I honestly can not tell you how many times I have uttered those words in my lifetime. I have been pregnant a half-dozen times myself and every time Sheepdog and I have told our kids we have announced it at dinner. I mean, it got to be so common that every time I said, “We have some great news,” the kids rolled their eyes and thought either that I was knocked up or we were going to move again (and we’ve only lived in like five houses since we started having kids, so… give me a break). Plus, I have three younger sisters, all of whom have three kids of their own – that’s fourteen announcements all together. We are a fertile bunch. My grandmother (we called her “Kettle”) named us the Rabbit Family. My mom brags that she was so fertile that contraception didn’t even stop her from making babies. Each of us are identified by our own failed method that granted us life on this earth (I think I was the failed Pill, Sister B was a failed IUD, Sister C was a failed condom, etc.). With that kind of track record you would think she would begin to examine her own user error, but I’m certainly not complaining. None of us would be here if it were not for my mom’s lack of ability, so we’re all good.
Big Family does not even begin to describe us. We are not Duggar Family big, but that’s just silly. Kettle was the oldest of five kids. My mom is the oldest of four, as am I. My dad is one of six. When we get together for birthdays and the holidays there is not just a kids’ table, we actually have to build a new dining wing. It sounds like a good plan to go to Wednesday Night Suppers at local churches just to get tips on how to serve the masses. Anyone who also comes from a large family knows exactly what I mean. The panic always comes from those who don’t. Sheepdog is one of only two kids. And his sister is seven years younger than him, so they might as well have been only children. I’m sure you can imagine how scared Sheepdog was when this new girl he was dating announced that she wanted to have five kids (and had already named them L, M, N, O and P – just listen as it rolls off the tongue!). Needless to say, I have had to bribe him each and every time I was ready for us to add another baby to this crazy family. I can’t tell you how much I struggled with the decision to stop getting pregnant all the time.
I was thirty-six years old when I delivered Kid E. Do you know that the experts call that “of an advanced maternal age?” I think that is a horribly offensive slur, but I can be logical so I do understand that certain medical risks start to go up as you get older. Plus, I had had four Cesarian sections by the end. A c-section is major surgery and recovery from it can be a bitch. Pregnancy was mostly enjoyable for me (Sheepdog again claims I have revisionist history on this point) but no one can challenge that I truly loved feeling a baby flutter inside of me. Growing a human being from scratch gave me an awesome sense of control, even though I know it really had nothing to do with me. We were just extremely lucky that we could make healthy babies. And Oh, how I love the babies.
It just made sense to Sheepdog (and to that damn logical part of my brain) for me to have my tubes tied after Kid E was delivered. I was already in the operating room and having even one more kid after him would mean either tying a kid or two to the roof or getting a family vehicle bigger than the one we have with an XL at the end of its name. Sheepdog was in the O.R. when the doctor did it and he (1) watched very closely to make sure he did a good job and (2) asked him to cut out just a little more because he had read something about spontaneous regeneration and knew that something like that could and probably would totally happen to me. So now Sheepdog can brag forever more that he will NOT be married to a pregnant woman ever again.
Fast forward a couple of years and even though my egg chutes have been cut and cauterized and forever banned from hosting an egg and sperm cocktail, I would swear that I am once again in the family way. I know all of the feelings and signs and symptoms. I have them all plus I am late. Sheepdog is in a complete panic, although I can see that he believes that he would totally be The Man if his boys made it through the wilderness and found something to fertilize despite the fact that I was supposedly rendered unable to conceive. So we stop to buy a pregnancy test (always buy the box with two… just in case) and wait in a crazed panic like teenagers for the results on a stick. I am dumbfounded when I see with my own eyes that…
I am not pregnant. Duh. Seriously, I mean of course I am not pregnant because I had my tubes tied. The chances of me conceiving naturally now are less than 1%. Seeing a negative pregnancy test made me a little sad for what could have been, but it also gave me a renewed sense that our family is what it is supposed to be – Me and Sheepdog and our five chickens. It makes me really happy and extremely satisfied. I continue to be a very lucky girl.
Oh, and wish me luck for tomorrow…