Andrea and Chad Chapman didn't exactly set out to write an anthem in support of big families or become internet stars.
The Raleigh parents of three kids and one more on the way expected their video birth announcement - a parody of Miley Cyrus' hit "We Can't Stop" - would be a fun way to let their friends and family know they are expecting No. 4. The couple are parents of twin girls who will turn five in June and a two-year-old son. Andrea is due in August.
But, of course, sometimes things go big when you put them online. And their video, "We Can't Stop .... Having Babies" has racked up more than 2 million page views in less than a month.
Both of the Chapmans have been involved in music. Andrea, a Raleigh native, went to school for music at Belmont University in Nashville. Chad is the worship pastor at New Life Triangle, where Andrea also is the children's director. Chad also works in marketing for Johnson Automotive.
Andrea's latest pregnancy was a surprise, as was her first pregnancy with twins. In fact, she had told her husband after their son was born that she didn't want to get pregnant again, but she'd welcome more children in the family through adoption.
"We really can't stop having babies," she said. "And then I thought of that song" - Miley's "We Can't Stop."
Andrea tells me that she's written parody lyrics before. Chad was interested in recording music. The song, with the refrain "It's our family, we can do what we want," features the Chapmans and their kids. The video mimics Cyrus' right down to pool scenes and marshmallows, but in a family-friendly way.
"We have never done anything like this," she said. "This is like let's try something new and fun. He's really good at learning new things. He's always wanted to record music and so he did all of it. Really, truly, I just wrote those lyrics and showed up that day."
By the time the video was online, some of the couple's friends already knew she was pregnant. She was starting to show and sick all of the time. But it was a surprise for a few of the friends.
The bigger surprise was how it's resonated online and, especially, with big families. The song is now available for purchase and some families have used it for their own online birth announcements.
"It wasn't meant to be this big anthem for big families," she said. "I'm glad it is."
Will we hear more from the Chapmans? It's possible, though Andrea said she has no interest in living her life on the internet.
"We actually had a lot of fun doing it," Andrea said. "Our kids love watching it. If it was stressful, I wouldn't do it again. I don't care about being famous. But, I've made friends through it - other moms online that are a lot like me and have a bunch of kids."
I chatted some more with Andrea through email. Here's our conversation:
Go Ask Mom: You and your husband have always been musical. And you've written parodies before. Tell us about why you guys decided to make the video and what the process was like to make it.
Andrea Chapman: We just went for it. Acted on those creative impulses that we usually ignore. We work well together: I wrote the lyrics and most of the scenes, and Chad basically produced, recorded, mixed, and edited everything. His eye for detail and perfectionist tendencies paid off!
GAM: It was intended to be a birth announcement for friends and family, but it's mushroomed into something much bigger. Any idea how that happened? Are you surprised by the reaction?
AC: I was shocked. Chad somehow knew it was going to be well-received (perhaps it was his marketing intuition), but I was blown away. People liked it because it resonated with them, even people with small families, because of the line "It's our family we can do what we want to." Not every family looks the same, and once you look a little different people have no problem telling you how they feel about it. Parents often are on the receiving end of judgy, unkind remarks about the size or makeup of their families. It's frustrating, and sometimes you need to just hear from someone else that your family decisions are your choice, and who cares what anyone else thinks!
GAM: The video has been featured on lots of website - Today Show, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, among others. What's it like to see your family in the spotlight like this?
AC: I love it. It's a pro-family, pro-being yourself, positive message and people are encouraged by it. Even if I had a tiny impact on how people feel about their kids or their families, I'm so thrilled by it!
GAM: The song has especially resonated with large families, who sometimes feel judged for their decisions to have more than a couple of kids. What have you heard from them?
AC: Some people who are in the process of having a large family, maybe on their fourth or fifth or are adopting a few more kids, they told me how much they needed to hear it. When all you hear from other people are doubts and concerns (sometimes when you are already pregnant...what am I going to do? send this back?) you need to actually see and hear from someone like you that it's going to be OK, and that you are free to make your own decisions. People who already have large families seemed to, at some point along the way, make that same empowering choice, it's my family and we can do what we want, and they were just encouraging me that having a lot of kids is great and they wouldn't change a thing about their families. We heard from adults who grew up with lots of siblings, parents of special needs kids, people who someday want a large family but don't have one, families who foster or adopt. The message, above all, is just to enjoy your family no matter what it looks like or what size it is. And that resonated with all sorts of people.
GAM: Will we be hearing more from the Chapman family?
AC: Of course! Once it becomes a strain or not fun, we won't do it. But for now, it brought us together and was a fun family project. We are creative people with a lot of ideas, so, you know, we won't stop ;)
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.