I am SO excited to be doing this interview with the fabulous Ruth Schwendemann!!!! Everyone please give her a hand! She is the proud mother of 11 children, yes you read that right…11 C-h-i-l-d-r-e-n!!! They were all single births as well, no twins! :-O *whew!*
I know Mama Ruth from my Church where I became friends with her middle daughter, Naomi. What I remember most about meeting Naomi was when I asked if she had any brothers and sisters she said “yup, 10” and put a hand on either side of her face. LOL! 😀 As we grew up past the youth group phase of life our church started a college program that was hosted at the Schwendemann house from time to time, which is where I really got to know Ruth. She is an amazing cook, a wonderfully talented artisan, and one of the most humble and grounded mothers I know! Without further ado, here’s Ruth! 😀
Interview with Ruth
Tell me your story, did you always want to be a mom?
No. I never really liked children. . .So how does someone who never really wanted children end up with 11? JESUS!
In the Beginning
I met my husband when he was a senior in high school, and I was a freshman. We didn’t date at this time; in fact, he would set me up with dates with guys he thought were nice. I did have a “I might marry you someday” list in my head and he was on it. Until the day he told me he wanted 12 children! I remember looking at my list and crossing his name off!!!
So fast forward 6 years and he is now my husband. He’s one of those guys that children just gravitated too. He was like this kid magnet and shortly after we married, he dragged me into working in children’s ministry at our church. It was not one of my shining moments. I was the woman who if a baby was in the room, I was on the other side of the room. I just didn’t know what to do with them. One of my sisters asked me once how many children I thought I might have. Knowing that God loved my husband I replied, “Probably 12.”
Asking for Help
One night after returning home from children’s ministry I sat down with my husband and I told him how I felt. I told him it’s not real popular in Christian circles to not like kids. It was just the way I thought I was. He started to talk to me about natural talent, which he had with children, and my total lack in that arena. “My natural talent,” he said, “will run out.” He told me Jesus could give me His ability which never runs out. So, we prayed and asked Jesus for help.
About two weeks later a couple in our prayer group had a premature baby and asked if we could come and pray for their baby. As we left the hospital that day, I knew Jesus had changed my heart. I wanted to hold the baby’s in that NICU.
A Changed Heart
So now I have a changed heart and it wasn’t too long after that Jesus told us to go off birth control. Now we have our first born! So many people were telling me you must give your body at least 2 years between pregnancies, maybe more. You want to space your children out. . .on and on the advice came. So, when the subject came up with my husband, I quite emphatically told him, “Jesus will let me know when it is time to have another baby.” What I really meant was I’ll tell Jesus when I’m ready!
I remember right where I was standing in our bedroom when Jesus asked me to give that part of me, my reproductive system to Him. To trust Him. Not going to lie, one of the hardest decisions I ever made, and it took me a few minutes. But I love Jesus, and I believe He loves me. So, I stood there and gave that part of me to Him.
There have been times when He told us our family was on hold for new members. Times when He said if you are intimate tonight there will be a baby, and time when we prayed and asked for a new child and waited a year to get pregnant. No, we don’t have 12 children. After our 11th child was born, I told the Lord, I’m tapped out. I was 44 at the time. I planned to go back on birth control. He said “no, I don’t want that for you.”
“What???” I asked, “are you crazy God?”
“Trust me.” was all He said.
So, I did for 8 more years of periods. He is so faithful with what we give Him.
WOW!!! That is such a powerful testimony, I can’t even begin to thank you enough for sharing that with us! I remember the first time I heard your testimony; it really spoke to me as at the time I wasn’t sure I really wanted kids, but I knew my husband did. It was so refreshing to know that I wasn’t alone, and that God could change my heart if I gave it to Him to do so.
One other time that God used you powerfully in my life was at one of our women’s retreats, you spoke a word to me about not being afraid to have more than one child, you said “if you add more to the pot there is more love to go around, not less.” Those words have touched me more than you will ever know and is part of the reason I have my sweet angel girl today! Thank you so much for listening to the Holy Spirit and sharing your words of wisdom and your personal story with us! 😊
Advice from Ruth
What is some of the best/worst advice you were given as a new mom?
Some of the worst advice I received was that it’s up to me to make sure my children become lovers of God. That’s God’s job, mine is to be a good example.
Some of the best advice I received is that our children see their homes with us the same way we saw ours growing up, they’re just passing through. To us as parents it is our lives, and permanent, to them it is temporary.
Another good bit of advice that I received from the same woman above came in the form of a story. She had all different types of chickens together in a pen, and one of them hatched out an egg that was a different type of chick than she was herself. That poor hen practically killed itself trying to get that chick to eat the way she ate. Since it wasn’t the same type of chicken, she just couldn’t get it to be like her.
I just love that story!!! It really drives home the point that no matter how alike we are, our children will never be exactly like us, no matter how hard we try to force them to be! For me this is a great illustration going back to the self-care we discussed back in January. If I want my daughter to take care of herself, then taking care of myself and modeling good behavior will accomplish more than me killing myself trying to make my child fit into a mold that was never hers in the first place! This is such good stuff! It’s also comforting to realize that kids view our home differently than we do, for me I think that takes some of the pressure off of always having to have everything perfect.
Ruth’s Nursing Advice
How did you handle nursing 11 children?
One at a time! :’-D We, my husband and I, made a choice for me to be a stay at home Mom. My thought was 12-16 months out of my life for a new life is well worth it!
Do you have any tips or tricks for nursing or pumping that worked well for you?
**GET HELP! ** When I was first nursing my children, it was an avant-garde kind of thing during the late 60’s and 70’s. Now there is a lot of good information out there, and women who are very knowledgeable such as the La Leche groups, Lactation Consultants etc. Also, lots of hospitals offer free clinics for nursing mothers.
This is SO true! My Lactation Consultant was my best friend in the hospital, and I called her and several other mothers whom I knew were either currently nursing, or had recently nursed their own babies and asked for tips and tricks to assist me when we first brought our daughter home.
If you’re currently needing more information on breastfeeding check out these websites along with my article on The Best Products to Increase Your Milk Supply. I have shared some of my best knowledge on this subject and some of the products I found most helpful on my journey! 😊
Ruth on Post-Partum Depression
Did you suffer from Post-Partum Depression with any of your pregnancies?
If so, what helped you to overcome that?
I went to a counselor for a while until someone working there said “sooner or later you need to live on your own.” I mostly fell on Jesus, learned to take life one breath at a time. That may sound strange, but Jesus would say “can you take a breath? OK Take another one, and so on. I would sit outside on a porch swing when the kids were down for naps, being out in nature really helped me. One of the most important things to come out of that experience was knowing that I could hear the Holy Spirit’s voice.
That’s SO Awesome! For anyone out there that is suffering with this please know you are not alone, and it is OK to ask for help. Please call this hotline, or check out this website for more information:
National Hotlines: Postpartum Support International: (800)944-4PPD (4773) OR PPDMoms: 1-800-PPDMOMS (1-800-773-6667)
I can so relate to being a nature girl, some of my favorite times with God are by the lake, or on a trail, or even just sitting on my porch and watching the clouds and the birds play on the wind. And how kind for Jesus to draw near like that and help you literally get from one breath to the next. That just gives me goosebumps!!!
Teething and Potty-Training Advice from Ruth
What are your best tips on surviving teething?
Some days you just do the best you can for them, then you just wait while all those precious teeth are coming in. 😀
What are your best tips on surviving potty training?
Don’t let peer pressure dictate how you and your child are doing. Everyone will have an opinion on how to do it, and you can just smile say thank you, and if you like the suggestion you can keep it, if not throw it out and move on. Some children are just ready before others. They will get potty trained…RELAX! 😉
Ruth on Discipline
How did Discipline work with 11 children?
They did not have much of a choice as we were way outnumbered. Not sure how to really answer that except to say it worked.
Do you have any tips on how to adapt your discipline style for each child?
No, we did a lot of praying and Jesus is a well of wisdom!
How did you make each child feel special and significant?
Again, I have no idea. I was talking with one of them earlier today and they were telling me they were thankful we let them be who they were, and not put our expectations of who we wanted them to be, or thought they should be growing up. Said they knew they were loved and accepted.
Ruth’s Final Thoughts
What would you say to the woman who is still contemplating if she’s wants to start a family?
Listen to faith and not fear.
There will always be a reason to start or not start a family.
What would you say to a Mom in the midst of raising her family?
We are all so afraid of getting it wrong, of making some horrible mistake and scarring our children for life! Truthfully, you will get it right some days, and others maybe not so good. Some days you’ll go out to the lake and have a good cry and tell Papa God He has the wrong woman for these children! (Yes, that has been me…more than once) As much as you love your children and desire the very best for them, Papa God Loves them more.
He was there with them before you even knew of their existence knitting them in secret Ps. 139. He’s counted the hairs on their head, have any of us? He is Trustworthy with them and for them. Trust Him! Believe Him when He tells you the plans He has for them are plans for good and not calamity. He began a good work in them…. not you. Best thing any parent can do for their children is give them to Papa God.
Read books if you want advice and talk to the abundance of counselors, for there is wisdom there. In the end trust you can hear from the Holy Spirit yourself…. you are doing a way better job than you think!
What’s one of your most memorable “Mom” moments?
My life is filled with moments, our lives are filled with memories. We now have children and grandchildren living on both coasts and soon will have some living in Europe (we will be visiting!) I am so very blessed when we’re able to get together. They are the most amazing, caring, giving people, and make me laugh out loud!! I always knew because they are siblings, they would on some level love one another, I wanted them to like each other, and so prayed that whenever I thought of it as they were growing. Today, they like each other!!! 🙂
Well ladies, there you have it! I hope that you all have gotten as much out of this interview as I have. Thank you again Mama Ruth for taking time out of your busy schedule to come be with us and teach us from the wells of your wisdom! You’re such an amazing woman, and your testimony is so powerful, thank you for letting me share this with my friends!
Until next time, TTFN
Hey Lexi! Signing Off!
As always, if you’ve enjoyed this post please share this with your friends, and don’t forget to leave your questions in the comment section below! I am here for you friend, let me know what you’re struggling with. What are your fears? Together we can face them, find a solution and encourage one another along the way! Keep up the good work, you’re an AMAZING woman and Mommy!!! 😀