Pregnancy, Birth, Breastfeeding, Repeat: Four Babies in Eight Years

On February 8th of this year, my youngest child turned 2.

That night, after a full day of birthday fun, we made one last stop at the grocery store. We got our goods and headed over to customer service to get some gas rewards adjusted on our account. When the employee got to us, my oldest immediately said, “It’s my baby sister’s birthday today!”

The employee was super kind. She smiled and made the appropriate exclamations.

Then my oldest said, “Yep! She was a surprise baby.”

The employee did her best not to bust out laughing.

Then, my oldest took her thumb and stuck it out towards her other sister. “And this one was a surprise, too.”

The employee could no longer compose herself.

My oldest went on, “They knew about me, they planned me, but they didn’t know about these two!”

My husband and I were completely amused and only slightly horrified as we ushered our three girls out of the store. We laughed about it on the drive home and mentioned that we needed to remind her yet again that complete strangers don’t need our family history told to them.

But my oldest’s words reminded me of something else.

Since 2010, I’ve been pregnant five times.

I have given birth to four babies. I have three living children. Two of them were, yep, surprises.

I’ve had a baby every other year from 2011 to 2017.

I love my children. I adore my children. (I shouldn’t have to clarify that, but… hello internet.) My children have changed me in the most humbling and amazing ways. What I’m about to admit is about ME and is not a judgement or reflection on anyone else.

I would never recommend having four babies every other year, back to back to back and back again without more time in between each pregnancy.

Having said that, I know women who’ve had multiple children close in age and as far as I know, they’re quite healthy and happy. And when I consider my actual children, and their relationships to each other and my relationships with them, I have zero complaints.

So what’s my issue?

Me, myself. Well, more specifically, my body. My mind. Yeah, even my heart. I haven’t come out of this very physically healthy. When I first started talking to my family doctor, I remember saying, “My body just feels a bit broken.” Drained is another word I’ve used to describe how I feel. Almost like, my body just hasn’t had enough time to catch up. In fact, it’s just been getting further and further set back. My brain is foggy. My pelvic floor needs help. My diastasis recti is not fun. And my heart feels like it’s been wrung out a billion times.

Here’s the timeline:

  • Our first pregnancy in 2010 ended early in miscarriage. Twins.
  • A couple months later, our first daughter was conceived and born in 2011.
  • A few days after her first birthday in 2012, I realized I was pregnant again (surprise!), despite precautions.
    Another daughter born in 2013.
  • In the fall of 2014, we were pregnant again, not a surprise, though we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly (ha). His story a whole other story on its own. He died in 2015 at 40 weeks. A full term stillbirth.
  • A year later, in 2016, the day after his first birthday, I found myself pregnant again, despite precautions AND telling my husband only a couple months before that I was certain I wasn’t up for the emotional and physical toll of another pregnancy, possibly ever again. Our third daughter was born in 2017.

Later in 2017, my husband got a vasectomy. He made the decision himself due to his own shock and grief. After our last daughter’s birth, which was amazing and very healing, he needed to then be done. He feels very similar to the way I do, and has his own thoughts on the past few years.

I’ll be honest, when we made it through 2018 without a pregnancy I was surprised. I still joke that we’ll probably end up in the small percentage of people to get knocked up after a vasectomy.

And now, in 2019, I have a two year old and I am NOT pregnant. Slowly, but surely the fog of the baby years is lifting. I have a little more room to breathe and think. And I’m unpacking the past 10 years. I’m talking to my doctor about my hormones, my thyroid, my blood pressure, my heart health. I need to get back to the pelvic floor therapist. I need to make time to see a grief counselor more regularly. The juggling act of appointments for myself, the money and time needed for them, making sure to apply any changes to my lifestyle daily, while still caring full time for my kids isn’t something to shrug off either.

Everyone has their unique journey, and obviously, grief and loss is a component of mine. Even still. I might be tempted to caution another mother from having pregnancies so close together. I believe the emotional and physical experience of pregnancy and postpartum just aren’t respected enough in our society. Healthy recovery after pregnancy and birth is so important. 

Perfect timing isn’t always possible though right? I think a gap of 2 to 2.5 years or longer in between pregnancies would have been much better on my body. Not 12-18 months. But, that’s not how it all worked out for me. Sometimes, despite precautions, you get pregnant.

I say all this, knowing how very privileged I am, knowing that there are those with access to much less than I had. I also know that there are families out there longing for pregnancy. I definitely have some healing to do, a little processing, but now I’ve now got three amazing daughters, and I got 40 weeks with my son before we lost him.

This is how my child bearing years played out.

And yeah, they were a doozy.

Dani is a photographer, blogger and homeschooling mom in Lee’s Summit. She and her husband Neil have three wonderfully unique daughters and a son who they lost due to a 40 week stillbirth. She has lived just outside Kansas City and around the Lee’s Summit area most of her life. She loves to support local food, businesses and creatives. The Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmer’s Market is her happy place. Her family loves being outdoors, and they are always happy to garden, hike, kayak and explore. You can find more of her musings and adventures on instagram @girl.grows.wild.