Defying Her Doctor, Mom Decides to Get Pregnant with Her 22nd Child

Many people grow up dreaming of having a baby someday, or maybe even two. A lot of people like to imagine themselves with a couple of kids running around the house, fully enjoying all the thrills and spills of family life. Some people even picture themselves having big families with three, four, or even five kids. However, there’s probably never been a single person on Earth who dreamed of having over 20 kids!

The Radfords all wearing Christmas sweaters.
Photo by Bruce Adams / Daily Mail

Well, one woman named Sue Radford was just 14 when she had her first child. She’s in her 40s now, and has one of the biggest families on Earth, having given birth to 21 kids in total. And apparently, that wasn’t quite enough for Sue and her husband, as they decided to get pregnant one more time and are currently expecting their 22nd child. Read on to learn all about one of the most unique families on the planet.

Say Hi to Sue

This is Sue Radford. Her full name is Suzanne Radford and she was born on March 22 of 1975. On the outside, Sue might seem like a normal lady, but she has a very special and unique life in so many different ways, and it all began when she was 13 years old and found out that she was pregnant for the first time.

Sue Radford
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Many teen girls think about getting married and having kids someday, but life gave Sue a big surprise with that first pregnancy at the young age of 14. Little did she know at the time that this pregnancy would be the first of many, many others. Sue is now the head of Britain’s largest family and it just keeps getting bigger. She and her husband are getting ready to welcome their 22nd child into the world.

The Other Half

Of course, you can’t make 22 kids all on your own, so it’s important to introduce Sue’s other half and the father of every single one of her children: Noel Radford. Noel was born on December 24, 1970, and he met Sue when she was very young.

Noel Radford
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

Just like Sue, we can’t really imagine that Noel ever imagined having over 20 kids when he was growing up, but that just goes to show how surprising and unpredictable life can be at times. We never really know what is in store for us, and even if we make plans, life can surprise us with things that we never imagined would happen.

Meet the Family

Now let’s meet the rest of the Radford family so far! If you’re going to hang out with this family, you’ll need to be really good at remembering names. We’ve already met the parents and now it’s time for the kids! The kids are named and aged as follows: Chris (30), Sophie (26), Chloe (24), Jack (22), Daniel (20), Luke (19), Millie (18), Katie (17), James (16), Ellie (14), Aimee (13), Josh (12), Max (11), Tillie (9), Oscar (8), Casper (7), Hallie (4), Phoebe (3), Archie (2), and Bonnie (1).

The Radford Family
Source: Instagram / @noelradford

Yes, the kids range in age from just a 1-year-old baby all the way up to a 30-year old, fully-grown man. It’s quite an extraordinary story, as some of the kids are old enough to be having children of their own.

Someone Is Sadly Missing

If you counted up all the kids listed earlier, you might notice that it adds up to 20, not 21, so how can Sue and Noel be expecting their 22nd child if they only have 20 of them? Well, the couple sadly had one child who never quite made it past the day of birth.

Alfie's Grave
Source: Instagram / The Radford Family

In 2014, Sue gave birth to a little baby boy named Alfie. Sadly, Alfie was stillborn, so he never got to grow up, meet his brothers and sisters, and be a part of the Radford clan, but his parents still ‘count him’ as part of the group and always say they have 21 kids.

A Non-Stop Flow of Children

So where did Sue and Noel get their inspiration from? Did they always intend on having so many kids? And with their 22nd child on the way, do they have plans for any more? Clearly, there are a lot of questions to ask the couple, and various reporters have sat down with them over the years to find out more.

The Radford Kids Smiling Happily
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

When interviewed by The Sun tabloid, Noel stated, “I don’t think anyone sets out thinking they’ll have 21 children. We thought we’d have three. But we just love having a big family!” And when the parents welcomed their 20th kid into the world, they both agreed it would be the last, but then another kid ended up inside Sue’s belly!

Where It All Began

So how did this extraordinary story really begin? Well, to answer that, we have to go back to when Sue was just seven years old. It was at that age that she first met Noel. The two youngsters were neighbors, living right around the corner from one another. Even at such a young and tender age, Noel and Sue really hit it off and seemed to have a special kind of chemistry.

The Radford's Are Britain's Biggest Family
Photo by David Perry / PA

They got to know each other better as Noel started spending more time at the house hanging out with Sue’s big brother. And the more time they spent together, the more their early feelings began to grow and develop, eventually leading to a real whirlwind romance.

A Very Early Pregnancy

To call Sue’s first pregnancy ‘early’ would be a bit of an understatement. She was only 13 when she found out about the baby and 14 when she gave birth! Noel was 18 at the time, and it was naturally a huge deal for the two young lovebirds and their families when they realized a baby was on the way.

A Pregnant Sue Poses in Front of The Mirror
Source: Instagram / The Radford Family

We can only imagine the sort of feelings they must have been going through at the time! Many people try to plan out their lives and predict at what age they might like to have a child, but sometimes, as in the case of Noel and Sue, life surprises you in a major way with a totally unplanned and unpredictable pregnancy.

Should They Keep It?

Of course, with Sue being just 13 when she discovered about the pregnancy, many people at the time and today would have wondered about the possibility of abortion. It’s never an easy topic to approach or talk about, but anyone could plainly see that a girl who had barely even begun high school probably wasn’t in the best situation to have a baby.

The Radford Christmas Decorations
Source: Instagram / The Radford Family

Because Noel was older, he had the potential to go out, get a job, and earn money to support his girlfriend, even though they were still just kids. There are countless cases of teen moms and dads out there doing amazing jobs, so the couple made the decision to go through with the pregnancy, and they had a very special reason for doing so.

The Importance of Every Life

Some people might have told Noel and Sue that their pregnancy would end badly for both of them, while others might have said that terminating it was the only option. Regardless of other people’s opinions, the couple saw things differently. Even though they were young and inexperienced, they decided to keep their child, because of one special thing they had in common.

Noel and Sue Radford
Source: Instagram / Noelradford

Both Noel and Sue had been given up for adoption when they were babies. It was a tough fact for both of them to accept, but it helped to change the way they thought about life. Even though their parents had given them up, they’d still brought them into the world and given them a chance at a happy life. Sue and Noel wanted to do the same.

The First of Many

And so, after making the big decision to keep their baby, the couple got ready to welcome him into the world. They did everything they could, with the help of family and friends, to prepare for the birth. Sue delivered her first child, Christopher ‘Chris’ Radford, into the world on May 7, 1989.

Chris and Archie Radford
Source: Instagram / @theradformfamily

Sue was just 14-years old when she gave birth to Chris. It was a huge undertaking for such a young girl, but she got through it with the support of her loving partner and other people who are close to her. She deserves a lot of respect for getting through such a big life experience at such a young and tender age.

Waiting to Tie the Knot

Since Noel and Sue already had a baby together, the next logical step seemed clear not only to the couple but to the people around them: it was time for Noel and Sue to get married. They were young, in love, and ready to start their family life together. Unfortunately, due to Sue’s age, they weren’t legally allowed to get married right away.

Sue and Noel on Their Wedding Day
Source: Instagram / @noelradford

In the United Kingdom, people have to wait until they are either 16 or 18, depending on the couple’s circumstances. So that’s what Noel and Sue did. They finally tied the knot on September 26, 1991. Sue was 18 at the time and Noel was 22. It seemed like they could finally relax, but before they could bat an eye, their second child was on the way.

Baby Number Two

Because Noel and Sue got married at a very young age, many people might have expected them to settle down for a little while. Their life had been a real rollercoaster up to that point, after all, so it seemed only natural that they should just enjoy married life and raise their little boy, Chris.

Sophie Broadley on her wedding day

However, as we have come to learn with the Radfords, nothing ever really goes according to plan. It didn’t take long for the couple to learn that they were pregnant all over again. And nine months later, they welcomed their second baby into the world. This time, it was a girl, who they decided to name Sophie.

One After Another

A lot of parents choose to stop at two kids. For many people, two is the optimal number of children for a happy and healthy home life, and Noel and Sue were particularly blessed in having both a son and a daughter. But they didn’t stop there. After Sophie was born, the pair just kept on having more and more kids.

The Radford Family
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

One year after Sophie was born, the couple welcomed Chloe into the world. A few years after that, their fourth child, Jack, was born. Then came Daniel and then more and more, with almost one child every single year after that for the next 16 years. It’s simply extraordinary, but we have to ask, was it really safe? And what was it doing to Sue’s body?

The Science Behind the Situation

Most women will go through one or two pregnancies in their lifetimes, but Sue has gone through over 20 of them! Is this really safe? Well, several medical professionals aren’t so sure. According to the Jama Internal Medicine medical journal, babies that are born within a year of one another have an 8.5% chance of being premature.

The Radford Children
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

Another study stated that moms should wait at least 18 months between pregnancies in order to reduce the risk to their infants. So, Sue might have been going a little against general medical recommendations, but there are other experts with different views, so we can’t exactly accuse Sue of doing anything wrong, necessarily.

A Second Opinion

Mandy Forrester, Head of Quality and Standards at the Royal College of Midwives in London, is one of many leading medical experts saying that a woman has the right to choose when they have their babies, how many babies they have, and how often they get pregnant. However, she added that it’s still important for women to be aware of the evidence and studies regarding birth spacing.

Sue Poses with Two of Her Children
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

She argues that moms should always have the final say, but it’s still wise to know about the science before you make any decisions. This is smart advice, and it’s always wise to know what you’re getting into and do some research in order to make educated choices, rather than simply acting on instinct.

The Science of Sue

So how does the science stack up in the case of Sue? Well, if experts recommend that women should wait at least 18 months between pregnancies, Sue has broken this rule on several occasions. In total, five of her babies were born within less than a year of each other.

Archie Radford
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

However, aside from the tragic case of Alfie, who was stillborn, Sue has given birth to nothing but happy and healthy babies. They’ve all grown up strong and are doing great, proving that even if Sue may have raised a few eyebrows with her decisions, she still seems to have made the right call in general and raised a wonderful family so far.

Sue Knows Herself Better Than Anyone

Maybe one of the big reasons why Sue has always managed to make the right call and end up with so many happy and healthy kids is because she knows herself and her body so well. Deep down, she knew that she could handle all of those pregnancies and she had faith that her body could cope with the pressures of multiple childbirths.

Sue Radford
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

It’s important for everyone to follow expert advice, but it’s also vital to listen to your own body and believe in yourself. It seems like Sue had faith, and she and her husband clearly wanted a very big family! With each baby that was born, their clan grew bigger and their desire for even more kids also kept growing too.

Baby Number 21

And so, the births continued. Even as Sue got older, getting through her twenties and into her thirties and then forties, she just kept getting pregnant and welcoming more and more little bundles of joy into the world. On November 6, 2018, Sue gave birth to the couple’s 21st child, Bonnie Raye. The couple decided to give Bonnie the middle name ‘Raye’ as they call her their “Ray of sunshine.”

Sue Radford with Bonnie Raye
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Astonishingly, Sue was only in labor for 12 minutes when giving birth to Bonnie Raye. It seems that as she has had more and more kids, she’s gotten used to the experience and learned how to get through it very quickly and efficiently.

It Never Gets Old

One might think that with so many kids, the whole process of having a baby gets a bit repetitive for the couple and their children. You might think that by the time you’re welcoming baby number 21 into the family, the usual spark and magic of a brand-new child isn’t quite the same as it once was. But that simply could not be further from the truth.

The Radford Family
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

In interviews and on social media, the Radfords reveal that every single birth feels just as magical as the one before it. When Bonnie Raye was born, for example, all the kids were so excited and everyone was desperate to have the first cuddle with her. But how long would Noel and Sue really carry on having kids?

Calling It Quits?

Many people followed the progress of the Radford family with interest, but after Bonnie Raye was born and Sue and Noel started to get older, many observers wondered if they’d carry on any longer. And then Noel and Sue seemed to confirm the rumors, announcing to The Sun that they’d decided that they did not want any more children.

The Radford Family Pose with Pumpkins
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

The couple both said that Bonnie Raye had “completed their family.” Noel added that “some people decide to stop after two or three kids. We’ve made it after 21.” But even though the parents seemed to have made a decision, many of their kids joked and commented that they weren’t so sure. They all remembered one moment in the family past in which a similar situation occurred.

Not the First Time

You see, this wasn’t the first time that Noel and Sue had decided that their family was complete and they weren’t having any more kids. When they had their ninth child, James, they both stated that their family was big enough. In fact, they were so adamant in their decision that Noel went and got a vasectomy to make it official.

Noel and James Radford
Source: YouTube / The Radford Family

However, after Noel had his operation, the couple started to have second thoughts. They began to feel regret and decided that maybe they did want more kids after all, so Noel went and got the surgery reversed, allowing him to have children all over again. So, when Noel and Sue said they were finished with children after Bonnie Raye, could we really believe them?

Is It Really the End?

Despite what their kids were saying and what had happened with James in the past, Noel and Sue were determined to prove that their decision was final. At the hospital, the midwives joked that they’d be seeing Sue all over again a year later, but Sue said “Definitely not!” Having spent over 800 weeks of her life pregnant, she claimed to be totally finished with the experience.

The Radfords Celebrate Halloween
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

She even went as far as planning to throw out all of her maternity clothes, the crib that had been used for her babies over the years, and other baby items too. After getting home with Bonnie Raye, she went on social media and said it was strange to think that that was the “last time we would drive our newborn home.”

They’d Heard It All Before

It sounded like Sue was pretty serious, but even with all of her claims and determination, her kids still didn’t believe that Bonnie Raye would be the last little sibling they welcomed into the world. They’d heard the same old story too many times in the past and many of them kept joking that their parents were bound to have another kid eventually.

Sue and Chloe Radford
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

Second-born Sophie said that her mom and dad couldn’t possibly stop at an odd number of children, while Chloe said that even if they weren’t planning on another child right now, there was still a chance of it happening. After all, they had never really planned to have 20+ kids in the first place!

Becoming A Grandma and Grandpa

Well, while some of the Radford kids were busy arguing about whether or not their mom and dad might have another child, one of them was busy having some children of his own! Chris Radford, the oldest of all the Radford family children, met a woman named Nicole Spencer. The pair fell in love and decided to settle down and start a family of their own.

Chris Radford with His Daughter
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

So, it didn’t take long for Chris and his wife to bring their own new baby into the world. Their firstborn was called Maisie Radford, and she was born on June 3rd of 2017. She was the first grandchild of Noel and Sue, and it was a very proud and happy moment for them both, as well as the rest of the family when little Maisie was introduced to everyone.

More And More Grandkids Start to Come

And, just as we saw with Noel and Sue’s children, their grandchildren suddenly started to come one after another! Maisie was the first, but there were still more to come. Chris had a second child, a son named Jacob, with his wife Nicole, but he wasn’t the only one having babies.

The Radford Children on World Book Day
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Sophie, the second Radford child, married a man named Joe Broadley and had three kids with him called Daisy, Ayprill, and Leo. So, before they even knew what had happened, Noel and Sue weren’t just parents, they were also grandparents to five additional children! And with so many more kids growing up and meeting people, it’s amazing to think of how big their family could eventually become.

A Very Big Announcement

So Noel and Sue were suddenly a grandma and a grandpa, as well as the parents of 21 children! It had been quite a rollercoaster ride up to that point, but was there one final twist in store? Of course, there was! One day, Noel and Sue shared a YouTube video with the world, revealing that they were pregnant once more with their 22nd child.

Pregnant Sue Radford
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

They managed to keep the whole thing secret for quite a while, as Sue revealed that she was actually 12 weeks pregnant at the time the video was posted and said that the couple was on their way to a scan to take a look at their next baby.

One More Member On The Way

For everyone who had been following the family’s adventures and developments, this was huge news! Sue revealed that the due date for the next baby was sometime in April 2020, and she later went on Instagram to scare a scan image of the baby inside her womb.

A Scan of the 22nd Radford Baby

Sue joked that the new baby looked a bit grumpy in the photo, but she was clearly very happy to be pregnant once more and excited to add another member to the ever-growing Radford family. Many of the family’s fans and followers were very excited about the news as well and started to follow the developments of the pregnancy with close attention. And they were in for a bumpy ride, as this pregnancy didn’t go quite according to plan.

Some Worries Early On

It’s always exciting for a woman to learn that she’s pregnant after trying for a baby, but the whole process can be quite a scary one too, even for someone like Sue, who has been through it all many times in the past. She knew that she was a bit older and so the chances of issues arising with the pregnancy were higher, and in the early stages, there were some worrying signs.

Sue Radford
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

The doctors were a little worried after performing routine scans and seeing that the baby didn’t seem to be developing at the regular rate. Fortunately, this bad news went away in the months that followed and the baby started to grow normally once again.

The Average Day

So what is it like having such a big family? Well, the average day for the Radfords is pretty different from what you might experience at home. Each and every morning, the family starts the day bright and early at 6.30 am. Each breakfast, they consume a total of 18 pints of milk, three liters of juice, and three boxes of cereal on average too!

The Radfords at a Restaurant
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

From there, they have to send the kids off on ferries to different schools and preschools, as well as ensuring that each kid has food to eat, all the necessary school supplies, regular health check-ups, and more. Not to mention the cleaning, cooking, and other duties that come along with taking care of such a massive family.

A Big, Big, Big Job

It’s an absolutely enormous job for Noel and Sue to look after so many kids. Most of us can’t even imagine looking after three or four kids at once, let alone over 20 of them! Luckily, as some of their kids have gotten older, Sue and Noel can now ask them for help with various chores and tasks around the home.

The Radford Children opening gifts on Christmas
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Really, there’s no other way they could cope! Two people can’t look after 20 kids all by themselves. Everyone has to pitch in and help out around the Radford home, so the older kids are able to look after their younger siblings sometimes and everyone does their part to keep the family unit running smoothly. Of course, problems still happen, but the Radfords have learned to cope with almost anything!

How Much Does It All Cost?

Having so many children and such a big family has its upsides, but one major factor that many people immediately think about when hearing about the Radfords is the cost. Even the simplest of things like going to the movies or eating out at a restaurant becomes much more expensive when you have over 20 mouths to feed.

The Radford Family
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family sWza

A typical dinner out costs the Radfords close to $200, while a trip to the movies is at least $130. The family loves going trampolining together too, but that costs around $300 each time, so Sue says she’s always on the lookout for discounts and deals in an attempt to save a bit of cash wherever and whenever they can.

Their Very Own Company

So how on Earth do the Radfords pay for everything? Just food and activities can cost so much for them, and we haven’t even mentioned the costs of school tuition, utility bills, school materials, and everything else the average family needs to get along. You might think they must get a lot of help from the government or maybe have millions in savings, but a lot of their money is generated by their very own business: Radford’s Pie Company.

Noel Radford
Source: Instagram / @Noelradford

Noel has been baking pies for over 25 years and has earned a lot of fans and happy customers all around the country. They also get $225 per week from the government in child benefits, and they’ve received some cash from appearing in several TV documentaries about their family.

Home Sweet Home

And what about their house? It must be pretty big to cope with all those kids, right? Well, the Radfords live in Morecambe in a house with ten bedrooms in total. They purchased the property for around $312,000 back in 2004 and have been living there ever since, even as their family has grown bigger and bigger.

The Radfords at Home
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

Even if the kids can’t all have their own bedrooms, the house is big enough to cater to the whole family, but it can get a little messy sometimes! Sue says that the laundry machines are basically running non-stop and there’s always cleaning going on somewhere around the home. But even though there’s always work to be done, the Radford home always seems to be a place of joy and laughter.

A Very Happy Place To Be

In many interviews, documentaries, and social media posts, Sue and Noel say that the Radford family home is one of the happiest and liveliest places on Earth! With so many kids around, it’s like a summer camp that never ends. As Noel says, “There’s never a dull moment. It’s a happy house full of laughter and we just love being surrounded by all our children. The kids love being part of a big family too.”

The Radford Children at Christmas
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

To those of us on the outside, the Radford family home might sound like quite a chaotic place, and it’s easy to focus on all the negatives and challenges of having so many kids, but it’s inspiring to see that Sue, Noel, and their children are all such positive people. We can’t help admiring this positivity and optimism.

An Optimism We Can All Admire

That incredible “Radford optimism” is something we can all admire. Life is filled with challenges of all kinds, and it’s easy to get down now and then when problems arise, but when we look at the Radfords and see how they’ve accomplished so much, doing it all with smiles on their faces and joy in their heart, we can all feel more positive about the world.

The Radford Children
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

The family’s optimistic outlook has helped them earn many fans and followers. Over on The Sun website in an article about the Radfords, one commenter said, “Hats off to them. I’ve always found them inspiring — if they can have that many children and financially support themselves.” And there are countless other positive comments and views on the Radfords.

Fans Far And Wide

And as word has spread about the Radfords, the family has captured the attention of fans and followers from all over the globe! On Instagram, for example, they have a total follower count well beyond 200,000, with many fans hailing from different countries and continents, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Phoebe Radford
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Even though this family lives and works in Britain, their story has a special kind of international appeal. People from all walks of life can relate to the Radfords desire to have lots of kids and a big happy family. It’s something that binds and connects us all, and their story has inspired many folks of all ages.

TV Stars

Naturally, with such a special and unique family, it was only a matter of time until the Radfords caught the attention of the media. They were featured in several tabloid and magazine interviews, to begin with, before revealing that they were going to star in their very own documentary!

The Radford Family
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

The first documentary was called 15 Kids and Counting. It aired on Channel 4 in the UK and introduced viewers around the country to the Radfords, who only had 15 kids at the time. Ever since then, the documentary has returned each year, with a new title each time. First, it was 16 Kids and Counting, then 17 Kids and Counting, and so on.

The Latest Documentary

As they say, the show must go on! As long as the Radfords keep on having kids and as long as the public is interested to hear in how their lives are progressing, the documentaries keep on rolling. Channel 4 has continued to make more and more of these documentaries on the Radfords each and every year, and the latest edition was 21 Kids and Counting, which aired in January of 2019.

The Radford Children
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

Since Noel and Sue are now expecting another baby in 2020, we can expect that the show will return once more for yet another edition, set to be entitled: 22 Kids and Counting. Each year, fans are amazed to see that the Radford family has continued to grow, and everyone can’t wait to meet the next baby.

Record Holders

You might be wondering if the Radfords hold any special records since they have so many children. Well, they aren’t actually the biggest family on Earth, but they are the current record holders for the biggest family in Britain! This unique title, combined with the documentaries, really helped to catapult the family into the spotlight.

The Radfords at Christmas
Source: Facebook / The Radford Family

Many people love to keep up with news from the Radfords and many of the kids have their own social media accounts and big follower numbers too. Chloe, for example, has got around 24,000 Instagram followers on her own private account, and the individual Radford kids can basically be described as celebrities in Britain.

The Future for The Radfords

So, what does the future hold for this amazing and totally unique family? Well, we’ve already seen that baby number 22 is on the way, scheduled to arrive in the world in April of 2020, and that’s definitely going to be the next big milestone for Noel, Sue, and their nearest and dearest. All around the world, fans of the family are eagerly anticipating the birth.

The Radford Children Going to School
Source: Instagram / @theradfordfamily

We’ll be excited to see the new baby when he or she arrives, as well as learning what Noel and Sue have decided to call their new addition and how he or she will fit into the family unit. We also have to wonder if this baby will finally be the very last one, or whether Noel and Sue might decide to do the whole thing all over again! Either way, the future is exciting for this family.