Published: 06:00, 24 January 2020
| Updated: 11:38, 24 January 2020
Despite being told by doctors she would never have children, Emma Gale and her husband Spencer are now proud parents to 10. Here they tell Brad Harper how they battle night shifts and working seven-days-a week to provide for their huge family...
When Emma Gale gets home at 1.30am from her shift at Tesco in Whitstable, she grabs as much sleep as she can.
Because in just a few hours' time, the hard work will really begin.
At 7am she will need to be up for the school run - which can be a stressful time for any parent. But when you're a mother-of-10, it's truly on another level.
Meal times can be hectic, too, as I found out when Emma took time out of her busy schedule to welcome me at her Seasalter home.
There she lives with her husband Spencer and one-year-old Isaac, Eli, two, Noah, four, Sidney, five, Teddy, eight, Freddie 13, Daisy, 14, Charlie, 17, and Emily, 19, with 20-year-old Oliver the only one to have flown the nest.
But while life for the Gales can be hectic, they say they "wouldn't change it for the world".
Indeed, they count themselves lucky to be parents at all.
Because when Emma was 18, doctors delivered the "mortifying" news they would never have children as she was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries.
About two years later, the "shocked" pair had started looking at fostering or adopting, when Emma fell ill and "couldn't even stand up".
After being rushed to hospital by Spencer it was revealed Emma was two months' pregnant, to both of their astonishment.
Now, the walls of their five-bedroom house are coated with about 100 family pictures.
Although the couple insist they have no favourites, Spencer has a "special bond" with Sidney and Isaac, as he delivered them himself at home, with the help of a midwife over the phone.
"I wouldn't change it for the world. At the end of the day, it was our choice to have this many children and we were lucky to have them"
In fact, seven of the children were home-births, with all 10 natural.
"We always mix up names," Emma, 42, admits. "Especially when they are being hooligans."
The couple say they work hard as a team to provide for the children - with Spencer working seven days a week at the Harbour Garage and Emma up to four night shifts during the week.
"Because we have 10 children, people automatically assume we get benefits - but we don't," Emma says.
Spencer, 47, adds: "What is nice is our own work ethics have reflected on our children.
"Oliver works an awful lot of hours; he works all the overtime he can possibly get.
"Emily is full-time at Canterbury Christ Church in Medway and works a lot of hours.
"I think it is nice for us as parents and is really reflective of us."
After the birth of Isaac and a warning from doctors, Emma and Spencer have both decided not to have more children.
"I was told I could haemorrhage or get blood clots," she says.
"But I have always been lucky and I have never had any complications."
The couple admit money is very tight, so they work extra hard to make sure their children do not go without, saving £100 a week to cover the expensive festive season.
"Don't get me wrong, they aren't spoiled children and don't have anything during the year, except for birthdays and Christmas," Emma says.
"We make sure they do their club. They don't get pocket money, but if they want to go out with friends we try to give them some - everything has to be scheduled so we know what we are budgeting for."
Christmas Day is a big occasion in the family's calendar as they have dinner with all the neighbours - so there can be up to 30 people at the table.
Everyone shares the jobs and they all sit together to eat their meal.
Emma also does just one big grocery shop a month and doesn't "beat around the bush" when it comes to cooking.
She says: "They don't have a choice - they all have the same, and it is easier for me."
Despite admitting there is some tension in the house, everyone sticks together and supports each other.
"There is always going to be some sibling rivalry - but they are all pretty good and pull together when they need to," Emma says.
"Five years ago, my dad had a massive brain aneurysm and it was quite tricky.
"I had to be at the hospital for six months everyday and they all just pulled together."
The family do not go out on many trips together but when they do, Emma likes everyone to look the part.
"Two years ago, Spencer's dad got remarried so all the children dressed the same," she says.
"I think it is really special when you have a big family to dress all of them the same."
The family's French bulldog, Buster, and cat, Jess, add to the mayhem, but Emma admits she hates it when the house is quiet.
There are plans to build a log cabin outside and a conservatory to add three more rooms as the children get older.
But at the moment, Isaac sleeps in his parents' room, five of the younger boys share, and Emily, Charlie and Daisy each have their own bedroom.
Oliver has moved out and works as a chef for Michelin-starred restaurants in Ibiza and France.
Emma says: "We don't ever regret having 10 children, but we just hate people who judge us."
Spencer adds: "I wouldn't change it for the world. At the end of the day, it was our choice to have this many children and we were very lucky to have them."
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