Kelly Bates has had 18 children. She has had no twins, no C-sections and 14 drug-free births and has spent more of her adult life pregnant
But, even with the unimaginable logistics of raising a family that could field two sports teams, the 44-year-old mother from Lake City, Tennessee, is praying for two more baby boys.
Kelly said: “It feels more normal to me to be pregnant than not be pregnant. I'm happy holding a baby.”
Among the children, the oldest is 22 years old, while the youngest is just 11 months.
It was never the Bates' intention to produce such a big family, but they are evangelical Christians who do not believe in using birth control, instead putting their lives - and their home size - into the hands of God, they say.
“We both came to the conclusion that we just want to trust God with how many children we have. We never really thought we'd have 18. We thought we'd have maybe one or two - maybe three,” says Gil.
The path to having such a large family has not been entirely without intervention
Two miscarriages made Kelly opt for therapy to strengthen her uterus
The Bates family does everything on a grand scale. Their 4,000-square-feet home has five bedrooms. Eight of the girls, share a bedroom.
The family's laundry
has five washers and three driers and rails of clothes that stretch the length of the loft room, holding hundreds and hundreds of shirts, pants and T-shirts - not to mention an eye-wateringly large mountain of underwear and socks.
The family gets around in two vans - one 15 passenger and one seven seated.
Every meal's preparation is a finely honed exercise, and the Walmart food shop is an every-second-day occurrence and each time totals more than $250.
The home is a strict no TV and no internet zone, the children instead whiling away time by practicing their musical instruments - all of the children are talented