Party of Five

We are having our fifth baby!

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We’re really excited and we’ve been surprised by others’ excitement when we told them.  We thought we’d get a lot more eye rolls or aghast expressions, but mostly we’ve felt nothing but love and joy from our friends and family.  Shoppers at Costco don’t know yet because I’ve yet to take all four while my bump has been visible.  We’ll get those aghast stares yet, folks.

Each of our previous children have arrived before the prior child turned two, so this feels like a huge gap to us.  Jameson will be about 7 weeks away from his third birthday when the baby is born, and that is eons older than the 21-months-old twins we brought Hunter home to, or the 3.5-year-old twins and 22-months-old Hunter we brought Jameson home to. His ability to talk, understand, obey, and generally function will be light-years easier than our prior experiences.

We also feel really unfazed, and that’s the blessing of time and experience.  We’re not holding our breath or totally freaked out.  When Jameson joined the family, it didn’t make waves the way the first three did.  He synced into our lives and brought happiness, not strain.

We anticipate a similar experience with this baby, because really, what other option is there?  That’s the secret behind larger families that we’re discovering: your first child alters your universe, the second rocks your world, the third overturns the apple cart, but the fourth has to roll with what’s already there.  The fifth?  They are allowed very few demands, by necessity.  We already have routines, school schedules, commitments, structure, and the baby will hopefully jump right in.

Maybe I’ll read this six months from now and weep from my own ignorance, but I doubt it.  It’s funny how we’re finding that though life is much busier, wilder, and louder with more kids, it’s not exponentially harder with each additional kid.  The bell curve shoots straight up from kids one and two and then kind of levels out.  From what I’m told, most people opt out of kid 3 and 4 because they assume (and why wouldn’t they?) that the bell curve rockets straight into the sky indefinitely — and who could live like that?  But it doesn’t.

For instance, I’m not making more dinners or driving more places…I’m just doubling a recipe and setting one more place at the table, and dropping more kids at the same school.  Do you see what I mean?  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

The real sweetness is in their relationships with each other.  Mike and I could not be more obsessed with our kids, but we know the long-term blessing is what we’re giving them in each other.  Watching them run out of the house every day to play football in the yard (with two vs two they can actually make do even if the neighbors aren’t home), or hearing Arden and Hunter play school in one of their rooms, or seeing Henry wrestle both boys, these are the moments when our effort in the daily grind is nothing compared to the joy before us.

I’m constantly amazed by the lightening of my load in other ways too.  It wasn’t long ago that I was pushing a double stroller with a baby on my chest, and now I have four kids racing ahead on their bikes, leaving me hands-free to jog behind them.  It’s so easy!

The car, though.  The car.

Everybody asks what on earth we’re going to do about our car.  We drive a minivan, obviously, but all the kids are still in car seats.  So if we put the middle seat back into the middle row (it’s captains chairs right now), how will two kids access the third row?  We can’t fit three car seats across the back row, or we’d do that.  The twins are still in five-point harnesses, but we’re thinking it’s time to switch to lap belts — still, that doesn’t reduce the size of their car seat, it only changes how they’re strapped to it.

We are seriously considering a sprinter van, which would make us look like we’re delivering Amazon Prime packages, but I may have to make my peace with that.  I don’t think I can do a Suburban, because I’d lose my auto-open van doors, which are the crown jewels of my loading-kids-in-the-car experience.

I don’t spend my days thinking about February when the baby will be here.  I spend much more time savoring being pregnant.  I love it wholeheartedly, and every day I walk around ecstatic that I get to do this again.  It’s glorious feeling the kicks, it’s fun to have to quasi-waddle or hold my hands on my back like a pregnant woman in an 80’s movie, I love when my body demands that I lay down for ten minutes because it feels so good, I love that I am eating what I want and still exercising, I love wearing maternity clothes again…I could write endlessly about my love of being pregnant.

And having had several kids, I know what’s ahead with a newborn, so I am consciously grateful every day that this baby doesn’t yet need to be fed, held, rocked, nursed, quieted, soothed, bathed, changed — nada!  This baby just hangs out silently inside me, eating what I eat (sorry about Halloween, baby), sleeping when I walk, and waking and kicking when I lay down.  It is the greatest.

The kids can’t wait, though like last time, they’re toeing the party line on baby’s gender.  Boys want a boy, Arden wants a girl.  We’re talking often of preparing our hearts either way, so no one bursts into disappointed tears in the delivery room.  I think they’ll see the little bundle in a blanket and newborn hat and fall in love either way.

I’m almost 29 weeks, so we’ve a little over two months to go.  To say each pregnancy goes faster than the last is an understatement, but I also know that the baby stage goes faster each time, so I’m hoping to savor it, even the harder parts.

Mike and I can’t believe we’re going to have five kids.  Five!  It’s bananas, and we’re overwhelmed with gratitude.

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