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Until recently, I perceived the 1970s show Eight Is Enough (see link below) as the sort of idealistic drivel dished up to a TV nation still in its relative infancy, naïve and gullible.
In those days, the very notion that an average Middle American family would have eight children willingly was far-fetched enough—let alone the very thought of a woman who was not their mother stepping in to prop up a grieving widower at the altar, and adopt a brood she had not birthed.
And then—where the rubber really misses the road of reality—that said adoptive mother could actually effectively manage a crowd of kids in the crisis throes of various stages of development without a single lick of parenting experience, actually pole vaults us into the realms of Steven Spielberg.
How that one got into production sure beats me, since there can’t be real people like this around. At least that was what I thought, until I met 52 year old midwife and midlife mother, Delrae Balgas (Deldelivers null@null aol NULL.com)—the genuine article.
Now an expert for Flower Power Mom’s Over-40 Mom Squad (and you’ll soon see why!), Balgas is a midlife mother of ten children from Orange County, California. She’s giving birth for nearly 30 years, starting at 16 when she first married and has been attending the births of other mothers for now going on a quarter of a century.
Since launching Flower Power Mom in October 2009 (http://www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com/ci_13511695?IADID=Search-www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com-www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com), I’ve been on a mission in search of over-40 mothers across the nation (and beyond) who can inspire, encourage and create dynamic role models for our emerging community of midlife mothers.
To put it lightly, Delrae Balgas was a real find.
A licensed and Certified Professional midwife who has attended more than 2,200 births, she is also a living legacy able to deliver up (literally) the entire continuum of birth and motherhood from teenage pregnancy through her 20s, 30s and finally, her 40s. There is a twenty-eight year difference between her first and last child, who is now eight, born when Balgas was 44.
If I was looking for guidance on how it feels to be a teenage mom versus and midlife mom, she’d be have to be a one-stop shop.
“With my first child I did not realize how quickly life would pass” she says. “I did not stop to savor the moment. I was in the midst of getting an education and did not realize how greatly it would have benefited my son to have his mother full time.”
According to Balgas, “I woke up one morning and I was 40 and some of my kids were already adults.”
Clearly, for Delrae Balgas, eight was not going to be enough.
She had two children from her first marriage, which lasted about two years in her teens. Then, at 19, she married the love of her life, with whom she had eight more children (two of them after 40), and they have now been married for over 30 years.
Why so many children? When asked, Balgas affirms that she does not believe in using birth control and that the children given to us are divinely ordained.
“I never dreamed I’d have so many children, they just kept coming” she replied. “I believe ten was the number that God chose for us. (He will never send us more than we can handle). I have a husband who is a help-mate and accepts a lifestyle of sacrifice which comes with having so many of them.”
But there are hidden benefits to having so many children—Delrae Balgas does not have need of childcare providers and can leave her family overnight to attend a birth with an easy mind. She has plenty of helping hands and ‘everyone knows the routine’ she says.
Despite her aura of maternal confidence, however, her last pregnancy at 44 turned out to be a rough ride—she developed pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) and ended up having an emergency C-section as a result of a placental abruption.
If that weren’t enough, she suffered severe post-partum depression following the baby’s birth—a condition known to have higher incidence in older mothers. Yet, the experience has enabled her to recognize the symptoms and offer compassionate support in other mothers.
And now, with four kids at home being home-schooled—along with 3 year old granddaughter who lives with her—nine grandchildren and one great grandson, I think it’s safe to say that she has personally mothered a dynasty.
Delrae Balgas has acquired in infinite well of maternal wisdom over the decades of bearing her own children and the birthing of others. One of her pearls of wisdom is about mothering her midlife babies.
She says: “I realized the time that I had with them was incredibly precious and the time that I had to impact their lives was incredibly short. I’m starting to slow down as my 8-year-old is gearing up—but I can say that he has the benefit of having a much wiser, more focused mother.”
Whether or not ‘ten were enough’ for Delrae Balgas and her husband, her answer to parenting the multitudes is simply: “We have greatly enjoyed parenting them and would never want to trade our lives with anyone.”
That’s certainly good enough for me!
Note to readers:
Delrae Balgas lives in Orange County, CA and may be contacted through email: Deldelivers@aol.com (Deldelivers null@null aol NULL.com)
Eight is Enough: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Is_Enough
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