How Many Children Do You Have? (Part 2)

2:40:00 PM

I have just realised, I posted part one of my "How Many Children Do You Have?" story, but not the other two parts. So... here's Part 2. 

I should say before you read this post, that this is a story about having a larger-than average sized family. We were blessed with more children after we lost Thomas. Not everyone is. I understand that. Maybe if you are in that situation you may not find this story helpful. I am sorry...

When our son Thomas died in 1999, we were left with a dilemma: How many children did we have? Was it five or was it six? Now we have a new dilemma: Do we have seven children or is it eight? Of course, the answer is eight. Since Thomas’ death, God has blessed us with two more gorgeous girls, Sophie and Gemma-Rose.

In the months following Thomas’ death, it seemed to me that every second woman I saw was pregnant. Most of my friends were too. I remember thinking that I would never again hold a precious newborn baby of my own in my arms. It was difficult to see past the suffering. Eventually, I came to understand that it was not important what I wanted. To be happy and at peace it was important to accept what God had decided was best for me. After accepting this, God in His goodness blessed us with more children. I am very aware that not everyone who loses a child is given another baby, let alone two.

Having eight children is nothing extraordinary in our circle of friends. Many families are much larger. I tend to forget that society on the whole, regards our family size as unusual. But we have had a few occasions when our family size has raised eyebrows and led to some interesting conversation.

I was in the chemist shortly after Sophie was born. All the children were with me, milling around the pram like bees around the honey pot. As they were continually on the move, the bewildered assistant asked, “Just exactly how many of you are there?” Our eldest son, Duncan (thirteen at the time), glanced around and then with a puzzled look on his face answered, “I’m not sure. How many children do we have Mum?” That response proved that the answer was “Too Many” as far as the assistant was concerned.

We had great fun after Gemma-Rose was born. I was in the habit of taking our four youngest daughters shopping on a Saturday morning. One day Felicity, our eldest child, said she’d come along too. “You’re in for a fun morning," I told her and proceeded to explain what would happen in every shop we visited. We’d enter a shop, three girls at my heels and baby in a sling. The first question would be, “Is the baby a girl or a boy?” Then there’d be commiserations over the fact that Gemma-Rose wasn’t a boy: “I expect you’d have liked a boy."

“Oh no," Charlotte would answer. “We already have three brothers."

“And another sister at home," Imogen would add. The looks on people’s faces said it all.

Sometimes, my husband Andy and I sneak out to a café for a cup of coffee, taking only Gemma-Rose with us. We pretend we are a career couple having our first child later in life. We fool everyone until someone tries to engage us in conversation.

“Oh what a cute child! Is she your first?” says the fellow coffee drinker leaning towards us with a friendly smile on his face.

“Oh no she is our eighth child,” I reply with a huge grin on my face.

Our new acquaintance draws back quickly and mutters, “Rather you than me." I reassure him that we are exceedingly happy with our children but he seems unconvinced and quickly hurries off. What a pity he doesn’t realise what he has missed out on.

Having lots of children provides us with many funny and interesting experiences. We love having a larger-than-average number of children. But we never take our family size for granted. At one point in our life, we couldn’t have foreseen that God would bless us with so many beautiful children. Having children is not always easy: as well as losing Thomas, we have lost seven other babies due to miscarriage. We have had many dark days when we’ve felt we would never again experience joy. But God in His goodness has helped us through each sorrow and given us many gifts to balance our sufferings. I would experience every sorrow again in return for the beautiful family God has blessed us with.

The only question now is: do we have eight children or is it fifteen?

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