Friday, January 30, 2009

You Have How Many Kids?

I was just reading something about that woman who just gave birth to a litter, um, octuplets this week. Apparently before she underwent the treatment to have this gaggle implanted into her uterus she already had 6 children at home. This insane family now has 14 kids, more than half of which are newborn. This woman already has 6 children. Now she has 8 newborns. For the next two years this woman will probably get approximately 3 minutes of sleep every night. She went through the newborn phase with 6 other children, and still wanted to give birth to 8 more all at once?

After I read the article I thought about the Wilson family from my hometown. The Wilsons had 14 kids (I think, I actually cannot remember the exact number of kids. But it’s definitely a number between 13 and 20). The Wilsons didn’t have 8 of the kids at once, like the octuplet lady. So, if my memory serves me correctly, and there were 14 Wilson kids, that means that Mrs. Wilson spent roughly 10.5 years of her life pregnant.

We used to drive by the Wilsons’ house, which was not a large home, and speculate about how many kids slept in each bedroom. Did their bunk beds have three or four levels? How many boxes of cereal did Mrs. Wilson have to buy when she did the weekly grocery shopping? And how big were those boxes? How on earth did Mr. and Mrs. Wilson get all those kids out the door and to school on time? One of the Wilson kids was in my grade; he was always clean and his clothes were tidy. It was obvious that Mr. and Mrs. W were not cutting corners. It didn’t appear that they said, “Ah screw it, get out of here, it’s almost time for the bus, you can wash your face at school.” The only way they could have pulled that off would be to start the showers at 3 AM, and they probably drew straws to see which kid would have to take the last, inevitably cold shower. Perhaps the Wilson home was a 24-hour operation, where shifts of kids did their homework, ate, slept and bathed in shifts at all hours of the day.

Looking back on the Wilson family, I wonder if those kids missed out on anything. I imagine that they had never gone on a road trip as a family. They didn’t own a school bus. If they wanted to go somewhere as a family they probably had to wait until the older kids were old enough to drive too. I imagine them in a 6 car convoy on the way to the movies using walkie-talkies and elaborate hand signals to communicate from car to car. “Is your father telling me to turn left at the next light, or steal 3rd?” Mrs. Wilson would squint through the windshield and ask the half dozen kids in her car. A puzzled look would pass across their identical faces, and they would simultaneously shrug their shoulders.

Eventually word would spread through school about another Wilson baby born. Kids in my class asked the Wilson boy in our grade “So, what’s the deal with your parents? Don’t you guys have a TV in the house?” He’d laugh and proudly show us pictures of his newest baby brother or baby sister. As we got older we began to regard the Wilson family as a bit strange. "Look at all those kids! What the hell?" we'd whisper in the halls.

I have noticed that after the hype of a multiple birth dies down, there seems to be very little news on the family as the children grow up. The parents take their gaggle of babies home, and we’re left to think that all is well with a half a dozen or so newborn babies. I had read somewhere that the divorce rate for couples with these multiple births is much higher than it is with couples who have just one baby. I certainly imagine how that would happen. I understand that bringing home one baby is stressful, let alone eight babies. I imagine that the stress of caring for one baby would set a husband and wife at each others’ throats, never mind having 8 babies waking up at all hours of the night and having to feed and clothe 8 toddlers as they leave a Tasmanian Devil x 8 style path of destruction through the house. It makes me wonder why couples try to bring so many babies into the world all at one time.

Yet, somehow the Wilsons stayed married all those years, through a decade or so of pregnancy and raising 14 or so children.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have too much to say about this topic. I struggle to understand why someone would have fertility treatments when she already has six children, for one thing. She didn't think six was enough? She didn't think she'd be able to have the seventh one naturally?

Also, the Discovery Channel is obsessed with this family called the Duggars, who live in Minnesota or somewhere and have like 17 children. The wife just sort of keeps getting pregnant and keeps having the kids. (One of the fun facts about the family is that she's spent more of her life pregnant than she has unpregnant. ACK.) They have a regular series on the family's life. I think if you can feed 'em all, and you don't really want to do the birth control thing, good on ya; you live your life the way you want.

But I'm compelled to be critical of the octuplet mom, anyway, for some reason.

January 31, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

Crisitunity, I am definitely critical of this woman. The more I read about her, the more mad I get. The latest thing I read was that she wants millions of dollars for appearances and she wants to be a "parenting expert."

I say we all boycott this chick. Stop clicking on the stories about her. Stop driving up the demand for info on this woman.

The less demand we provide, the fewer places she'll have to sell her children. She disgusts me.

February 2, 2009 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm compelled to be critical of the octuplet lady because, your honor, she's obviously batshit crazy.

The McCaughey septuplets lived a few blocks from us for a while. They had more or less 24-hour (or at least 18-hour) help from relatives and church members at all times in order to keep things moving along. And their (rather large, especially in such a small town) house was a gift.

February 3, 2009 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you've got six, I'm not so sure you need another eight. You know what I'm saying? Or if you do, how about adopting or doing volunteer work with some kids who need parents and good influences?

Of course, this is from the person who said she'd never have three. What do I have now? Three. And I'm considering a fourth. Yes, I'm officially batshit crazy.

February 4, 2009 at 10:33 PM  

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