Friday, June 4, 2010

So, we're having a baby.

So, here's a pregnancy post.  Snazzy picture, eh?  That's my daughter behind my right shoulder.  We cropped some other young'uns out of the photo because I didn't think it would be ethical to put pictures of other people's kids on the www.  I think this is the only belly shot I have so far - perhaps that's because most of the time I'm not anywhere near presentable?  :)

I am around 21 weeks along with baby #9.  I think it's safe to say that we're pretty excited.  The kids are getting more excited now that I am wearing maternity clothes.  We have an ultrasound this coming Tuesday, so hope to find out what gender we are having.

Some of you may remember that somewhere along the path of maternity adventure, I developed an Anti-E antigen in my bloodstream.  (The Anti-E is kind of rare.  There's no rhogam shot like there are for the more common rh factor issues.  Most likely it happened at the birth of our seventh child, Ben, when the doctor pulled the placenta too soon.)  What happens is that the baby's blood mixes with the mother's blood and the response is that the mother's blood becomes sensitized.  The potential trouble lies in the possibility that the mother's blood begins to recognize the new baby's blood type as an "invader," and her immune system can actually begin to attack the baby's red blood cells.  The trouble can range from "nothing," to severe jaundice which might precipitate an early delivery, to a blood transfusion en utero.  The really good news is that there *are* things that can be done, and usually, if a mother is monitored the outcome is good.

Our 8th baby, Mariam, had absolutely no problems either during or after her birth.  I remember at that time, the OB was absolutely panicked when she gave me the news, and we were sent to a fetal/maternal health specialist for blood work and high level ultrasounds.  We got lots of pressure about my age and about how we had an option to abort, which we fumed about and then ignored, and our end result (thankfully) was a wonderfully healthy little girl who will be three in November.

This time around, my doctor is great.  She is good at what she does, but she isn't very worried about the situation - we'll just do bloodwork once a month to monitor titer levels.  She initially thought that this might be some sort of an anomoly, but since the tests came back positive this pregnancy as well, that theory was thrown out.

I have seen a fetal/maternal health specialist this time as well.  She wasn't really concerned about the anti-E situation either.  She gave me the usual high-level talk about the need for monitoring this pregnancy BECAUSE OF MY AGE (I'll be almost 42 when the baby arrives,) which I also promptly ignored.  As my regular doctor (a family practitioner who delivers babies too) says, "they aren't taking into account that you have 8 healthy pregnancies and deliveries.  You aren't a statistic!"  So, we'll ignore all of the static about age and focus on a healthy baby and mama, too.  :)

We didn't really intend to wait so long to tell everyone about this baby.  At first, I was just waiting until Nick's trial was concluded.  I felt we needed to focus on that.  Then, it was early Spring and my parents need a lot of outdoor, physical-type help around their property.  I knew that if I told them, my mother would worry and not let me help as much.  Then, I saw the doctor and the blood-tests revealed I had the Anti-E thing again (and now we know I'll always have it...) and I put off telling the kids and everyone else, too, because I wanted to see what the fetal/maternal health specialist said.  If something was very wrong, I wanted to be able to tell the kids from the very beginning and help prepare them.  Well, the first ultrasound there was good, and we thought it was a good time to tell everyone.  Then, Jeff fell sick with the staph infection.  It just never seemed a good time, and so I knew I really needed to say something because soon it was going to become "hugely" obvious.  :)  It sort of sounds like "If you give a mouse a cookie...," doesn't it?  :)  Enough with the drama, already!

This is my ninth baby.  There are parts of pregnancy that I grow weary with.  Some people assume that having babies must be easy for me, since I've done it so much.  Well, that's not true.  There is physical suffering and most certainly a type of physical, mental, emotional sacrifice to have a child.  I don't like morning sickness, varicose veins, nor getting so huge that I can't hold my children on my lap.  I always dread labor, I'm not that good at it.  I don't have babies to validate myself, nor to fulfill some never-ending desire, nor to create a perpetual group of people who need me.  (Oh, please no, not that.  Sometimes, I desire to not be needed so much!)  It's not about some agenda nor about conquering the world, even though we do shamelessly conquer the playground.  (We try to be benevolent dictators there.)   I don't like the attention, neither from the incredulous medical staff that does not know me nor the stares we receive when we are out together.  Parts of being a mother to a large family, particularly a pregnant mother of a large family, are very uncomfortable for me. 

It's  Life, with all of it's ups and downs, really is incredible.  This is just how God has led us - my husband and me - over the years, His own personal plan for the Johnson family.  It's about who He wanted to walk this earth at this time, in this family.  It's not an easy life, not one that we think He calls everyone too, but it's a beautiful life and we are thankful.  (And a little bit nuts.)

So, since I am 41, I no longer take a baby for granted.  This might be the last  pregnancy God has in mind for our family. He'll let us know.   Right now, the little baby movements are very treasured and precious.  The other children and their reaction to the baby are priceless. I'm journalling and remembering, especially the little ones and their awed expressions as they realize that mama is really growing something in there!  :)  (I don't think they really "get it" until the baby arrives and they can see and touch.)  Even the difficult things are bearable when I remember that this time and this phase of life are fleeting. 

Right now, I'm glad to be able to really focus on the joy of the journey, on the wonder of this new baby, on the here and now of the valid needs and love of every other kid, and on thankfulness that my husband is still here with us to meet this baby, rather than chafe at all of the other discomforts that life and pregnancy tends to bring.  It's a very, very sweet life.


  1. You still look radiant to me, Holly! You're glowing. :)

    I know pregnancy can be tough. And it's hard sometimes not to feel resentment toward it, because it hurts so much sometimes. But that precious baby at the end ... it's so worth it. And I'm happy for you and the baby, and can't wait to find out if it's a boy or a girl. More girls! LOL

    I'll be keeping you in my prayers! *hugs*

  2. What a wonderful post. :)

    I know exactly how you feel... though I've only birthed 5 children and now have the extra 2. People really get a kick out of large families (both good and bad reactions!)

    Thanks for the great update. So glad things are going well.

  3. Aw, thanks Vanessa. I think I look tired! :) (But don't feel that tired. Maybe I just need a tan.) :)

    I'm not complaining, really! I am just being realistic. It *is* funny, because since baby number 4 or so, I've had other women say, "Well, it must just be easy for you to keep having children." Well,'s not. I'm no martyr,'s not something I *have* to do. It's just...our path and our life. I'm blessed, even thru the hard times and the ugly, ugly varicose veins. (I think I see plastic surgery in my future, LOL.) I said some of those things...just so people understand a little bit better. Everyone is supposed to have an agenda, you know, and the more militant the better. I have no agenda...I don't even understand things very well. I just know this is my life and I wanted to explain for those to whom it maybe seems foreign.

    Side note: I had one sweet (but, um...strange and misguided) ol' guy tell me "congratulations" this week. He shook my head and winked at me, and said, "Good for you. We need more Christians. If you know what I mean, wink, wink." I DIDN'T know what he meant, but what do ya say to that? :) Heh. I should have written a book collection of strange sayings.

    And still,yes, I get the question, "Don't you know what causes that?" Um...yeah. I do. It's fun, too. :) And really? That question is sooo old. Soooo unoriginal. Give it up. :) (If you are the one who said this to me, don't worry...I'm just razzing you.)

    Leah - I just am so "not" a person who in real life likes to draw attention to myself - so, any type of attention is kind of uncomfortable. It's just my issue. We all have some, right? :) And you know, there's so many thoughts out there, such as, "if you have another child you are being bad for not only the environment but for the poor of the world, too." That's hard to wrap my brain around, because I think that a child can grow up to be a solution not a problem, a giver, not a taker.

    Ah well, it all comes out in the wash. :)

  4. And Vanessa? More girls. That's what I think, too! :) But Golly, my little boys delight me SO MUCH! I just think Mari needs a little sister...but she WILL BOSS her around if that is the case.

  5. Oh Dear Holly,
    Congratulations! Again, I just want to say how much I appreciate your realness. As I read this blog post, I just had to smile. While I may not have 9 kids, (I have 5.) and do not have the complications you have (instead I have high BP and a slow thyroid), I have been placed in the "advanced maternal age" category for my last two pregnancies and I can so relate to many of your feelings regarding pregnancy and the reasons for having the amount of children we have. Never in a million years did I think or imagine that I would have this many children. But I thank God for each one and the joys and growth they bring into my life.

    Thanks for just being you and sharing yourself with us. Blessings to you!

  6. : )
    Thanks for sharing!
    I love following your journey.


  7. Congrats Holly and Jeff and all the Johnsons!! So excited for you!!

    To all the rude comments....
    just slap the people!! Ha ha!

    Love ya!
    Karen in In

  8. Hi, Holly.

    Love you, and I'm right there with you. I may only be 33 having my ninth, but I'll commiserate that it does get OLD hearing the same stuff still. I'm not even angry or offended anymore, it's just... old news.

    Not only isn't pregnancy easy, even when it's relatively easy (KWIM?), it's less easy the older one gets. And I'm saying that already! But on the flipside, my kiddos are benefitting in spades from a more relaxed mom... not because I am choosing to be, LOL, but because it's either that or lose my marbles!! HAHA!

    I wish when we go out in public, sans dh especially, we had another mom w/kids to go together with. Like grocery shopping... although once our whole family went to the zoo with a friend and her kids (her dh was late to join us) and I wondered if people thought my dh was a polygamist! So maybe not.

    Thinking of you, dear.

  9. Oh I know you're not complaining, and I'm sorry if my comment made it seem like I thought you were.

    I just meant that pregnancy and labor/delivery are totally separate from a baby, and it's quite natural, I think, to feel frustration and resentment toward being uncomfortable and in pain, but totally excited and happy about the baby that's coming. Pregnancy is just the means to get the baby, but it's often not pleasant. :)

    Some people seem to think the 2 are combined somehow, and that if you express exhaustion with the pregnancy that it somehow means you're not happy about the baby, and nothing could be further from the truth. :)

  10. Oh, hey, Vanessa, no, I didn't think that! I tend to just go overboard in explaining things case someone else reading misunderstands. :)

    Pam - when our first several kids were little, we used to walk into church regularly with a friend who was widowed with three little ones. We did all laugh (she has a great sense of humor...) and say that we looked polygamist. Honestly, sometimes, she just needed help! She's the same friend that we used to go the mall every once in awhile, and we had so many children that we joked about getting matching shirts with the name of a pre-school on them. :) Just fun jokes that moms with lots of littles do to make it thru the long days!

    Karen - I'm with Pam. It doesn't make me mad or anything. Not now, anyway. Just...oh, well...I've heard it all. :)

    Christa, thank you. I am just me....sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. :)

    Leanne - thank you for sharing your journey with me, too! :)

  11. ((((HOLLY))))

    Congratulations, you! So happy for you. You look beautiful and I'm smiling with you. :)

    Lots of Love,
    Molly (in Alaska)

  12. Holly, I am so excited for you! Babies are the best!! You are a lucky woman to have the privilege of raising 9 of them. Enjoy those little kicks and holding your new one in your arms! Love, Didi

  13. I'm so happy for your family, Holly!

    And I love how you worded this post! I completely understand (and agree!) about the trials and difficulties. Since I don't want to be a complainer, people seem to get the idea that my life is all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, when it's ... uhhh... far from that!

    I love and cherish my large family, even through the difficulties, too! Each and every one of them!

  14. God is so gracious and I am so happy for you, Holly!
    Every day with each child is such a gift --- we do not pass this way again. You love so well....

    Much love, Holly!

    All's grace,

  15. I am so excited for your family and all the joy this little one will bring your way!

  16. Holly,
    We are so excited for you & Jeff. You are such an amazing, loving family! Although I can't relate to having babies at my age (42), I can say that being told I was going to be a grandma sure shook me up! But what a blessing it has been. Babies are such a delight - I am loving every minute. I think I'm glad that I didn't have to give birth to this one :) You are a trooper - hang in there girl! Can't wait to hear the gender.. keep us posted. Love & hugs, Heidi

  17. Holly
    I personally recieved fewer of the classic comments on child 6 and 7. I got more people saying "you must really like kids" and "you must have alot of patience". We often get compliments on our large family. Occassionally some grump will ask to be moved to a different table when sat near our family (in a restaurant).
    I can't imagine a smaller number. I like these people. I think some don't realize, we don't just love our kids, we enjoy them. Sure they are our responsibilities but they are also our friends.

  18. Heidi - I know. Soon we are going to start being asked if these are our grandchildren rather than our children. :) That's pride will take a little hit and then I'll move on and enjoy it all. :)
    I know that you are probably THE BEST Grandma in the world! :) (Grandma ain't what it used to be....)

    Robin - yeah, we don't honestly hear too much. But there are always a few freak out comments, and, especially at first. :) It's funny, because this time, my mom said that my Dad was so surprised. I'm thinking, "really? Why? Why is a 9th so surprising when you already have 8? Have I ever said that I was done? Well, I did back in the day, after four children." :) Usually mom is the one who is surprised (and immediately begins making an afghan...) and Dad takes it in stride. I guess maybe he thought I was too old this time. :) It's all cool, really. No big deal. We are very excited.

  19. Hi Holly,

    I am so happy to hear that you are going to have a baby. I have been thinking about having #4 and just turned 39. I needed to see some other women who are getting pregnant in my age group. Do you find that the age gap between your children causes any problems? My boys are 9, 8, and 4. I am pretty anxious about how the family will adjust and everyone's health. I have the side of my heart that is full of faith- sure that God is leading me this way- and the other side that is full of fear- that is the side that listens to the wordly wisdom.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.

  20. "This is my ninth baby. There are parts of pregnancy that I grow weary with. Some people assume that having babies must be easy for me, since I've done it so much. Well, that's not true. There is physical suffering and most certainly a type of physical, mental, emotional sacrifice to have a child. I don't like morning sickness, varicose veins, nor getting so huge that I can't hold my children on my lap. I always dread labor, I'm not that good at it. I don't have babies to validate myself, nor to fulfill some never-ending desire, nor to create a perpetual group of people who need me. (Oh, please no, not that. Sometimes, I desire to not be needed so much!) It's not about some agenda nor about conquering the world, even though we do shamelessly conquer the playground. (We try to be benevolent dictators there.) I don't like the attention, neither from the incredulous medical staff that does not know me nor the stares we receive when we are out together. Parts of being a mother to a large family, particularly a pregnant mother of a large family, are very uncomfortable for me".

    This paragraph in the above post was so well-written, and expressed my feelings so well as a mother of 8. Thank you!