What do you get when you add two parents plus 14 kids? The delightful TLC reality series Doubling Down with the Derricos, following the lives of Karen and Deon Derrico and their fourteen kids – that include multiple sets of twins and triplets – as they navigate daily life with their larger-than-life family.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, xoNecole caught up with Karen to hear what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mother of 14 living children and how their story began. “We met at a nightclub,” Karen says about meeting her husband Deon for the first time. “There was just a boldness about him…and we just danced the whole night.”
It only took three months into their courtship that Karen says the couple discussed their plans around having children. “He asked me, ‘How many children do you want?” She replied: “I want as many as God blesses me to have.” She said it was those magic words that led to her life as a mother to over a dozen kids.
Sets of multiples run on both sides of the family. Karen says that she has cousins with twins and triplet aunts and her husband’s family has twins. Even Gigi – Deon’s mother who also appears on the show – tragically miscarried a set of triplets. “I guess I’m just carrying on Gigi’s torch,” Karen says.
But Karen is a medical anomaly having so many sets of multiple children without the aid of fertility treatments. It’s one of the reasons why TLC producer Lori Ansaldi reached out to the Derricos after reading their story in a newspaper article and asking them about the idea of doing a show. “We just realized there are things in our life that we had a blueprint from someone else to go by,” Karen says about their decision to do the show. “"If someone…says, 'Girl, I got five heartbeats in here and I got to carry them. How was it like for you?'... We just want to provide that loving, caring, non-judgmental blueprint for other families out there [with the show].”
There was only a bit of hesitation from extended family members about why Karen and Deon would want to invite a camera crew into their lives, but for the most part, Karen says that everybody was on board, especially their kids. “We introduced it to them as this is our way of telling our story and what we’ve been through,” she says.
Their lives before the show weren’t much different than now, with Deon working in real estate and Karen raising the kids as a stay-at-home mom. The newfound spotlight also hasn’t created any “pumpkin heads” as Karen describes it. “We don’t drop that ‘f word’ of fame,” Karen says. “We don’t use that word at all.” A part of keeping the kids level headed also includes their weekly Saturday morning cleaning rituals, which Karen attributes to her “old school” parenting style. “You turn your music on, you light some candles or some incense and everybody in the house knows it's time to get up and start cleaning,” she says.
It’s their faith and their commitment to a life of service that keep the Derrico family humble. Besides the ability for the kids to get big boxes of complimentary fruit roll-ups whenever they want (which Karen says she quickly nipped in the bud), it’s been fans' messages about how much the show has meant to them that have been a blessing to Karen especially. Opening up about miscarriage, Karen says she’s had fans reach out to her and thank her for her vulnerability on the subject. “You’d be surprised how much people don’t talk about going through a miscarriage,” Karen says. “I want other mothers to know that it’s okay, not to be okay.”