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    How Many Kids Should You Have?

    COMING TO TERMS WITH ONE

    "My husband can't have children."
    Jody and Chad Alexander, Racine, WI

    Jody's story: I was 23 and in college when my daughter, Caila, was born. At the time, I thought I'd have three or four kids; I was raised in a family of many siblings along with lots of stepbrothers and stepsisters. Caila's dad also had four siblings, so we used to joke around about having a family big enough to make our own baseball team, with a lot of love and a lot of teammates to play with and back you up. But I never ended up marrying Caila's father, and after four years, we split up. Then, five years ago, I met Chad, who has three kids of his own — now ages 18, 12, and 10.

    Early on in our relationship, Chad told me that he'd had a vasectomy, so I knew we'd never have children together. Still, I loved Chad and wanted to spend my life with him. It's hard knowing that I'll never have a biological child with Chad. And while Chad's kids stay at our house once a month, half the summer, and on holidays, my daughter will never have a full sibling of her own. I felt cheated for a long time, and we considered sperm retraction and IVF over the years, but I've finally come to a state of peace about our situation.

    When Chad's kids stay with us, our house is full. We have a pretty large family when we're all together, and even though it's not full-time, there is a great feeling of togetherness when they're here, and I love that Caila has them in her life. I think of my stepkids as my own and hope they feel the same way about me. There are some real upsides to the way things turned out. I get to spend more time with Chad and provide for Caila. I've discovered that you love the family you are given, even if it's not the size you imagined.

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