This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.

By Nonie Nelson Sorensen

I never thought about children in my youth, unlike many girls I met in sorority who knew exactly how many they wanted to have in the future. I was quite caught up in a demanding career, which I was happy to give up when marriage came along in 1949. But when I had my first child, I was immediately hungry for more―not consciously pursuing it, but ready.

I really enjoyed my children, and after bearing 11 in 14 years (short of one week), I decided I should have a full dozen. I was 41 at the time, and in fact we had had one miscarriage. When the twelfth did not arrive in the usual time slot, I grieved for him, but was soon surprised by an early menopause at age 43. I continued to wish for a brief time, but was reconciled by the abundance we already had, plus a little overwhelmed at the magnitude and diversity of the work and plans required to keep everything under control, and everyone happy and productive. I’ve been surprised how many of my earlier ancestors had eleven children.

At the same time, we have both been blessed to have had many demands on our creative abilities, keeping us too busy, but happy to have those outlets.

I am sorry for the young women today who would like more children, but are forced to have smaller families due to the huge cost of just the hospital for one child, plus all the complications of a car chair for each child, all requiring the cost of a very large car, etc.

Our children are the great love of our lives, and bring us so much pride and love, and fun and awe. I am now 93 years old, and I’m grateful to have lived in an era when it was possible and practical to produce such joy and blessings for ourselves.

Nonie and Maynard Sorensen with their family