I've lost count of the number of comments I've had about my larger than average brood. Luckily I understand most of these comments aren't said maliciously and (unless pregnant, where I would gladly rip off someone's head for speaking to me in a morning) the comments really don't bother me.
The one thing that does baffle me though, is how odd people find it. A lot of people don't understand why anyone would have more than one or two, but for me, I don't think my family is large, I think it's just right for us.
I had two hard working parents, and any cousins I had lived miles away, so as a young child, I was often with no one of a similar age.
I went to a childminders while my parents were at work-which I loved, with just a few children there, we all bonded and spent time doing fun activities and playing games with one another before and after school. I loved the hustle and bustle of meal times, and seeing all the different shoes all lined up, it was one of my favourite places to be. I had a close bond with my childminder, so I really enjoyed my time there.
I yearned for a sibling, for a life friend, for someone to be there for too, but my wishes never came true, and it broke my parents' heart as they gave up and accepted I was to be an only child.
This took its toll when it came to my teenage years. At the age of 11 I gained a half brother from my dads new relationship. Though I was so excited, and of course I love him dearly-most of my personal development had happened by then. I was what you might call a "difficult" teenager. I had jet black hair and thick eyeliner, and listened mostly to music artists that understood my angst. I never wanted children at that point, and as the other girls at school dreamt of weddings and children, I didn't have a dream-I was sad and lonely.
It was being sad and lonely that essentially pushed me into motherhood. I fell out of school, and into a whirlwind relationship, and after just 3 months together, just turned 17, I found out I was pregnant. Now I bet you're thinking "what a difficult situation to be in"; I was 17, living alone, at college with no job. Or are you wondering how I came to make the decision to parent?
The truth is, there was never a decision to make. As soon as I saw them two purple lines, the words "ok then" came out of my mouth, and that was that. I was overflowing with love and excitement. I'd never felt like this before, I had someone, finally. I had so much love to give to this special person I was growing, and I couldn't wait.
As soon as my eldest daughter was born, I knew that she would one day have a sibling, I couldn't have her feeling an ounce of the loneliness I felt. And I couldn't wait to feel the love of growing a life inside me again. The feeling of finding out you're pregnant, the roller coaster of emotions in them first months, devastated at having your head down the toilet for most of the day, but also so relieved when the sickness comes as you have reassurance, the wondering of what they'll look like, clashing with wondering how you'll find the space in your time, arms and heart for them.
Them first kicks and the scans, the anticipation of labour, and them very first moments meeting the person you've exclusively known for 9 months-all so magical. The little one that's shared every 2am toilet trip, the one that's heard the theme tunes of all the day time tv you've fallen asleep during, the one that whenever, no matter how tired or emotional you are, has just given a little kick and a nudge to reassure you that you're not alone. The one that comes into this world, looks into your eyes and just knows you already.
These feelings are indescribable. So when I found out I was pregnant again, I was over the moon. We planned this pregnancy-though I was ashamed to admit it then, afraid of what people would (and did) say about an 18 year old pregnant with her second child.
Two years after my eldest boy was born, Josh and I had another baby, two years after that we had another.
Each time, I grew as a mother, my love grew for each of my children, seeing the love they had for one another. My love grew for my husband seeing him doing the new daddy thing again, my love grew for my body as I appreciated the amazing things it could do, and my love grew for my family, seeing everyone unite for this, my, little celebration of life.
It's not just the pregnancy I love, I love every age. The learning, the different personalities, I love studying their faces for family traits and hereditary features. I love the way they speak, the way they think, but most of all I love the way they love each other.
Amongst all the nappy changes, clothes hauls and "housework Sunday's", life is pretty good with a house full of love. It took me a while to realise it, but when I did it was clear to see that, as The Beatles once told me, love is all I need. Love made me grow into the person I am, and the 6 of us here, we're a pretty good team, a team that I'm not ashamed to be a part of.
Of course I'm not saying that being an only child is a bad thing, but for us, a big family is perfect!