Oh Boy



I have five children. The oldest four are girls. And we just adopted a little fur-baby (puppy), yesterday, he’s a boy too.

Is a large family really so odd? After all, “Large families have consistently been common,” Martin points out. “Two is the norm, but for every 34 mothers who stop at two, there are 28 who have three, four, or more.” according to Steve Martin, a sociologist at the University of Maryland.

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When the size of our family first comes up in conversation I inevitably get the same two questions, (like clockwork):

1. “Did you always plan on having a large family?” (And number two, upon learning that our oldest four are all of the female persuasion)….

2. “Oh, so you must have been trying for a boy! Congratulations, you finally got your boy!”

I am used to it, its ok, I am not offended and rarely even roll my eyes anymore when faced with a similar line of questions. But to set the record straight, when in high school, I did in fact make two predictions about my life as an adult, to which both have come true: (1) I would marry a guy who drove a black F150 pickup truck. Not sure why, but this prediction is recorded in my journal/diary circa 1994. (2) I would have four daughters.

My husband drove up in my driveway to pick me up for our first date in a Geo Prism, things were not looking positive. Unbelievably enough, however, a few weeks later he randomly called me to tell me that he had purchased a new vehicle. He asked me, “Guess what?!” To which I (confidently) replied, a black F150 pickup truck. Needless to say it was a bit awkward when he said yes.

Back to babies.

Did I want a son? Yes, I’m not going to lie, but knowing that the sex of a baby is in the hands of the Lord, I smartly decided not to worry myself with wanting this gender or that. So there we were in 2008 with our fourth daughter just born. I thought we might be done. Three years later I found myself with one of those whoopsie pregnancies. It was a fun welcome surprise. The fun faded fast with the onset of hyperemesis graviderm, or HG for short. I spent most of my time in bed, over the toilet or in an Epsom salt bath.

For three weeks I had a “bad feeling” that something was wrong, that I had lost the baby. I didn’t tell anyone at first, I thought I was crazy. Eventually I did tell someone. We were on vacation, staying with friends when I sat up in bed and said to my husband, “I think the baby is dead; like it’s too late, like he’s already gone.” He tried to reassure me and encouraged me to think positively. We decided that I would go to the Midwife’s office as soon as we got back from vacation.

I went in to see my midwife and I knew that the length of time she was taking with the doppler was not a good sign, I was 19 weeks along. She asked me where my husband was, also bad. She couldn’t find a heartbeat, and so I was being sent to a local OB/GYN’s office with an ultrasound machine. She was worried about me driving by myself; I worried about me driving by myself.

Somewhere on Route 7 between Vergennes and Middlebury I had a thought pop into my head briefly; that I felt like driving off a cliff… Not that I ever would or even remotely contemplated doing so, but that’s how low my heart sank, how crushed was my spirit, and how downcast was my countenance.

My husband met me in the parking lot of the OB’s office, and through the tears he asked me, “So there’s no hope?” We embraced each other and braced ourselves for what was to come. Inside the waiting room I tried to keep my head down; in order to avoid seeing pregnant women and/or babies.

For anyone who has ever been privy to being on the receiving end of hearing the worst news of your life from a medical professional; you almost know before you know. The mood in the room dips to a morbid chill. Before the words are spoken, before I muster the nerve to look at the ultrasound screen; I know he is gone.

“I’m looking for cardiac activity, and………..I’m not seeing any.” Those piercing words are forever etched into the fissure in my bleeding heart. According to the measurements, (which seemed to take forever), our little guy had stopped growing about three weeks prior. Right around the same time my solemn foreboding began.

I was too far a long for a D&C and that if I wanted a D&E, (Dilation and Evacuation), I’d have to go to a different hospital. I immediately knew I wanted neither of those options and so I opted for an induction which we did on Saturday; April 30th, 2011. We started around 11am and Jason was delivered at 9:55pm, almost twelve arduous hours later.

It was a labor of love…

We held him and took pictures. He was weighed and measured. My husband traced his tiny foot. Our nurse, Vicki, was wonderful. Her compassion was truly a gift from God to us. He was small, but perfect.

Wildflowers for Jason
Wildflowers for Jason

Two days later we had a memorial service at our local church, and a private burial. We live on a big farm so we were able to bury him in a beautiful pasture on our farm. Some friends had given us a lilac tree and some flowers that we planted at the site. They read Psalm 23, I read him a letter, and we buried him in a beautiful little wooden casket that my father had built (he’s somewhat of a carpenter).

42 days after delivering my first son Jason, I found myself pregnant again. This baby would also be a boy we would later learn. We named him Beau. He is now just over two and a half years old and your typical, healthy, adorable, mischievous toddler. We are truly blessed. Though time has softened the blow of Jason’s death, and God has healed my broken heart, I will never forget the pain, I will never forget my first son.

So were we trying for a boy? No. that’s just the hand we were dealt. And I would play that hand again if I could go back.


  1. Nancy thank you or sharing your story. It’s beautiful and I can only imagine the strength and love that came from birth and passing of your son Jason. I have had the privilege of meeting your second son, whom I don’t think anyone can resist falling in love with immediately. And I agree, when did the idea of having a big family become odd? I’m one of 4 on one side and one of four on another (my family is a little complicated)… but when I’m told that people have 4 or 5 children, I subconsciously wonder if it was planned or not. I need to take a critical look at that thought and see where the heck it comes from… thank you for opening my eyes to it.

  2. Nancy, what a beautiful story! I love your spot-on intuition and your relationship with God. I love that He “healed your heart” and that you were able to let Him heal your heart — such an inspiration. Some of my closest moments with God and some of my strangest “coincidences” happened after I lost a pregnancy, and it’s the reason I feel so strong in my faith today. Thanks for sharing your story — your family is just perfect!


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