Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And My Lucky Number Is . . .

This may be an unusually long post. I have an unusually large family.

When I was in high school, I told everyone I wanted to attend UC Berkeley and be a lawyer. Maybe I'd have three or four kids, but that wasn't my first goal. And I meant it.

I ended up graduating from BYU in medieval history with a minor in humanities. After I had my first child.

You see, our Heavenly Father has different ideas of what our lives need to be for us to learn what we need to learn while we are here. And here is the tale of how I became the mother of many.

Brad and I were married June 23, 1989 in the Salt Lake City LDS temple. We were both in school full time, and we were going to wait to have kids for a few years. After we'd been married about eight months, I started to feel the itch--you know the one. The baby itch. It took me a few months to pass the itch on to him, but when we both finally agreed, it only took us one month before we were expecting our first child, and I was thrilled.

I don't want this to devolve into a succession of birth stories, so let me just say that Heidi's birth was scary--two months early and weighing in at one pound and twelve ounces, I left my firstborn in the care of the Utah Valley NICU for 65 days. When she came home at three pounds and fifteen ounces on February 5, 1991, I finally felt like I'd become a mother. I loved that baby (still do!). But the transition to a full-time stay-at-home mom was hard for me. I missed the interaction with people. I missed feeling like I was doing something important. I missed being Jenny.

Since her birth was so traumatic and complicated, we knew that if we were going to have another child, we needed to do it before we left Utah for law school--Brad's law school. We found out we were expecting Tucker a few weeks before we were ready to start trying. What a happy surprise. He was born one day early on May 17, 1992, just seventeen months behind his teeny sister. Four months later, we moved across the country to Chicago, and more kids didn't cross my mind. I was involved with a group of women--moms--who were all staying home with one or two kids while their husbands completed grad school of some kind.

I loved Chicago. It is one of the happiest regions of my memory--covering independence, family identity, self-acceptance, and young motherhood.

After two years of law school, the itch came back. I wanted another baby. It had been so easy the first two times. Time to try again. But it wasn't quite as easy this time. Months went by, and still no missed period. Graduation came, we left Chicago for sunny AZ, still nothing. Finally, after over a year of trying, I got pregnant. Benjamin was born almost four years after Tucker, and we all rejoiced in this new little Arizona brother.

Now I was the mother of three--and my oldest was five. I was gaining experience in this mothering thing. And I liked it. Since discovering myself in Illinois, I never looked back at the career and the other stuff. I was beginning to see that home was where I belonged.

Two and a half years later, I got itchy again. And I stayed itchy for what seemed like forever. This time, I went to a fertility specialist, and I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. Weird. I had always thought that if you could have one baby, you could have as many as you wanted. I learned that your fertility cycles. I didn't like that. But I still had that itch, so I started clomid and all the drama that comes along with it--charting, temperatures, timing. I became a psycho, crying uncontrollably every month when my period would start. And then the doctor gave us a limit--one more cycle was all he would recommend. And I had to make the decision if I was going to try harsher fertility medications or be satisfied with my three fantastic kiddos. Three is more than most have, anyway. But I knew that wasn't where our family should stop.

That last round of clomid was the one. I was pregnant, and we couldn't be happier. This was the first baby that we really got to have ultrasounds (I'm old, you know--pregnancy before ultrasound was a much more surprising adventure), and when we saw the profile, we knew another Denton was coming--Lily Jane joined our family April 4, 2000, almost four years from Ben's birth.

Like I said--inordinately long post. Inordinately large family. Hang with me.

Since my last two pregnancies had been so difficult to start, we were never careful. While on a trip to Mexico, we took a detour to a Mexican pharmacy for a pregnancy test. My period was almost two weeks late. And . . . ? Surprise. Here we go again.

I remember telling a friend at sixteen weeks that this was my LAST baby. I was 32, and five was a lot. A few weeks later, she was gone, and I entered the darkest, loneliest corner of my soul--grief.

I wanted a replacement. I wanted more. And that's when I knew that five would never be enough. Clomid and charts and thermometers entered our bedroom for a second time. And just like before, I ended up pregnant on the last clomid-enhanced cycle allowed. Someday I will write of that interminable pregnancy--28 weeks flat on my back, only up to shower every other day and use the toilet. But it was worth every single second. Every single one. Micah means "gift from God," and that's always how I've seen him. He's a special gift, sent to me through the loss of another.

He was just ten days old, and we had taken our family to the school playground. Brad and I were sitting on the bench next to the stroller, marveling at this tiny miracle, when Brad said (after seven months of grueling double duty as the dad and the mom): "I'd do it again." That's when I hoped Micah wouldn't be our last child.

We waded through the foster process about this time, thinking that fostering to adopt would be a great route for us. We waited for placement for almost a year, and nothing happened. This was almost as frustrating as trying to get pregnant. Someday, there is a post in this process as well.

This time, we didn't wait--no barriers, but not really trying for much. I did the six months of clomid again. Nothing. I was beginning to think that that was all--five kids to take care of, one to miss. Then, two months later, we knew we would be parents again. Hyrum was born March 28, 2007. We were thrilled. Heidi was sixteen, and Micah was two. That's a big spread, but I knew how to do this mothering thing now.

March 1, 2009--positive pregnancy test. Brad articulated both our thoughts when he blurted: "What does that mean?" You'd think by now we'd know that that meant. Brad was excited. I had to get used to the idea. Baby would be born after Heidi left for college, and I was old--almost forty. When Eve was placed in my arms a year ago, I knew God had saved one of His tenderest blessings for last--this sweet, blue-eyed angel for our family to dote on and fight over.

And somewhere, deep down inside, I felt something I'd never felt before. That's it. She's the last one.

It's hard to say last. But this journey through motherhood has been enlightening. I know this is where I belong. I know this was my calling in this life--to mother these seven beautiful, wonderful, headstrong, smart babies. I know we were meant to weather life together.

So my lucky number? I still struggle with the question: "How many kids do you have?" When they're all swarming around at a restaurant, screaming and fighting and laughing, it may seem like twelve. Sometimes I say eight. Usually I say seven.

But I do know one thing--God's plan for my life wasn't in the courtroom arguing over millions.

The plan was for me to be home, arguing over shoe choices and clean rooms. Teaching responsibility and faith. Showing love and joy. Learning that motherhood is the most rewarding job in the world for me.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We want to hear your story. Please link below.


  1. wow, great job making your story concise!!

    It was hard to know what to include and what not.

    Thanks for another great challenge!

  2. Jen, this is so beautiful! I really needed the ending. Seems like you are in a good spot. Mothers need your positivity! simply wonderful. hugs, Cathy

  3. Hi Jen,
    I love your blog :) I am a lurker. I am not even sure what I want to say but I struggle with whether we are "done" as a family. As a mom to two boys I always get asked if we are going to try for a girl. Like somehow I get to pick the sex of our baby, or our family won't be complete without a baby girl. Your post resonated with me. Maybe I don't have to frantically try to figure it all out or develop time tables of the ages we will be when we have x, y, or z happening in our lives. Maybe I can wait and let what will happen happen. It makes me think when we are "done" I won't have all these questions and I will know it. Thanks for a great post!

  4. I loved reading your story and it made me cry to think of my "rollercoaster" as well. It is a tender area for me to post about my experiences. I have more than 5 little sweethearts. It is not something I feel like I can share on a blog, but being a mother is the most precious gift I have ever had in my life.
    Congratulations on your beautiful family - they didn't come easy.

  5. Love this post. And it wasn't too long at all. Wierd to think I've been in your life for 4 of those babies.

  6. You are the best! Thanks for helping us all realize our stories...eventful, inspiring, even mundane and uneventful(as I feel mine is)...we all have a story...and worth sharing, indeed!
    I hope lots of readers will link up today!

  7. Such a great post Jen. I'm in the midst of birthday party preparations so hopefully I'll be able to join up in a day or two. I actually forgotten about clomid. Me too! Fertility then no fertility.

  8. Such a beautiful post! I literally had a tear in my eye while I was reading it. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I think being a Mom teaches more about the highs and lows of life more than anything else could possibly teach. The joys are higher and the sorrows are lower. Nothing gets to us like the lives our children and grandchildren are leading. Thanks for giving me seven of the biggest joys I have ever known, and one of the deepest sorrows, which makes me appreciate the joys even more. LOVE

  10. wow. I am another of your blog stalkers.
    Beautiful story. I had my 6th at age 32 just 5 months ago. I have a neat story of my me anyway. My 6th has been especially heaven sent.
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Wonderful story Jenny. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Great post Jen! Loved reading about how your family came to be. :) Thanks for sharing!

  13. ok i sobbed through this blog of yours....i know the midwife asked me at the last visit if this was it...i told i wasn't sure..i just didn't feel it was yet. #5 isn't even here yet and all i can picture is something is still missing! thanks for sharing ur story!

  14. So tender. I had no idea you went through all that infertility crap to get where you are. And it was worth it.

  15. I feel like I really know you now! I think this post bonded me to you and your blog, more than I already am. You showed us your heart, and your journey. So tender and sweet you are.

  16. I didn't know you had wanted to be a lawyer. I always said I wanted to be a judge. No lawyer stuff for me--I wanted to be the boss in charge.

    But I can't picture you in any other career than that of a mother. I know your fierce loyalty and love for mothering. You are a tremendous example of taking pride and joy in the "work." You are a fabulous mother and you have a fabulous brood of children to boot!

  17. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story with us. It made me are able to write so openly and you own your feelings. I on the otherhand, feel very deeply, but am not a writer. I am struggling to put an ending on my own post...mabye I will be able to get it done today...maybe not.

  18. This post is absolutely beautiful, Jen...both the words AND the content. You deserve every one of those children, just as they deserve you!

    Your story is more like my mom's than mine. How I admire you both for struggling against the odds, cutting your losses, rejoicing in your gains, and making motherhood the important thing in your lives.

    Oh, sheesh. Now I'm crying again.



  19. Thank you for this post. It's something I needed during a time when I am struggling. Hopefully one day I'll be able to share my story. We are blessed with one beautiful daughter for now, with hope of more in the future.

    Such a beautiful family you have!

  20. Hi Jen, I came over from Suesnewviewsmuse...loved the story! How wonderful to have such a great family! I loved that you loved Chicago too because I was born and raised there and joined the Church there too! We live in Ohio now but home will always be Chicago...Great blog and beautiful children!

  21. Thanks for letting me participate! I love hearing about babies, and what a miracle every birth is:-)

  22. When someone asks me how many children you have I always say 8weird huh?

    Great story, I am working on mine.

  23. Great story. I like how your life took a turn from what you expected it to be. I guess this happens to most of us, but I love that you're happy with the change in plans. Beautiful beautiful family!

  24. oh jen i feel proud to know you in this blogging world...

    you are a total loving amazing inspiration to us all...

    & when you just know don't you...

    melissa xx

  25. This was an awesome story and I absolutely loved reading it! Your family is gorgeous and you are so blessed! I just found your linky tonight and it is far too late to tell my story ... as you see, I have 6 and my story will be long, too!! Maybe tomorrow!

  26. That was beautiful! I hope one day I get 'the done' feeling, otherwise I may never stop having babies :)

  27. I added to your link list but realised that mine isn't exactly 'my story'...... :) oops, sorry about that!! Either way I have really enjoyed reading some of the other stories (really not helping me in the 'maybe I'm done' department though ;) thanks for the lovely topic!

  28. Wow, I love your story. It's really amazing how every time you learned you were pregnant, you guys celebrated. I know people who would have panicked and stress over what to do but you guys accepted the new babies. You and Brad are really amazing. Your whole family is amazing and I feel blessed to have been able to learn so much about them. You make me want to have lots of kids too :) Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story :)

  29. Thanks for the fun really was great to read so many mother's stories! My friend Lindsey Vincent (she moved from Arizona last year....I think?) was the one to tell me about your blog. She thought I would enjoy reading it. You have a great family! It really is so fun to blog because you can get a glimpse of people that you might not have ever met without it!

  30. I never experienced a miscarriage, but have had years of infertility. My heart goes out to you and others who have had this loss. You have definitely been blessed with a large, GORGEOUS family. I wonder at times if just having one for us is going to hurt him growing up, but God has only blessed us with one, so I am at peace with that most days. Plus I'm getting older and not sure I can handle anymore! I always thought when I was younger that I would have a house full of wild and crazy children. The thought still gets me, but I think God gave me all of that in one child! :)

  31. i loved reading your story!

    that being said, i will not be adding my story to the collection. just the idea of putting it all down in words makes me tear up. just the one is who we have....and i've been a rollercoaster wreck ever since mr lkp & i married almost 9 years ago....not even knowing if i would get a cycle one month to the next but still knowing it wouldn't make a difference. i'd hope and continue hoping that MAYBE we'd catch a break....and we haven't. and even this month i was a basketcase in the bathroom after 2 months without a period. it's getting old holding out that hope....and the idea of infertility treatments, not to mention the price tag associated with it, scares me. and i'm awfully tired of getting one diagnosis only to have another doc take that diagnosis away...over & over. so i keep thinking just the one here for us in this part of our journey, but worlds without numbers when we're done here having been good & faithful in all things.

    so that's my story in a nutshell.

    i still love your story though. and your children ARE such absolute gems! i admire your family so much. :)

  32. Hi Jen - your story moved me more than you know ... thank you so much for inspiring us all and challenging us to dig inside our own heads to sort it all out ... I loved this one. Difficult, but I loved it. So cathartic. THANK YOU!!

  33. I had to come back to read your post again before commenting. I was born into a Catholic family - babies just happened, and they weren't always welcome. You can imagine how that went when I married and no babies came immediately - one part relief at having a little more time to myself and one part sadness. When no babies came it was all sadness - and then we were able to adopt. I don't take motherhood for granted. What for everyone I knew was a 'given'. for me it was, and remains, one of my life's greatest gifts.

  34. Hi jenny, I just found your blog. It is so great. I love this story about your family. It made me so emotional. I love how you just "knew" things, that mother's intuition is great isn't it. I look forward to reading more posts. Glad to have found you. Your family is lovely, your two underwear boys would get along sooooo well with my five year old!

  35. That was so lovely to read.
    I admire you and wish I had that feeling of need. My boy is almost 6 and I'm still not sure if I want to go again... wish I had more of that want feeling.
    Thanks for sharing. ♥ x

  36. i say this hoping it doesn't sound creepy, but i love you. i love you b/c i'm crying. we used clomid with both of our children. i have thought and thought and thought about what do now that max is almost one. i'm enjoying her so much. not feeling like i'm ready yet, but the woman that yearned for two years for her first inside of me is wanting another. almost like i want to test my body to see if it can do it on its own. like, "hey body, i'm not going to go on the pill, i'm just going to see what happens, i'll bet you can't do it!" but then a piece of me just wants to enjoy my two for a bit, but then another piece of me wants to keep on trucking, but then another piece of me wants to sit around and just settle ourselves for a minute. then the irrational only child in me wants everyone to have their own bedroom. did i mention that i am "uninsurable" in utah for indiv health plan b/c of our clomid use? so i go into the same uninsurable pool at $1000 a month just for me, and that's not even what they cover, that's just the monthly premium. so we'll def be paying for the next one in cash, so no finished basement, no extra bedrooms, just kids waking each other up and me going crazy. that's me being 100% honest. now, can you help me through any of that?? these are the irrational thoughts that fear strikes through me. then i remember, "faith, not fear." but man, that fear is really at the forefront. but i guess excuses always do that.

  37. Wow! Loved reading this. I didn't realize you had to work so hard- but I bet in a lot of ways that makes you appreciate your kids even more, though I have no doubt that you would love them and appreciate them anyway.

    I grew up outside of Chicago :)