Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Party of Six, musings on a fourth pregnancy

I'm halfway through my fourth pregnancy (22 weeks). Let's be cliche and ask,

"How did that happen?" Seriously friends, at the rate the weeks have passed, if I told you my due date was tomorrow I wouldn't feel like I was being deceitful. And that worries me.

Sure, sure...I remember the way that time notoriously stops the last 5 (or is it 10?) weeks of pregnancy as life becomes one giant bubble of discomfort, but labor (*shudder, cry, scream!!) will arrive and hopefully at the end of it, we'll be welcoming a healthy, fresh from heaven, son. It thrills me to think about falling in love with another baby boy but I would be lying (oh good, my conscience came back) if I said that I wasn't frightened that I won't fulfill my personal expectations as a Mother. Will I be able to properly attend to and fairly love the four precious spirits that circulate around my personal orbit of crazy?

With each pregnancy, much of the dialogue stays the same; which is why this feeling of  'how are you going to manage this, Ali?" feels incredibly familiar.

With Eliza, I remember the advice, "Oh! Sleep as much as you can now. You'll NEVER sleep again!" For a time it feels like that may be true, but it's not. When I was expecting Henry I felt like I was about to betray the bond I'd built with Eliza.

"She's still so young. Will she be neglected? Can you love a second as much as a first?" My pediatrician put me in my place when he simply said, "Relax lady. You just gave her a best friend." The 'relax lady' part wasn't actually said, but rather felt. He was a 100% right about that best friend part. Henry's arrival also taught me that there is always enough love to go around. Like the Grinch, my Mother heart grows with the arrival of each child in a way that remarkably proves the undeniable existence of a Higher Power; even a Father in Heaven who most certainly does have the capacity to know and love each of His children.

Lottie rocks the Rag-A-Muffin look

While pregnant with Lottie, the thing I heard most was,

"Number three did me in. That's when life totally fell apart." Up until our move back to Utah, life with Lottie in South Carolina was pretty easy breezy. It was a special time. Maybe that's nostalgia for our former life talking, but we did well those early months. Moving to Utah and living in my parent's basement with a small infant wasn't 'easy' but a lot of that was based on life circumstance. Yes, I'm keeping in mind that there are no guarantees with the fourth. Maybe this time, I really will go crazy. I'll keep you posted.

What started this train of thought, I suppose, is our recent spell of illness. When Henry and Lottie were both miserable, my ability to mellow out was shot. Can my heart handle the worry that comes attached to loving four children?! Forgive the whine, I'm the first to admit and acknowledge the warrior Moms who have been served a much larger plate of child related worry! I pray for and look up to those women.

I see the pile of shoes in our mudroom and tell myself to imagine six more pairs to the untidy mess. Looking at my laundry situation, to prepare, I mentally add ten more baskets. As easy as it is to focus on the inevitable increase of the tedious, mind numbing tasks that accompany the fine art of housewifery, it's more important to recognize the reminders, that stare me in the face daily, of why having small children in my home is wonderful!
My children make my heart sing. Coming home today, Eliza couldn't wait to tell Henry that for her library selection at school, she chose to get a book just for Henry. She had plans to check out a book on world records because lately she's been trying to set a record involving a yellow bouncy ball. She was quite determined on Sunday to bounce and catch the ball more than any other six year old ever. She sacrificed that interest on his behalf. Her other book choice was Matilda. She and I are currently reading this together.
Three minutes after coming home, Eliza and Henry were on the couch reading 'his' book about hogs. Listening to Eliza explain the finer points of the story to Henry filled me with gladness!

When Eliza exits the car each morning Henry faithfully hollers, "I love you, Eliza!" as she walks away.  He isn't satisfied until he hears her echo the sentiment which means the car window is usually rolled down (brrrr!). Why this loving exchange never happens sooner, is beyond me... but I'll take it!

With the kids at school, Lottie will ask over and over to bring back her siblings.

"I want my Henry. I want my Eliza." They are hers, make no mistake. When I tell her that they are at school she offers up a huge smile, bats her eyelashes and follows up with,

"Please?!" She doesn't take no for an answer.
My big kids are great helpers and are endlessly responding to my requests for a favor (Eliza especially). Henry, my little gentleman who holds the house door open for me whenever we come home from an errand, will at times deny said request. I can't say I blame him. Lottie is the first to offer her 'help' at the dishwasher. There are times when I ask the big kids for a Lottie related favor and while they are busy ignoring me, Lottie fulfills the request herself.

And the last and possibly best antidote for parental stress is laughter and with children, humor is never on short supply. Whether or not this latest batch of Fleglet funnies translates well, remains to be seen.

A few months back, Henry offered this prayer. I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget.

Dear Heavenly Father
Thank you for this day.
Please bless there won't be any tornadoes in Utah. And hurricanes.
Help us to not take alcohol.
And to not be scared when we get 'batized.'
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope she forgives me for this one, but last fall while she was jumping on the neighbor's trampoline, Eliza bounced off to whisper the following in my ear,

"Mom, my boobs feel loose!"

While talking to a friend about their Dad's, Eliza offered the following insight.

"Elizabeth, my Dad doesn't like sports."
Elizabeth responds, 'Why doesn't your Dad like sports?" Putting it simply she replies,
"He's more of a man of action."

While elaborating on the importance of Veterans day, Eliza interrupts herself to ask,

"What branch of the military did Bubba do? Was it the Navy or the Air Force,..." Surprised by how much she knew about this holiday, I interrupt her.

"How do you know so much about this? Why are you so smart?" Feigning exasperation because I'm certain she was thrilled by my compliment, she replies,

"Come on, Mom. It's called Scholastic news! Haven't you heard of that?"

 Most nights, I sing Henry a song and scratch his back (his favorite) at bedtime. As he settles into his pillow, he often sighs, 

"That's what I'm talking about!"

Henry loves to travel around the house on all fours. He has mastered his "cheetah" run. It isn't uncommon to see him running from room to room via his Cheetah sprint. The other night, he tried to give Eliza a tutorial on his style of run, complete with the timing of the growl and scraping of the 'paw.' Despite her many gifts, Eliza could not do it. My favorite is when Cheetah boy picks up his toys and carries them in his mouth as he runs them from floor to toy bin.

Henry's told me more than once that he knows why the earth moves.

"Mom, I know why the earth moves and shakes. 
There are hundreds of moles running in circles underground.
They have red noses."

Lottie has nicknamed me, 'sugar pie...' something Andrew and I've never called her.

"Oh sugar pie, where are you?

And while I still battle nerves and the (daily?) occasional lapse of patience, I have to say that I'll continue to fight for optimism, faith and fuel the excitement that all will be well with our new baby. Feeling him move and stir is a feeling I cherish. And while I'm probably guilty of the "oh you better beware" commentary that exists between people and expectant Mothers, let's try to remember that we're all hormonal and could each use less of the doom and gloom and more encouragement.


*Jess* said...

You will do fine with a fourth :) YOU are a mom that others, especially me, look up to :)

jamie t. said...

I too look up to you! You will do great... just as you do now... just a little busier. I am glad I am not the only worrier.

Teresa McCormack Flegal said...

So cute. You aren't the only one who loves those kids, Hearing about Henry's cheetah, is like a flashback to his dad as a little boy. Like father like son. Love you all so much

Karina said...

yay for babies and craziness! isn't it grand?

Melissa and Allen said...

You are such an amazing mom and your kids are so adorable I can hardly stand it. I want to be like you when I grow up.

Catherine said...

I will call you for advice on how to handle 4 kids once your baby comes! I'm still learning how to balance it all. Seriously though, I concur that there's just been more love to go around since we became a family of 6. Having 4 kids makes me want to stay home, play games with them, and of course make cookie dough with them. And that's not a bad thing. Because I used to be more go and do, always up for the latest and greatest outing for my little ones. Now, we do a little of both.

I heart Lottie's ragamuffin look. She's gorgeous no matter what. My little 2 year old sports that look all the time, too. She's too stubborn to sit still long enough for me to brush it so her curls go everywhere, and I'm learning to be okay with that. :)