Did We Plan This Many Children?

Paper Children

One of the most popular questions people ask us is, “Did you set out to have so many children?”

Good heavens, no. Who sets out to have 16 children? While we believe our perspective of children was positive, we were just like anyone else. “Children are great,” we would have probably said, “and we look forward to having a couple after we get married.”

Today, over 20 years into our marriage, we enjoy a houseful of commotion. We have 16 children today. And the shocking thing is, we’d gladly accept the 17th (or 18th, 19th, 20th, etc.).

In the typically cultural view, we, and families like us, are something of a freak show. We’ve been on a couple television gawk shows [Kids by the Dozen, 2007, Episode 3, Season 1] [“Born to Breed,” 2010, Secret Lives of Women, WE-tv] where millions of viewers caught a glimpse into our life of more than a dozen children. In a world of 2.1 children per married couple, it comes as no surprise that folks are curious as to what actually goes on in our small 2,000-square-foot home.

Want to know something funny? We sometimes wonder the same thing. God has given us one child at a time, sort of “slow cooked” us over the years. Every child comes with the same excitement as the previous. First the news, then the dreamy preparation of expectation, the delivery, the big announcement, the baby shower, and the cuddling of the newborn. Then the journey of the blessing of the child that lasts a lifetime. It is a process of which we have not yet grown tired.

Intriguing, isn’t it? Now don’t put us up on a super-saint pedestal. We struggle. We’re not immune to the same moments of doubts as you. There have been countless times we have wrestled with the obvious questions:

  • Can Wendy’s health keep up with this many children?
  • Can Chris’s income keep up with providing for them all?
  • How can we spread the love to so many in our household?
  • Can we really give the individual attention to each child?

Our books attempt to give answers to these questions, sort of “lay it on the line.” Obviously, with 16 children, we’ve settled a lot of these issues and have pressed on. We cannot think of a more joyful, loving, fulfilling life than the life we live today.

Of the four bullet points listed above, there is one question that is not on the list. It is not on the list of most couple’s, come to think of it. You probably didn’t even miss it when you read the list.

But we’re going to save that for tomorrow’s post. For now, could you answer this question: Did you set out to have as many children as you have now? Or better: What doubts did you have? We’d like to hear from you.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Pam

    They seem like strange questions, don’t they? I would phrase those four questions this way:

    “Does using your body the way it was meant to keep it in good shape?”
    “Can God provide when we trust Him with our finances..and family size?”
    “Can love be a thing that grows and multiplies as one walks in faith and abides in Christ?”
    “Are we always able to do anything (like spend individual time with children, husbands, eat a meal) that we put our heart to, and that is a priority?”

    And then I would say ‘Yes to all’!
    As a mom of 13 I wonder things like, “I am just a lowly woman, still learning. Why me?” and “How is it that I am so blessed?” and “How awesome, God, to have so many little prophets, prayer warriors, dish washers, friends, people to chat with, and so much life here.” and “I never would have thought of this. What a great surprise, Lord!” and  “How nice to let go of stuff, and embrace loved ones.” and “Can I run to you enough, Lord? Because I sure need you so much.”

    • Chris Jeub

      I bet your house is full of love. You’re right on the track with tomorrow’s post!

  • Mary Lou

    We set out to have 4, but the 4th pregnancy turned out to be twins.  4 became 5 just like that.  We figured we were done – it was perfect.  5 years later we figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  Baby #6 happened just before my 45th birthday, and she definitely wasn’t “the worst thing”.  But now, at almost 49, I think my body is done.  Pregnancy ailments have increased each time, and the last time were almost unbearable.  We think our family is just the way God wants it. :)

  • Beka

    I only have 2 kids, and I didn’t set out to have this many! After our first daughter was born, both my husband and I said for a few months “Nope, we are DONE.” I know it will sound VERY funny to parents of many children, but it was just so overwhelming, and we were so new at it!
    Funny enough, we came to the decision to have more children when I was trying to come up with an arguement AGAINST my “Quiverfull” friend. The more study I did, the more God worked on my heart about children. I was pregnant with our second daughter shortly after we stopped using birth control, and we haven’t started again.
    God has faithfully provided for us so far and I *usually* have no doubts that He will continue to do so. Having two children is actually easier than having only one— I feel like I have it slightly more together this time, and I can see how I might get more and more “in the flow of things” as more babies come along.
    Of course I worry about money, time, my sanity… but I also see how much joy and love having my children has brought not only me, but those around me. I see what a blessing my daughters are to each other— something I never experienced growing up as an only child.
    Anyway, your blog has been a great blessing and encouragement to me! I look forward to reading the next post.

  • Sonya Lillis

    i would say the first child is the hardest to adjust to, everythign is so new and overwhelming.
    right now we are expecting #6 and it does get easier with each one (providing they don’t have huge medical needs, our 4th child does he is severely disabled and we had to adjust to a “new normal” after he was born…he’s 3 years old  and in some ways we are still adjusting…but after having a child that needs so much our “normal” babies seem easy. lol) did we set out to have this many? not really. we didn’t know what “we” wanted but we put it in God’s hands and at this point we hope he blesses us with more to come. were only 28 years old and we LOVE having a big family.

  • Sarra

    I certainly didn’t think this would be how my life would turn out! My husband and I have been married almost 12 years and now have 7 children ( with the potential for more with our miscarriages) and though I come from a family of 8 children and did think I wanted a larger family, doing it the way God has decided was NEVER my plan. Around baby 4 God started working on our hearts and telling us we weren’t completely surrendered to Him. It took a long time for me to get the message, and I still have many days that I take my focus off the “prize” and think I can’t do this anymore. I can’t put on and take off the weight one more time. I can’t deal with the morning sickness and take care of all the other kids one more time. I can’t be a good wife and mother while being pregnant one more time. I can’t go into labor early and be laid up one more time. I can’t deal with the emotional roller coaster one more time! Then I realize there’s a lot of “I’s” there and we surrender and ride the roller coaster with it’s ups and downs and come out with another blessing and life is ok. God continues to bless my husband’s ministry and we always have what we need when we need it! Many days are hard, but the blessings are so much greater! I don’t think we would go where we were supposed to if God gave us the whole picture ahead of time!

    • Chris Jeub

      “Surrender.” We love this word. It explains a lot of our life, as it does yours, too.

  • Tawny

    We did set out for only two children, but after severe infertility and some other factors, the Lord changed our hearts in the most drastic of ways. We will accept any and all children the Lord gives us. 

    Do I have doubts? No. 

    We are what is considered secondary infertility. Meaning we have had kids, it wasn’t easy to get those kids,but any future pregnancies are not to be expected because of the infertility. I don’t doubt any children we would receive. Whether that be NO more, or whether that be a baby a year, until I hit menopause.

  • T. Gates

    We have 5 children now.  I’ve always wanted a “big” family, and I’ve always told people that four children was my minimum.  I know that it is in God’s hands to have allowed me to reach that goal, and I’m SO thankful for it!  But now that we’ve met and exceeded 4, I can honestly say that I don’t know when “enough” would be “enough”.  There are SO many things to be learned with the arrival of each one, and there is NO WAY to explain it!  I’m so thankful for the blessings God has given me already, and I would love to have more.  I’m so unworthy to be entrusted with such priceless gifts; I hope that I can only begin to do Him justice with what He has trusted me with!  What an awesome privilege!

  • Briannacorinne

    I struggle with wanting to nurse my babies, and therefore wanting to postpone pregnancy. I got pregnant with #2 when #1 was just 4 months old and struggled a lot with losing my milk supply, my son refusing formula, etc. I have been fertile just a few months after each baby has been born. I now have 4 kids. We’ve been using Fertility Awareness between children to help space them a bit more. I just feel that it is important for me to not be pregnant without break. I also have to be on a really strict low-carb diet during my pregnancies and I barely gain weight yet have large babies, then I need some time to build up my reserves again. I hate feeling like I need to decide when the time is right to start trying again, and I also hate holding an infant that is trying to nurse with no milk because a new baby is already growing…

    • Heather in OH

      I’m so sorry you’ve had that problem.  I get pregnant while nursing and nurse throughout my pregnancies with no problems.  The first couple of weeks there are some supply issues, but the supply usually comes back up.  OF course, not noticeably for me, since the more babies I have the less full I feel, and the less “let down” I feel, but the babies grow and pee and poop, so they seem to be fine.  I feel for women who have these issues, since it seems to be so easy for me.  :(

    • Barbara

      I know exactly what you are going thru!!! You just about said my own story! We have 3 wonderful blessing now. Age 4, 2 1/2 & 5 months. When I got pregnant w/ my 2nd one, my first one was 8 months. Sadly I couldn’t supply enough for her, had to supplement with goats milk. my milk supply diminished fast but she still kept nursing up till baby was born & even after that still wanted it till she was 2. thankfully my 2nd baby was a yr & a half before I got pregnant again. He quit nursing about halfway into that pregnancy. I had even more trouble making enough for him & had to supplement him too. And now with this baby, I am already having problems making enough. Thankfully I have a friend & sister also breastfeeding & between us 3, so far I have enough breastmilk for him.
      I really want more kids but hubby is a bit more hesitant. Partly because he sees how hard it’s been on my health. I do want more space between the next ones. I’m fertile too, just months after each birth. And I saw a difference in the last 2 pregnancies versus the first one, because I haven’t had the chance to rebuild my health inbetween. Right now I’m dealing with SEVERE hairloss & I’m freaking out cuz I don’t have much left. Anybody know what to do to help that?

  • Jolene O’Dell

    When my husband and I were first dating I had one child from a previous marriage.  My husband wanted 4 more children (+ the 1 I already had) plus we wanted to adopt 2-3 children.  Well, when we realized we were starting out marriage being okay with 7-8 children we threw the “number” away and just let the Lord lead.  We’re at 4 going on 6 children (2 by birth and 4 adopted) and, of course, open to more.  We are so blessed to give children a home that truly have nothing.  We can’t wait to add more by birth as well…whatever the Lord has planned! 

  • Jennifer Mull

    I knew I was going to have a large family…. it just so happened that I thought a large family was FOUR children…. LOL! After our fourth, that is when the Lord began to speak to my heart, and when I finally accepted what I believed God told me, I found out that He was speaking seperately to my husband as well… so there we were… we have had all the same doubts as anyone, but God has proven Himself over and over… through four more children… plus four miscarriages…. He knows best!

  • Anonymous

    When my husband and I were dating we decided we wanted 3 or 4 kids.  When we hit the 3 kid mark we were so overwhelmed (our oldest two are 10 months apart due to the second one’s prematurity) that we decided to take our time deciding if we were done.  Four years later we realized we were done and took permanent steps to make sure we were done.  3 years after that I found out I was pregnant so we reached our magical 4.  Trust me, we are completely and utterly done now!  No doubt in my mind we have filled the Lord’s calling and he 100% agrees with our decision.

  • Jesfrs

    We thought we’d have four. Then I lost two early in pregnancy and found out that the pill does that – kills your babies, or at least it can. That was it for us! Two years into marriage I gave birth to our first living child, and 10 years later am pregnant with number 5. We have never again used b/c, although it took me until after number 3 to be fully convinced we’d continue down this road. I realized that what God’s Word says about children is very different from what society and often the church says about them. I realized that if I trusted that His Word was true – all of it – that I couldn’t skip over those parts and explain away why I chose to not obey His command to be fruitful and multiply, or why I agreed that I thought they were a blessing but for heaven’s sake don’t bless me God! Or if I believed His Word I would know that He would provide for all our needs – financial, physical, emotional….and if He chose to take me home, then He would provide for my family, because if He decides your days are finished here, then avoiding the “dangerous” practice of having children isn’t going to change that. Our first three babies were in the NICU. The third for two weeks. It was so hard, it caused me to question having more. But that’s when God really gave me a huge measure of grace and allowed me to see clearly that in trial, we grow closer to Him, and then the blessing comes. The fourth was NOT in the NICU! And I praise God every day that He allowed me to have more and experience this wonderful life. Number 5 arriving in March will be my fifth csection. And God is sovereign over that too, and even gave me a doctor who doesn’t push birth control on us, but rejoices with us over every new life. So I thank and praise Him that He is great, and has given us eyes to see, lest we miss out on what is truly one of the greatest blessings this side of heaven. To Him be the glory forever and ever.

  • Tiffany

    I am a mother of 4 beautiful boys and long to trust in God’s path for my life, as well as for how many children we will have.  I have not always felt this way, but with every child it has grown on me.  I have also lately dug deeper in faith, and reached a new level with God. Praise the Lord! On the other hand, my husband does not feel this way.  I struggle with this everyday and ask God to guide our hearts to His will.  Until then, I will continue to be obedient and pray for my family.  Any other suggestions? Have you guys ever struggled with this?

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  • mark cowperthwaite

    We have 4 children with us today, 1 due to join us in the “outside world” this summer, and 2 who have gone home with the Lord. Thank you for sharing your insights, the good and the bad, the hard times and the blessings. We plan to keep following your blog, and learning with you all God has to teach us as we serve Him by serving our families. 

    • Chris Jeub

      Thanks Mark! We’ll see more of you.

  • kimberly Schrode Lawson

    I have one child.  No it is not the number I set out to have.  I would have been thrilled with more. For 7 years before I had my son I begged God to give me a child.  Then for the last 8 years of his life I have asked god for another.  One day though it hit me. I am NOT in charge.  My plan isn’t God’s plan and I am in love with the blessing He has given me.  Some day the Lord’s plan will be revealed to me but large or small God gave us all. Peace!

    • Chris Jeub

      VERY well said. Thank you!

  • Amy Cadenhead

    My husband I have 7 kids, more if we count our 3 miscarriages.  Whenever we are asked “how do you do it?”, I answer having one is the most difficult.  It teaches you to think about someone other than yourselves and to put their needs first.  Going from 1 to 2 is hard, you must learn to split your attention.  Then 2 to 3, you think…”I don’t have three hands!!!!”  After that we were good!!!  It takes patience, and a lot of teamwork between my husband and I.  When we married, we never thought about how many kids we would have.  We face constant judging from everyone in our lives, but I always ask “where would you have had us stop?”  “Which of our children should not be here in your opinion?”  No one can ever answer that question.  I could not imagine my life without my gang!  I thank God for each and every one of our children!

  • Tgawthroupe

    I’m interested in hearing more about Wendy’s health.  I’m currently expecting our 4th, and need daily IV treatments to battle severe Hyperemesis while pregnant.  Because my illness gets worse with each pregnancy, our doctor is advising me to take steps to ensure this is the last pregnancy, b/c she isn’t sure how much more my small body could take.  Every pregnancy means that I am completely absent from family/kids for the duration, which has been much of my kids’ lives (ages 2, 4, 6, + 1 miscarriage).

    My struggle revolves around the idea of interfering with God’s plan for us.  We get lots of advice in both areas: some people say it’s my responsibility to be here for my kids as they grow, and so not to try to have any more.  Others say that God’s will be done (without my medical interfering) and that if he wants to take me home, that’s his plan.  Do you think that a decision like surgical sterilization can be a part of God’s plan, even considering his command to “go forth and multiply”?

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  • Cheyenne Tony

    Here’s 2 all that have planned children or not;  who have 1 child or 20 children. For families with children who R sick, healthy , challenging, or in God’s hands. These are the  Lyrics to Natalie Merchants’ “Wonder”. It was given to me by a
    NICU nurse after being in the hospital for almost 6 months with a preemie. This song has gotten me through the toddler, pre-teen, & now teenage years along with prayer &  the Lords Guidance:

    They say I must be 1 of the
    wonders, Of god’s own creation, & as far as they can C they can offer No
    explanation. Ooo, I believe, Fate smiled & destiny, Laughed as she came to
    my cradle, Know this child will be able, Laughed as my body she lifted, Know
    this child will be gifted, With love, with patience & with faith, She’ll
    make her way. People see me I’m a challenge 2 UR balance, I’m over your heads,
    How I confound U & astound U 2 know I must be 1 of the wonders Of god’s own
    creation & as far as U can see U can offer me, No explanation. Ooo, I
    believe. Fate smiled & destiny. Laughed as she came 2 my cradle, Know this
    child will be able, Laughed as she came to my mother, Know this child will not
    suffer, Laughed as my body she lifted, Know this child will be gifted, With love,
    with patience & with faith She’ll make her way. Of god’s own creation, & as far as they can
    C they can offer No explanation. Ooo, I believe, Fate smiled &
    destiny, Laughed as she came to my cradle, Know this child will be able,
    Laughed as my body she lifted, Know this child will be gifted, With love, with
    patience & with faith, She’ll make her way.