A devoted couple are enjoying a double celebration as they wet their 12th baby’s head in 12 years with her much-anticipated arrival making their family a real-life version of the comedy classic Cheaper by the Dozen.
When Courtney Rogers, 37, and her church pastor husband Chris, 34, welcomed 6lb 12oz Cambria into the world on Monday, March 7, it marked the end of a dozen years in which the longest she has gone without being pregnant has been seven months.
But, while going for a baker’s dozen of children is off the cards for now, Courtney – whose first child, Clint, was born on March 13, 2010 – was determined not to stop until she and Chris had 12 children, like the couple in the movie starring Steve Martin and Kate Baker.
The stay-at-home mum, who lives with Chris and their “perfect family” of six boys and six girls on a 12-acre farm with 140 animals in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, said: “It does feel special.
“It is amazing how it worked out too because we had all our boys at the beginning and the last five have been girls, so it all evened out.”
The couple, who will not be planning any more pregnancies, say they never set-out to have a massive family when they tied the knot in 2008.
And a miscarriage soon after when she was 24 and Chris was 21, left them fearing they might not be blessed with any children at all.
But, after they had Clint, the babies kept coming and, once they hit 10, they decided to push to a dozen – with their older children’s backing – as they were all keen to take the crown as the real-life Cheaper by the Dozen clan.
Courtney said: “Clint was born three weeks before I turned 26 but, back then, I had no clue that I would have more children.”
She added: “I thought I was too old at 26 and I didn’t know they would come so fast, plus include a set of twins.
“Then we said we would have 10 children maximum, but I still felt young and healthy enough, so we pushed it to 12. ”
As well as sharing their farm with a host of animals including pigs, sheep, dogs and chickens, Courtney and Chris live with their children Clint, 12, Clay, 10, Cade, nine, Callie, eight, Cash, seven, twins Colt and Case, six, Calena, four, Caydie, three, Coralee, two, Caris, one, and now newborn baby Cambria.
Settling in well, after staying in hospital for a few days following her Caesarean delivery – Courtney’s fourth – Cambria was given oxygen and monitored after swallowing too much fluid during her birth.
Still, her delivery was far easier than that of Caris, her nearest sister in age, who was born by emergency C-section, as she became distressed and doctors feared she was not getting enough oxygen.
Pleased as punch with their 12-strong brood, Courtney says she and Chris will be doing some family planning from now on, saying: “We have ended up with six girls and six boys, so I don’t think we will have any more, unless we get a surprise.”
She added: “We had 12 children under 12, as Clint turned 12 on Sunday, so Cambria was born just a week before his birthday.
“He was excited to have another birthday near him, with my husband’s the week before too, so they are all together.”
With seven months being the longest she has gone without being pregnant in the last 12 years and the biggest gap between two of her children being 20 months, during which she had a miscarriage, it will feel foreign to Courtney not to be pregnant or considering having another baby.
She said: “It is going to be strange not to have another baby.
“Pregnancy mostly treated me well, I didn’t get sick and was never on bedrest, so I could always look after the kids.
“I have enjoyed having babies.”
And she is unfazed by the idea of having another newborn so soon after the last, as she is used to having several children in nappies at once.
Looking forward to seeing the personalities of the youngest additions develop, she said: “The little girls know they are the youngest because they try to get away with everything.”
One positive about a year without any pregnancies on the horizon is that Courtney and Chris, who drive their family around in a 15 passenger van, should at last have time for some home improvements.
With just four bedrooms at the moment, they plan to extend their house to create seven bedrooms, so they can have two children per room, with a room for themselves and they will be enlarging their living room to fit everyone in comfortably.
Courtney, who last had a night out with Chris on Valentines Day, when they got a friend to babysit, said: “We are trying to get everyone situated properly at home.
“We used to worry about the boys, then all these girls came along, so we made more room for the girls.
“Luckily, they all like to ‘pal up’.”
Not only does supermum Courtney look after the smooth running of the household, she also home schools her brood, while Chris works with the church, on the farm and on the home improvements.
She said: “We do everything together. We work together and do home-schooling together.
“When they are younger I help the children with all their schooling, but when they are older – from the age of 12 – we switch to online tuition.”
Starting with breakfast of cereal or oatmeal at 8am, the morning is dominated with predominantly maths and art classes.
Lunch is generally a free-for-all at around 11.30am/12pm, with the little ones having sandwiches and a nap, while the eldest make their own food – something like pasta – or have leftovers from the night before.
The afternoon involves animal chores before an assortment of language classes, arts, reading and occasionally piano lessons over Zoom, before wrapping up the day with one of Courtney’s batch-cooked dinners at 5pm, which include spaghetti or home-made pancakes with their chickens’ eggs.
In between schooling, Courtney is also on clean-up duty, to try and tidy the ever-growing mess around the children, who last enjoyed a trip away to South New Mexico where they rented a house for the family for three days in October 2021.
Once the kids head to bed at 8.30pm – to either sleep or quietly entertain themselves – the couple have their only free time of the day to wind down together in the evenings.
When Courtney has the chance, she also documents her family life on her Instagram page @littlehouseinthehighdesert, where she has amassed 34.6k followers, something she is keen to keep growing.
While she has a huge following from fans who have watched the family’s journey over the years, she still faces some hostility from people who object to her having so many children.
She said: “People ask if we are done now and we say yes, but I don’t know if they will believe us till they see it.
“People we know don’t say anything to our faces, but there are always those on the internet who have something mean to say.”
Courtney can feel lonely sometimes without many like-minded parents of large families to speak to, but she’s found support online, or in the most unlikely of settings.
“I was in the store the other day when I was pregnant and the cashier was talking to me about my family, when the lady behind me said she had 10 children,” she said.
“It is rare to find someone with that many children.”
She added: “I do find it hard sometimes, as most people think we are crazy for having so many, but I have several friends on the internet with big families.
Instead of projecting on what life will be like when her children start becoming teenagers, Courtney simply says she will “see what happens” and, for now, her priority is making sure Cambria starts eating more and is welcomed into the family.
Just a week on from the tot’s birth, she said: “It will probably hit me later that she is baby number 12.”
She added: “Kids normally make you feel young, but the closer to 40 I get, I do feel a bit older.
“I am content right now, but I am sure I will miss the baby stage, although I think Chris might have something to say if I get broody again.”
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