Mum of 12, pregnant for 16 consecutive years, shares strong message of faith: ‘Children are a blessing’
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While most mothers love their children, not all love the physical experience of being pregnant.
This is clearly not the case for Iris Purnell, 38, who has spent 16 years over the past two decades pregnant with her 12 children – and if it were up to her, she would welcome even more children into the world.
“I feel like the kids are a blessing,” she told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.
“And if it’s a blessing, then who am I to stop it?”
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The mother of 12 explained that she welcomed her first son in 2004.
She met her husband, Cordell “Storm” Purnell, who was also the father of a child, almost six months later.
The couple bonded over their love of fight dancing after crossing paths at a party in New York.
“We got together, we got to know each other,” Cordell Purnell said.
“We got married and had our first son together shortly after. So we had three kids early in our marriage,” he said.
The couple, originally from East New York and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, now live in Los Angeles. They said they didn’t originally plan on having a big family.
“I found a new life and a new sense of purpose.”
Cordell continued to work as a professional dancer under her stage name, Storm, while Iris took a break from the choreography work she loved.
“I was trying to find life in those days because I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t what I wanted to do,” she said.
“So it was a struggle for me mentally because I didn’t know how to express that I wasn’t happy.”
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The longing Iris Purnell felt led her to seek God when she welcomed the couple’s daughter in 2006.
“At that time, I was going to church and I decided to be saved,” said Iris Purnell.
“I found a new life and a new sense of purpose.”
“That’s when I was like, ‘You know what? If God wants me to have as many kids, then I’ll have as many kids as He wants me to have. ‘”
She added: “So that’s how we ended up having 12.”
In total, the Purnells welcomed seven sons and five daughters.
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Their children are Malikhai, 17, Cordell Jr., 17, Janai, 15, Trinity, 13, Messiah, 12, Josiah, 11, Love, 9, Seven, 8, Michael, 6, Royal, 5, Heavenly, 4, and Hope. , 3.
Iris Purnell told Fox News Digital that she and her family study the Bible together.
The scriptures they read together – such as Psalms 127:3-5 – reaffirm his beliefs.
“Behold, children are an inheritance from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
“We are intentional about this walk with God,” she said.
“It’s done wonders for our marriage as we come together, communicate and be patient with each other.”
Iris Purnell has said she credits the Bible with helping her through the postpartum depression she experienced in 2016 after she underwent an emergency C-section and missed seeing the birth of her son Michael.
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To get through this difficult time in her life, the mum said she prayed to God for strength – and sent positive affirmations to her infant son.
“I know words have power, so I was mindful of the things I was saying,” recalls Iris Purnell.
“I used to tell him how awesome he was and that he was going to be amazing. I would say positive things out loud and just keep that in mind – and it worked.”
She added that she enjoyed each of her pregnancies and had only experienced morning sickness and discomfort with her daughter Trinity.
Seven of her children were born by natural childbirth. Four were born by Caesarean section.
Iris Purnell said meditation helped her stay calm when giving birth, even when she had to deal with a breech birth (when a baby is positioned feet first rather than head first) .
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Dad Cordell Purnell said he couldn’t help but worry after watching his wife undergo more than one emergency caesarean section.
The couple discussed their options after Iris became pregnant with Hope – their 12th child – in 2019.
Together, they decided that tubal ligation would be their best option to prevent potentially dangerous strain on Iris’ body.
Tubal ligation, also known as tubal ligation, is a medical procedure that involves tying or cutting the fallopian tubes as a means of terminating pregnancy, according to the CDC.
“[As] a mom, I think she takes on the role of teacher, caregiver,” Cordell Purnell said of his wife.
“It wasn’t easy for me. I was actually against it at first,” Iris Purnell told Fox News Digital.
“But then I realized that marriage is about compromise. If we’re meant to work together, then I have to see that [my husband is] looking out for my best interest. And so I accepted.”
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She added that it’s still hard for her to accept that she can’t have any more children because she “thrives” when she’s in mommy mode.
“I genuinely love raising my kids,” she said. “I love getting them ready for school, taking their clothes off, styling them and making them feel and look beautiful.”
Iris Purnell also enjoys helping her children with their homework and giving them the attention they need.
“She always wanted to be a teacher, so that’s a big goal,” Cordell Purnell said.
“And [as] a mother, I think she assumes the role of teacher, helper. When I met her, she was in nursing school, so she can accomplish all of that.”
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He continued, “It helps you understand why she’s had as many kids as she could have, because she’s fulfilling all the outside dreams she wanted to fulfill inside our house.”
The couple supports their family through their social media activities and by selling merchandise.
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Iris Purnell recently wrote on Instagram (where she goes by the name “Mrs. Storm”), “It’s never too late, and our children are not too young, to learn and experience the Lord for themselves. ‘learn first by our walk and our patience to say what the Lord would say to them instead of what we would say to them in conversations.
She added, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn aside” (Proverbs 22:6).