Twenty-six years, 17 pregnancies, 15 children

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Diane’s brother Don and his wife Carolyn have twelve children. Carolyn said one day, “I feel sorry for women who don’t have a big family.”

Don replied, “That’s ok dear. They feel sorry for you.

Family size is a personal matter. Even with our children, I have told them how grateful I am for each child and grandchild the Lord has sent us. But I have never pressured our children, and certainly not our sons or daughters in law about how many children they should have.

Diane and I were married just as the term “population explosion” was born. Then our son Daniel was born followed by five brothers, Robert, Joseph, David, John, and Matthew followed by two sisters, Angela and Callie, then Samuel, Benjamin, Kathryn, Thomas, Joshua, Lucy, and Maren. We also had a miscarriage, and a tubule pregnancy where the egg begins to grow in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

Along the way people would sometimes ask, “Any twins?” then, “Any triplets?” nobody asked, but perhaps some thought, “Any litters?”

“Family planning also became a buzz phrase. We practiced family planning. Our plan was to welcome as many children as Heavenly Father would choose to send us. Then with his help, we would keep clothes on their bodies, food in their tummies, and a roof over their heads. This meant that for a good portion of her adult life and our 26 years together Diane was carrying a baby inside or outside. I am eternally grateful to her for accomplishing what we feel was the Lord’s will for us.

No man in his right mind would presume to comprehend what it takes to grow and bring forth a baby. Certainly easy and comfortable are not adjectives appropriate to the process. That said, Diane was a world class baby maker and deliverer. She often told me she was grateful she didn’t have the complicated and painful pregnancies and deliveries that many women do.

And, of course many couples would like to have children, but they can’t for one reason or another. Sharon and I experienced that.

I am grateful that by careful budgeting and planning, paying our tithing and church contributions first, the Lord helped us stretch our resources to cover everything else. We were able to keep Diane, and later Sharon at home which was a great blessing to all of us. I usually had a job or two plus freelance performing and writing opportunities. These seemed to be coordinated with how much we needed. At one time we had three missionaries in the field at once, all in expensive living areas of the world. This was before the church averaged out monthly missionary expenses. My freelance work picked up to cover the costs, then dropped down when they finished their missions. We had some significant medical costs, but we got through them The children helped with paper routes and other part time jobs. We passed down the paper routes so long whole generations lived and died without knowing any paper carriers other than the Hiatts. Or so it seemed.

Years ago there was a U.S. nickel with an Indian head on one side, and a buffalo on the other. The joke about the town skinflint was, “He squeezes every nickel until the Indian is riding the buffalo.” We did quite a bit of that.
We were a close family literally. (I once built a triple bunk bed, then unbuilt it after Tom rolled off the top bunk one night.) We had hand me downs, hand me ups and hand me acrosses. They made for interesting wardrobes some mornings. We drove our Volkswagon bus until it turned into a classic antique; at least that’s what I chose to call it.

Through these and other means and lots of heavenly help, we were able to pay our bills, keep up our emergency storage, and even put some aside for major expenses. I called it our monthly miracle.. I remember the day we went over our books and celebrated because we had a couple of dollars more in savings than we owed on our house.

I was mostly in charge of making the month come out at the end of the money. But Diane had the thrice daily (plus snacks) challenge of keeping the troops fed. She was a magician, pulling rabbits out without even a hat.

I have read the phrase, “an embarrassment of riches.” That would be us. We had everything but money. I sometimes thought, “Will we have to face adversity some day? How would Diane and I handle if we got that call some night from the highway patrol, ‘I’m sorry to tell you that your son/daughter has been killed in an accident.’” It never occurred to me that I might be taking that call alone.

Then one day I tightened my grip on the telephone receiver and caught my breath. It was from the hospital. Diane had been on her daily exercise walk with two of her friends when she felt sharp pains. They took her to the emergency room and called me. I hurried there.

“Tubule pregnancy,” the doctor announced. “Mrs. Hiatt, with this many children you might prefer that we remove your reproductive organs.”

“Give us some time alone please,” I said.

“Of course,” he answered, and left the room.

“It’s up to you beloved wife of my life. What shall we tell them.”

“I haven’t come this far to back out now. Tell them to take out only what they have to, but leave me enough to have more children if that’s what Heavenly Father wants”

I was reminded of another dedicated mother who was told by an angel that she would bear a Son. She answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

When the doctors operated they found a tubule pregnancy, but also advanced ovarian cancer. The decision was out of our hands.

Your next installment is: Overcoming Personal Loss

Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.