15 Kids and Counting – Why I’m not dying for a baby



A lot has been said about how I risked my own and my twins’ lives for my Catholic faith.

As I said repeatedly in the interview, I am not a Catholic.  Only this wasn’t shown.

I am a Christian.  I was baptised Greek Orthodox.

Though Mike and I grew up believing in God, we didn’t go to church or know very much about anything to do with religion or the Bible until about three or four years ago.   I told our story in how we came to find our faith back in this post written back in 2009, and this was explained in the six months worth of interviews for 15 Kids and Counting. *Edit: Again presumptions are being made without clicking on the link provided. I am not Catholic. Mike & all but two oldest are. That’s the short version. If you’d like more on faith please click the link.  If not, you don’t have to but the story is there.

While we were prepared to be slated for having a faith, because, let’s face it, religion is a taboo subject in this country now, I am angry that  Catholicism has been portrayed as leaving us no option but to continue to have children even though my life is in danger.  Except my life isn’t in danger and never has been.  

In my post a couple of days ago titled “Glad that’s over – The truth about 15 Kids and Counting” I explained how my headaches which began at 32 weeks into my twin pregnancy were caused by a urine infection.  I had never experienced any problems during any of my pregnancies, let alone life threatening ones.  I had never even experienced a urine infection until this one.  This was taken out of context.

The show cuts to me supposedly rushing in to be checked.  In reality that was a routine appointment with my consultant which had been arranged two months previously.  Hardly emergency time.  It was made to look as I was rushed in for a clot on my lungs.

There was no clot on my lungs.

I was now 34 weeks pregnant with twins and when I went in for the routine appointment I was told that though the breathlessness was probably being caused by the twins pushing my lungs up and that they wanted to admit me in order to run a quick 20 minute scan the following morning to make sure there was no clot.

I was upset, not because I was told I was dying but because I had gone to the hospital expecting to get my c-section date and would then return home.  Instead I had to stay in overnight to make sure I would be seen first when the nuclear medicine clinic opened in the morning.  I wanted to be at home.  I had to go home to get a bag packed (where I was filmed telling Mike what was going on) and then had to rush back in an hour.  That was why I was upset.

The programme made it look like I had a clot and was rushed in to theatre to deliver the twins in order to save our lives.  This was not the case as I have already explained.  To quote myself, ” I was not “rushed into theatre” to have the twins delivered.  Neither their lives nor mine were ever at risk.  I was scheduled to have a c-section on Thursday 20th October. I went in for my pre-op appointment on Monday 17th October where it was discovered I was lightly contracting.  They admitted me overnight, then at 2pm the following afternoon decided to bring the c-section forward as I was 3 cm dilated.”  I was 36+3 weeks pregnant when they were delivered.  None of us needed any extra medical care and we were back home two days later.  I then had a birthday party four days later as that was what the crew wanted to film.  They didn’t use that footage apart from the very beginning when you see Ben and Steph (my oldest two children from a previous relationship) come in – although sadly they were never mentioned after that.

The clip where they have me saying “Please let everything be ok and if it’s not please give me the strength to deal with it” was in reference to when I began bleeding early on during my twin pregnancy.  Instead it was made to look like I was begging to live!  You can read the post I wrote last year where I refer to saying that prayer outside of the Early Pregnancy Clinic while I was waiting for my scan.  This was the day I found out we were expecting two babies, instead of one.

So you see, my life has never been in danger.  Not for this pregnancy.  Not for any of my pregnancies.  Throughout the interviews they kept asking me how it was to have such terrible pregnancies and I kept answering, “But I don’t! I have very good pregnancies! It was a urine infection!”.  That wouldn’t have made good viewing.

This is why you see Mike saying something to the effect of thinking the risks are worth taking.  Not because he’s risking my life or our babies lives at all, but because he began his sentence explaining how we normally have very easy pregnancies.  He was telling the interviewer how the hospital classes me as being high risk because I am an “older mother” at 37 and because I have had 3 c-sections.  Apart from the worry of miscarrying, and pregnancy tiredness at the start and the end, I am normally very fit and healthy.  In fact, one of the pieces they missed out was a field trip to a Wildlife Park (lots of walking!) when I was 31 weeks pregnant.  You can also follow a previous pregnancy I blogged here back in 2010 if you’d like to.

Anyway, all this has had people up in arms over how irresponsible we are.  I don’t blame the judgements and comments some are making (and some of them are really hurtful).  They’re going by what they’ve seen.

Catholicism has been portrayed negatively and I am concerned about that.  The teachings state that children are blessings (yes we agree with that.  The miscarriages made us appreciate that. But I’ve gone into detail in that in our book).

Mike and I agreed together that we would no longer use birth control and feel it is wrong for us to do so, being willing to accept the possibility that I may become pregnant.  This goes hand in hand though that I may not.  As explained, we don’t try to conceive but we don’t try to avoid either.  This was very cleverly edited.  As explained when we were interviewed, this is our decision that we reached together as a married couple.  We both stated that we appreciated not everyone agreed with us and we didn’t feel it was our place to tell others what to do – that something like this was a decision for a husband and wife to make together.  However, it was made to look like I was dictating that nobody should use birth control.

Catholicism does state that Natural Family Planning can be used if there is a real, valid reason to avoid pregnancy, such as mother’s health, medical issues or genuine, unselfish reasons (not for wanting to buy a new car or flatscreen TV instead, for example).  We would not hesitate to use NFP to avoid a pregnancy if I were told another pregnancy would potentially kill me or my baby.  However, this has never, ever happened.  Like I said, my life is not in danger and it never, ever has been.  Why aren’t we using NFP now?  Because we would gladly have more children, and because if I were to fall pregnant again the likelihood is that I may miscarry again.  Falling pregnant isn’t a guarantee that we will have a baby so if we do have another baby in nine months we feel blessed and lucky beyond belief.

Of course there is concern about having had four caesareans but as I have had no issues and my uterus is still in good shape (apparently!) I haven’t been told I cannot have another baby but that it would be preferable to wait two years.  I don’t think that would have made such good viewing though.  Something like this is only a decision that can be made after seeking the advice of your consultant.  If my consultant were to say my uterus was ripped to shreds and told me in no uncertain terms I must not fall pregnant again, I certainly wouldn’t be saying that we may or may not have more.

Well, I hope I have cleared up a lot of concerns and please do share this post and yesterday’s post with anyone who still believes what they watched.  The URL for that is: http://www.largerfamilylife.com/2012/01/18/glad-thats-over-the-truth-about-15-kids-and-counting/

It really isn’t nice to be insulted for something that isn’t true and is hurtful when negative comments about my intelligence and mental state are being made for a reason that doesn’t exist.  By all means, you can think I’m mad for having more than two children but please don’t criticise me for something that I haven’t done.

Like I said yesterday, if you still have any questions at all please do let me know.

Please share this.  I would appreciate it.


 {photo credit}

27 thoughts on “15 Kids and Counting – Why I’m not dying for a baby

  1. You have done a great job explaining your choices here. I’m sorry so many were so critical of you. And Catholicism. The Church does NOT say to have babies unending at the risk of your own health, as you made clear here. I wish people took more time to learn about something before criticizing it. I’ve had 5 c-sections and my doctor says I can have more. We don’t feel that God is calling us to grow our family right now so we do use NFP. We might not ever have another baby. But we certainly won’t be doing anything permanent in that regard. I admire your faith and trust in God very much.

  2. I’ve been setting the record straight with everybody in this neck of the woods about your so-called “near death experience”. To be honest though, I have heard LOADS of very positive comments about you so please don’t think everyboy is being nasty because they really aren’t.

    1. I know – most of the feedback has been very positive and that’s lovely. I suppose I was prepared to take stick for having a lot of children, for “overpopulating the earth”, for religion and for homeschooling. But to be called names and be insulted for something that never even happened, or for something that was cut to look a certain way is something I’m not happy about.

  3. Your comments are reassuring, though I have to say I’d already assumed the TV people were not being 100% accurate. I’m not sure why they feel the need to be so dramatic, life is wonderful and entertaining as it is! I have four children, but I hope for more! We home school the oldest as she was never truly happy at school, I think you’re amazing to be able to teach all of yours! You’re an amazing Mum, doing your best… I came across the quote today and I love it –

    “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.” – Elder N. Andersen

    Only the truth matters, not other people opinions! xx

    1. Oh, can I ‘steal’ that quote. It’s wonderful.

      And Tania, I’m so sorry for what you have gone through with the TV programme etc. I’m coming to this ‘cold’…. I’d never seen nor heard of the prog, and am reading this because a FB friend posted the link.

      God bless you and your precious clan. We have four, whom we homeschool, but after #4, I wasn’t able to have any more. I am so thankful for the blessings God gave us, but sooooo longed for more… I do have to be careful that I’m not ungrateful, so I give myself the proverbial ‘kick up the rear end’, count my blessings and give thanks for my countless and wonderful blessings.
      Anne x

      1. That quote is beautiful isn’t it?

        Thank you for your kind words, Anne. The support has really been amazing and we’ve definitely received far more positive comments than negative. I just don’t like how they’ve recreated my pregnancy for the sake of drama leaving viewers with a completely wrong impression of our family and the Church.

  4. I dont care what religion anyone is, it has no bearing for me on how you choose to have your family. But the way you were manipulated by the programme maker is precisely why I would never get involved with the press 🙂 I dont need any help looking any more irrational thanks!

  5. That’s awful how the TV has skewed it so badly for the sake of drama. I don’t put much stock in reality TV anymore for just that reason.

    Recently they had an article on an australian TV show about large conservative christian families. Apparently we are all a cult, and our only reason for having so many children is to raise an army to wipe out the muslims. Nevermind any other purpose or belief, we have so many children because we need to have more than the muslims.

    *sigh*. They interviewed a fairly well known anti-large family advocate, and I spokle to her after it aired, even she was disgusted how horribly they biased it and skewed her words to the story they wanted, and they were on her side!

  6. congratulations on the birth of your beautiful twins.just ignore the negative comments you have received.in this world unless you fit in and conform you are labelled strange.i am a christian and also homeschool my children.both things are not considered the norm but i will continue to trust god and pray for guidance.the state of the world today is a sign of how far moral standards and faith in god has diminished which is very sad.i enjoyed watching the show and would love to know more about how you home educate your children.i have 2 children.i admire your drive and determination to do this with such a large family

  7. I watched the programme and accepted the ‘risks’ blah blah as a natural prejudice – every pregnancy has risks. My own highest risks and complications were in my first pregnancy! Don’t worry about the editing or the negative comments. I have heard only good comments following the show of your family from both christians and non-christians. What came across to me was your love of your family and your patience and peace in family life. We homeschool too and you did great! :-))

  8. I have not seen any show, I just happened upon this blog.

    I do not have a large family, but I LOVE large families. My heart wants a large family, but I am blessed beyond belief to have my 3.

    I am Catholic, we use NFP. I have end stage renal disease and am currently waiting a transplant.

    I think you are doing an amazing job.

  9. Tania, thank you for taking the time to explain your position, it’s sad that you had to. TBH though, I took a lot of what was said with a huge pinch of salt – these type of programs are well-known for creative editing to make more sensational viewing! Still, I really enjoyed watching the show, thank you for sharing a glimpse of your family life with the nation, it was fantastic to see such loving parents bringing up such a lovely family, your children are beautiful and seem very happy.

    If God chooses to to bless you with more children, I pray that you continue to enjoy healthy pregnancies. He has chosen to bless us with only one, and while I never felt called to have a huge family, I had assumed we would have 2 or 3. It took time and a lot of prayer, but I am now at peace with his plan for us – as you are with his plans for your family. I thank God that I have never lost a child to miscarriage, that must be heartbreaking. You are such a strong woman to endure that so many times yet be willing to risk losing another, I admire you greatly. May God continue to bless you and all of your wonderful family xx

  10. I am sorry to hear that you are getting such negative comments from people, I don’t know what makes people think they have the right. Am off to share this blog post for you now. Don’t let those not worth it get you down at all.

  11. Great to read, you could tell during the program that editing was in place due to lack of detail, they failed to ever confirm a clot for instance. I watched it and admired your honesty and open approach, especially the parts discussing your miscarriages, having lost a baby that really touched me and I understood the emotions involved in worrying about subsequent pregnancies and feelings of loss. Very pleased to havw found your blog, all your kids especially the twins are gorgeous BTW x

  12. You are right about how they portrayed you, even as a person who has followed you on twitter and read your blogs, you did come over as a little odd and eccentric. Nothing wrong with that at all, but when millions see it you are going to get that ‘extra’ flak over it.

    I will certainly share with my followers and FB friends, of which we all watched the program together.

    Well done for being brave enough to stand up for large families. 😀

  13. The red text of your most recent post has me worried now, I hope nothing worrisome has come from this rediculous editing. I can do little from my country but I’ll be praying.

    My husband says you need to press a libel suit against them. 🙂

    I had a high risk pregnancy resulting in cholestasis and induction, and that was my first! The increase in risk from one baby to the next is small at best, the risk in pregnancy at all is considered quite acceptable. Women in the past didn’t die from having too many children, and most had far more than the average number today, they died from the things we can now prevent, hemorages and pre-eclampsia and other risks we have more awareness of today. The idea that your 11th baby is so much more dangerous than your first is absolutely absurd, and in some cases the first can be the most dangerous because of lack of history to help look out for warning signs, lack of knowlege to know when somethings wrong, and lack of experience in the part of your body which has never accomodated such a thing before.

    If I experience the same high risk pregnancy I did for my first, I will still be far safer for it, because I know what hyperemesis is and how to handle it so I don’t end up starved and fainting, I know not to let the unbearable itching of cholestasis be ignored because ‘itching is normal’, I know how to handle an induced delivery in a much better way for a natural, quick labour, and I know far better the quirks of the first few days with a premature baby, which no one told me about when she was first born because, these days, when 26 week old babies can be saved, a 37w1d baby is considered practically full term. (Oh I wish someone, just one nurse, had told me I was holding a premature baby in my arms. It would have helped so much to have that confirmed to me, and to be able to trace our issues back to that instead of blaming myself. To be able to give her the special care she needed. I am so angry for that.)

    The only danger with a later baby is age, and no one is shaming the 50-something mums who want a trophy baby now their lives are over, knowing their grandchildren will probably never meet them.

  14. Your children look happy which is all that matter the thing with tv is they want to keep people watching so edit bits from here to there even thoe it’s not true I think big families are lovely as I have 7 children myself and hope to have more but only time well tell !

  15. just wanted to say ive so much admiration for you an your family. im on my fifth in 7yrs. an get a lota comments on surly this would be me finished. im nearly feard to tell people im preg. but i would love to have a large family like yours. an if i can do as good a job with my lot as you have with yours im doin awrite. dont listen to all the negativity.

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