ROCKFORD, Mich. (AP) — As Jay and Kateri Schwandt brought their 12th newborn baby boy home Tuesday, they made a couple of things clear.
They have not been trying for a girl these past two decades, as they gave birth to boy after boy (after boy .).
But they would certainly welcome a daughter — Jay especially, according to The Grand Rapids Press (http://bit.ly/15M2J59 ). The couple doesn’t find out the sex of a baby before birth, and Dad tends to root for a girl during pregnancies, said Kateri, who goes by the nickname Teri. She knows he has visions of walking a daughter down the aisle someday.
“But if we were going to have a girl, it would have happened by now,” she said with a laugh. “You don’t have 12 boys waiting for that girl.”
Tucker Ray Schwandt, a healthy 7-pound, 12-ounce boy, was born Sunday, Aug. 4, at Mercy Health St. Mary’s. “The perfect baby,” (according to Dad), Tucker slept soundly in his car seat in the family’s Rockford home, as his 11 big brothers fussed over him, played and occasionally fought with each other.
Charlie, 3, ran around showing off his “fast shoes.” Luke, 19 months, started crying, and Zach, 17, got him a cookie.
Wes, 5, bopped Gabe, 6, on the head, and when his mother chided him, said, “What? He didn’t even say ‘Ow.'”
“Ow,” Gabe said.
A small smile crossed Teri’s face. “Well, that was a delayed reaction,” she muttered.
Life in a house full of boys — now a dozen — is fun, sometimes chaotic and never boring, the Schwandts said.
The oldest son, 21-year-old Ty, can’t quite understand the reactions the family gets.
“Everyone says it’s crazy,” he said. “It’s just normal, though. It’s how it is.”
Jay and Teri Schwandt started their family at a young age. They grew up in Gaylord, were high school sweethearts, and married at 18.
They didn’t plan on having 12 children. Jay has only one sister, and he thought three or four kids would be a big family.
Teri is the 13th child of a family of 14 kids. But even she thought they would have “only” seven kids.
Their first son, Ty, arrived while they were students at Ferris State University. Zach was born three years and three months later. Drew arrived two weeks before Teri graduated.
The couple kept going to school — Jay studied for his law degree from Cooley Law School, and Teri got her master’s degree in social work.
Jay, now 39, runs a land surveying business. Terri, 38, does not work outside the home — but might someday, she said.
Through the years, they kept having babies.
“We just kind of opened up to it,” Teri said.
Along came Brandon, Tommy, Vinny, Calvin, Gabe, Wes, Charlie and Luke.
And then, on Sunday, Tucker Ray arrived. Jay said he isn’t sure what they will call him — Tucker Ray, Tucker or just Tuck.
“I guess we haven’t called him anything yet,” he said. “He hasn’t gotten into any trouble.”
Faithful Catholics, the couple occasionally used the natural family planning method to space out the births of their children — and it worked well, Teri said. But most of the time, they simply were open to having children.
“It’s up to God,” she said. “We figure God knows what he’s doing.”
As the family grew, the parents encountered a range of reactions, from “Are you crazy?” to “What a blessing!”
“I’m surprised how many dads say ‘I would have loved to have more (kids),'” Teri said.
Although she sometimes feels like she’s living in a locker room, Teri said she enjoys living in a house full of boys.
There is plenty of activity — wrestling matches and competitions — but the boys also learn to be nurturing as they care for younger siblings. If a little one creates a fuss during Mass, an older brother will pick him up and take him to the back of the church, without being asked. All the older boys can change a diaper.
“They don’t like it,” Teri said. “But they can do it.”
And they learn to pitch in with the chores, doing dishes, cleaning and vacuuming. In sixth grade, each boy starts doing his own laundry.
As the oldest boys hit their teen years and started inviting female friends over, Teri said it was funny to see the younger boys’ reactions. At first, they just stared at the girls. Then, they started crawling over them and vying for attention. Now, they are a little more used to female visitors.
Ty’s girlfriend, 18-year-old Kaitlyn Oracz, said she’s impressed by how smoothly the household runs.
“The mom is amazing,” she said. “She does everything. And everybody else just helps out.”
Having a daughter in the Schwandt family might not be “in the cards,” as Teri said. But at least one family member still holds out hope.
“We could adopt a girl,” said 11-year-old Tommy.
Jay put his arm around his son. “We could, huh? I bet if we did, she’d be just as tough as you guys.”
Tommy nodded. “She’d be a tomboy,” he said.
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Grand Rapids Press.