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Deseret Morning News: No kidding, Utahn revels in big family

MarDee Clark has 19 children.

Not 19 by way of a Brady Bunch arrangement or adoption, but 19, as in take a deep breath and push.

That's 19, as in 19 trips to the hospital. As in 171 months of pregnancy. As in three more and she could field her own football team, offense and defense.

MarDee is the Barry Bonds of mothers. Married at 21, she had 19 babies in 21 years. All but one of them weighed at least 8 pounds, and several of them weighed 9 and 10 pounds. They range in age from 29 to 8 years old.

She's 51 now and raising them alone. She and her husband, Floyd, split up.

MarDee and Floyd had always planned to have a large family. They decided they wanted an even dozen kids.

"I've always known since I was a young girl that I wanted lots of children," she says.

When they got to 12, well, "I just knew there was more, so we just kept having them."

She can name every one of them—if you give her a minute.

"Let's see," she begins, "there's Christina, Yvette, Stephen, Conner, Evan, Ethan... um, let's see, I have to say them in order so...." (At this point, she pauses to think a moment and then starts over again with the first child and works her way back to where she left off.)... "Bridget, Brian, Ileana, David, Danielle, Jason, Darlene, Cullen, Deborah (twins), Donovan, Forrest, Amber and Shannon!"

She pauses to catch her breath.

"Yes, I have trouble remembering names," she says, laughing. "Sometimes I have to try four or five times till I get the right one."


There are so many problems with this.

"MarDee"? I've seen some typical Utah names in the past, but I think that may be the most obviously-a-Utah-native name I've ever encountered.

Then there's the 19 children. That's just beyond my comprehension. Before this article, the largest family I knew about was the one that lived next door when we were kids. They had 13, but only six were their own; the others were adopted. It was amusing/horrifying to watch them go to the grocery store—when they returned, they'd set up a human chain to get the couple dozen gallons of milk, the 20 or so loaves of bread, the endless boxes of cereal, the 50-pound bags of flour and sugar and salt from their 15-passenger van (!) to the house.

And finally, this quote from the story:

When they got to 12, well, "I just knew there was more, so we just kept having them."

I can't even put the mixed fascination and horror into words.