Her three-bed home is bursting at the seams, but Sara Foss is having baby No 14 and says she plans to keep on adding to her enormous family
Originally published 1 December 2009;
As every parent knows, life can be hard enough with one child to look after – but Sara Foss loves motherhood so much, she’s pregnant with her 14th!
"I love the feeling of giving birth and holding each child for the first time. Kids are my life.”
Remarkably, she refuses to rule out having more children, and insists she’ll only stop when it becomes “medically impossible” to have any more – even though she hates being pregnant.
“It’s awful,” says Sara, 39, who’s due to give birth in April. “I suffer severe morning sickness. However, I love the feeling of giving birth and holding each child for the first time. Kids are my life.”
Sara and partner Stephen, 40, receive £33K a year in benefits, despite the fact that Stephen has a job and they live in a council house.
“Yes, we get family tax credit and child allowance, but so do many families,” says Sara.
“We could claim more, because two of our children have Asperger’s syndrome, but we don’t. We have children because we want them – not to fleece the state.”
Sara met canal boat builder Stephen 15 years ago, when she was a single mum to her eldest son Patrick, now 21.
Sara and Stephen set up home together, but at the age of eight, Patrick decided to stay with his grandparents.
Sara, who has never worked, explains: “Patrick wanted to stay at his grandma’s because he was settled at school.
He visited us every day.”
Incredibly, Sara insists that having children wasn’t at the top of their agenda, and the couple lived together for two years before she fell pregnant.
“We weren’t trying for a baby, but we weren’t using contraception either,” she admits. Their son Stephen
was born in June 1996.
“I fell pregnant by accident again a few months later,” says Sara. “I loved being a mum so much, I didn’t want to stop.”
Their second son, Malachai, named after a character in horror film Children Of The Corn, was born a year later.
In December 1998, the couple welcomed their first daughter, Peppermint.
“I craved peppermints all through my pregnancy, so the name came from there,” Sara explains.
Peppermint was followed by brother Echo in November 1999. Eli was born in June 2000, and in January 2001 sister Rogue, named after a character in X-Men, arrived.
Film buff Sara says: “Movies inspire lots of our children’s names. They make them individuals. I don’t think it’s cruel and I don’t worry they’ll get bullied.”
The couple’s biggest baby, Frodo – named after a hobbit in Lord Of The Rings – followed in November 2002, weighing a massive 13lbs.
“That one hurt!” recalls Sara. “But I still gave birth naturally.”
Sara’s baby plans were put in jeopardy when, 36 weeks pregnant with her ninth child, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Doctors induced her so that they could remove the tumour, which was benign.
“We’ve raised them to respect other people. And they only get pocket money if they help round the house,”
“I was certain I’d survive,” says Sara. “There’s no way I could leave my children.”
Her seventh son Morpheus, named after a character in The Matrix, was born in June 2004, followed in May 2005 by Artemis, named after Artemis Fowl, the popular kids’ book.
In July 2006, the couple, who admit that they don’t have a social life but do manage a healthy sex life, had third daughter Blackbird.
Fourth girl Baudelaire, named after a character in Lemony Snicket’s series of children’s novels, A Series Of Unfortunate Events, was born in 2007, and baby number 13 followed in January this year, weighing a sizeable 10lbs.
The couple chose the name Voorhees for their new son, after serial killer Jason Voorhees in the horror movie Friday The 13th.
“His full name is Vorhees Halloween,” says Sara. “Some people are shocked by the kids’ names, but they all suit them and they love being called something different!”
Stephen only objected when Sara wanted to name daughter Baudelaire “Sinn Fein” – the name of the Irish political party associated with the IRA.
“I thought it sounded pretty, but Stephen put his foot down,” Sara explains.
The family claim to live comfortably in their three-bedroom council house in Derby. Five boys sleep in one room, the four girls in the other. The remaining three youngsters sleep in their parents’ bedroom.
“People who visit our home can’t believe we have one child, let alone 13,” laughs Sara, who gets up between 4.30am and 5am to start her chores.
“It’s not cramped because the rooms are big, and the children love sharing. And I try my best to keep our home immaculate.
“Sometimes, I do up to 11 loads of washing a day – we have to buy a new washing machine almost every year.
We don’t have a dishwasher, so I do all the dishes.”
The family receives family tax credit of £527 per week, plus a total of £507 in family allowance every month.
They spend £400 a week on groceries, including 32 loaves of bread, 126 pints of soya milk, 36 rolls of toilet paper, three boxes of washing powder and eight boxes of cereal.
Sara and Stephen, both strict vegetarians, are raising their kids meat-free. Sara cooks all the family meals from scratch, using fresh produce.
“The kids love veggie curry, chilli and pancakes,” says 6ft, size 10 Sara.
Stephen helps out by doing the school run and the weekly family shop, which fills three supermarket trolleys.
Sara says she hates the stigma attached to large families.
“People think we doss on the dole, live in a slum watching TV all day and let the kids run riot and eat what they like, just so that we can claim as much as we can. It couldn’t be further from the truth,” she says.
The couple fork out £2,000 a year for school uniforms, and Sara says she’s proud of the children’s good manners.
“We’ve raised them to respect other people. And they only get pocket money if they help round the house,” she says.
Sara insists their family and friends have been supportive of their choice to have such a huge family.
“The only time I’ve ever been criticised was by a stranger in a hair salon, who said I must be mad,” she says. “It upset me, but I know people find it hard to understand.”
The couple are now looking forward to baby number 14.
“I think a child is the greatest gift of all,” says Sara. “How can people criticise me for wanting something so wonderful?”