A 36-year-old mom who already has 10 children with her pastor husband is keen to increase her brood to 12– just like the couple in the 2003 Steve Martin comedy, Cheaper by the Dozen.
A virgin bride when she married Chris Rogers, 32, in October 2008, stay-at-home mom Courtney Rogers has not been without a bump for more than nine months since tying the knot, meaning she only gets one 'date night' alone with her husband a year.
The couple, who have six boys and four girls aged between nine months and 10 years, also homeschool their brood and ferry them around the neighborhood where they live on a 12-acre plot in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a 15-seater van.
The children at Christmas (PA Real Life/Collect)
Their monthly food bills are $1,200, and in January they went on an economy drive – cutting out all eating out and fun purchases, as it was costing them well over $1,000 a month.
The children are happy to wear hand-me-down clothes and shoes, and the family shop from the sales racks to save money. Once a year they enjoy a family vacation for a week, camping near relatives in Georgia, 1,500 miles away – costing them $1,000 for travel and expenses.
At Christmas, Courtney and Chris forgo presents for one another, so they can spend $1,000 on gifts for their children.
The children eating lunch (PA Real Life/Collect)
And the couple enjoy one child-free date together a year. Their last was in November when friends looked after the children.
"We walked downtown and ate a little something at several restaurants."
"Then we went in a few shops and ended the night at the symphony listening to Handel's 'Messiah'. It was very nice and we both enjoyed the quiet time alone."
But the couple love their life as part of a massive family and have no desire to stop having children any time soon.
"We want to have more if we can," said Courtney, whose youngest children Caydie and Coralee were born just 361 days apart. "We want to have 12 children, a family of 14 even."
"My husband is the eldest of 10, so before we got married, he joked about having as many as his mom had."
Courtney and Chris (PA Real Life/Collect)
"The kids want us to be like the film 'Cheaper by the Dozen', where the parents compromise their careers to raise 12 children."
"Having several kids in diapers at once and having lots of strollers – this is normal life to us."
Keeping two bottle-fed lambs, dogs, and chickens on the 12 acres of land where they live, neither Chris nor Courtney – both of whom were homeschooled – find teaching their children a chore.
Coralee (PA Real Life/Collect)
"I love having them with me all the time and seeing them learn and knowing what they are learning," said Courtney, who also teaches local children at her church on Sundays, but is not currently doing so due to the lockdown..
"I can adapt the lessons to each child and I don't have to make them sit for hours all day. I love how it's flexible and the kids can run around outside or feed the lambs between lessons."
"I'm more like a tutor. I'll set the children work to do and they will come up to me and ask me questions about it. I've often got a baby in my arms, or I'm changing a nappy and I'll have four kids queuing up to ask me a math question."
10 kids in 10 years
- March 13, 2010 - Clint was born weighing 8lbs 14oz
- July 26, 2011 - Clay was born weighing 7lbs 13oz
- September 16, 2012 - Cade was born weighing 6lbs 9oz
- July 25, 2013 - Callie was born weighing 4lbs 8oz
- October 24, 2014 - Cash was born weighing 7lbs 6oz
- September 12, 2015 - Colt was born weighing 4 lbs 6 oz
- September 12, 2015 - Case was born weighing 3lbs 8oz
- May 9, 2017 - Calena was born weighing 6 lbs 6oz
- June 10, 2018 - Caydie was born weighing 7lbs 9oz
- June 6, 2019 - Coralee was born weighing 8lbs 9oz
Since meeting through mutual friends at a church camp in Georgia in 2007, Courtney and Chris have become soulmates.
They spent a year living 300 miles apart, with her in North Carolina and him in Georgia – before tying the knot in October 2008, when she moved states to join him.
And two months after getting married, Courtney – the eldest of six children – discovered she was pregnant.
The children together (PA Real Life/Collect)
"Sadly, I had a miscarriage," she recalled. "When I got that positive result, it was a dream come true, but then we lost it in the December."
Just five months later, she fell pregnant again, with their firstborn Clint. Then, seven years ago and several babies later, they moved to New Mexico.
Courtney, who has never suffered with morning sickness, said:
"I love being pregnant. I love growing another person inside me, thinking about what they will be like and picking out names."
The children at the park (PA Real Life/Collect)
Unhappy about using birth control, although she swears it is not for religious reasons, Courtney is adamant that her massive family is a personal choice.
"Some people think it's for religious reasons, but it's not," she said. "I am the only mom at our church who has lots of kids. I think the most anyone else has is four."
"I have never been comfortable going on birth control, as I don't like the idea of taking a pill."
Mom to Clint, 10, Clay, eight, Cade, seven, Callie, six, Cash, five, twins Colt and Case, four, Calena, two, Caydue, 21 months and Coralee, 10 months, Courtney has had seven vaginal births, two caesareans and, sadly, two miscarriages.
Superbly organized, she and Chris usually start the day at 7:30am, when they wake up with baby Coralee and put together a breakfast of cereal and fruit for the other children, who are up and out of bed by 8am.
"The morning is the most hectic part of the day – there is always so much going on, with kids running everywhere," explained Courtney.
The older children, who each have chores to make sure the day runs smoothly, help clear up after breakfast and Courtney starts her day of classes – giving the kids a break after a few hours to help bottle feed the lambs.
"On a good day, I will also get three washing machine loads of clothes, etc., done," she said. "Then everybody helps out with lunch – it will be something like sandwiches or leftovers – and I'll put the little ones down for their afternoon nap, while the other kids watch a movie or get their chores done."
Chris, a pastor at their local church, is usually home for dinner, which could be lamb fajitas or pizza, but sometimes works late, doing odd jobs around the town, such as landscaping, construction, or helping with renovations at home and at the church building, to bring in extra cash.
The family having a BBQ (PA Real Life/Collect)
The enterprising couple are also extending their house to give them five bedrooms, as well as creating additional accommodation to generate an income.
"We moved a little shed onto our land last year, which we are trying to renovate and do up, so we can rent it out and earn some extra money."
The family, who their mom says seldom argue, even try and do their bit for the environment, by using cloth diapers and wipes during the day and bamboo diapers at night, which can be composted.
The family at the beach (PA Real Life/Collect)
Meanwhile, despite the World Health Organization recommending a gap of 18 to 24 months between pregnancies, Courtney – who was advised by doctors after the caesareans to try and leave a longer time if she wants to have vaginal births – sees no reason to stop having children any time soon.
"I've been told there is a higher risk of hemorrhaging if you have lots of babies, but that's never been something which has worried or affected me, because I give birth in hospitals so they are prepared," she said.
"I had my first baby when I was 25. I didn't think they would all come so fast, but, of course, I wouldn't change it."
The girls (PA Real Life/Collect)
Not all of Courtney's pregnancies and births have been without incident. Baby number three, Cade, came so quickly that Courtney gave birth to him on the driveway outside their house.
"That's our exciting birth story," she said. "I began to get contractions on his due date."
"After the in-laws picked up the oldest two boys, we headed to the hospital to be checked and monitored. I was already 3cm dilated, but after a while on the monitor, my contractions basically stopped and the nurse got instructions to send me home."
Courtney with Coralee (PA Real Life/Collect)
"We arrived home around 2am, exhausted, and went straight to bed. A few hours later, I woke up with a horrible pain," she added. "I called the hospital again and was told to come in, so made my way outside, but when I got to the car, I couldn't go any further. It was time to push!"
Paramedics arrived just in time to deliver Cade on the driveway.
"From the time I woke up to the delivery was only 15 to 20 minutes," said Courtney, who has given birth to most of her babies alone. "For most of my births, Chris has dropped me off at the hospital, then had to go home to look after the other kids."
Baby number four, Callie, was a caesarean delivery, due to complications caused by placenta previa – when the placenta partially or totally covers the mother's cervix.
This meant Courtney started bleeding at just over 33 weeks, prompting the emergency caesarean. She then had a second caesarean with the twins.
And she had a second miscarriage at 11 weeks when she fell pregnant after having Colt and Case, who were born six weeks early in September 2015, weighing just 4lbs 6oz and 3lbs 8oz, respectively.
The family at the supermarket (PA Real Life/Collect)
"When the twins were five months old, I fell pregnant again," she said. "But I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks, which was hard, because it was further along than my first miscarriage."
At one point, bringing up seven children under the age of six, even Courtney admits it was "challenging."
"I could not go anywhere on my own and it stopped me from doing anything alone," she said. "It's easier now they are all older."
Still, Courtney is quick to shoot down in flames anyone who criticizes her and Chris for having such a massive family.
"I have been criticized for having them so close together, but I take good care of myself and my babies. The people who ask how I can give all my kids enough attention are usually those who send their kids off to school."
"I do not understand their logic when I am around my kids 24 hours a day."
The family at the supermarket (PA Real Life/Collect)
And she and Chris always make sure that none of their children miss out – particularly at special times, like Christmas.
"We start celebrating right at the beginning of November, with music and decorations."
"We get them all new pajamas, an outfit for Christmas Day, and we get each of them three or four presents, plus stocking fillers. We ask them what they want and we can usually get everything they ask for."
Clay and Cash (PA Real Life/Collect)
"I do not regret having so many children – the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. Chris and I love being parents and, as a family, we have a great time together."
"It gives me such pleasure to see them growing up. Each have their own gifts, and I love to see them using them around the home and at church."
You can follow Courtney on Instagram @littlehouseinthehighdesert.