Life sure is an adventure! My life, like so many other people, revolves around my family. My family, however, is comprised of my husband, seven children -- ranging in age from 27 to 4 years old. And yes, they all live with us.
Ernie and I have been together for 16 years and married for 13 years. His daughters, Kelly (27), Kristin (23), and Kassie (21) are beautiful, athletic, smart -- all around great girls. I went into this marriage with my eyes wide open, and I knew that my husband was a package deal, four for the price of one. I didn't just fall in love with my husband, I fell in love with his kids too.
In 2001 the girls' mom took a job out of state - a thousand miles away. Suddenly, we moved from shared custody to full time custody of the younger girls. Kelly moved with her mom, finished high school and now attends college. Kristin and Kassie have lived with us for the past nine years, since they were young girls. Kristin is in her second year of college and Kassie is in her senior year of high school.
When I became pregnant in 2004, I was ecstatic. We all were. I had a great pregnancy and a fairly simple delivery. Brody arrived knowing what he wanted, when, why and how he wanted it. My life with him is a battle of wills and choosing which battle to fight, all the while trying to stay in shape so I can continue to outrun him!
And then me and my bright ideas... I wanted just one more baby. I didn't want Brody to grow up as an only child once the older girls were off to college, so I put lobbied Ernie to try for one more. Lo and behold, when I had my blood test, the nurse called me to confirm the pregnancy, but also to ask me to take another blood test. My HCG levels were high, indicating a multiple pregnancy. We were in shock, and I was scared to death.
Moving right along, we were blessed with our twins, Reese and Reagan. The little ones arrived at 36 weeks via emergency c-section due to pre-eclampsia. They suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion, which went undetected until birth. Reagan weighed in at 5 lbs, 7 ounces and Reese at 4 lbs, 5 ounces. It was a wild and scary time for all of us, but thankfully, both girls are in perfect health.
The babies are identical, more rare than fraternals, and that makes me feel especially blessed, that God would entrust these extraordinarily unique little creatures to us. During my pregnancy, one my greatest fears was being able to tell them apart!
During the summer of 2009 we had another shock. I thought I was in the beginning states of perimenopause when my "friend" did not arrive. Well, nine months later my little Treyton Anthony arrived. Although the idea of another pregnancy and another child shocked and frightened me, he has taken our family by storm and has each one of us wrapped around his chubby little fingers.
In addition to the seven children under our roof, I am a working mom. I can't say that I enjoy working. Wait. Let's put this into perspective . . . every now and again, after a harrowingly busy weekend with chores, chauffeuring, puking, screaming and the like, Monday mornings don't seem all that unwelcome. But in the grand scheme of my life, there is nowhere I would rather be than home with the kids. I have a great job with great benefits, and it is impossible to give that up. Working for a living throws that extra ball into the juggle, but it is a necessity for our family.
People say to me, "how do you do it?" Sometimes I ask myself the same question. Looking back at times when the twins were just home from the hospital, I felt anxious and overwhelmed, which was exacerbated by lack of sleep and the constant chaos. And then another pregnancy and child, just added to the chaos, although after having two, one was a breeze. There are people who depend on me, and it is my responsibility to nurture, love and take care of them, all of them. How do I do it? One child at a time.
I have lots to share with you, from being a stepmom, to the mother of twins, to being a working mom, to simply having a slew of kids to love, discipline, chauffeur, play with, nurture and answer the ubiquitous question, "why?" We have our challenges and our triumphs, as any family does, but our family is invincible.