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Slices of Life: We just kept having babies
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I don't expect everyone to understand. Don't even expect approval or a nod. Most smart, logical and common sense-driven people stop somewhere around 2.5 children. We did not.

I remember being afraid to tell my parents or friends about the last one. When we finally did tell, some people told me we were making too many or that I was too old. Or, even more daring - and this happened more than once - they asked if our upcoming family member was (at best) a "surprise," or (at worst) a "mistake."

I didn't let any of the judgment get the best of me then. There wasn't much I could do. Unfortunately for all the on-looking, opinionated bystanders, it was too late. By that time I was already shopping in the maternity department.

We just kept having babies.

In the big scheme of things, we are only middle-of-the-road baby makers. We made just four - not even a handful. Lots of families go further to have five, six or into the double digits, even. My dad grew up in a family with 12 siblings. By those standards, four isn't many at all, not much to brag about.

But now that I am a seasoned mom who has graduated from the reality of the cost of diapers to the reality of the cost of college tuition, I realize four is a lot more than two. Practically twice as many, depending on the exponential factors concerning car insurance rates multiplied by the cost of tennis shoes and divided by (apple) pi.

We just kept having babies.

Now many of our friends are becoming empty-nesters. They are free to plan trips and purchase RVs and dream about retirement. We dream of retirement while attending sporting events dominated by 14-year-olds, one of whom calls us mom and dad.

Our friends completed their parenting stint - the hands-on part of it at least - in about 20 years. We're in for the long haul. No wimpy 5K-race stuff for us. We signed up for the marathon because we like to pull the Band-Aid off slowly. I've done middle school algebra four times now and I'm finally getting good at it. You know what they say, whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I am Hercules.

We just kept having babies.

And our love multiplied each time. Like the Grinch's heart doubling in size with each one. The intense emotion brought with it both joy and worry - also multiplied. Because love isn't cheap. It leaves you vulnerable and open to the best and the worst possibilities and experiences in life. Babies bring the potential for all those.

Some people hike the mountains, use power tools to make furniture, travel the globe or embrace their passion for gardening together. Life offers infinite adventures ripe for the picking.

We didn't intend to live the life we've had. My husband wasn't sure about children at all at first. I considered stopping at one. Despite those facts, we just kept having babies. They are what we did together. The great marriage project. Our kids were our passion. They are our passion. That, and each other.

Because you've got to have that - if you want to keep having babies.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at