The Woman with 14 Kids: A Short Story

Published concurrently on 

Once upon a time there was a woman with 14 kids. She was Catholic, living in the Philippines. The woman’s doctor said, “Madam, you have severe high blood pressure, and if you have another child, there is a good chance you will die.”
The woman was only 46, so this frightened her. She did not want to die. She said to herself, “My family needs me. I do all the cooking and caring for the kids, all the laundry and cleaning. The older children must go to school and work in the rice fields to help buy food. They need me.”
She said “I’ll talk to the priest and I’ll talk to the lady down at the family health clinic and I’ll talk to my husband. I need to work this out.”
The priest was in the church most evenings, so she paid him a visit that evening.
“Father, the doctor said I will die if I have another child.”
The priest, a young man of perhaps 40, dark haired and intelligent looking, stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Well, Child of God, you have two choices. You can stop having sex, or you can be very, very careful about when you have sex, so that you don’t get pregnant again.”
“But Father, my husband is very aggressive. He works hard during the day and he likes to play at night. I don’t think I can control him.” She smiled to herself, because she loved her husband very much, and she liked to play at night, too. It somehow made their struggles seem less burdensome.
The priest folded his arms and frowned. “Well, Dear lamb,” he said. “You must explain to your husband the danger. I’m sure he loves you and he can hold the earthly taunts of the Devil at bay. That will be best for you.”
The woman frowned, too. “But Father, I’ve had 14 children, and each one is precious to me. Certainly God must know that I cherish these lives. Would He not understand that I would be thoughtless toward my children if I risked another birth? Would He not allow me to use birth control methods that are available at the health clinic?”
“My Dear, in is sinful to take a life that way, to deny a child the right to be born. You would bear God’s wrath for eternity.”
“Even if it cost me my life, Father? And left my children without a mother?”
“I know it seems harsh, precious lamb. But God cannot be predicted like that. And He cannot be denied. You must place your faith in His hands, and He will protect you and your family in heaven, for eternity. The open door is through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“Father, I don’t mean to be argumentative. But it seems to me that either way is not natural. It is not natural for my husband to abstain. So I must ask him to do what is not natural. It is not natural if I use a birth control device. That is sinful. You say that I cannot do that.”
The priest rose from his chair and placed his hand on the woman’s shoulder. A look of infinite patience crossed his brow “My Dear, it is completely natural to give oneself to God. That is what Jesus did when he sacrificed Himself for us.”
The woman thought for a moment, then rose from her chair.
“Thank you Father, for your kind counsel.”
“You are most welcome, child. May God bless you and your wonderful family.”
The woman left the church.
She turned right and walked down the street to the Health Clinic.
She entered the small, green concrete building, chipped and worn. An elderly nurse sat at the desk working on papers.
“Do you have any free condoms?” the woman asked the nurse.
The nurse smiled. “Of course.”
A plastic bag filled with protection swung from her hand as she walked home. Somehow, she felt more secure. 
“How strange”, she thought, “to feel safe with sin.”
She soon arrived at their small house. She knew she must put the rice on the fire soon, for the evening was drawing late, and her children were already boisterous and noisy. When they were hungry, they seemed always to fight.
But first, she needed to talk to her husband.
She found him out back at the rickety wooden table under the mango tree, relaxing and playing with the baby. A Coca Cola bottle with brown liquid other than coke sat on the table, open and half gone.
“Hi, my love,” he said with a big smile as she approached. He tucked the child under his arm where it cooed happily.
The woman smiled back and handed him the package of condoms.
He glanced inside the bag. “Ah, what is this dear troublemaker?”
“Well, Love, the bad news is that I can’t have any more children because of my blood pressure. The good news is that I’m going to take very good care of my precious family, for they are most surely a blessing from God. I’ll start with dinner, and your turn will come later.”
And so she sacrificed herself.
38 Responses to “The Woman with 14 Kids: A Short Story”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Joe, great lesson for sex education program. What does it take to publish this one in a national newspaper and other internet based links?The Doctor's advice is correct.The mother's instinct to seek counsel is correct.Interestingly, the priest's advice is outdated and obsolete. The mother's action is definitely correct.Its Jack

  2. Attila says:

    I have another scenario:The husband did not like the idea of using condoms and he got himself a kirida.

  3. Jack, thanks. You read it well, and I'm glad you appreciate it. I think interested people would have to push a link around until it hit a publisher's eyeball. Some of my other articles seemed to do that, going "viral" and even reaching into the Department of Education. I'm too busy writing to market. Ha, and a tad too lazy.Author's interpretation: the key decision the woman made was that her existing family took precedence over creating more lives. That is, quality of life for children alive today for her is more important than bringing new lives into the world. She was willing to sacrifice her soul into possible eternal damnation to make sure her existing kids, and her husband, are well cared for. The priest unknowingly helped her realize that she would be Christlike to make this sacrifice, for other people very dear to her.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You could be right, but he is too busy putting enough food on the table for 14 kids, so the best alternative is to stick with the wife plus condom.Its Jack

  5. Define kirida, eh? My wiki turned up nothing. "Slice and dice"?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kirida means other woman.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Guys, the correct spelling is "kerida." Ironically, though, "kerida" came from the Spanish term "querida," meaning "beloved.Joe, the wife in your aforementioned story is lucky that her husband was broad-minded and understanding enough to agree to use a condom. In reality, many husbands refuse to wear one. And if their wives insist, they beat them up.

  8. brianitus says:

    It's a Spanish word adapted to Pinoy use, Joe. Querida — beloved. In Filipino, it's the other woman. That's why your Wiki turned up nothing.

  9. brianitus says:

    …and there are women who don't like their men to wear one.

  10. brianitus says:

    @Joe:After much thought, the mom would have been 18 at her first childbirth. The priest should have nominated her as a natural living miracle. 14 kids at 46? That's a lot. And at the current stress level of living, how on earth did she ever manage to stay fertile that long? Nitpicking. Kiddin'. Loved the story. It's different way to present the idea of the need for RH information.Btw, they also offer pills and injectables at the Health Center, right? I think they're generally acceptable to women.

  11. Ah, thanks for the education. Well, one of the things I was trying to project was a woman who loves sex with her man. I think the husband would be quite a jerk to go find another woman over this one, to have babies there instead of safe sex with this gem.

  12. Anon, I suppose the HR Bill then needs to speak to husbands as well as wives. There are other methods, the pill being a good one. As far as physical abuse is concerned, that is a separate blog . . .

  13. My wives/girlfriends almost universally preferred the pill. In this story the condom is more symbolic than anything.

  14. Fertility is a physical thing, it just happens. Stress she took care of by having sex.

  15. brianitus says:

    I loved that angle in the story, really. Besides, the husband seems to be a straight family man (plays with the baby, plays with the missus regularly). One thing I dislike with the RCC position is that they tend to view RH education as a precursor to sleeping around.

  16. Anonymous says:

    great short story, Joe. like what others said, i like the part about the priest inadvertently being the deciding factor for the mother. it really serves as a warning of what could happen when you live outside of your means. it really shouldn't take the threat of death to come to that conclusion, but these days it seems that that is the case.oh, yeah. Jack, sorry, i live in Dumaguete, bit far to be doin any hangin'. it's all good.Ybañez-Anderson

  17. Glad you appreciated it, Ybañez-Anderson alias Andy. I think when people cherish existing babies as much as unborn babies, things will change. Like, man, give 'em a life, in life.

  18. I'm wondering what the RCC thinks goes on in poor communities now, where people don't get married because they don't have the documents, money or education, and move from relationship to relationship easier than married people do in the U.S.? Could it be that Joe Am is in better touch with what goes on in poor over-birthing communities than the RCC? Or are they just in denial as to what their "policies" do, encourage babies to be born into an unstable and unhealthy social situation?I'm currently concocting a blog "The Filipina: Virgin, Mother, Whore". This is all fascinating to me. It will be out later in the week.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well, its good enough that some of your articles are noticed by some publisher and I am most delighted that the DepEd had noticed them. Thank you."A tad too lazy and busy writing to market." hmm.. that is an interesting thought. Its a wonderful life, you know.I think the wife is being pragmatic. Its Jack

  20. The first step is to throw those priests out of the conjugal bed.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What is RCC?Whatever you are concocting word the "Whore" very carfully. You dont want to offend people. You know our sensibility runs high when national pride is at stake. Actually, I highly recommend either remove it or replace it with some subtle word. Just in case you are out of touch of reality, let me remind you that Filipina Virginity is history. There aren't too many before high school and college graduations. You know; drugs, broken family, and a preliferation of P200 short time establishments around or near school campuses. Its Jack

  22. Anonymous says:

    Well thanks Andy.When they build bridges from Bicol to Dumaquete, perhaps we could hang out. Its a wonderful life, you know? Did you know that Joe lives in Visayas too? I am not too sure if you served in the Military. Did you? Its Jack

  23. Anonymous says:

    That will not solve anything. Allow them to get married will do the trick.Its Jack

  24. Jack, RCC = Roman Catholic Church. I'll use the word "whore" carefully. And virgin, which in my lexicon does not mean sexually pure, but the "presentation" of purity. And "prostitute" or "whore", I pick the strong one, as my wife was called a prostitute by the neighbors before they got to know her. So the slap to us might as well have been to walk up and scream it in our faces. I feel no real need to tippy toe if people around us do not, behind the scenes.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Jack, i'm a bit too young to have served.. just turned 18 a month ago. but i think my father did some diplomatic stuff for the Air Force back in his day. i wouldn't mind a meet up, though. gives me an opportunity to shoot the breeze, learn more about stuff, yeah?

  26. Jack,If you don't belong to any religious denomination then whether priests are married or not will not concern you. What will concern you however is if priests continue to dictate, through civil and criminal laws how you live your sex life

  27. Anonymous says:

    While your experience with your neigbhors is unfortunate, I know you are a wise and a reasonable one and shall be prudent.I look forward to read your new article. I now know RCC. Many thanks.Its Abe

  28. Anonymous says:

    Wow Andy, I have not seen a young man like you who has interest with the world around them. I am just hoping that you are working very hard laying the foundation becoming a productive citizen. What is in the future anyway, if I may ask?My compliments and continue expressing your views as it leads to maturity.Its Jack

  29. Anonymous says:

    Com'n MB, I am 61 years and I feel like I am being admomished. What do you think are you doing putting words in my mouth? My concern is not your business to judge and I am saying it nicely.What I expect you as an adult is to articulate why priest should be allowed to get married? How dare you to tell me how to live my sex life.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, didn't buy it. Completely unrealistic story. -patrioticflip

  31. Hey, maybe it's a dream . . . that there are such wives and mothers and husbands. I frankly think she'd a had a wonderful life with about three kids. Probably would be running a small business enterprise. Her kids would be well-educated and off to real lives. She also would have kicked her husband out from the tuba table and got him on a career.And she would have ejected the Church from her guilts way earlier.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Jack, i appreciate it. The future is bright, i must say. After getting my BS Computer Engineering, i could either land a good job back in the states, get my masters, got to pilot school and into commercial aviation, or continue to develop my golf game. I like the choices I've set up for myself

  33. Hah. Why do I think that should be an "and" before "continue to develop my golf game". Rather than an "or".

  34. Anonymous says:

    You are right Joe, an "and" would make it grammatically correct to complete the series, so let us give this promising young man a proper direction. Andy, in a an informal writng "or" would have been acceptable, but in academic writing it is grammatically incorrect because when one uses "or" it denotes comparison between two choices. You were expressing your career plan in a series of different choices; therefore, "and" is a better choice because it emphasizes your point confidently. It is like when to use an "a" and a "The" in a sentence, if you know what I mean.I could be wrong, but that is my honest opinion and wish you all the BEST. Its Jack

  35. Ha. Jack, I wasn't referring to grammar, as "the kid" can probably correct mine. I was referring to the fact that I think he should work on his golf game no matter what else he does. Therapeutic value, ya know? Cheers!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Joe, I would have thought that a true patriot would embrace the context of the story. A dreamer's dream. Its Abe

  37. People see different things. The story is contrived, but the underlying theme of love and sacrifice for one's kids, already born, ought not be a dream.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Opsie… Did I missed the point badly. Sorry!True, I mess up a few phrases too, but life goes on. Cheers!

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