My Great-Grandmother Hatched 17 Kids. That Was Not a Typo. 17. Kids.

before there was reality TV, filming the insane life of a huge family with …what is it? 19 kids now?…there was my great-grandmother, Alda, in the early 1900’s. she had 17 children,(singleton births) and raised them in a 3 bedroom house in the city. on a pretty meager income, i understand.  i believe that 16 of the children survived into adulthood. i have no idea how many total pregnancies she had (i’m assuming there were some losses in there), but i think it’s safe to say she was pregnant/nursing for over 20 years.

my grandpa is her youngest and is now 90 yrs old. he is the last remaining child, but stays close with many nieces and nephews who are close to his age (that’s how it works when there’s 20 years between kids). he remembers his mother adoringly, as tough but kind. and she was a red head. i’m amazed she didn’t pull it all out, managing that many kids at once. i’m also amazed that no one has built a statue to her in a park or named a wing of a library after her or something. i know very little about her. but she certainly left a huge legacy of children, grand children, great and great great-grandchildren who have impacted the world in various ways. that’s quite a badge of honor. and my sister has red hair. the first in generations. possibly in tribute? i like to think so.

i say all this, and i focus only on my great-grandmother and not my great-grandfather, because i am wanting to channel some of her hard core-ness. i am 7 months pregnant with only my 2nd child and i find myself whining. a lot.

pregnancy is just not that easy. have y’all seen “what to expect when you’re expecting?”  elizabeth banks’ part in that is memorable in that she waited foreeeeever and went through all sorts of miserable times trying to get pregnant and when she finally did, she found that it’s not all roses. it’s hard.

and i feel like an ingrate thinking anything remotely negative about the experience, because it’s one that so many people would do anything to have themselves. and then there are the robo-tank moms who had zillions of pregnancies and, though i never knew my great-grandmother, in my head she weathered it like a war hero and never complained once.

but it’s hard. exhausting and uncomfortable and nerve-racking. and life doesn’t slow down for you. i’m still putting in 11, 12 hour days at work and having to man the henry man all night and take care of house affairs, etc, etc. i am fortunate that i have a very involved husband, but it’s still a lot to juggle. i cannot imagine that my great-grandmother ever got a nap. i know she had the help of the other kids in tending for the younger ones, but still… and i’m going to wager that the more ‘traditional sex roles’ of the time meant she was in charge of most of the domestic responsibilities.

and i bet her floors never got as filthy as mine.  🙂

so here’s to you, Alda. i raise a glass (of juice) to toast you emphatically.

i bet she didn’t drink juice. i bet she stuck with the good stuff. it was back when cigarettes gave you energy and beer helped bring in your breast milk, so…. maybe that’s the answer…. 🙂

maybe i’m especially whiny right now because my pregnancy just got a lot more involved. my umbilical cord vessel pressures are still high and they’re concerned, so they’re having me come into the office twice a week starting next week for NST‘s and BPPs. it’s stressing me out to have to miss work and i’m holding my breath more that things are ok and that they’re not considering putting me on bed rest or worried i’ll need to deliver early, etc. they don’t seem to think the baby is currently in any danger, but they want to be aggressive in monitoring for any potential changes to that.

so, prayers and positive thoughts, please? meanwhile, it’s almost thanksgiving and PIE. 🙂 i understand Alda also made a mean pie crust.

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