My children are not a statement.

On Friday, I’m going to announce my pregnancy at The Register.  I know that most of the readers will be gracious and congratulatory, just as you lovely people were here.  Most of my readers are fairly clear that news of a baby is always good news.  The timing may not always be great, and the circumstances might be tough, but the baby itself?  Good news, period.  Once the child is already conceived, the only civil thing to say is, “Congratulations!”   And if you can’t muster that up, you don’t say anything at all.

I’m horribly nervous.  I needed to make an announcement, partly because — well, it might explain why my posts get a little feeble from time to time, when I’m typing through waves of nausea; and also because — dammit, it’s good news!  I’m happy, my husband is happy, our other kids are happy, and good news wants to be told.

So, by way of announcement, I recycled an old post which I think is pretty funny.  But I still know that there are a certain number of people who will be disgusted, even outraged, when they hear that I’m having another baby.  And they will comment.  They will say that I’m irresponsible, mindless, and selfish.

I expect to get 90% nice comments, plus a few “Kill yourself now, you filthy breeder” comments.  I’m also expecting a couple of the following:

“I’m a Catholic, too, but I don’t see how it could be God’s plan to ruin the Earth with even more consumers.”

Well, I am at peace with this false dilemma.  First, our family is pretty green, and I feel sure that our children will be, too.  I’ve covered this here.

Second, even National Geographic, no conservative rag, openly calls for focusing on the betterment of living conditions, rather than on reducing fertility.

And third,  my personal family size has no effect — ZERO, whatsoever — on the overall physical well-being of the world.  Even if you still believe that the world is headed for a population explosion (which Hania Zlotnik, director of the UN Population Division, does not believe), then the fact is that the world can well afford for a family in rural New Hampshire to have nine children.  I could have a dozen more, and each of my children could do the same, and the environment wouldn’t break a sweat.  To think otherwise is just hysterical nonsense.

“I’m a Catholic, too, but you damn well better be able to pay for all these kids.  There’s nothing Catholic about financial imprudence.”  These folks are the ones that keep me up at night.  But my final conclusion is this:  if you should really only have a baby if you can pay for all the attendant expenses with cash on hand, then you’ve pretty much told all of Africa to go childless.  Think about it.  If you should only have a child when you’re 100% financially independent, then you’ve just turned a very basic and very dear gift from God into a perk for the wealthy.

I know that you can take this idea too far, and there truly is such a thing as financial imprudence, of course.  But — when we were very, very poor, the only beautiful thing in the house was our baby.  Her conception is the thing that brought me and my husband back to God.  I wish conservative Catholics would be much, much more careful about how they talk about money and children.

I only have one other thing to say.  I don’t think I’m holy because I have a lot of children.
I don’t think I’m a superstar, and I don’t consider it an achievement.
I don’t say or think everyone should have big families.
I try not to use my family size as a marketing tool, and I think I have expurgated all foolish notions about small families from my heart.
We have children for our own reasons, and aren’t trying to say — well, anything to anyone.  My children are human beings, not a statement.

And yet, people still see our very existence as a challenge or a rebuke, or an argument to refute.  This hurts me almost as much as it hurts me when they see me as a fool or a leech.  I don’t even know what’s in my own heart half the time, so why would I have a theory about why you, perfect stranger or casual acquaintance, have fewer children than I do?  I don’t need to hear your sterilization story or hear about how your voting history reflects your worldview and is superior to mine.

My baby does not deserve your contempt or need your approval.  My baby has nothing to do with you.  All I want is to take care of my family and to protect them, most of all the littlest one who has only been here for a few months.

Do I worry about bringing an innocent child in to a world with war, racism, pollution, and so on?  No, not really.  Probably the world we live in today would have seemed like a dystopian nightmare to our ancestors — and yet I love it so much, and I’m glad I’m here.

No, what I worry about is that, when my baby is born, people will not see a child.  They will not see the dark eyes, the sweet, milky, velvety neck, the dark downy hair, the tender, tender being who comes to me fresh from the arms of the very One who invented love itself.

They will see — a threat.  How can this be?  How can this have happened to the world?  It used to be that you didn’t have to have a reason to have a child — if you were married, it was what you did.  In my house, that is how it is.  I hope my children understand that.

And I hope that, when they have children of their own, they will have a circle of friends who can rejoice with them.  Because that is how it ought to be.  A baby is always good news.

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237 comments

    • Congrats on the new addition! What a blessing indeed. We only have 1 little boy and another little girl due any SECOND (LOL), but my husband and I look at it this way! Every single baby born into our loving arms is one more soul brought into the kingdom of God. That is no small matter at all. We view adoption the same way, and hope to have the chance to adopt a baby some day. God bless you for being open to life. God bless your family and that new little one on the way!!

  1. Amen here too! No, your children are not a statement, but you are even if you don’t think you are. You are an example of love, in the way God has chosen to show it through you, and I thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. (even us slackers with only four children 🙂 ).

    • I agree with this comment completely! In addition, I personally know that your children are a wonderful gift to this world! I feel confident in saying that the more children that you and Damien bring into the world, the better this world will be for it.

      Thank you for helping God to do His work.

      Love,
      Wendy

  2. So. True. I really get tired of defending myself against supposed judgementalism just for having a large family. My family has nothing to do with anyone else’s ferility, and frankly, I don’t give other people’ s family size much thought at all. I am too busy with my life, raising my kids, and enjoying the way it is all turning out. Thanks for this lovely article, and once again, congratulations!

  3. This is so darned good. I’ve heard it suggested by both a devout environmentalist and by a Catholic that no one should give birth until there are no more children available for adoption. Based on a kind of inhuman arithmetic, that makes sense. Thanks for reminding us of reality.

    • Yes, many people seem to think that every time a Fisher has a baby it causes six other children to be put into foster care. I never quite understood that mechanism, but I guess I should feel bad about it.

      • Well, I’m going to use the same idiotic, emotionally-based reasoning as the people that make that argument (about you not having a child until there are no foster children) to make my argument. You NEED to keep making babies, because I, a licensed foster/adoptive parent, have been waiting for about 9 months (interesting amount of time to wait for a child, don’t you think?) for a child to be placed in our home. I know others in the same situation. If you stop making babies and start fostering/adopting, then there will be no children left for us infertile couples. Then, I guess you would have a reason to feel guilty, because you took our children when you could have made your own!

        Love ya,
        Wendy

  4. I get tired–being 33 weeks with my fourth child, also my fourth boy–at being asked, “So were you trying for a daughter?” as if that would be the ONLY reason for continuing to have children beyond three. You know, you should only continue having kids until you get one of each.

    I also got this question when I was pregnant with my third, and I finally snapped when I was 9 months and cranky, and told a poor old lady that I had actually been hoping for a hedgehog, but it didn’t work out. Feh.

    • I have 5 children. One day I had 4 children with me at Costco (1 wasn’t mine) and I had the man who checks your receipt look at me, raise his eyebrows and I said, “Oh I have 2 more in school “. He patted my back and said, “Come on Mom, isn’t six enough??” I for once thought quick on my feet and said, “Nope, we’re trying for 6 more!” And left…you should have seen his face, priceless!

    • Ugh, I hope I don’t get those comments now. I just had my second child, another girl, 2 weeks ago. While I’m not yet jumping for joy at the prospect of having MORE kids, I can only imagine I’ll get the “gotta keep going until you get the boy!” remarks.

      • I have eight children – seven girls and one boy. I get all the comments too, but you reminded me of one in particular. I was at WalMart with my first four – three girls and a boy, and someone said “So, you finally got your boy. Are you done now?”
        and I was so tired of hearing it that I turned around to this person and proclaimed “I’m sorry, but I never considered my daughters as failed attempts at a boy!”
        God Bless all mothers everywhere who are open to the incredible gifts of life.

    • I had some random guy at a convenience store ask me if I was going to be done after this one — this would be when I was pregnant with our fourth, and had our three little boys in tow with me. Yes, the fourth was a girl. And, she has two younger brothers.

    • Karen, Welcome to the mom of 4 boys club: I was asked the same question, “Trying for a girl?” And worse, two weeks after having my fourth being asked by a total stranger if my husband got “clipped” this time. I did not say, “I usually have to know someone for more than 30 seconds before discussing my husband’s private parts.” Nor did I say, “I’m not a fan of mutilation.” But that’s what I think;) in those moments.
      But later when I’m with my wonderful new person when the rest of the house is asleep, I pity the fools. Don’t let them rob you of your joy! Congratulations on the upcoming arrival of you fourth boy! You are SOOOO blessed!!! Good luck and Good delivery!

    • One December morning, I was out walking with my kids. We found a hedgehog that was very sick and the village vet was not far away, so we put the little critter in the box and walked him around to the vet. That night, my fifth child was born. (a real person child, not the hedgehog…but, wow…never thought anyone else had a hedgehog/child story, too!)

  5. I saw a T-shirt for large families recently that I love: “We’re not trying to overpopulate the earth; just outnumber the idiots”. Which, I think, is a noble cause… 😉

    • It’s funny, after I had my first and was really afraid of having more (due to a scary emergency c section and medical issues), one of my coworkers said, “No, no, you HAVE to have more kids, so you can outweigh the idiots out there who are having kids!”

  6. Don’t worry. We’ll be waiting to pounce on the idiots on Friday. Fabulous post, by the way. But I’m sorry you have to get nervous and stressed and feel the need to defend yourself. You should be sitting on a lounge chair in the sunshine with a big smile on your face and a margarita–I mean a glass of iced tea in your hand.

  7. “A baby is always good news.”
    I completely agree. Even when I hear from someone who isn’t yet happy about the news of a new baby on the way, I can’t help but congratulate them. It’s just a good news!
    Great post, Sim!

  8. Go Simcha! And congratulations!

    There is no end to what thoughtless people will say, and the best we can do is pray for them. When I miscarried baby #5 at 8 wks, the response from more than a few was along the lines of ‘well, you have four already and this one was probably an accident anyway so why are you so sad?’, followed by disbelief that we were hoping to conceive again. I’m glad to see so many here rejoicing over a new life.

      • I heard the same thing when we miscarried number eight. The comments went from “well, you already had a full house, didn’t you?”
        to “Don’t you think you were pushing it trying to have too many children? Aren’t seven enough?”
        We were sooo thankful to conceive our ninth within a few months of that ordeal – and no one bothers us about why we were crazy enough to “try” again anymore. Especially once they meet her! Now when they ask me if we’re done yet, I just say “well, I haven’t met one yet that I don’t like!”

  9. Each child is a statement of “Yes!” to Gods love, and to his gift of new life.

    I was talking about you this morning as being one of the writers I most enjoy reading, and a Mega Mom.

    May God continue to bless your family.

    Katherine

  10. You should have the margarita, if it doesn’t make you feel sick. Did you see the recent study that confirmed moderate drinking is okay during pregnancy? I’m planning on carrying copies next time I’m pregnant, and handing them out to officious idiots.

    Anyway, congratulations again, and excellent article.

    • I was once shopping, very visibly pregnant, with a huge mound of food in the cart, and balanced on the top was a six-pack of beer. Some woman murmured “Shouldn’t-be-drinking-when-you’re-pregnant!” as she skated by. I was really annoyed, and wanted to say, “Listen, lady, I’m shopping for my whole family here! You think all fives loaves of bread are for me, and four gallons of milk, and six boxes of cereal?” Then I sheepishly remembered that I actually had every intention of drinking some of the beer.

      The last few pregnancies, sadly, alcohol doesn’t agree with me at all, though. Right about the time that study came out, actually! Oh, the irony.

      • Here’s a couple of links:

        http://news.discovery.com/human/alcohol-drinking-pregnant-women.html

        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5051517.ece

        I remember when I was pregnant with my first, and very nervous, I suffered paroxysms of guilt over having half a glass of wine, and then I read something in a pregnancy guide that recommended avoiding alcohol during pregnancy because ‘as little as five to seven drinks a day can seriously harm your baby’.

        Five to SEVEN? Really? Hand me the wine bottle! That’s only four!

        • Well, I’ll feel less guilty about taking wine at Communion, rather than the wafer. I have celiac disease and my parish is so large I haven’t had the inclination to ask them to have a low-gluten wafer on hand for me (and I’m not sure the low-gluten wafer wouldn’t make me ill, either, seeins as it’s not gluten free), so I just mosey up and slither past the wafer EM and get the wine. I’m sure they must think I’m a pregnant alcoholic.

            • I have always received Jesus in the Precious Blood while pregnant (6 times). I have always felt that His Holy Presence far outweighed any alcohol that I was consuming.
              I know how you feel about comments…boy have I experienced plenty. I am so happy for you and pray that you will have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.

              • I’ve always felt the same way. I can’t imagine the Body and Blood of Jesus ever hurting a child in the womb.

          • For what it’s worth, the priest often puts some of the wafers into the wine. The crumbs. Be careful. And if you are getting glutened and can’t figure out where, watch the priest. Sorry to be the bearer of potentially bad news…

            • There is a symbolic meaning for placing a piece of the host into the wine: “What is signified by this mingling of the Particle with the Blood which is in the chalice? This rite is not one of the most ancient, although it is quite a thousand years old. Its object is to show, that at the moment of Our Lord’s Resurrection, His Blood was reunited to his Body; by flowing again in his veins as before. It would not have sufficed if This soul alone had been reunited to His Body; His Blood must necessarily be so likewise, in order that the Lord might be whole and complete. Our Saviour, therefore, when rising, took back His Blood which was erstwhile spilled on Calvary, in the Praetorium, and in the Garden of Olives.”

      • My sister-in-law eight and a half months pregnant with twins was buying alcohol for a neighborhood bash, told a lady who made a comment: “Hey, I’m drinking for three here.”
        She told us she actually would -except for the perpetual heartburn she was having by then.

  11. LOVE this.
    My daughter, age 23, just this week gave birth to her second child, a little girl. Her son is 20 months old. When her nurse heard this she responded, “Oh, getting it all out of the way early.” As if now that she had a salt and a pepper, she had the complete set.
    My daughter and I laughed, and said she did indeed want “one of each:” one tall, one short, one shy, one outgoing, one comedian, one musician….

    • I love the “one of each” comment. I should use that as my fourth daughter is due in July. We have one blonde, one brunette, and one red head. I always joke that I’m collecting the whole set. 🙂

  12. Yeah! GREAT POST! And, congratulations to you and your husband and family – great news!

    1)”I don’t think I’m a superstar, and I don’t consider it an achievement. ” This is great! I know so many people who have 4 kids and then get sterilized that truly feel they are superstars and rest their laurels on their 4 kids, their greatest acheivement – blech! best explaination ever!

    2) All those nasty people who will comment nasty things are cowards. Should you have kids if you have a mortgate? Is that responsible? How much credit card debt should you have before going for #2? Who is allowed to have a 3rd? I guess their house needs to be paid off and they need to have a roth IRA. If they had the courage of their convictions, they should just knock on peoples doors and ask to review peoples balance sheets to determine their feelings about a families financial reasoning for having kids.

    3) I actually liked what Michelle Duggar had to say about this, something like “People can have their opinions, and that is OK. But, I’m the mom and I need to make these decisions. How can I look at my other children and think they shouldn’t be here?”

    You are great! Thank you for this post – I havn’t seen anything like it….

    Congratulations!!

    Ann

    • I don’t know Ann, I have four children. That’s all I could have. I don’t think I’m a superstar. I came from a family of eight children. I don’t think it’s ever right to judge people based on the size of their family – big or small. And maybe, for that woman who “only” has four children, that is her gift to this world.

      • I understand, I’m not trying to pin down a perfect number for anyone.

        1) I do not juding anyone by the size of their family – it is more my reaction to there own sense of superstardom, which is strong.

        2) I did not say “only”!

        in my suburban world 4 is huge! I do get frusterated when people I know personally, seem to pick and choose Church teachings that suit them – I sometimes feel people are so proud that they have produced 4 kids, they have “earned” their catholic stripes, so they have earned the right to steralize themselves. In my world, this is a really big trend. I don’t think there is any perfect # of children to have in a Catholic family, I think being faithful is most important – and God asks something different of everyone

        • Who are you to judge? That’s up to God. So what if people feel they earned their stripes. It seems like plenty of large family moms feel the same way. So what? Nobody chooses the number of children that they have – that’s just ridicules. Look at all the infertile couples out there.

  13. Simcha, this is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written, and that is really saying something! I was overjoyed when I read your news about Baby #9. God bless you and your beautiful family!

  14. YAY, babies! Boo, mean people.

    I want my kids to play with your kids, or , kids like your kids, whose parents think like your kids parents do.

    Yay, babies! Congratulations!

  15. We weren’t able to have children, so I regard every new baby as a victory of sorts. I really think that one of the charisms of childlessness is to remind everyone that every child is a miracle.

    Also, I have a friend with a dozen, so nine doesn’t seem like so many. 😉

    Congratulations!

  16. Congratulations, Simmy! I’m so happy for you! I hope you and baby are both healthy throughout.

    This is a great post. Even for people with small families. Why are we always comparing ourselves to others? We do it about family size, parenting choices, whether we let kids watch TV, what we eat, everything! Why?

  17. Every time I comment, I think, ‘I should change my screen name,’ but then I just like it so much that I don’t.

    So, on to the judgment…I like your posts in general and this one in particular because you always seem to manage a balance between humble realism & basically reminding people that our eyes should be on Christ & his entourage- _not_ on each other’s “papers” (lives).

  18. “Walter said to me the other day, very thoughtful-like, ‘Susan,’ he said, ‘are babies VERY expensive?’ I was a bit dumfounded, Mrs. Dr. dear, but I kept my head. ‘Some folks think they are luxuries,’ I said, ‘but at Ingleside we think they are necessities.'”

    Congratulations!

  19. Congratulations, Simmy!
    Babies are ALWAYS a blessing!!!
    Excellent post!

    When I get comments (and I only have 5) I just look at my kids and the commenter and say, “Which one do you think doesn’t deserve to be here?”

    People can be ridiculous.

  20. I just announced my fourth pregnancy two days ago, and I have gotten virtually all positive comments, because I said something similar to what you did when I put the blog post up. (Though not as profound, and for me going for the fourth was an act of faith, b/c it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.) However, I also sent out an email to my extended family this morning, and I have been taken aback by the utter silence in response. Maybe they just haven’t checked email yet. It just seems weird.

    • Congratulations, Kathleen! I’m so lucky that most of my family has been enthusiastic. Maybe they’re just searching for the right words (although it’s really not that complicated . . . )

    • Congratulations to you as well. Family can sometimes be the most difficult. I know that my mother was not supportive. I tried to remember that I was her baby so she worried about me too much. I hope they respond with overwhelming love and joy.

      • I agree about family – as the youngest of 13, it drives me crazy when my own siblings comment about my family size. I always come back with “wow, if Mom hadn’t had at least 5, 6, 7,( whichever their place was in the line) you wouldn’t be here…… It usually makes them think

  21. You must be a Mormon…. Funny how you don’t hear people asking if you’re Catholic as often as once was common. Funny and sad. It makes me very happy though that there are still families like yourself and many of you I see here in these blogs who love being Catholic, who love life and are open to life. I’m inspired. I pray and hope you get support from your parish too. I know it’s not always that way. Congrats to you and your family.

    • Yes, my parish is very friendly, happily. They also have an Elizabeth Ministry, and bring over dinners for several weeks! I never had that with my previous six babies, so I was delighted when we moved here.

  22. Oh, Simcha. I’m so sorry that you feel that you need a disclaimer. I understand. With my last pregnancy, my parents spent several weeks trying to talk me into using birth control after this one, and my father-in-law gave me a lecture about how this I wouldn’t be in this situation if I only had more self-control (!!!!!!!). I was less than pleased. Not one person said “congratulations”. I kid you not. Not a single one. Of course, now they all fawn over the baby, which pisses me off just a lot. (The hypocrisy, that is. I’m glad they like my son.)

    Listen, I think you’re great, your blog is great, and every one of your kids are great. And I’m delighted that you’re having another, as I’m sure you are. Babies are just so wonderful. So, congratulations! And I’ll lay the smack-down on any idiot who tries to say some bullsh*t over at the Register. Grrrrr.

  23. God bless you! Congratulations and good for you for being open to God’s gift…and this baby is a gift! I am one of 9, and always wanted a family of 4 or 5. My first child was born with autism (the kind that is noticable right away) and people thought I was crazy to try for more. We heard horror stories from the geneticist, peds, friends, family and strangers on the street. But, I will never regret having my second son, who is neurotypical. Both of my boys bring me incredible joy, and I only wish my husband could’ve handled more children. Thank God I didn’t listen to the naysayers. Here is to a very healthy and uneventful pregnancy!

    • A friend of mine’s seventh child was born with Down’s Syndrome.

      My friend stopped going to ‘support’ meetings when she noticed that in all families, the child with Down’s was the last child…

      My friend has gone on to have four more children, almost balancing out the girls and the boys in the process.

  24. My personal experience has been that, in person, I will get negative comments when I am visibly pregnant, but they dissipate when the baby is born. I think people in general can’t make the emotional connection between pregnant woman + new human being. The internet is even worse, of course, because even after the sweet new baby makes her (or his) arrival, she’s just as out of sight as in the womb.

  25. Congratulations! Very beautiful post. Love it. Also…so STRANGE how people tell their sterilization stories to pregnant moms, or moms with more than 2 kids. This has happened to me a dozen times. Are they motivated by regret?

    • Yes, I think you are on to something here…I defininetly think some people who regret their desicious, or made decisions in order to adhere to a certain world view (sort of like secular religion) respond with what feels like religious zeal – like you have broken some rule, and they really need to correct you…

      • I agree! My teens always wonder why complete strangers feel the need to come up to me and explain why they have as many kids as they have, or why they have one – or none. I think it pricks their conscience. I always try to lovingly remind them that their family size is just as much a blessing to them as mine is to me.

  26. Simcha, it is a sad, sad testament to our times that the world would feel threatened by a family like yours. Some people are offended because they see it as financial imprudence, but there are hundreds of thousands of couples who nearly fail to provide for their ONE child because of bad spending habits — fiscal responsibility has less to do with the number of people involved and more to do with priorities.

    And then there are those people who are offended because they see your way of life as disapproval of their own. I’m not sure about the logic involved here — there doesn’t seem to be any — but I’ve encountered it before in regards to other life choices, such as abstinence or not using contraception or attending Mass frequently. Deep down, I think these people feel threatened because they recognize something about you that is good — an openness, a willing heart, a trust in a Supreme Being. And they resent it, perhaps because they half wish they had the courage to do the same.

  27. I would also like to add that the general public says crazy things all the time, and not just to expectant moms, especiall expectant moms who already have several kids.

  28. What a delightful surprise in your life! I’m so happy for you. A great, great blessing, indeed, to have nine little images of God filling up your life with joy.

    I have two, and pray for as many more as God sees fit to give us.

    Happy, happy day!

  29. God bless you, Simcha! Like others, it makes me both sad and angry that you have to precede your “gaudium magnum” with a thousand-word apologia/lecture for all the dimwits and small souls who treat your having so many children as an obscenity. Nevertheless, your smackdown was perfect! Boy, you can really pour on the fire when you’re hot. Why don’t you print this in the Register instead of recycling your last “I’m pregnant” post?

    • Hm, maybe I will! I set up the Register post, and started out writing a quickie intro for here, but it turned into this 1,000-word beast. The specific things about population and finances make me nervous to bring before a bigger audience, too. Those are things that I know need to be talked about, but I don’t think I have the stomach right now.

      • Yeah, I can understand that; you’d want quite a bit more backing data than one article from NG to make your point stick. But a slight reword along the lines of, “Hey, the population scare needs to be questioned, and I will at some other time, but right now I’m talking basic human charity”, might do the trick. Because this is an excellent post as it is, although it’s a little outside your usual style.

      • Simcha,

        My children have state sponsored healthcare and other assistance. This happened after they were all born. There is no way to know for sure if you will be able to “afford” any of your children. The gift of children should never be a luxury for the rich. Besides, who knows if they will always be that way anyway!

  30. The more Fishers the better, I say.
    We will all be praying for the combox naysayers to be having technical difficulties that day, or better yet, a change of heart.

  31. Also, it seems to me like a lot of naysayers are speaking more out of their own regret than out of real conviction. I remember, too, once, a stranger on the street asking me “Are they all yours?” and I was all set to get defensive when he broke out in a big smile and said, “Well, God BLESS you!” I was shocked!

  32. “A baby is always good news.”
    .
    It is this attitude that enabled me to come to terms with my first pregnancy three years earlier than I wanted it. I may have sat down on the tub edge and cried for 45 minutes wondering what I was going to do with my life and how I was going to make it and why on earth did God think I was fit to be a mom yet?…but everything fell away when I told my grandmother (herself the mother of 15) that I was expecting, and she rushed to hug me the hardest I’ve ever been hugged by an 88 year old. Her obvious joy totally eclipsed my fear and anxiety.
    .
    I thought hey, if this woman can have 15 and make it out alive and amazing, babies probably aren’t so bad. And anyway, I had 9 months to prepare.

  33. “because — dammit, it’s good news! ” AMEN!! I only have 4, and yet my extremely beloved brother called me a “breeder” the other day, and then got mad when I told him that I wouldn’t expect such a hurtful comment from him. I wanted to shrivel up and hide under my chair, it hurt so much!

    A thousand congratulations, Simcha. I am so happy for you and your family! Babies ROCK!!!!!!!!

  34. We were asked, after our 4th [excruciating] miscarriage, if “perhaps this wasn’t God’s way of telling us that we should be happy with what we have.” (We have six.)

    Yes, she was Catholic…and a family member to boot.

    I don’t know, Simcha. Some people get it and some people don’t and I think ultimately it comes down to GRACE. I haven’t read all of the comments–I do, after all, have six children to attend to–but I really appreciate Theresa’s just above. I *do* think people feel threatened and this is not usually something you can argue them away from.

  35. I got an annoyed sigh from my mother when we told her about my, gasp, THIRD pregnancy. So when I was pregnant verysoonthereafter with my fourth I let the oldest, my four year old daughter, tell my mother because my daughter didn’t know how to be anything but excited about a new baby. I only got the secondary eye roll. Oh wella!
    Congratulations!

    • I’ve also taken to letting the kids tell my family about my pregnancies. It keeps the deafening silences and eye rolls to a minimum.

    • I got a blank, bleak look from my parents when I announced our FIRST pregnancy. We were married for four months, and I figured, hey, good news, right?

      Nope. I should have known, since my mom had tried to convince me to go on the Pill as soon as I got engaged–even after I reminded her we had a history of stroke in the family, and the Pill wasn’t recommended for people with that medical history–and she kept bemoaning about how I was “too young” to start having kids. How I should have established a career first, the way she did.

      “Mom, I’m the same age you were when you had your first kid.”

      “Oh…I forgot. Well, I had been married three years, at least!”

      “Mom, Dad was shipped out to Vietnam right after your honeymoon and was GONE for three years. It was medically impossible for you guys to have kids for three years.”

      “Oh…that’s right, I forgot about that.”

      We’re now estranged, but I heard that when she heard through the family grapevine about our second child, she made a disgusted face and said, “OH! I don’t even want to THINK about it! And I’m sure there will be ANOTHER ONE before you know it! Ugh!”

      And yes, we were raised in the Catholic Church, but it took me years to realize that we were CINOS (Catholics In Name Only).

      I can’t wait to send her a birth announcement for #4. 😀

      • Hey our 2nd was like that. Everyone’s like, but you already have a baby. They are a year and 9 months apart. Like, gee thanks for the support guys.

  36. Simcha,

    Congratulations on becoming a mommy all over again. I have six children and have always said that although I would have liked to have more, God knows what was right for me. I believe that and I am at peace. I pray that everyone who reads your announcement feels the same way so they can share your joy.

  37. Mazel Tov!

    I’ve always liked that word. Wish Catholics had one like it.

    I think Theresa is onto something. When people respond inappropriately to good news like yours, it often has much more to do with their own personal issues, whatever they may be, than with you and your baby.

    You might point out Celine Dion, the youngest of 14. Where would Vegas be without her!

    OK, maybe a bad example.

    But how about St. Catherine of Siena? I think she was number 22 or something like that. St. Therese of Lisieux was the youngest of nine, I think. (Obviously not all of their siblings made it, which gives us one more reason to thank God for modern medicine.) Benjamin Franklin was number 15 I think (definitely in the double digits).

    So I say, put on your asbestos suit and shout it from the rooftops. There are always going to be haters out there.

    When all is said and done, you and your family get the baby.

    I’m very glad the world has people like you to stand in contrast to Cameron Diaz, who recently shared these words of wisdom with the world:

    “We don’t need any more kids. We have plenty of people on this planet.”

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jdeangelis/2011/05/10/thoughts-on-marriage-from-cameron-diaz/

    As the first commenter said, “Well, at least she won’t reproduce!”

  38. As I said before, Congratulations! I know what it is like to hear “How did this happen?” or get a “I knew God would do this to you” even from “good Catholics”. You ask how babies can be seen as a threat- my answer is that the culture of death infiltrated. I have seen it too many times not to believe it. Does that seem weird? I guess so….but I stand by it!

  39. As ling as yuo’re happy, nothing else matters. Also, how do you know conservative catholics are the one making such comments?

    • Because I know who they are. I didn’t mean to imply that ALL conservative Catholics hold those attitudes — just that some do. My other point is that, while secular people have some excuse for being less than welcoming of a new baby, Catholics have less excuse.

  40. Financial Imprudence. Most of my births have been homebirths for which we paid the midwife from our own savings. However, my last birth became high risk and I had to go with an OB and hospital birth. We had no health insurance, but our income was low enough to qualify for state aid. The state paid for my hospital birth and baby’s stay in NICU. Some of my children have low cost health insurance through the state. Myself, my husband and my older children do not have health insurance. We rarely go to the doctor and emergency room visits are out of the question unless the injury or illness will certainly cause death. I cringe everytime I hear my friends talk about how expensive health insurance is because of all those uninsured freeloaders, etc. Ironically, many of these comments come from friends who work for the federal or state government and receive excellent benefits for which we pay taxes. We probably could swing health insurance if we had fewer children, maybe if my husband were not self-employed and maybe if I worked. We are as financial prudent as God has given us the means to be.

    Anyway, Congratulations!!!!!!

  41. Coming out of lurkdom to say CONGRATS to you and your beautiful family! I am so happy for you!

    We’re also expecting our 9th living child, due in October, and after two recent miscarriages, people think we’ve lost our minds. (As if we hadn’t before now.) I’ve been met with everything from lectures from strangers in the grocery store, pointing, stares, insane comments (one man even commented on my “litter,”) to stone cold silence (the in-laws.) Sure, these things sometimes hurt me more than I like to admit, but when I became pregnant with #9, I had this revelation: GOD blessed our family, and I have to answer only to HIM. Nothing anyone else says matters one. tiny. bit. (And honestly, I have to make a conscious effort to remember this every day… it doesn’t come easy to me!)

    You and the newest babe will be in my prayers.

  42. Simcha, glad you are welcoming a child. You seem to be a good mother who is raising well-adjusted children in a healthy way.

    I think the issue is not: whether your adding more people to rural NH is going to overwhelm the world, but rather that an institution (the Catholic Church) puts forth doctrine that basically always calls more children (rather than less) as a blessing, deems a mortal sin as using any method of contraception (including coitus interruptus as they talked about in the article you referenced) or having a contraceptive mentality even within a committed marriage.

    Personal choices have global repercussions when they are adopted globally. Do you recycle? Do you think your recycling is going to save the world from landfills or bring down the commodity price of aluminum? No. Behavior only has consequences when it is amplified by many adopters. You know this. If everyone suddenly converted to Catholicism and practiced it according to doctrine, there would be a birth explosion, and you know that.

    Personal choice in family size is fine, but institutional barriers to having smaller families are not. Nor is a failure to discuss the links between environmental concerns and human density.

    The article clearly indicated that fertility rates came down when females were educated AND either used artificial contraception or coitus interruptus. Or sterilization which can be tricky.

    • No, Mary, you’re utterly ignoring the Church’s teaching on prudence. The Church calls children a blessing, but explicitly recognizes that we are not always in a position to accept every possible blessing.

      So far you’re the only person who’s failed to recognize the whole point of this post, which is: I’m not asking for your approval. This is especially true now that I see what a distorted view of the Church’s heart you have.

      • Simcha,
        I did not mean to be rude to you, (and sincerely congratulated you on your pregnancy) why are you rude back? Your response is really a surprise to me. I really really thought, after reading your blog for a while, that you were a highly intelligent woman (which you clearly are…and funny) who is a devout Catholic who can discuss issues with finesse and knowledge with a wide audience of people, some of whom might disagree with you on some points.

        I actually am very interested in your ideas about population/fertility as they relate to your idea of God etc and I think the ANSWER to getting away from the terrible polarized world we live in where we have the ultra conservatives on one hand screaming on the airways, and then the ultra liberals screaming back. I thought your blog was a safe place to learn about the views of a devout catholic woman who was very smart, and have a dialogue.

        Let me tell you about myself:

        1. Theist (after struggling through black periods of doubt before reading about quantum theory and finding my way back).
        2. Christian (although I honestly struggle with many aspects of this belief)
        3. Cradle Catholic
        4. Devout Parents whom I adore
        5. Surrounded by many atheists (many of my extended family now defecting too.)
        6. Scientist turned teacher (now at home) hoping to go back soon.
        7. Mother
        8. Person who, though knows many many Catholics, some devout, some not so much, knows absolutely NOBODY who can or will discuss controversial doctrine and discipline(in an intelligent way remaining open to challenge) other than a few people in the blogosphere and that means….you! (I have tried several priests that my mother has to dinner, and even being very cordial they get defensive and uncomfortable, and say things like: “Oh..why are you worrying your pretty head about such questions when you have children to care for.”

        9. Person who thinks there are many many many people out there who would come back to theism and church if the Catholic church could talk to them about questions like the one I posited in an open way…

        And sorry…if you were not looking for approval…why write the blog entry? Just to vent? I guess that is a good enough reason. I understand your children are not a statement. Nor should they ever be. I would never assume such. But…you did not end it there, you continued to claim that an increasing number of consumers on the planet was a “false dilemma”. I do NOT see it as a false dilemma. Maybe you did not mean to bring up that controversial bit and make it a strong part of your post? But then you linked to that excellent article? I am confused.

        I would like it if you could take a stab at my question about behavior magnified.

        If you cannot engage, there is no hope, because I am half way there! Most people around me are NOT!!!! I spend a fair amount of time piping up in conversations to say, “Hey, there watch it, not everyone here is an atheist.” To which those present usually reply, ” Oh, yeah. we forgot you believe in fairytales.” NO KIDDING.

        In fact, I had THREE conversations in the past several weeks with mothers who were getting their children ready for 1st Communion who told me they don’t believe in all that “Church story stuff”, but that they thought it was good to give their children “something”. They said it did not matter that they didn’t believe any of it. Really.

        Maybe I am wrong…I guess this blog is for other Catholics who pretty much all agree on everything to cheer each other on and support each other in their ways of thinking. If so, I will politely leave. I’m sorry, I just thought it was a gem.

        • Mary, this is the second time I’ve witnessed you hijack a comm box and make it all about your issues. You’re a bore.

          • And you….are missing a serious opportunity. I guess I will have to go back to my scientist friends and tell them they are right: All those devout Catholics are afraid of challenging conversations and inquiring minds.

            I was really trying to prove them wrong. I had even pointed a few atheist friends to Simcha’s posts as evidence that people could be devoutly religious and very smart (and witty). They were impressed.

            I’ll hang out over at Leila’s…she can take it. I’ve learned a surprising thing or two from her, and we are currently having a good dialogue with a wide range of viewpoints. She disagrees, but is never (or hardly) angry or rude. She really did win me over on a few points. My faith is not solid…but it’s earnest.

            • Agreed Mary. I think this is obviously not the site for people looking for either a reasonable discussion or a middle ground approach. I won’t be returning. One of my friends suggested it, but I think these people aren’t interested in reason — just want validation for their own head-in-the-sand attitudes towards the environment and a version of Catholicism that I cannot get with. I won’t be returning — and I know for sure I won’t be missed!

    • “If everyone suddenly converted to Catholicism and practiced it according to doctrine, there would be a birth explosion, and you know that.”

      What an incredibly beautiful day that would be; I pray I live to see that. 🙂 Man… that would just be… freaking awesome. Thank you for putting such a glorious thought in my head.

      • Go to rural Nepal. Then say that. Go to rural Ethiopia…then say that…

        Where have you been? Interested…really, as I think it informs one’s thinking.

    • ” If everyone suddenly converted to Catholicism and practiced it according to doctrine, there would be a birth explosion, and you know that.”

      But since they haven’t, we have instead people who use consequentialist arguments to rationalize contraception and abortion.

        • I’m glad. Consequences can’t be ignored; however, good ends don’t justify evil means. Besides, evil means have a disturbing tendency to become ends in themselves.

          BTW, I apologize for the snark. But as Simcha pointed out, Catholic teaching doesn’t require couples to have as many children as they’re physically capable of having. Moreover, if everyone not only converted to Catholicism but practiced its tenets conscientiously — especially its social justice doctrines — we’d have a far more equitable distribution of resources. No tremendous gap between wealthy countries and poor countries; no tremendous gap between the wealthiest 1% and the poorest 20% in our own country. You should look not only at the Church’s sexual teachings but also at its social doctrine. A good place to start would be B16’s Veritas in Caritate; or you could start w/ Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, the first great social justice encyclical.

          Peace be with you on your search, Mary.

    • Excellent point Mary. And I’d like to point this out: Interesting article. While I always agree that every child (I mean EVERY) should be welcomed unconditionally and I always agree that draconian measures like abortion are ALWAYS WRONG to keep population growth in check (and to my mind abortion is the wrong way to go for many other reasons besides just population checking), and I also agree that educating women is a measure of controlling fertility (because it correlates with a longer delay towards gravida-1 status) the part I don’t understand in this woman’s article is this quote,

      “Even if you still believe that the world is headed for a population explosion (which Hania Zlotnik, director of the UN Population Division, does not believe), then the fact is that the world can well afford for a family in rural New Hampshire to have nine children. I could have a dozen more, and each of my children could do the same, and the environment wouldn’t break a sweat. To think otherwise is just hysterical nonsense.”

      Clearly there is a disconnect there. If indeed the world is headed for a population explosion (or any other type of environmental catastrophe), the last thing we would need to have happen is to think that the decision made by one person would not have an impact. The world is full of single individuals. Single individuals must inform themselves and decide for themselves and act accordingly — and if they think an environmental catastrophe is likely (such as a population explosion) then they should respond accordingly in their personal lives and model for others that lifestyle (though not preach and not condemn others for different opinions and different lifestyles).

      Let’s look at it this way: it’s like voting. If a person doesn’t believe abortion should be legal, then he/she should, when given an opportunity, vote accordingly. What if all those people said, “Even if one believes that the laws could be changed the society can well afford for me not to vote my choice on this matter?”

      As a writing teacher, I don’t think this is a well written editorial because there is a real non sequitur in the logic of that statement!

      • @Liz, uncontrolled population growth is a non-issue in the Western world right now. Most (if not all) first-world countries are on the fast track toward a population *implosion*, which will bring devastating cultural and economic consequences along with it. The fiscal crises in developed nations right now are just the tip of the iceberg.

        Now, your voting analogy suggests that you think that — pace Simcha — family size is a public statement, whether it’s intended to be or not.

        Even if that’s true, which is not immediately obvious, then in the first world large families are exactly the sort of countercultural public statement that needs to be made. Among many other things, we simply aren’t going to have enough working young people to pay for the care of the elderly, if current demographic trends continue. A large family is a beautiful and refreshing counterpoint to these incredibly alarming trends.

  43. Nuh-huh! We have nfp. And you would have to say, what if everyone practiced our faith perfectly – in perfect charity and humility too, not just the openess to life part – so there, what would the world look like then? paint that picture!

    And, it sounds like you are saying abortion would be good, because it would alleiviate the world from “consumers” and I don’t think any reasoning Catholic can follow you there, sorry 🙂

      • Agreed Mary. I am against abortion — but very concerned about the environment and equally concerned that people don’t seem to be getting the idea that uncontrolled population growth is NOT something that is sustainable at any level.

  44. Congratulations on your new little gift from heaven. I married into a very, very large family (think double your current size) and they are a blessing, every last one of them. I can’t imagine this world without the oldest all the way down to the youngest. And I’m doubly glad they didn’t stop before my amazing husband was born.

    Children are a blessing, pure and simple. May our culture someday realize that once again.

  45. Boy, nothing gets my goat like hearing Catholics wondering out loud if an expecting couple can afford another child!

    That eco crap is pretty irritating too, but I figure at least those folks worship at a different altar (at the Church of Green God) so I try to be more tolerant towards them.

    The baby is to be celebrated, and of course the gift of life is to be respected, but I worry sometimes the mom’s needs get lost in the excitement. I have always felt our larger family was most affirmed when another mom (of 2 or 3 kids) would call pregnant me and tell me they’d drive one of my bigger kids to the party or practice or wherever. That’s support!

    Congratulations and may you be gifted with some driving angels for your older kids.

  46. Mary,

    I have suggested to you before that since you are not Catholic, but clearly interested and intrigued with Catholic teaching, that you familiarize yourself a little better with ACTUAL Catholic teaching before making such sweeping general (and false) statements about it. I would point you in the direction of Theology of the Body and the papal encyclicals.
    The Church has not and will not ever say that one should have as many children as possible. But in fact, the Church emphasizes responsible parenthood and prudence in these matters.
    NFP is just as effective as artificial birth control, when prudence calls for cooperating with the woman’s fertile cycle to avoid a pregnancy. (Even if your cousin happened to get pregnant).

    • I was raised devoutly Catholic. I have had many many dinners with the Jesuit priests and parish priests my parents had to dinner. My own grandfather was a famous physician for priests.

      I have read Theology of the Body…it is sitting right here!

      I never said the church “said” one should have as many children as “possible”. BUT….it is very clear that they think more is preferable to less. I will get back to you…it is late here.

      PS…thanks for remembering about cousin doc. Actually, I went to a shower about a month ago and her sister was there and I gently mentioned that there was a woman who said she might be willing to talk to her about NFP etc. Her sister rolled her eyes and said that she thought to leave it alone, and that she was not open to any talks (actually I am quite sure her sister is not proNFP) I am closer to her.

      • Mary, I do apologize that you were called names here. From your previous posts, I have seen you as very respectful and simply inquiring. I read Simcha’s post and I knew you would pop up. 🙂
        The point I am trying to make is that I think you are basing your views of Catholic teaching on what your experience has been that people have said, and not actual Church teaching. Okay, so we agree that the Church doesn’t say “have as many kids as possible”. Well, I will also argue that the Church does not say that “more is preferable to less”. The Church simply asks that your love be fruitful (and now assuming we mutually understand ALL that entails with the beauty and depth of that contained in Theology of the Body), but that we are permitted to avoid a pregnancy (even INDEFINITELY) if we prayerfully submit that is what is best for us. My point is that regardless of the entire climate change/population explosion debate, and whether there is merit to that or not, by Mark Shea’s post I am trying to point you to the fact that you should not feel excluded from Catholic teaching for believing that. Further, if you feel that it is important for YOU to not add more to your family because of those issues, that is still within the realm of Church teaching, if you have taken this to prayer and feel it is important.
        My only point of contention with what you are saying is that your bent seems to be one of “smaller families are best”….yes, they may be best for some, but as Simcha has so eloquently detailed here in posts past, we simply cannot put blanket judgement on family size on ANYONE.
        Thanks for listening and attempting to respectfully engage. 🙂

        • Smaller families are not best for everyone in the world. I do not think that. But, to give you the words of my friend who has seven (I am paraphrasing): “I desperately wanted a big family ever since I was young. I had to convince my husband. Sometimes he wonders if it was the right thing. It is not an easy road. But, I also understand that if everyone followed my path (even for one generation here in the U.S.) it would be a game-changer. I understand math. But, right now, at least in our Northeastern state, that is not an issue. Most people are having less, so I can have more. But I understand the need for access to contraception.” (her words…if not exactly)

          I have to get to Mark Shea…he is good, I’ll check it out.

          Thought this was really interesting: http://hubpages.com/hub/Is-Secularization-Responsible-for-Lower-Birth-Rates

          Caveat: I cannot vouch for this writer, as I have no idea about him….just thought it was really contrary to popular thinking (that being religious means having a large family)….but clearly the women in these countries are contracepting?

          Really, the question I have on the brain is: “Do you know of a society where the birth rate is low, and most of the couples are doing NFP?” Maybe impossible to answer…Darwin Catholic tried, looking at historical evidence, but I found it sketchy, but interesting….someone must know this information, No? Any historians out there?

          • NFP has only been understood for a couple of generations. I’ve heard that most OB-GYNs still don’t have a clue about the basic fertility signs, and will automatically prescribe the Pill to teenage girls who come in telling them about a “symptom” that is explained within the first 10 pages of any book by the Kippleys.

            Meanwhile the Catholic Church is the only religious organization that forbids artificial contraception, and most self-identified Catholics are either unaware of the Church’s teaching or simply ignore it.

            So there’s no such thing as a society where “most of the couples are doing NFP”. It’s not conceivable right now. Maybe someday.

          • Mary,
            That was an interesting article (though admittedly I did some skimming, but I seem to get his general findings). Just musing, but I would agree with what he is saying, that it is not necessarily that secularization = low birth rates and religiosity = high fertility or high birth rates. I would attribute the lowering of the birth rate to a big combination of factors, but some that stick out in my mind are the changing trends in the culture, with the cost of living increasing, the value on materialism, getting ahead with a career, and people being afraid of affording the cost of a child. If there IS a connection with high birth rates and religion, I would argue that it does NOT come from some desire to increase the sheer numbers of their religion, but that faith-filled people tend to place their values in life elsewhere than money, career, and materials.
            Anyhow, not trying to argue a point with you, just musing. 🙂
            By the way, I get your point about if we all had 10 children, then we would have a problem. For me, though, this just isn’t a realistic issue. We can theorize about that, but it just doesn’t match reality. Because of some of the above reasons, nearly every developed country in the world isn’t replacing it’s population, as others have said. So it just seems like a non-issue for me.

    • What also seems to be forgotten, or is unsaid, in the theoretical discussion of a population boom resulting from a mass conversion to Catholicism, is that if we put God in charge, everything will come out to the good.

      To my mind, that means the Earth will not be overpopulated. There will be enough food, room, resources and joy to go around.

      • Well, I wish I could believe that, but I guess I just cannot. Perhaps it would be true. Perhaps, for unexplained reasons, as the carrying capacity was truly reached, millions would feel a call to celibacy….I guess it could happen.

        I suppose I would ask, “Do all devout Catholics think this to be true?” It is a good summation of “an answer” to the dilemma I think about, even though I find it too hard to make that leap myself.

        Kinda like Mormons who told me that there is a finite amount of souls waiting to be born (apologies if that is not correct doctrine, but I have been told that by two independent Mormons I knew in grad school.)

        • Well if Catholics truly believe that God is in charge (and many probably don’t, but that doesn’t affect what is actually true) then they will believe that all works out for the good.

          THAT is in the bible. 😉

          • I realize this is a bit of a tangent…but two minutes before the bus comes! So….JP….what do you think about: http://fiveprime.org/hivemind/Tags/mumbai,poverty

            I cannot really see how that is working out for the good, although it does seem to be towards a trend of getting better. Do you think it is because they are not a Christian nation that this goes on there? Or is because we are not doing enough to help? (Which is probably true…and I could probably figure out a way to cut my family meal cost down even further and donate more, as probably could most people in my town) I ask, because I have firsthand experience with this….it is utterly overwhelming in person….nothing can prepare you.

            • Hi Mary

              You make some valid observations and ask good questions.

              Poverty is something of a mystery. Scripture tells us that the poor will always be with us, but leaves to us to define just what is “poor”.

              Why does the sort of poverty you linked us to happen? Could be many reasons. One thing I know for sure is that even though India is not a Christian country, its residents are made in the image and likeness of God, just as everyone else is. I think the base reason is sin.

              Adam and Eve were not poor. They gained poverty as they turned against God’s will. We have inherited that. Poverty is the result of sin…not necessarily the sin of the person who is poor. It could be the sin of the landlord who charges exorbitant rent for a substandard dwelling. It could be the sin of the First World (or anyone else) which uses more than its share of resources. It could be the sin of one who wastes his own resources.

              Children are a gift. Having a child is one way in which humans can share in the creative power of God. To have children is, at least in a sense, not to be poor. Sin (people not doing God’s will) causes the circumstances which we can see in places like Mumbai.

              Just off the top of my head…

      • As an aside, and for some fun….type in “Michale Franti I Love You” into youtube and watch his awesome video. I do see God in the eyes of those joyful, densely-packed, and scantily clad (it is hot in Rio)dancing people. But I also see God here: http://www.betterlivingthroughbeowulf.com/?p=4392
        (image…not Beowulf—-never could grasp the Olde English).

  47. What wisdom. When I read you were expecting I was so thrilled for you; it never occurred the kind of hurtful, horrible things people would say. How sick is that — and you hit it right on the head when you said it was what used to happen in families. Our society is so incredibly flawed these days. ugh.

    thank you, thank you for being counter cultural. I know its not done as a statement, but in an world eaten up by ugliness, beauty is bound to stick out and draw attention! People just don’t know what to make of it.

    Plus your description of a new baby makes me want a newborn all over again.

    AND the part about the baby being the only beautiful thing in the house. love it. In our prayers Simcha ❤ God bless you and sweet new baby in utero.

    thank you for sharing your heart with us so eloquently.

  48. Congratulations Simcha! I think it is wonderful. My mother has 8 children, though the last six are all under 9. I do wish that she had more, or that the 8 of us were all closer in age, but I don’t wish there were less of us! I am 21 and getting married in 2 months, and my youngest sibling is only 5 months old. I love it! I may not agree with my parents choices, but like you said, a baby is always to be rejoiced over! God provides for the rest, it was His decision after all ultimately to create that soul, right? Now it’s up to us to accept what He offers (baby and all that comes with him or her) or not.

  49. On further thought, I should say rather not that I don’t “agree” with my parents decisions – but that I don’t understand them. And quite frankly, I don’t think it is my place to. I want to have a large family, and I don’t think it is anyone’s right to know how I will provide for them, just as it is not my right to know all of the factors that played into my parents decisions.

    We are strangers on the internet, what’s the point in doing anything more than getting excited that there might be some more super cute baby pics for us to squeal over?

  50. It’s just one of the down sides of the Internet. People feel freer to speak their mind. Often saying much more than they ever would in polite society. I am pregnant with my fifth, my other children go to a public school where I have many many friends that run the gammit politically, and not one has said anything negative. They have taken joy in it because they know I take joy in it. They may have their own thoughts, about my age, my faith etc. etc. But they politely 😉 keep those thoughts to themselves. And every single person has been happy for me. Because I am happy. And guess what? I’m the one having the baby not them….so even if they have opinions about it, who cares? I don’t question choices that make them happy, so I would not take seriously their questioning mine. But, maybe that’s my age talking. Wink wink…. when you get over 40, your just over what other people think anymore!!!

  51. Knock em dead, Simcha!

    I think your Register post will be an encouraging witness to many.

    If others use you as a chance to let us know about their issues and what the view is like from under the bridge, well good for them too I guess.

  52. Congratulations! Our family has six children presently. I pray that God blesses us with more. We have been met with the eye rolls, the comments etc since we got pregnant with #3, and especially since we had three girls in a row, then a boy. Of course there was no reason to go on and try for a FIFTH! WHATEVER could be WRONG with us?? sigh . Why can’t people see the children as the beautiful, lovely blessings and gifts that the Lord intends them to be?? Don’t they think the same God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, brought Lazarus back to life, and conquered death, sin, and hell itself can provide that little life with everything it NEEDS? (not wants, NEEDS)

    I’ve wearied of announcing pregnancies to my family. I get the typical “You’re killing yourself, you know! These children need a mother that’s alive, not dead b/c she HAD to have another one” and the ‘how can you afford that?’ and the ‘You have to be responsible’ stuff. With our last pregnancy I sent the announcement to my father in our Christmas card with a printed out verse about children being a reward and blessing from the Lord in it. He got the point, b/c he said nothing and neither did my stepmother. But when I say nothing… I mean NOTHING. They never congratulated us, bought the baby a gift, nothing. Ignored the whole pregnancy. (they don’t ignore the baby, thank goodness) Didn’t even come to the hospital to see me. nice.

    SP

  53. Wait, why do you care what anyone says, or what they think?

    Seriously, who cares?

    When my daughter was a baby, I remember a lady in a supermarket who chastised me for not strapping her in to the cart seat. (“She could fall out, you know!”) And I just kind of looked at her, amazed. One, that she could tell a total stranger what to do, and two, that she could think I gave a flying f- what she thought.

    Let it roll off your back, water on a duck’s feathers. Most people are idiots anyway. Who cares what they think?

    • You don’t care what people say, and that’s why you remember and are clearly still upset about what a stranger said to you in the supermarket some years ago. Uh huh.

      Anyway, um, babies *should* be strapped in. Maybe the stranger said something because she didn’t want your baby to fall out. I don’t agree that most people are idiots! I don’t care what they think, but I try to be gracious to people who are just trying to help.

  54. Oh, sweet Simcha, how you stir the pot in the most endearing way.

    I am so elated at your news! And I’ll admit to a twinge of jealousy as my baby making days are drawing to a close.

    I like Martha Sears’ answer to people who ask how she can have so many children: “The world needs my kids”. How lovely for her children to hear (much preferable to the “breeders” screech we would hear when we lived in a university town. Remember, if you’re very well-educated, you have earned the right to act like an idiot in public. Or on the internets).

    Also, somewhere read the response to “are you done yet” with, “we said we’d stop when we had an ugly one – still waiting” (though, now that we are most likely at the end of our childbearing, I guess I’d better not say that one around my youngest or he’ll get the wrong idea. He is so DARN cute!).

    Finally, may I say , once again, how endearing it is for the jerk to be so chivalrous?

    Congratulations to all eleven of you. Nothing (despite what you might have heard) says hope like a new life.

  55. Simcha, there are so many things to love about this post (thanks especially for the population links), but I wanted to chime in with an appreciation that I don’t think has been expressed yet (although I must admit that I skimmed some of the previous comments). As a Catholic mother of two — with a history of infertility and multiple miscarriages — I often experience the other side of the judgement coin within our little orthodox Catholic bubble — the raised eyebrows, the “are these your ONLY children?” I have considered a “No, dammit, we’re NOT contracepting” tatoo across my forehead, but I thought it might be tacky. Now I think I’ll go with your slogan — my family is not a statement. This neat little family of four wasn’t my idea any more than your abundant family of eleven was yours. It is, rather, God’s mysterious providence for each of us (as is, of course, the respective misunderstanding and suffering that’s a part of each package).

    So now it’s my turn to be judgemental — I can’t help but feel that, in some Catholic circles, large families are in fact a kind of statement. I deeply admire these families for their openess to life, and I get that it’s not easy to welcome your fifth, sixth, ninth (!) child. I’m frankly in awe of the self-sacrifice and sheer labor involved. So in that sense, it is quite praiseworthy to be good parents to a large number of children. But sometimes merely the family size itself is spoken of like a giant Catholic Holiness Badge, and the idea of the children as a free gift gets a bit lost. Obviously this is a soft spot for me, so this may just be a not-so-admirable defensive reaction on my part. But that’s how it looks to this mother of two sometimes, and I was wondering if it looks at all like that to a mother of nine.

    And by the way — congratulations!

    • Simcha’s post here was a refreshing take from a mom-of-many. She loves and welcomes as many children God decides to send–exactly what we take vows to do on our wedding days. That may be many or few or, sadly, none.

      The number of kids a couple has is not a measuring stick of any kind. Why this isn’t blatantly obvious, I don’t know. God calls us to holiness via different paths and different crosses.

      Simcha, I’m infertile and am on the opposite end of the spectrum here, but I loved this piece you wrote here and know a little about rude assumptions people (mostly Catholic) make about one’s family size. I got your back.

      You ARE a superstar and I want to be just like you when I grow up.

    • Kristen,

      As mother of nine, I can say that people assume a virtue in me that sadly, isn’t there. That is probably the biggest part of my life I can not wrap my head around, that the image in my head of a mom of 9, and the knowledge of who I am DO NOT GO. And when people assume some superiority in my holiness (in Catholic circles), it is just as disconcerting as when people assume I am ignorant (in secular circles). Truly, I am just a woman, who married, and has had children, and in the process tries to be a good person, and keep my head above water.

      I love your line, “This neat little family of four wasn’t my idea any more than your abundant family of eleven was yours. It is, rather, God’s mysterious providence for each of us.” Those are beautiful and true words!

  56. Congratulations, God bless!
    Love this article. Please don’t pay much attention to nonsense comments that bother you. I have never met someone who regrets having many kids; on the other hand, many regret not having more.
    As for me, I’m just plainly jealous; I always wanted at least four kids, and now it seems I’ll have none.

  57. I’m sitting by the computer with my first baby on my lap (he is a month old) and the idea that people wouldn’t have welcomed him if he had been number nine (or five, or three) is just terrible.

  58. Congragulations! 🙂
    AM happy that you are happy !

    I hid my third pregnancy because i couldnt believe that i had failed to figure out NFP – that and the fact that i almost died with baby 2 and i was still struggling with PPD

    • Childbirth is always a struggle between life and death–sometimes more than others.

      I almost died with the births of two of my children (#1 and #5). Now I have 6 children. Had I stopped in case I might have died (as my mother, who has different views on having children, wanted me to do), I would miss the sweet smiles and giggles that I get to see now.

      People do lots of things that are life-threatening. Some do them for fun (jump out of airplanes, bungee jumping, etc.). Some do them to bring life into the world.

      I know a family who had 6 children in 8 years. They were told that both husband and wife were infertile. They used 2 forms of contraceptives at all times. Nevertheless, her children were all born very close together. She had severe complications with a couple of them, and her utereus was physically done after the 6th (I’ll spare the details, but she could not have any more at that point).

      She only had so much time, I think, before her uterus was going to be done. God gave her those children within that time. She and her husband are fantastic parents.

      Congratulations on #3.

  59. @Mary – First, I apologize for not responding last night when all the fuss went on. I was, to my sorrow, making Hogwarts party decorations.

    I believe you when you say that you did not mean to be rude to me. However, the tone of your original comment was almost comically inappropriate in the context of the post. I mean, how about if someone’s elderly mother is in the hospital, and people keep harassing her for not euthanizing her, so she writes a post about how important it is to her to let her mother live and have a natural death, and how tired she is of having to explain her actions.

    Then YOU come in and say, “Sorry about your mom. I think the real issue is THIS, and I would challenge Catholic thinking in the following ways . . . ” See? Just not appropriate, given the circumstances. I hope you can see how that seemed rude, considering that the main point of my post was that I am ever so tired of having to constantly defend something that I consider a normal lifestyle.

    Now that I know you did not intend to be rude, though, I apologize for being rude in return. I know I ought to be polite to everyone no matter what, but I was hurt and upset. But I do apologize. The last thing I want is to drive anyone away from reading, or from learning more about the Church.

    I truly am happy that you are seeking a deeper understanding of Catholic thought. Just please remember that Catholics are people, too, not just repositories of theological ideas. Many times, people send me private emails if there is a question they would like to see addressed on the blog.

    I think that others are doing a good job of explaining the Church’s actual teaching. I do not fault you at all for not clearly understanding what it is that the Church means when it calls people to be generous, and says that children are a blessing — but I hope that you can keep an open mind and believe that no one here is going to try to mislead you!

    Okay, more later, must get the kids to school.

    • Dear Simcha,

      Thanks…and after sleeping, and feeling bad…I reread your post, and your words “nervous” and “keep me up at night” popped out. I guess you come of as so well-adjusted and confident (and very funny), that I did not really understand that people’s (sometimes admittedly totally and horribly mean) comments really perturbed you. When I reread it again, it did seem as if you were truly dreading the onslaught of meanness. (Again…I was not trying to be part of that crowd.)

      I thought to myself, “You know, if she had ended her post with her confessions of fear, and not continued to explain why she came to peace with the “greenie lamentations”, including a well-written article to back up her thinking, I would not ever (or hope I would not!) have considered making an analytical comment extrapolating the effects of her personal choices on society at large.”

      You are correct…I did miss the main point (of the first part at least) of your post. Sorry.

      Don’t worry about people who are just out to make mean comments. Did you see the horrible mean things people launched at Jen from Conversiodiary on PZ Myers’ blog? I mean, what a lost opportunity to have a reasoned discussion. Most of his followers just piled on in a feeding frenzy of degrading her, and confirmed my suspicions that some atheists do indeed lack morality.

      • One thing I’ve noticed — I’ve seen it on both sides, and (God help me) I’ve been occasionally guilty of it myself — is that logic and evidence tend to go by the wayside at the exact moment one asserts his/her intellectual “superiority”.

        It’s all over the blogosphere; there aren’t many places that appeal to a broad mix of audiences. Sadly, it seems readers prefer sarcasm to reason and abuse to evidence, so they gravitate to demagogues like Myers, Hitchens and Dawkins who affirm their intellectual superiority through sneer and contempt. But you also see it on the theist side as well. Few blogs are good places to have debates.

  60. Simcha

    Congratulations!!!!!:):)
    Babies are a blessing indeed, we’ve just been blessed with our ninth 6 weeks ago.
    Yes indeed people can be incredibly rude to large families (and also to smaller ones, I agree) Frankly why do people think it their business to enquire on personal matters (of large and smaller families??)
    I’m afraid I’ve developed a rather thick skin these days and I’ve started making some rather risqué comments back;) keeping me amused anyhow.
    Congratulation once again:)

  61. If everyone converted to Catholicism, many would have larger families, yes, but many of their children would have vocations that included a vow of celibacy. I think it was St. John Bosco who said that one out of four Catholics have a priestly or religious vocation, though many don’t answer the call.

    • Ima,
      I would be very interested in learning more about his reasoning on that. I know quite a few devoutly catholic families, and only one where someone followed that path. He is actually a guy I had a crush on way, way back! Now he is a member of Opus Dei. I wish I could find him and talk to him about my thoughts.

      Thanks.

  62. God bless you. I am happy for you and your family. I think large families are beautiful and should be celebrated. I wish you the best.

  63. Little ones should ALWAYS be celebrated!!! To be honest, it is no one else’s business. When you think of how complex the human body is, it is purely a miracle to be able to bear children! I have felt the same way….will I be judged?, how will everything work….? My mom shared a quote with me that I often reflect on: “God does not look to your resources when it is time for Him to meet a need in your life–He looks at His.—Roy Lessin Continue putting your trust in Him!! We have three beautiful children, (of which non were planned by our timing,) as stressed as I was when we found we were expecting, I can’t imagine our life with each of them. People will always give their unwanted opinions, they are, “just where they are!” I pray peace will surround each of you! Congratulations & Best Wishes!!!

  64. […] As I read about Simcha’s blessed good news I was reminded of that. I was also reminded, once again, of the discrimination on both sides of both large and small families, particularly within the Catholic church, but outside of it as well. When Shelby happened to be a girl, and Joey was a boy a lot of people told me I had “a matching set” and my family was “complete.” Says them, HA! I don’t listen to “them” when it comes to my family size. […]

  65. To all,

    Just so you all know, when I had my third child, I was filled with dread about telling certain people. (So I understand how out-of-hand it has become that many consider three children a monstrous excess). My bro-in-law and sis-in-law did have a problem with it. They are both brilliant, work very hard, are pillars of their community, do lots of charity work and love their kids. In fact, my sil is actually kinda famous. But…they think the world is overpopulated right now.
    They think it is wrong to bring more than two into the world. It was hard…I accepted their reasoned points and we had a great teaching moment, where they learned that, in fact, the birth rate of the U.S. is not at 5, the birth rate of my state is way below replacement and that, perhaps fertile couples having only two children was not such an absolute necessity. It was a miraculous discussion, because they learned from me, and I learned from them and we were all relatively civil. (And I got the guts to confess that I was pro-life in almost all circumstances). They were astounded by this, but tried to entertain my thoughts. This was a huge first for all of us. We disagreed but showed love and respect.

    I cherish that conversation. I cherish these conversations. Maybe you all have opportunities to discuss things like this with friends and family, but I really do not. On both sides of the coin it is hard to debate and learn and assert without having people think I am either a fairytale-believin’ cretin, or an earth-worshiping hippie.

    Peace Out! 😉

  66. I read your announcement over at The Register and tracked you down over here for the first time.

    Firstly, huge congratulations! A new life in the making is always to be celebrated. Always.

    Secondly, your newest addition is nothing to do with anyone. Nobodies opinion matters. The only ones that do matter are you, your husband and God. End of.

    Good luck and wishing you a healthy and successful, problem free pregnancy and birth.

  67. As a Mormon mother of 9, I’m tempted to print this out and hand it out to al lthose nice souls who can’t see past the number and to those darling smiles and little itty bitty toes and chubby cheeks and uniqueness.

    congratulations! God bless you with an extra dose of patience (in the package form, not the earned by colic variety) and hopefully a maid.

  68. “For behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck.”

    Reading this line in the passion this last Good Friday meant more to me this year than ever before. Have these days come, or what? We have had 3 babies in the 4.5 years we have been married and already eyebrows are raised when I take my ducklings out and about. I already get “spacing” and sterilization tips from friends and family, Catholic and not! I dread announcing my 4th pregnancy when the time comes for your same reasons.

    Thank you for this piece. I love the line “The only beautiful thing in the house was our baby.” Right now times are a little tough for us but at the end of the night when my older two are in bed and I settle in and nurse and cuddle my 3 month old, all is right with the world.
    Congratulations, Simcha! New life will always be a cause for celebration.

  69. Simcha, blessings on your new baby and all the ones who came before. And thank you for the reminder that every baby is a blessing. I was one of those people who was critical of large families (I am not Catholic but love your writing!) but God is using people like you to work on that hardness in my heart that can’t allow your love and generosity to flourish. So, at least from my experience, the people who are critical of you are talking from their own woundedness and it may not have much to do with you at all. Forgive me for thinking you are crazy and being surprised by your joy. And keep writing, dear.

  70. I have two children – probably because God knew I didn’t have the patience and strength it would take to raise an entire bunch. I’m happy with the ones I have (most days anyway). Having many children was not a choice I wanted to make BUT not one I can force on others.

    I’m humbled by your optimism in these times – it really made me do a gut check. I’ve been so pessimistic about our world situation and our American political system.

    Thank you for making me stop, challenge my current thought pattern and take a step back.

    We are all lucky to be alive and have the life we do.

    CONGRATULATIONS!

  71. Thank you so much for writing this. It is exactly what I needed today. I’m only pregnant with my second, but because this baby is so close behind our first, I’ve been getting a lot of those comments. Hopefully God will thicken my skin if we make it up to nine. God bless you!

  72. Congrats on your pregnancy!

    I like to tell people we “just” have four. That’ll get you a look, lol! Once when I was at Whole Foods of all places, at 8 o’clock at night with allllllllll fouuuuuur kids, we were coming down the long hallway from the bathrooms, my kids were literally bouncing off the wall and some guy said “Are they ALL yours?”

    I looked at him and said “No. I don’t find shopping alone challenging enough, so I picked up random kids off the street to make things more interesting.”

    He did have a sense of humor, and laughed, then said “Yeah, that was a dumb question, huh?”

    When I repeated the answer to the cashier, she didn’t find it as funny. Oh well. I still think it was a great comeback.

    And I’ve known people who’ve said “You shouldn’t get pregnant, you should adopt an unwanted child.” Ironically, they have yet to adopt any child…

  73. Congrats once again on your most recent blessing 🙂

    “Probably the world we live in today would have seemed like a dystopian nightmare to our ancestors”

    I disagree. Our ancestors survived famine, constant wars, pestilence, more wars, more famine & pestilence … it was unending.

    Smallpox used to be a periodic scourge; now it’s conquered. My dh’s great-grandfather died of bronchitis at age 44; now it’s treatable; now “only the elderly and immune-compromised” generally die of pneumonia or bronchitis. Even leprosy is treatable now. Look at how much money and effort we pour into finding treatments and cures for all sorts of ailments, from AIDS on down. I think we’re a lot better off, pestilence-wise.

    We produce enough food to feed every single person on the planet; unfortunately, politics/warlords/etc. gets between the food and the hungry. But how many Live Aid telethons were there 100 years ago? We produce so much food that we are now burning food for fuel (ethanol); if that’s not a sign of surplus, what is? I think we’re better off famine-wise, too.

    Natural disasters? Japan was hit about as hard as it gets and the whole world is sending help. Just 100 years ago, the Japanese would have been alone in their suffering and thousands more would have died. I think we’re better off disaster-wise today.

    We haven’t conquered the war part of it, that’s for sure. Wars are bigger now, but are they really worse? Read the Old Testament. I don’t have a judgment on that, myself.

    Not a paradise, to be sure. But a dystopian nightmare? I don’t think so.

  74. I don’t often get to your blog (sorry!) so I’m just now hearing of your pregnancy–congratulations! Every baby is such a gift! My daughter made me a card for Mother’s Day– a drawing of a tallish stick figure (Me) with 8 smaller stick figures lined up next to me. Approaching this group was an elegantly dressed stick figure (purple dress, pink purse), and above her head in the speech bubble: “OMG, are those all your kids?!” So glad we can laugh about it.

  75. I am so glad that I’ve found your blog. I have a t-shirt I found and that my hubby bought for me when we***GASP*** went on a vacation to Rehoboth Beach, DE that reads, “Who ARE all these children and why do they keep calling me Mom??!!” I proudly display it on Mother’s Day and when the world gets me down. Blessings to you on your pregnancy – remember, “Love multiplies – HATE divides!!!

  76. I am LOVING the hilarious comments that some of you have in response to total strangers stupid questions.

    Now, how about some fun ones for “Your hands are full!” because I’d like some zingers for that one!

    The population police need to read the numbers. The average American no longer has 2.8 children; it’s 1.4. In European countries it is less than 1 per couple.

    What this actually means is that that population of many weathly nations is actually declining.

    For those who are concerned about Social Security being around (and the letters that everyone received earlier this year from SS said that we are only going to get .70 for every $1 because of a DECLINING POPULATION), perhaps they could think about the fact that more children means more chance of having workers to fund your social security when you get old 🙂

    There is someone who made comments about me family continuing to have children even while we are struggling financially. My husband has been underemployed for 4 years. During that time I had 3 more children.

    And, God has been good. We still have shelter. God has prvoided for our needs. We don’t live extravagently, but my children are fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved. We have clean running water, flushing toliets, refrigeration, central heat and air. We live better than the kings of old–and we live below the poverty line at the same time. We qualify for welfare, but we do not take it. God is good. He provides each day.

    • First, people say “you have your hands full” to me all the time, as I routinely cart other people’s boys around with my three boys. It never struck me as rude! Or maybe I should say, I never had someone say it rudely. I think many should realize that sometimes people are just noticing you and remarking, not meaning to place a value. I often reply, ” Oh! Yes! They are sometimes a handful! Did you ever have any boys?” and then (usually) we begin this cool connective moment where we find common ground talking about raising children. If they never had any, then I always try to ask about nephews or such…I think being noticed is sometimes a nice thing…even if it comes off as somewhat rude at first…some people are just socially awkward, they need some sweetness to lighten them up.

      (I do realize that some are out to denigrate, and view a large family as a personal insult, but probably nothing you say could have an effect.)

      • I do agree with you, Mary on this point. I have 3 myself, and the only comment I get about my family is the “my you have your hands full”. I often wonder how it is that the same string of words can be evoked from so many people, but I have never felt malice or disdain behind them. Either just a mindless comment or some attempt at sympathy, or just way to start a conversation. If I took offense every time someone said that, I would be offended all the time. I just laugh with them and agree. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Sometimes we look for offense when it isn’t there. 🙂 Then again, I only have 3…Newly pregnant with my 4th, so we will see what happens now! 😉

  77. If I knew now what I didn’t know then, I would have allowed God to work through me so much greater than I thought was possible. I know you’re not trying to make a statement, but to me you are–the statement is saying YES to all that God has in store for you and your husband through these children He is giving you. He has chosen YOU to be their mother. Out of everyone He created, He chose YOU. Simply amazing when you think about it.
    So… I say congratulations for all the people who may look at you sideways– they may never understand the grace you are given with each and every birth of a child. For those of us who get it, we sing thanksgiving every time a child is born. God Bless!

  78. I know exactly how you feel! I’m a young mom of 3 little ones and I’ve gotten some nasty comments already. But I love my children and I would be so devasted if i couldn’t have more (unless God decides this is it, I’d accept it). Babies grow up so fast, and I want a baby in my arms for as long as possible. I want to kiss the sweet, little chubby cheeks. To re-live the infant stage, toddle stage, preshooler stage over and over again! Every child is truly a blessing. And you being given your 9th one! You are truly blessed and fortunate 🙂 Plus that is one lucky baby coming into a big loving family welcoming him/her with arms wide open 🙂 God bless and congrats!

  79. Congrats 🙂 I know what you mean about the mean and negative comments 😦 Most people are happy for us, but sadly its our family that say the most mean and hateful comments. We are expecting out 6th and WE are happy about it. =) I am due Dec 24th! Happy I found your blog!!!

  80. Congratulations! I’m the proud mom of 5 and a grandma to 1. Babies are a beautiful gift from God and I welcomed everyone of them (and I pray for the ones whom God called home early).

    Wanted to share just a few little tidbits. First, the worst comment I ever got was when I was pregnant with #5. It was a priest and after I shared I was pregnant, he asked me if I knew what caused it? “Gasp and horror”!

    Second, friends of ours in our small town were blessed with a baby who was not supposed to live more than a few hours (if that) because of a chromosomal anomaly. The Catholic and non-Catholic community rallied with much prayer, support and prayers of intercession to Blessed Mother Teresa whom we were overjoyed to meet years ago when she start a community of Sisters in our town. At the baby’s birth a Priest was there to baptize her and at first he was unsure whether she was alive but then he saw her tongue moving. He quickly baptized her and the entire family passed her around to say goodbye. As each person held her, she started pinking up a bit and it became apparent that she was alive. She was whisked away to the NICU and while it has been very touch and go, she will celebrate her 2nd birthday in July. Praise God!

    Third and a little different, I don’t watch TV. But I do like to watch short episodes on my computer of some shows. I came across “16 and Pregnant” and decided to watch one just to see what it was about. It became apparent that it wasn’t really a pro-life show but it was sort of interesting to see how the girls, the daddies and the families handled a stressful situation. So, I continued to watch the episodes and finally last night reached the last one. It was the best! The 2 young people, living in a very unstable environment decided adoption was their best option. Their parents were very upset and pretty mean at times to them but the baby’s parents stuck to the plan. They chose a family, met them and although the tears flowed freely, they gave their baby to a couple who were unable to have children and who, of course, were overjoyed. Must have been one of the hardest things they will ever do, but such a blessing for the adoptive parents. I pray for those kids and hope they realize their decision was the greatest gift they could ever have given their baby.

    Anyway, sadly everyone seems to have an opinion on how many kids someone else should have so I’m very glad to see that many of your commenters are leaving the decision in God’s hands. Congratulations again! 🙂

    • Wow! Great stories – especially the one about the little baby girl turning two in July….Happy Birthday little precious girl wherever you are! This put a smile on my face this evening, thanks!

  81. I read this while feeding our baby#4, which in Seattle is like having 8 or 9 children, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Our “SURPRISES” have at times been our biggest source of joy, and have been what has strengthened our marriage through all the tough times. Thank you for this, it was beautifully written-my sleepless night tonight will be that much better!

  82. My grandmother could get pregnant, but usually miscarried. She was able to bring two to term – my mom and my uncle. My mom couldn’t even GET pregnant. Once my dad was asked why they DIDN’T have kids (in the 60’s) by a priest. My dad said, “Because your boss hasn’t seen fit to give us any.” The priest said, “This time next year, you’ll be expecting a baby.” The following year I was born. Three years later and with some medicinal help, my sister was born. They couldn’t have any more after that. I got pregnant two months after we were married – and miscarried. Three months later, I was pregnant again. Another miscarriage. It is now twenty years after our wedding. In that time, I thought I’d never have kids, apparently following in my grandmother’s footsteps. I put it into God’s amazing, very capable hands. Today I have seven wonderful children, four boys and three girls. I would have had more, but at almost 48, I think it’s time to wait for the grandchildren. Over all that time, I definitely heard the horrible comments that no doubt you have heard, too. Still do. Maybe you can look at it this way – God has blessed you abundantly. But with those blessings comes many hardships. Jesus said, “Rejoice when they hate you and persecute you and utter all kinds of slander against you. They did so to me first. Yours is the kingdom of God.”

  83. I’ve been thinking about what would happen if the entire world became Catholic and all married couples wanted lots of children. I was trying to work out the proportions of who would be celibate, who would be infertile, and who would have good reasons for keeping their families small. And then I thought – actually, who cares? It ain’t going to happen. People don’t look at my family and smack their foreheads in revelation, and go home and have seven more kids. Hardly anyone is having big families these days. Out-of-control population growth simply isn’t happening, and there are no indications that it’s likely to start happening in the future.

    What I keep wondering is, what would happen if the entire world, every single fertile woman, had 0,1, or 2 children. What would happen? Would poverty come to an end? Would the slums disappear? Would suffering cease?

    Or would corrupt governments continue to steal from their people, and would disease continue to ravage families? Would people still live in squalor and misery? Of course they would. As others have pointed out, suffering comes from sin. This is not just a platitude or an abstract point from the catechism, but it’s a demonstrable fact: Most poverty and hunger is the direct result of corruption, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that corruption would cease if only people would stop having those pesky babies.

    Over the course of the history of the world, as population has grown and grown, the standard of living of most people has gotten higher and higher. There has been less and less hunger as there have been more and more people. This is because more and more people means more and more minds, and more minds means more people to innovate and solve problems. Agricultural practices of 500 years ago could not support today’s population numbers — but today’s agricultural practices can support far MORE than today’s numbers. It’s not the number of people in the world that causes suffering; and so decreasing that number would not decrease suffering.

    @Liz: No, it’s not a non sequitor. There are regions of the world where living conditions are crowded and food is scarce. If I lived there, I would not have nine children, and of course I support teaching women how to plan their families in a prudent way.

    But the plain fact is that I live in an area where I have the luxury of having a lot of children. It is not hurting the environment. Our family has a smaller carbon footprint than many two-child families.

    But, you say, every little bit counts! If some populations are growing too fast in some parts of world, than we should make up for it by having fewer kids in my part of the world. That might be true if we were talking about the production of, I don’t know, iron ingots: if there’s too many here, than we should have fewer there, to balance things out. But that’s not how it works, when you’re talking about people. If I had fewer children, it would not make things any easier for a family in, say, Bangledesh.

    It is possible, on the other hand, that some of my children will grow up and help to ease living conditions for those folks — by becoming a missionary, or a scientist who improves agricultural practices, or a policy maker who helps the world become more just — or even just a homemaker who sends an annual check to one of those micro-lending organizations.

    Naturally, it’s also possible that someone’s only child will grow up to become the guy who figures out how to turn sand into protein, or whatever. But you know, with lots of kids, I like my odds better.

  84. Also, it occurs to me that you could read my comment above as if I’m saying, “Don’t worry, my kids deserve to be here because some of them may turn out to be useful.” That’s really not what I meant to say at all. I think it’s a tempting but dangerous thought to weigh the value of a human life according to how much they pull their own weight, plus some. Naturally we are all obligated to try to help each other according to our gifts; and I am trying to raise my children so that they understand that they have a responsibility to the rest of the world.

    HOWEVER, if one of them, God forbid, ends up unable to help anyone else in any visible way – – then they still ought to be welcome. Catholics ought to understand this. This is an idea which I am just starting to explore, but God doesn’t measure us according to how much we accomplish, at least not according to the world’s understanding of accomplishment. Maybe someone can help me flesh out this idea – but I know it must be true that God doesn’t look at anyone and say, “Useless.” Therefore, we must never say it, either — and this is equally true for an only child or for child #23.

  85. @Ann The little girl is Santana Milagros Teresa. She lives in NM with her Dad, Mom, 2 siblings and extended family. She is beautiful and a blessing to so many people, many who have never met her. She is truly a miracle!

    Santana is one of those children Simcha mentioned in her last post above. She may never “physically’ be able to help anyone in a visible way, but oh the faith and love she has brought to so many. No matter the plan God has for her in the future, her birth and her suffering have certainly touched the hearts of all people – especially those who had forgotten God’s love. Her smile alone can brighten a miserable day! No one could ever say of her that she is “useless”. Quite the opposite!

    If God puts in on your heart, keep her in your prayers!

    “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14

  86. “If I had fewer children, it would not make things any easier for a family in, say, Bangledesh. ” This is totally true, and I completely and totally agree with you. In fact, it’s possible that it might even make it worse! We cannot know that.

    The thing I have an issue with is that I am still doubtful, that using NFP alone, families can reliably keep their size small in situations (like Kenya, Ethiopia etc. where they might need to). If someone could convince me otherwise, you might have a total re-convert on your hands….well, I dunno….but I will outline (in some future time) a careful analysis of the doctrine on marital sexual relations as it is worded in the Catechism. As I read it and reread it…my overwhelming impression is that the wording is intended to encourage people to have large families with only grave reasons not to.

    I also could go into my confusion about calling an inanimate object (i.e. a condom) as intrinsically evil. Although, upon consideration, I guess I can think of other inanimate objects that WOULD fit that description (torture device etc.). To me, using hormone detection strips to chart ovulation to avoid pregnancy is not much different from using the withdrawal method or a condom or a diaphragm (getting away from the trickiness of the Pill or an IUD possibly causing an abortion).

    But…Simcha…I agree that your personal choice to be open to a large family is not (as I can see it) taking away from the life of people in Bangladesh….in fact, it might open up another woman the freedom in her life to become a mother of one or two and then become a malaria researcher who solves that terrible problem.

    • Actually, Mary, I don’t think any inanimate object IS considered “intrinsically evil”. It is their uses and the intent behind the uses that are intrinsically evil.

      Theoretically, you could use a torture device as a plant-stand (kinda like turning swords into plowshares) and it would not be evil.

      It is the USE of a condom for birth control purposes that is evil.

      And I have to say that I can certainly see your point about introducing hormone detection into NFP…I’d want to think very carefully about that. But then I never had a problem telling where my cycle was at.

      Thing is, NFP is about making a sacrifice…being willing to give up relations. Using withdrawal or any other barrier method does not require any sacrifice. I think that’s really the crux of understanding NFP…the idea that we can’t just do what we want any time we want, if we are willing to ask God to forgo the possibility of creating a new human.

      Of course God can do what He wants and has been known to circumvent even the most careful forms of ABC…but we are not to put God to the test.

      • Hormone detection IS used in at least one form of NFP– the Marquette Method. And there is no reason why knowledge of luteinizing hormone is any different than knowledge of when one’s temperature is going to rise or whether one is having eggwhite mucus. All assist one in knowing when to prayerfully consider whether a couple should unite in love or prayer physically or by abstaining. I would posit that the hormonal method, now that it is widely available to those who can afford it, could be the most scientifically effective method available. For those who feel that they need to avoid childbirth in the manner described in TOB, why would we not choose this method? As someone who needs to be open to life but also knows that I will have my work cut out for me while caring for 2 healthy children and two with with a devastating, debilitating genetic condition, I think leaving out knowledge of hormones makes no sense. Just like those who use all the other methods, we completely abstain when needed and when we choose not to abstain, we recognize our openness to life.

        • Thank you for wording that better than I could. We use Marquette and it’s the ONLY method that has had ANY reliability for us at all (particularly in my post-partum state) and I have seen some strange resistance to it in the Catholic blogosphere. My understanding of NFP and Catholic doctrine has always been not that there is some intrinsic holiness in the “guessing game” of NFP (if it doesn’t work quite properly for you and your cycle) but that, as you say these methods assist us in ” prayerfully consider[ing] whether a couple should unite in love or prayer physically or by abstaining.” That’s the important part.

      • Hooo HOoo!!! Now I am rolling on the floor, imagining someone using a torture rack as a plant stand! That was great!

        Well, could anyone else weigh in here? I thought some devices or objects were considered evil intrinsically?

    • Hi, Mary – thanks for sticking around to talk about this, and sorry again about the rocky start of our conversation!

      You said:
      “The thing I have an issue with is that I am still doubtful, that using NFP alone, families can reliably keep their size small in situations (like Kenya, Ethiopia etc. where they might need to). ”

      Believe it or not, I have the same doubts. Not so much that NFP is unworkable in itself — because, after all, if you really are super serious about not conceiving, than everyone knows that abstinence is effective. Horrible for a married couple, but effective.

      It’s a fairly modern idea that sex is a guarantee in marriage, and the only remaining problem is how to do it without conceiving. The idea of sex and babies used to be much more firmly connected in people’s minds. This modern disconnect makes NFP harder: it’s so hard to shake the feeling that, well, we’re married, we ought to be allowed to have sex.

      I’m sure you will acknowledge that barrier devices are nowhere near 100% effective, and you will certainly have surprise pregnancies even if you blanket a country with condoms. There is even evidence that, the more that contraception is pushed, the higher the rate of unplanned pregnancies — because the attitude toward sex invariably changes toward an entitlement and away from the old sex=babies equation. And so more people have more sex with less thought, and inevitably more women get pregnant. So even in practical terms, introducing artificial contraception to a culture is not the way to limit family size, as counterintuitive as that may be.

      Anyway, back to the point: when I think of relying on NFP to keep family size small when the need for that is dire, the part that disturbs me is cultures in which the wife is not entitled to say no to her husband. Obviously, in order for NFP to work, both spouses must cooperate.

      However, the Church teaches that the woman is not culpable if her husband insists on using contraception. If she has done what she can to convince him to abstain in order to avoid a pregnancy, and he does not agree, then he is the one who is doing something wrong, by the Church’s standards.

      “As I read it and reread it…my overwhelming impression is that the wording is intended to encourage people to have large families with only grave reasons not to.”

      I think we’re kind of talking past each other here. The Church most certainly does encourage people to have large families, because it has always taught that children are a joy and a blessing. However, the Church has also always taught that there are many good reasons for limiting family size.

      That word “grave” has given people fits for many years. I could point you to some persuasive evidence that it’s a mistranslation, and that “serious” or “just” is a better word. However, I thought we were talking about people who do indisputable have just, serious, AND grave reasons.

      Think of it this way: a family vacation to Hawaii would be a huge blessing for me. But if I’m trying to finish my law degree, sell the house, and I have mono . . . that might not be a good time to accept that particular blessing. Maybe a year from now would be better, or there might never be a good time.

      What would be best would be if my life circumstances would improve to the point where I *could* accept that blessing; but I might have to regretfully turn it down.

      Does that mean the person who offered it in the first place was misguided? Of course not – it was a lovely offer. But sometimes you have to say, “No thanks.” And some people wouldn’t even want to go to Hawaii! It’s too hot, and their ideal vacation would be to Montana or something. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with Hawaii — for most people, it would be a huge treat.

      I apologize if I’m missing where the difficulty is. I guess what I’m trying to say is, YES, children are a blessing; yes, the Church wishes all people could accept that blessing often. The Church wants people to be able to accept children as a gift. But it also understands that sometimes we must turn down, or postpone, that gift. I see no contradiction there at all.

      Okay, whew, I will leave the rest for another time! Thanks again for listening.

      • Simcha, I think you are doing a good job of describing serious or grave reasons. Since I have a “grave” reason, I will share that even in the depths of despair in realizing that we carry two recessive genes for a disease which will rob 2 of our children of their sight and which has already created their bodies without hearing, I can tell you that I found my way to understanding this belief in the true openness to life and even greater respect for life and family. In fact, I only began practicing NFP after I learned of the genetic syndrome that my children have. We learned how to reframe our love for life and to see our life as a married couple as such a shared blessing. And yes, it strengthened our resolve that life is valuable even when not “perfect” because we have to understand that in order to continue to be open to life. It clarifies the reason to stand up for life anywhere, however “flawed” it may seem to others (and helps one see the true ugliness of Eugenics). It’s not easy, and I worry that if I were to become pregnant, others who know about the genetic condition would think we were actually wrong to consider another child. But, I recognize that my children are an asset to the world, have been a blessing to us and others, and that I have learned so much through this trial about suffering and parenthood. I meet disabled people with a new outlook, and I would welcome another child. Yes, children ARE a joy and a blessing. I’m 42, so I think that my endeavors now will remain in the area of raising money for research for a cure for Usher Syndrome while raising 4 excellent sons, but I’m so glad that I became Catholic and learned about TOB before I reached menopause… it has made a huge difference in my life.

      • We are discussing what sounds like “what is the best of all possible worlds”….where do motives & heaven fit into this?

      • I want to add that I am one to think that NFP CAN be effectively introduced in areas of poverty. There are much more simpler forms of NFP out there than our good ‘ol sympto-thermal or even the technical Creighton. There are methods that have been developed specifically FOR developing countries. I once read about a study in India where there were something like 15,000 women included as part of this study, and none of them got pregnant. The theory that seemed to be proved was that poverty does not equal “bad at NFP”. I think you sacrifice a small emount of effectiveness to make it more basic, but it still remains very high.

        And what about the ABC program implemented in Uganda a few years back? It was this systematic attempt to change the culture so that husbands realized more the value of their wives and didn’t demand sex. Basically they were taught about abstinence, and the emphasis on condoms was strongly reduced, and there were phemonenal changes. Wish I had links and info on all this stuff. If you’re interested, just ask, and I can see what I can dig up.

        • This looks like a bit of an old link, but it gives the stats of what happened in Uganda. The ABC approach was threefold – Abstain until marriage, Be faithful to your partner, and use condoms if you are not faithful (obviously I don’t agree with the third approach, but that’s what it was).

          “The Bush Administration is basing its AIDS initiative on the success of Uganda, which has experienced the greatest decline in HIV prevalence of any country in the world.2 Studies show that from 1991 to 2001, HIV infection rates in Uganda declined from about 15 percent to 5 percent. Among pregnant women in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, HIV prevalence dropped from a high of approximately 30 percent to 10 percent over the same period.3 ”

          http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2003/09/The-White-House-Initiative-to-Combat-AIDS-Learning-from-Uganda

          And here’s another link that seems a little less biased:
          http://www.avert.org/aids-uganda.htm

          It seems people like to argue over whether or not the decline has been truly due to the ABC program. But it makes sense that competing agends would want to argue this, whether there is truth in it or not.

          In terms of the India women, I don’t have a link, but I have a citation.
          “…pregnancy rates (of couples using NFP) have depended on the motivation of couples. Increasingly studies show that rates equivalent to those with other contraceptive methods are readily acheived in the developed and developing worlds. Indeed, a study of 19,843 poor women in India had an (unintended) pregnancy rate approaching zero. Natural family planning is cheap, efficient, without side effects, and may particularly acceptable to and efficacious among people in areas of poverty.” – Dr. R.E.J. Ryder, British Medical Journal, Sept. 18, 1993

          Hope this helps!

      • I know I’m late to the party here, but this is an excellent and honest post. And most of the discussion has been very interesting, and thoughtful.

        My main quarrel with the ‘overpopulation’ folks (if I can be forgiven for being quite so glib) is that their ‘operative model’ of human beings seems to be so impoverished – as if they think of human beings as mouths and anuses, but not hands or brains. The point being that human beings are much, much more than merely consumers of resources, and producers of waste – they create things, and they solve problems. . .

  87. “And yet, people still see our very existence as a challenge or a rebuke, or an argument to refute.” —>

    Funny, some people see my family’s existence in exactly the same way (our artificially small family — which would have been much bigger if I weren’t closed to life). I could use those same words — a few people have even asked, “So why didn’t you have any more?” expecting to hear of some physical problem.

    Some people are always gonna say…the amazing stuff they say.

  88. Wow, still going! Good, I wanted to comment on this point: “I think it’s a tempting but dangerous thought to weigh the value of a human life according to how much they pull their own weight, plus some.” …and “but God doesn’t measure us according to how much we accomplish, at least not according to the world’s understanding of accomplishment.” This is especially prevelent in protestant thinking. Think Travelyan terms and the manner he handled the starving population of Ireland and the attitude that greated them when they arrived in America. Or the contempt in which all poor, immigrant or disadvanteged people are held, not to mention the treatment of jews. Catholics should know this because its the hallmark of Blessed JP’s papacy…human dignity. (Not sure if that where you were going with that)

  89. As a woman who has buried 3 and raised 2 to adulthood, I congratulate you and wish you nothing but happiness.

  90. I just found out I am pregnant with my 6th child at the age of 43. We are struggling financially and I contemplated not having this gift. I was concerned about how my other children would react and how my parents would. My almost 17 year old, 14 yr old, 9 yr old, 5 and 2 yr old are so excited. My parents are less than thrilled-mostly because of money. I guess as long as my issue is only money and everyone is healthy I should count that as a blessing. Your story inspired me to write. Thank you.

    • Jodi, I wish I could have you over for lunch and send you home with a dinner; you deserve it! You remind me of what I experienced growing up. I’m one of eight and my parents used to (half) joke about being broker than the Ten Commandments. They were in serious financial straights in their 40’s (right around 43 for my mom). It was a hard decade for them especially my mom.
      Now, my youngest sis, born when she was 42, is now a mom of 4. Recently her 4 year old climbed into grandma’s bed snuggled down and asked, “Am I your favowit Mowwy (Molly) in the world? Your my favowit Grandma in the world.” My mom all but tears up as she tells everybody the story.
      At any rate, now they have no mortgage, have enough to be enjoying a comfortable retirement -not extravagant but no financial worries! Other folks who seemed to be so much better off are really struggling. So rest assured, money comes and goes and goes and goes, but your children are a blessing. Also, know that if my parents were not financially stable there would be 8 of us fighting to see who gets Grandma and Grandpa.
      So God bless and congratulations on your newest love!
      Ruth
      Ps. My husband is the youngest of 12 and his dad lost his job when his mom was expecting him. His mom says it makes no sense on paper, but there was always enough. They are also financially secure now in their 80’s. My MIL jokes that they don’t know what to do with all the money they aren’t spending on expenses related to kids.

  91. Very good thoughts, but I think that you’re a bit defensive: I think that it’s crass to discuss someone’s reproductive philosophy, esp if you don’t know them well.

    As to being responsible about having children, I’m sorry but in Africa, there isn’t much choice in being poor. Here, if someone has kids and is on welfare or expects free health care, foodstamps etc at my expense, I do mind. Here a person can make choices of what to do, what job one can or cannot get to support a family, and can take any choice they want as long as they don’t ask/require/oblige others to contribute to paying the expenses. Then, and ONLY then, do I feel that I can make snide comments about the size of their family,etc.

    • Out of curiosity, do you mean “here” in the United States, or “here” in Italy? You’re not fooling anybody. Go ahead, make snide comments. It lets us all know who you really are.

      • Anon, I don’t agree with Tri’s rationale for making “snide” comments, but it does not matter where Tri lives or who Tri “really” is. The opinion that Tri shares with folks shows us the reason behind its formation and opens a dialog.

        As we say down south, here in the US, there’s no reason to be ugly, and I bet that you are much better than that.

    • Because we did not receive nor ask for financial assistance, my parents were always “broker than the Ten Commandments.” Tri, a few folks with many children (and sometimes many fathers) do depend on public assistance perpetually.

      Other folks who just have a big family and a modest or at times financially struggling lifestyle are under fire, and judged as “sponges”. I know, I was on receiving end. That’s just not fair either.

      As for my inlaws who did receive public help one year, They have a dozen -college educated, tax paying, social security contributing, and charity donating adults. My mother in law had enough challenges in raising great kids into wonderful adults without the snide commentators, who felt duty bound to make her feel even more ashamed, embarrassed, and inferior when her husband lost his job, and she needed to use food stamps during that sressful and difficult time.

      I guess my point is that we do make choices, but sometimes despite the good choices we make -a job loss, illness, tragedy or death can undo all of our responsible choices and make us very vulnerable.

      At any rate, someone little and cute needs me. Thanks for your comment. I like to think;)

  92. Because we did not receive nor ask for financial assistance, my parents were always “broker than the Ten Commandments.” Tri, a few folks with many children (and sometimes many fathers) do depend on public assistance perpetually.

    Other folks who just have a big family and a modest or at times financially struggling lifestyle are under fire, and judged as “sponges”. I know, I was on receiving end. That’s just not fair either.

    As for my inlaws who did receive public help one year, They have a dozen -college educated, tax paying, social security contributing, and charity donating adults. My mother in law had enough challenges in raising great kids into wonderful adults without the snide commentators, who felt duty bound to make her feel even more ashamed, embarrassed, and inferior when her husband lost his job, and she needed to use food stamps during that sressful and difficult time.

    I guess my point is that we do make choices, but sometimes despite the good choices we make -a job loss, illness, tragedy or death can undo all of our responsible choices and make us very vulnerable.

    At any rate, someone little and cute needs me. Thanks for your comment. I like to think;)

  93. […] 4. This was from a Focus on the Family broadcast this week. It really struck with me because of how counter cultural, and how true it is. It’s the cultural attitude that made me keep quiet about this pregnancy for almost 3 months; I have been happy about it the whole time, but I wasn’t ready to handle any negative reactions from others, (especially with the hormones!) so I just didn’t share the news. It’s really very silly because, as Simcha put it so clearly: ‘a baby is always good news’. […]

  94. Mega Mom !! I like that. Sung to the tune of “Macho Mom”
    Mega Mega Mom, I wanna be a Mega Mom . . .
    BTW, I notice among your respondents, there are quite a few Mothers of Nine. Perhaps they could be working on their own baseball team? & that’s a positive comment.

  95. & BTW, if you think the Earth is anywhere near overcrowded, just sit in a window seat next time you fly anywhere. Like from LAX to Sacramento. Or drive say from SoCal to Missouri. You’re gonna see a LOT of empty spaces. & if you think Earth cannot produce enough, Just consider what we shipped to all the thousands of overseas troops in WWII

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