You know, I don’t think many people go into marriage thinking, ‘nine kids, that’s where we’re headed’. I know we didn’t . . . well I know I didn’t. To be fair, however, the thought well may have been buried somewhere deep down in those secret recesses of my wife’s psyche that she chose not to talk about until I was too far gone to pull the rip cord, but I can say at a bare minimum that it was never part of the vocally articulated plan for the rest of our star-crossed lives together.
Don’t get me wrong, no complaints here – mostly because I don’t have any college bills yet – but suffice it to say that we didn’t know a lot about what we were getting into, and to some degree, it just happened . . . and happened . . . and happened . . . you get the idea.
Speaking of it happening, you may be surprised to hear that the last time we tried to get pregnant we only had 4 kids. Not kidding. OK, I think it’s only appropriate to qualify this statement as well. Let me rephrase: the last time I was deliberately working with my wife to get pregnant we only had four kids. Again, speaking for me alone. For the more astute among you cyberspace readers, you may be sensing a pattern here.
As I considered just exactly how we might kick off this little website of ours, I thought it might be interesting to find a way to contrast some of the differences between living with 1 kid versus 9. And then it hit me, let’s talk about actually having babies.
Kat and Tay in 2001
So there you are, you’ve been married just a little while but you’re expecting. So many things to do to get ready, but I’ll leave that essay for another day; let’s cut to the chase on this one. You’re eight months in, you don’t know when the baby’s coming, but coming it is. So, despite due date being a month away, you have a backpack packed with the critical necessities – and there are so many you almost need two bags. Not the least of which is of course the outfit you have painstakingly selected as the baby’s ‘coming home from the hospital’ duds. You have the shiny new carseat already in the car – and it’s the safest throne money can buy. You have everybody you know on alert and ready to jump in and help – with what exactly you’re not sure, but they’re ready nonetheless. Your moms are waiting in the wings somewhere to buy the plane tickets, if they’re not already in town lingering close – and it’s a good thing too, because for heaven’s sake you’re going to need them – you’re having a baby.
Then it comes; the faint twinge of a contraction . . . panic, elation, terror, excitement, all flow through you at the same time, each emotion undistinguishable from the other, but it’s time. And you’re outta there, to the hospital you go, driving way too fast and ready to run over the first cop that gets in your way, he can take up his issues with you at the hospital, but not now, dangit, you’re having a baby. And you arrive, you’ve managed to call all your parents somehow between that first flicker of a contraction and now, and the troops are mobilized, ready to help . . . with whatever it is that needs helping. You get to the hospital, screech into emergency parking likely filling 3 spaces and dash into the hospital. You butt into the front of the line because you’re having a baby, what emergency could be more important than that. And on, and on. So goes the rodeo when you’re having your first baby. Unfortunately, in all likelihood you get sent home and told to return when you’re really having a baby.
Now, allow me to walk you down my recent memory lane of child number nine’s grand entrance into the world. And yes, this is actually how it happened. I woke up about 5:30 and Kat is walking out of the bathroom slightly hunched. “I think it’s today, I’m having some contractions”. “Okie doke” I say, “how soon?” “Probably not too soon” comes the response, “I think I want to have some pancakes – I have been wanting good pancakes and I’m probably going to be stuck in the hospital for a couple days”. So downstairs she goes to the kitchen for her last real meal in a little while. I lay in bed for another 20 minutes or so then drag myself out, adorn my weary body with whatever I consider to be reasonably comfortable for sleeping on a hospital couch, and meander down the stairs to join her. Kat, amidst periodic bending over to sustain contractions, is cheerily making pancakes as bleary-eyed kids start trickling in. She lets them know it’s probably the day, and they are genuinely excited; in fact, they are nearly as excited as they are to have pancakes with whipped cream. Well, we doddle around for a bit, throw some clothes in a bag, dig up the car seat and head out, with our trusty 12 year old there to hold down the fort. Grandpa’s there too, but I’ll not pretend that we’d call a babysitter if he weren’t, I’d put my 12 year old up against any daycare professional on the planet. Anyway, as we’re just about to pull out, I realize I have dry cleaning to drop off and it’s not too far out of the way. “Honey, are we OK dropping off some dry cleaning?” “Sure, we probably have time”. So, I grab the clothes and we’re off. After dropping the cleaning, I realize we’re kind of low on diesel. “Do you think we have time to fuel up?” “Sure, I think we’re fine”. Then, it’s to the hospital we go. It’s now been a couple hours since breakfast and Kat’s still dreading the imminent reality of hospital food in her not-too-distant future. She suddenly recalls a faint memory of a Mexican dive she’s noticed a few times. “Can we stop by that little Mexican place I’ve been wanting to try?” she asks. Of course I’m not complaining. Greasy spoon Mexican food? Shoot, I may even be tempted sneak out of the delivery room for that. So, we stop by and squeeze in a couple tacos and some horchata (it wasnt very good). We get out and are thinking it’s really probably time to get moving, but Kat realizes how close we are to Costco. In an instant a peaceful vision settles into her consciousness of going shopping at Costco without a thousand little kids hanging on her legs and shopping cart alike. “Honey, can we stop at Costco?” “Up to you, sweetie,” I reply, knowing good and well I’m totally onboard given the fact that the Mexican food was a total bust and I know those chocolate covered ice cream bars at Costco never fail me. Well, unfortunately we’re only a few aisles in when we have an ‘event’. I can’t believe I’m using this word because in all of labor and delivery terminology, this term is by far the most repugnant, but the mucous plug is out, and we’re both just grateful she’s in black pants. We head back outside, and on our way out it occurs to me that, well, we can’t get the truck all messy – I hurry back in the store to grab one of those cardboard boxes that used to be full of economy sized Tide bottles, smash it flat, and put it on the seat to protect the upholstery.
Reese, Kat and Fife 2014
Suffice it to say that we made it on time, little Fife came into the world safe and sound, and he is now living happily on the couch, or the floor, or in a drawer, or wherever we can find a quiet place that he can sleep relatively undisturbed.
So there you have it, folks, in a nutshell, that’s the difference between 1 and 9 kids – there is simply not enough time in the day to get too worked up about . . . well, anything really. People often ask “how do you do it”. My first response is usually, “I really don’t, it’s mostly Kat”, and that is absolutely true. But my second thought is, “With every kid you just give a few more things up, to the point that all you have left is your family, your work, a friend or two, and your faith – and there’s almost always room for one more when that’s the whole equation.” But just between you and I, dear reader, you don’t give up your horses either, but shoot, that’s pretty much family.