Don’t You Know What Causes That?! (How We Ended Up with 7 Kids)

Almost every time I go out somewhere with my children, I get asked the questions…

Are they all yours?!


How many do you have?!


Don’t you know what causes that?!

Sometimes people just stare in disbelief…

or I see them counting the “stair-steps” as we pass on by.

Regardless, we always seem to get some kind of reaction.  And honestly, I find it quite entertaining.

People are just genuinely curious WHY I have so many children.

They will often create an explanation on their own,

such as remarriage or adoption.

And when I reassure them, that I really did carry each and every child that stands before them, they drop their jaws in disbelief.

Then they usually tell me they think it’s great.  All the power to you.  You just don’t see big families like this anymore, they explain.  God bless you.

But while I’m standing there in Super Walmart, with two shopping carts full of groceries, I don’t often have time to get into the details.  The God details.  The details of how He chose the perfect number of children for our family.

So here’s the rest of our story.  The nitty gritty. The dirt on how we ended up with 7 beautiful children.

When we began having children I was on the one-kid-at-a-time plan; We’ll see how this goes and reevaluate after each child.  Because after all, I had been warned…

Once you have three, you’ll be done.  Trust us.

While pregnant with our first, I was pretty certain she would be an only child.  I felt awful.

But oh my, once I held that beautiful baby girl, all was forgotten.  When Maddie Rose was only a few months old, I was already set on having another.

Now let me just point something out here, before anyone begins to speculate.

I am a baby addict.  Full-fledged.  Nothing recovered about me.

And I have been this way for my whole life.  Truly a God-designed baby addict.

So once I held that first baby in my arms, I knew I needed more.

Then I had a miscarriage, when Maddie was about 15 months old. I was saddened, and after doing some research, realized some moms are never able to carry to term again.  I felt scared and realized that I would be absolutely devastated if we couldn’t have more.  I also became a Christian around this time and my entire perspective about most things began to change.

My next pregnancy progressed perfectly, and we welcomed our first son, Gavin Matthew.  I appreciated the miracle of this baby in a whole new way.  I was thrilled with our little family of four, but I was also fully convinced that another baby would just add that much more joy.

About two years later, we welcomed our third child, a precious baby girl.  While Keagan Grace was an absolute pleasure, I experienced a lot of discomfort following her delivery.  I sought the expertise of several specialists for pelvic floor problems.  I wondered if I could or should have more.  I ultimately decided to leave all of it in God’s hands.  Who better to trust with my future than Him?

Our fourth child, Benjamin Luke, was born 18 months later.  Although baby’s delivery went smoothly, my placenta stuck and I hemorrhaged a lot following his birth.  The doctors suggested that perhaps he should be our last.  Once I recovered though,  I felt better than I had in two years. I was truly amazed by God’s mercy.

When I became pregnant with number five….well…, I started crying.  Not because I didn’t want another baby. Remember, I’m a baby addict. ;) But because I couldn’t endure another first trimester of morning sickness, while struggling to take care of four kids.  It was one of my worst early pregnancies.  I would be dry heaving on the floor, while sobbing that there was nothing in the fridge that I could possibly eat.  My husband, God bless him, would offer to run to the store, begging for suggestions of what to buy.  I was clueless, nothing sounded appealing.  He’d return home with his best selections and the sobbing would resume.  He had purchased nothing I could bring myself to eat.  And so it went that first trimester.  I wasn’t sure I could ever go through this again.  Ever.

Then my due date with number five came and went, but I never went into labor.  After battling so hard to have natural births after my two cesareans, I was shocked I would have to schedule a cesarean.  Yet I felt this amazing peace that it was all happening according to God’s plan, and even more, that I woud receive some sort of confirmation as to why it all turned out this way.

I was not on that OR table more than five minutes when the OB declared, “I have never seen anything like this before.”

I had a uterine window, an area of dehiscence, where the layer of muscle had given way.  The biggest he’d ever seen.  It spanned the breadth of his two hands and resembled cellophane.  It was quite literally a window in my uterus, through which you could see, a beautifully chubby baby girl.

He had protected her sweet little life.  He had prevented the inevitable.  I was 42 weeks and yet labor had never commenced.  The window hadn’t stood a chance of withstanding those forceful contractions.  Rupture would have been the certain outcome, and with it, the loss of precious life.  Thank you, Lord, for your amazing ways.

Following Gabby’s birth, and extensive uterine repairs, my OB recommended I not have anymore children.  He admitted he had absolutely no idea how my womb would function under the duress of another pregnancy.  He warned, “If It was my daughter, I would vote no.” He also added, that my uterus might be stronger than it had been in three years, because when he finished with the repair, it looked like a normal, healthy uterus.

The recovery following this delivery was difficult.  My cesarean incision had popped back open and was having trouble healing.  We performed wet-to-dry dressing changes for weeks, until it finally closed.

I was very overwhelmed after this child’s arrival.

Very overwhelmed.

Those women who tell you, any child after your third is no big deal, they’re liars.  All of them. Glad I finally got that off my chest. ;)

Everyone in the universe came to visit that fall.  We were leading small group at our house weekly and we were teaching Sunday school at church.  Homeschool was hardly happening anymore.  When Gabby hit the 3 month mark I was ready to lose my mind.  The only word that seemed to surface in conversation was “overwhelmed”.

We rented a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina for a month to reevaluate our life.  We needed to reprioritize things and figure out how to make life more doable.  I don’t even recall what changes we made, but 2 months later, Gabby started having seizures.  She was 6 months old.

I think God worked on me a whole bunch through Gabby’s seizures and my good friend’s battle with breast cancer.

He literally turned my life upside down.

Things I valued as important became meaningless to me.

My life came into crystal clear focus.

And when Gabby’s seizures miraculously stopped for 5 months, my faith in God soared.

I trusted God’s plan for my life.  Completely.

Anything he placed on my plate I could handle with His unfailing strength.

Pregnancy was without a doubt one of God’s miracles.

And a baby?  An amazing gift.

Who was I to question God’s gifts?

If He chose to bless us, I was absolutely willing to have more.  And as far as my uterus was concerned, I’m sure he’s got that covered too.

Then Gabby’s seizures returned…

and we found ourselves flying to NYC for a consult with a cutting-edge neurosurgeon.

We were unexpectedly back in the world of sick children, a very unsettling place to be.

On that 24 hour trip to Manhattan, I experienced the start of that tell-tale nausea.

My mind spun, as I tried to figure out the complexity of how all of this would work.

I questioned God’s timing.

We were consulting with a pediatric neurosurgeon to see if our youngest was a candidate for a three-stage brain surgery.

A surgery that would require weeks spent in the hospital.

I worried how a long, stressful hospitalization would clash with first trimester morning sickness.

I fretted about this baby’s exposure to things in the hospital, like radiation and chemicals.

I distressed about how I would ever care for a baby, and Gabby, if her seizures did not stop.

I feared this baby would have the same malformation.  I was afraid to take a pregnancy test.  It just seemed like too much.

But when the test turned positive I was joy-filled.  And God gave me the most amazing peace.  I’ve got this, He seemed to say.

We stayed in NYC for about 2 months.  My baby girl underwent the most radical brain surgery available.   A right hemispherectomy.

We spent weeks in the PICU and more weeks in rehabilitation.

I was 18 weeks pregnant when we finally returned home to NC.   I hadn’t yet been to the OB.  Gabby had 9 therapy appointments lined up per week and many follow-ups scheduled. I hadn’t seen my other kiddos in forever. We had so much catching up to do!

My heart was positively filled with thankfulness during this time though.  I was able to find joy in the smallest of things.

God worked it ALL out.  He was faithful.  He blessed me so much.  I had learned to literally live one day at a time, fully reliant on Him.

Four months later, we welcomed number six, Makinley Hope.  She was born perfectly healthy and was such a blessing from the very beginning.  (Well, apart from her insane ability to scream non-stop in the car for hours. ;)

Very quickly I saw that God’s plan was way better than my own.

I was ashamed that I had often questioned God’s timing for this new baby.

Ashamed that I had wrestled with the specifics of how Gabby, my special needs kiddo, would thrive with less of my attention and a new baby in the house.

Makinley was exactly what Gabrielle needed in so many ways.

She was exactly what we all needed….

Renewed hope.

Makinley’s arrival immediately forced Gabby to grow up a bit.  She could no longer claim status as family baby.

Kin forced Gabby’s independence to blossom.  A sibling coming up behind you, who’s meeting milestones left and right, can definitely put the pressure on.

Kin became the perfect playmate, she pretended and imagined, and talked non-stop to my speech-delayed Gabby.

To this day they are the best of buddies.  Inseparable.

I often look at them and wonder how I ever questioned His plan.

When Makinley was born, via c-section, we asked the OB to inspect my uterus carefully, to see how it held up throughout the pregnancy.  She reported that it looked very normal.  My response, Who was I to question His plans?

Unfortunately, Gabby’s seizures returned when Makinley was about one-month old.

That was a pretty stressful time.  A newborn and the return of seizures was enough to rattle my world.  The anxiety crept in and I sat awake praying, in my master closet, into the wee hours of the morning.

I wrestled with God, I prayed he’d take them away, but ultimately I surrendered.

In my mind’s eye, I once again scooped up Gabrielle, all snug in her blankie, and reached heavenward. I lifted her with arms extended, placing my sweet daughter into His strong, ever-capable hands.  Trusting that He knew best.  Trusting that He had plans, not to harm but to prosper.

And that act of visualizing surrender, and praying- Lord, lift this burden from me, for I can bear it no longer.  Carry it for me, Lord.,

It would leave me with complete peace.

Eight months later, Gabrielle underwent a fifth brain surgery and she remained seizure-free over the next 18 months.

I found out I was pregnant with number seven right around that time.  I was very happy to welcome another baby into our lives.  The pregnancy was difficult and it made homeschooling very challenging. But I tried to treasure every part of it, because the miracles truly do abound. It is a holy experience.  God is using you to create new life.  He is knitting together a baby before your very eyes.  Fluttering begins, tiny kicks surprise and delight, before long your entire belly is rolling and hiccuping all at the same time.  I soaked it all in.

As my due date approached, I was more than ready to meet the little guy.  I was placed on modified bedrest with only a few weeks to go and my doctor feared my uterus was thinning once again.  I questioned whether this would be our last and prayed that God would make it very clear.

A most adorable baby boy, Logan Robert, was born on a chilly day in March.  He was absolutely perfect.  During Logan’s cesarean, my OB reported that my uterus was abnormally thin, like cellophane again.  She showed it to Duff, who confirmed my uterus looked exactly like Saran Wrap.  She strongly recommended this be our last.

I felt like this was our answer.  Logan will be our last biological child, and believe it or not, I actually have days when this makes me very sad.  Then Duff reminds me that the doctor had to reinforce my uterus with mesh and sew it to my bladder, in order to fully repair the weakness.  And then I recall it was an answer to prayer. I remind myself that this is God’s plan, not mine, which gives me great peace.

I truly believe God has a certain number chosen for all of us, whether it be ten or zero.

We are all so unique in our personalities, marriages, and ways of life.  You need only seek His will and He will provide an answer.

For us it was 7.  Lucky number 7.  A number I would have never come up with on my own. :)


  1. KatieTalbott says:

    Love your story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cindy Francis says:

    Beautiful story and beautiful kids.

  3. Stacey Fitzgerald says:

    All of your stories bring me to tears and uplift me at the same time. Beautiful.

  4. I had to count twice and then think very carefully about what I was doing wrong because I kept coming up with eight children when I counted the “stair steps” in your picture. I’m not sure if Duff should be flattered or offended by my error. Miss you!

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