After our son Thomas died, I often pondered the question "How many children do we have?" I have already posted the story "How Many Children Do You Have? Part (1)". I hope you will read the second part of this story which I wrote a few years ago, but would like to share again.

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 that 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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  1. Large families are a blessing! I would have liked to have more children, that's for sure! As for how many children you have - you have 15 and will get to meet the ones you lost when you get to heaven and I will get to meet the two I lost :)

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  2. You are quite right, Mary. I'm looking forward to that day when I finally meet all my children. It can be difficult giving away our own dreams and desires, especially in terms of children, and accepting what God wills for us. I imagine you know all about this Mary. Your writings suggests that you are very joyful and peaceful despite your disappointments. Did you name your children?

    Good to share! God bless.

    PS I've had difficulty commenting on your blog the last few days. Some glitch or other. I will keep trying!

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  3. Sue,
    I did name my children. One is named Michael because I knew for sure that he was a boy and the other I named Chris because I didn't know the sex of this baby so I figure Chris could be short for Christopher or Christine :) There is no time with God so it is fine to name them later if you are thinking about it and feel moved to do so. God bless!

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  4. Hi Mary, I just love how time is different in God's eyes, how it is never too late. Isn't that such a comfort and a gift? Thank you for sharing your children with me.

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  5. You have fifteen!! I am sorry for your losses, and for any mother who has suffered loss. I cannot even imagine. :( Living or not though, they are every one yours. :) Your precious children waiting for you!!

    I loved this entry.. The incredulous looks.. LOL.. I loved this.. and I have to confess here and now... (hangs head in shame).. I am so envious of big families. I wanted at very least four children, but... I have two. I love them so much.. and sometimes when I see pregnant moms I well up with tears... I would LOVE to have had a large family!! I know.. I am terrible. To me it is truly a cross that I couldn't have more babies. My arms ache for the little ones I wanted. So, I mother to death the two I have. LOL They probably wish I'd leave them alone! :)

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  6. (hangs head in shame)- Susan, please don't do that! You have a big cross to bear. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Motherhood is such a state of joy and love, but at the same time it involves so much pain. We are willing to suffer so much for the children we are able to have.

    I've been thinking a lot about family size and perceptions. My sister Vicky and I were talking about this on my grief blog. Sometimes people are very quick to judge who we are by the number of visible children we have. This number may hide an untold story of suffering.

    You have such beautiful girls, Susan. I'd mother them to death too if they were mine. Enjoy!!

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