her heart that she is bearing another child for me. Maybe it is the shot of testosterone that my virility is once more proven. I don’t know. But I love everyone’s infants too. Holding infants is one of the most peaceful experiences in life, and I am glad I have gotten to do it as much as I have.
We never set out to have 6. In fact, after we got married and began discussing seriously how many kids we would have, she wanted 2 and I wanted 3. We never thought that we would add them together (and throw in a pair of twins)!
I have often been asked after saying I am the father of 6 (with the same woman… because apparently it is MORE acceptable to have had 6 with several different women!), “Do you know what causes that?” Yes.
And we have used birth control. We stopped when we decided to try for our first – and we proved to be awesome at it because 9 months later, in October 2000, #1 was born. We decided to pace ourselves and waited until #1 was almost 2 before we tried for another – but when we did, Bang! 9 months later #2 was in our arms. He was induced, and he’s been the most determined to grow ever since. You know you’ve got an amibitious boy when he almost catches up in height to his 2.5 years older brother at 10!
#3 was a surprise – sort of. He was a surprise in that statistically, there is only a 15-25% chance of getting pregnant with every ovulation. So when we took a chance and skipped birth control one night, once, we figured the chances were low – but we should have taken the cue from our first two, we apparently do it right! So, despite probability, #3 came along 15 months after #2.
Having two in diapers slowed us down a bit. We thought long and hard about what to do next – it was in this period I had some lengthy discussions with Catholic friends about NFP and the Catholic doctrine of life. I also investigated the quiverfull movement out of curiosity, but we never agreed as a couple with either perspective.
Interestingly, once we broke the 3 barrier, my wife decided we couldn’t stop there. We both didn’t want to have a middle child. If we weren’t going to stop at 2 we needed to have 4! So, we waited until #2 and 3 were out of diapers before we proceeded onto 4. Again, it didn’t take long. Apparently we are really good at putting sperms and eggs together. #4 came along in 2008, delivered on purpose at home. That was a very cool experience.
Again we entered into a period of deliberation. Were we done? We figured we had lots of time to ponder, and were planning an interprovincial move. We figured we’d have a few years to think about it, and maybe have another after we moved.
We thought wrong.
The winter of 2008, Cheryl started feeling sick. Ah, no worries, you’ve just got a cold. Maybe a flu. But it went on. And on. By February, she started saying, “I am not so sure this is a cold.” But she couldn’t be pregnant. We took precautions! There were no accidents! Everything was cool, and #4 was only like 9-10 months old! Finally she took a pregnancy test, and well, it wasn’t iffy at all. She made a visit to a doctor, and the doctor said, “I hate to tell you this, but something isn’t normal. You need to come back for an ultrasound.” There were hints this could be a molar pregnancy – essentially kind of like a benign cancer in your uterus. But the ultrasound was clear – nope, no molar pregnancy. Two heartbeats. As in two in addition to hers. Twins.
At this point, I volunteered to undergo the snip snip. She talked about having her tubes tied after delivery, but I said, if she is going to carry twins to term, the least I can do is volunteer for a minor surgery rather than have her endure a more major operation on top of delivery. The doctor in the waiting room began by asking me if I was sure I wanted the procedure, as I guess a lot of people have doubts. I said, “I have 6 kids.” He said, “Oh! Ok, you’ve done your duty then,” and ushered me straight in.
So that’s how we got to where we are. Questions?
Nope. We were hoping for some – we thought it would have been perfect if the last two had been girls. But no dice. And no, we are not trying for more. If we really want a girl, we will adopt one, so it’s guaranteed.
Are you sure you’re done? Any regrets?
As I said, I love infants, and I love my wife when she is pregnant. But we had to draw the line somewhere. I do shudder on occasion when I think about how much it will cost us to feed this crew when they are 18, 16, 15, 12, 11 and 11.
What kind of birth control did you use?
Initially birth control pills, but we didn’t like the way they nerfed our sex life. Condoms regularly, between #3 and #4 we used a copper IUD which was very successful for us. No mess, no whacky hormonal side effects.
I’ll do a follow-up post on the advantages and disadvantages of having 6 kids. Stay tuned!