How We Came to Be a Family

Series: Our journey from the lie of contraception to nineteen children.
by Elizabeth Segura, Editor | Source:

“Happy, all those who fear Yahweh and follow in his paths.
You will eat what your hands have worked for, happiness and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife: a fruitful vine on the inner walls of your house.
Your sons: round your table like shoots round an olive tree.
Such are the blessings that fall on the man who fears Yahweh.”

                                                                 (Psalm 128:1-4)

Jim and I (Kathleen) grew up a mile from each other but never knew it for two decades. I was twenty, a third-year university student, planning to attend law school. Jim was twenty-one and a high school graduate, working as a supervisor on a loading dock.

Jim recalls:  “I had very little prayer life (I would pray to win big pots in poker games and such) and almost no understanding of the things of God at that time. I am convinced that He had a plan for me, for Kathleen, for our children yet to be born, for all those we would come in contact with, for the many generations of our family yet to come. Everyone’s life and mission is essential, irreplaceable.”

Both our parents were faithful, practicing Catholics. We met through a mutual friend, and then again at the wake of a mutual friend. A year and a half later, we became engaged to be married.

After our wedding, I began working in a Chicago law firm. Jim had a position in the insurance industry. We went about living our lives in a way that seemed fine to us at the time. That included using the birth control pill.

Then, the grace of God intervened. I began to feel that it was wrong to put off having a baby. And it seemed wrong to be taking the Pill. Jim and I were ignorant that this was against the Church’s teaching.

My law job was challenging and not fulfilling me as I thought it would. I wanted to have a baby, and I knew Jim did too.
So one day, I just stopped taking the pills. Time passed. When I went to the doctor because I was gaining weight, he told me I was twenty weeks pregnant.

We were thrilled. We named her Shannon Rose.

Tara Kathleen came fifteen months later, then Grace Ellen, fourteen months after Tara. Colleen Anne arrived one year and three weeks after Grace.

The saddest, most unexpected day came when I had my first miscarriage.

So it was with great joy that I saw Deirdre’s heartbeat on the ultrasound! Bridget Jane came just over a year later. Our family totaled six children, all girls. So I decided to pray a novena to the Blessed Mother. It went something like, “Dear Mary, please tell God that I would love to have another baby, and if it is God’s will, please let it be a boy. If it is, I promise to give this baby back to him. He will be his to do with as he will.” Shane was conceived the next month.

I discovered my next pregnancy when I went to the doctor to get antibiotics. After the pregnancy test, when he told me I was indeed expecting, I said, “I’d rather be sick!”

Shortly after Fiona’s birth I became pregnant again, but I miscarried.

I again conceived, but had signs of miscarriage. Jim went with me to the hospital for an early ultrasound. I was very fearful. Finally, they told us that I was having twins! Jim was happy, but very worried for my health.

At thirty-four weeks, the twins were born. Clare thrived and came home, Maura didn’t. Finally, six weeks later, Maura, healthy at last, came home! What joy and thanksgiving!

Soon after came another pregnancy, and sorrow when the doctor could not find a heartbeat. But God gave us another beautiful healthy son, Patrick Michael, our eleventh living child.

Two years passed, and I conceived Mairead Siobhan. Then came two miscarriages and two more healthy babies, Brighde Rosemarie, and when I was forty-six, Shealagh Maeve, our fourteenth living child.

What is God asking of us? Will we be able to fulfill his plans? That is my prayer every day, “Give me the grace of perseverance and fidelity to the mission you have entrusted to me, that I don’t get in your way, and that you do with me what you will.” 

Our Journey from the Lie of Contraception to Nineteen Children
Excerpts from
By James and Kathleen Littleton

Copyright © 2007 by James & Kathleen Littleton

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