Monthly Archives: May 2009

25 reasons to have more than 1 child.

Most days my eyes pop open at 5:00am and I prep myself mentally for the morning chaos that begins at daybreak.  First, I figure out what day of the week it is and if there is a load of laundry that needs to be put in the dryer and then the planning begins.  The logistical management involved in running a household of 6 (plus 1) is challenging and often times, overwhelming.  When those moments hit me, and potentially try to drown me, I focus on the positive side of having many children.  Here are some of those reasons…

1.  My children have learned to naturally play together.  Almost every morning, for about an hour, after #1 has left for school, I clean.  I have found that between 9 and 10 am I have a burst of energy and am uncharacteristically focused.  The youngest 3 are fed and this is their time for “unstructured” play.  After 8 months of me constantly initiating games, they are now totally taking this concept and running with it.  As soon as they see me with the Swiffer Vac in hand, akin to an army drill, they huddle together and strategize their next moves.  From hide-and-seek, to hairdresser, to “Payer”- which basically means that they take turns running a store and “paying” each other with fake money, they are able to play independently together.  They not only draw from the pool of games I have introduced to them, they now come up with their own ways of entertaining themselves including”how many kisses does it take to piss #4 off” which happens to be #3’s favourite game at the moment.

Camping under the coat rack.

Camping under the coat rack.

2.  I can justify to Ever-Patient buying a $50 dress for #2.

3.  My children learn principles like sacrifice, compromise, patience and empathy first-hand.  These aren’t just abstract concepts that I try to make them grasp.  A complete disregard for others will only make your life miserable in our household.  Line-ups and wheeling-and-dealing are also everyday occurrences in our house.  I overhear things like, “You can play with this…if I can borrow your…” or “My turn and then you can be first next time…”  Whenever one gets in trouble, the other 3 cringe and as soon as the coast is clear, they rush to her side to offer comfort and distraction.

4.  The next best thing to getting Mom’s attention is getting your older sister’s attention.  Nothing lights up their faces more than getting a hand-me-down.  They even get excited when they are suckered into helping the older one with a chore.

5.  Speaking of chores…as the girls are getting older, they are getting more and more involved with the keeping of the house.  From folding laundry to emptying the dishwasher to keeping the 12 pairs of shoes in the foyer tidy, they ALL help.  They even fight over cleaning the mirrors.  Yesterday, #2 was weeding with Ever-Patient, #1 put away the laundry, #3 tidied the shoes, and #4 did all of the above much to everyone’s dismay.

6.   Daily random acts of kindness.  I witness such a tangible love between the kids daily.  The other day #2 and #3 had a little skirmish during my “hour of power” cleaning frenzy.  If the fights are serious enough, they try to involve me in the resolution process. “Try” being the operative word.  I don’t get sucked into the drama – I tell them to figure it out or I figure it out in which everyone loses.  #3 goes to her room, stomping all the way up, somewhat crying, and almost immediately, comes right back down, says a quick “sorry” to #2 and they hug complete with the standard “i love you’s.”  Another example: #4 frequently has tantrums when she doesn’t get her way which includes the usual crying fit and subsequent flailing of the limbs on the floor.  For me, I have learned a long time ago that ignoring the child entirely keeps me sane and calm and eventually, after 10 minutes, 1 hour, 3 days, depending on the child, they stop.  On the other hand, my older 3 children attempt consoling her through affection, sweet talking, and candy.

7.  Instant BFFs.

(#4 still in utero.)

(#4 BFF still in utero.)

8.   I tend to think of the future a lot.  Anyone who knows me also knows that I have this morbid yet realistic attitude towards death.  I know that it can happen any time so I frequently think about what kind of situation I am leaving my children in.  I take great comfort in the fact that I know they will have each other.  I see my mother with her 4 sisters and 2 brothers take care of each other (for the most part) and of my grandfather.  I can’t imagine not giving that type of support system to my own children.

I hope you will always be there for each other.

You may fight and piss each other off, but I know that you will always be there for each other in the end.

9.  They can understand each other like only siblings can, i.e. they can commiserate and bitch about mom and dad’s unreasonable expectations and rules.

10.  Two words: Sibling Discount.  Dance classes, school photos, summer camps, pre-school, and other extra-curricular programs normally give a family discount if you have more than one child involved.

11.  I get to witness hilarious tomfoolery and shenanigans day in and day out.  For example, one morning, as I woke up and lay in bed, I overheard a loudly-whispered conversation between the oldest 3.  It went something like this:

#3 (In a full-bodied voice, an almost dead-on imitation of Snow White in the forest greeting the woodland folk):  Good morning everyone!  I am AWAKE!

I hear large footsteps running down the hall to #2, #3, and #4’s bedroom.

#1 and #2 (in unison):  Shhhhhhhhhh!

#2 (in a loud whisper):  Don’t wake up Mama!  Let’s just read some books quietly in our room for awhile until Mama wakes up.

#1 (in a loud whisper):  Don’t use your normal voice!

#3 (in a voice fit for a noisy train station):  OK! OK!

#1 and #2: Shhhhhh!  You’re going to wake up Mama!

Silence for about 5 minutes…

#3 (in her best attempt at a whisper):  I’m hungry.  Can you go downstairs and get a bowl of Cheerios for me?

#1 and #2 (whispering):  No!  Try to whisper!  You’re still too loud!  It’s too early!  If you wake Mama up now, she won’t be happy-Mama.

At this point, I maneuver myself out of bed as to not wake up #4 and crash their little party and relieve #1 and #2 of their big sis duties.

12.  My children learn the value of time and family versus material things.  Because our family philosophy and the fact that there are four of them, we choose not to indulge in their every whim.  They realize that alone time with mom or dad is worth more than any toy and when we give them individual attention, we positively reinforce their good behaviour to each other.

13.  Game play.  The kids are able to play cards with each other, obstacle courses, soccer games, charades, board games without mom or dad having to join in.

14.  I can always find someone when I need a good hug and kiss.  Sometimes they’re not in the mood or busy but there’s always one available to just sit with me and hug me when I need it.  (And as Ever-Patient and I get older, I know we’ll need more than the occasional hug from them.  I think it’s safe to say we’ll be taken care of…)

15.  Instant cheering squad.  Every member of our family supports each other.  At #1’s sports events, they cheer for her.  When #2 graduates from kindergarten, they will cheer for her.  At #3’s upcoming ballet recital, they will cheer for her.  When #4 sat on the toilet for the first time, we all cheered.

16.  Never a dull car ride.

17.  On weekend mornings, Ever-Patient and I sleep in while all 4 go downstairs, have their cereal, and watch their shows.

18.  They learn more from their siblings than from their parents.  I can sound like a broken record but if one of the sisters is trying to teach something, they all listen closely and follow instructions.

Even if they don't listen to Mom or Dad, they ALWAYS listen to Big Sis.

Even if they don't listen to Mom or Dad, they ALWAYS listen to Big Sis.

19.  I have such a greater appreciation for the little things like silence and going to the bathroom by myself.

20.  Dinner conversations are full of great opinions, insights, and reflections… although most of the time, the only voice that can be heard during dinner at the moment is #3 – sharing her opinion, insight, and latest reflection on the day’s events.  #1 is normally famished and shovels the food down, #2 is naturally quiet, and #4 just repeats whatever #3 says.  I normally serve and cut up the food while Ever-Patient is both the short-order cook and lone wait staff.

21.  There is always someone to see-saw with, arm wrestle, and play patty-cake.  With more than 2 kids, jump rope, hide-and-seek, and “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” are always more entertaining.

Partners in crime - #2 & #3.

Partners in crime - #2 & #3.

22.  Fostering a sense of independence starts earlier with each additional child.  Mom or Dad can’t be in two places at once and either you wait or you take the initiative and do it yourself.  For example, #1, #2, and #3 are all able to get themselves ready in the morning without my help whatsoever.  #4 already picks her clothes out and joins her sisters to brush her teeth.  Everything is at their fingertips in order for them to learn self-sufficiency as early as possible.

23.  Jumping on the bed isn’t as fun by yourself.

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed...

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed...

24.  Puddle jumping after a rainfall and splashing your sisters is so much more fun and less “dangerous” than splashing Mama.

Puddle jumping festivities.

Puddle jumping festivities.

25.  It’s easier to keep warm in Mom and Dad’s bed on snow days when there’s more than one of you.

A typical snow day: 4 in the bed watching a movie.

4 in the bed and the little one said: "Move your fat ass over."

I can’t wait to see how #5 will fit into our family…I just love loving them all.

(This one was for you, Trish.)

Advertisements

a letter to my 6-year old.

To my sensational 6 year-old,

I can remember how anxious I was when I knew I was pregnant with you, #2.  I wondered if I could love you as much as I loved your older sister.  I wondered how #1 would adjust to not being the only child anymore, a title which she had enjoyed for 5 years.  I wondered how exactly you would fit into our family.

The quiet one...even as a baby.

The quiet one...even as a baby.

I can still remember the day you were born.  It was during the SARS scare so the hospital was basically on lock-down.  No visitors were allowed and Daddy was not allowed to stay long after I delivered you.  It was just you and me (and hospital staff) for the first 24 hours of your life.  As soon as I saw you for the first time, all my fears about not being able to love you enough quickly melted and appeared as illogical qualms.  I looked down at you and wondered who you’d become.  All we knew about you during that first year of your life was that you had a healthy appetite, inherited my skin – eczema and all, and that you hardly cried.

I can remember watching your big sister get to know you.  There was never any jealousy in the early days.  She wanted to be my helper and carry you whenever she could.  This was the time that she began to spend more time with Daddy playing sports.  You were the catalyst that formed the bond between them.  As I watched you and your sister together, even when you were too young to really be a playmate for her, I knew I would have more children.  It’s not because you were taking care of each other or playing well together, the simple fact was that you had each other.

This was the moment I knew I wanted more...although after this picture was taken, I discovered that #1 was helping you eat sand.

This was the moment I knew I wanted more...although after this picture was taken, I discovered that #1 was helping you eat sand.

Still looking up to your older sis...no sand this time.

Still looking up to your older sis...no sand this time.

I can remember seeing glimpses of your future self when you became a toddler.  You were quiet even with family but when you giggled, you were able to light up an entire room.  You had these large bright eyes that expressed a world of emotions.  You loved playing with my jewelry.  You tried on my necklaces for hours at a time and you always knew what clothes you wanted to wear.  During this time, we also noticed how meticulous and organized you were.  You sorted things by colour and size which included things like M&Ms, beads, and your toys.  I remember watching you organize beads in order of the rainbow spectrum instinctively at the age of 2.

This is you at 20 months..meticulously pouring sand in your bucket.

This is you at 20 months..meticulously pouring sand in your bucket.

The beginnings of a style maven.

The beginnings of a style maven.

Here at 2.5 years old engaged in your favourite past time: sorting and organizing.

Here at 2.5 years old engaged in your favourite past time: sorting and organizing.

I can remember your first day at preschool.  You were 3 and we thought we did all that we could to prepare you.  From our experience with #1, we knew there would be tears for a few days but then we assumed you would adjust well just like your big sister.  Boy, did we assume wrong.  You were teary almost every day for 6 months and the separation anxiety was more than I was prepared for.  This was our first lesson that you all, you sisters, are all very different from another with your own set of strengths and challenges.  I soon realized that you became anxious in new situations with new people and especially anxious if you had to face these new encounters without me by your side.  Just as you had grown accustomed to preschool, it was time to change up your routine again and start kindergarten.  I knew this was not going to be easy but hearing you hysterical for over 3 months every morning was almost more than I could bear.  Nothing we did – bribery, routine, a new snack bag, having #1 stay with you in the class for a few minutes before the bell – nothing gave you comfort.  Then I found out from your teacher that the tears would stop and start intermittently throughout the day.  I hated to see you in so much pain every time we said our goodbyes.  How could I convince you that I was always coming back?  How could I let you know that every ounce of my heart, every maternal pull, was telling me to just hold on to you forever and keep you safe in my arms and that I desperately wanted to do this every day even though all you heard was, “See you later…I love you…you’ll be ok…”?  I couldn’t tell you because I knew, more like I hoped, that leaving you was the best thing I could do for you.  The one thing that would get me through the day, where I would torment myself by imagining your face crying out for me as I turned and walked away, was the faith in myself as a mother.  I had to trust myself that I raised a strong and resilient little girl who would always be ok, who would know deep down that my love was always there even if I wasn’t.

I know this isn't the last time I will have to let go even if I don't want to.

First day of school: I know this isn't the last time I will have to let go even if I don't want to.

Today, I see you and can clearly envision the young woman you will become.  You have grown so much since that first day of kindergarten.  You will be starting Grade 1 in September as a more confident, yet still cautious little girl.  There are no more tears before going to school although you still need a few hugs, those silent reassurances, before saying goodbye.  This year you have become the big sister that we are very proud of – looking out for the little ones and trying to teach them life skills like what outfits work and how to set the table.  We have also seen your silly side emerge when you are in a familiar environment.  You still love beautiful things – without desire for acquisition just in appreciation.  We see your meticulous side as you make your bed (hospital corners and all) with your tissue box at a perfect right angle to your pillow and in the way you tidy up your side of the room.  Your ability to focus on a particular task still astounds us and your tenacity at mastering a skill still delights us.  You don’t look for praise or recognition only an acknowledgment that we hear you and see you.  Well baby, we see you – we see you when you’re quietly observing a new situation, when you’re intent on creating a masterpiece whether it be a stylish outfit or a detailed drawing, when you act silly with your sisters, when you sleep and can still see that baby from 6 years ago – we do see  you and love what we see.

Happy Birthday…

My girl.

...my baby girl.

I love you,

Mama

what my mother never told me.

I walk into the room and as if caught in the act, the kids scramble around the room, tissue paper flying in the air, loud whispering, they tell me to “Close my eyes!” and when I inquire about what’s going on, they tell me “Nothing.”  Then it hits me, Mother’s Day is coming.

As this day fast approaches, I reflect on what I have learned about motherhood thus far.  There are so many things that my mother never told me or prepared me for.

My loves.

My loves.

(Don’t be fooled by the above photo…This is the only pic I have of me and all 4 which was taken at a wedding.  My uniform normally consists of jogging pants, hoodie, Converse All-Stars, and no make-up or brushed hair.)

I have learned that my heart is capable of more than I realized. When I had my first child, I never thought that I could love that way again.  When I was pregnant with the second, I was so afraid that there wouldn’t be enough room in my heart for her.  Then I had her and instead of trying to find the space in my already full heart, I felt my heart grow.  I am amazed at how my heart has grown to accommodate the love I have for each child.

Me (#3 in utero), #2, #1.

Me (#3 in utero), #2, #1.

My heart has also been broken many times.  Watching #2 cry hysterically last year every day as I said good-bye to her at school almost killed me daily.  I can’t tell you how many times I would get back to the parking lot after I had to peel her off my body and not only cry for her but also fight every urge I had to take her home and just home-school her.  My heart breaks when #3 is crying because she is snubbed at the playground or when #1 squirms out of holding my hand when we’re in public.  My heart breaks just because I know I can’t protect them (and I shouldn’t protect them) from everything.

The other amazing thing is how many times my heart swells each day for different reasons. For example, #3 has ballet every Wednesday.  Literally, next door to the ballet studio is a gym housed with play equipment and toys that #2 and #4 enjoy while #3 is doing her thing.  I am constantly going in and out of the gym, sneaking a peek on the ballet class just to make sure #3 is ok.  I stepped out for about 30 seconds, and in this time, #4 fell off the trike (as I was later told by other parents).  All toddlers have this moment when they fall or hurt themselves where they don’t cry right away but wait to see if there was a reaction from anyone around them.  Apparently, at the moment of her fall, all the parents in the gym gasped and stood up, ready to comfort the little one.  But #2 had already scooped up #4 into her arms and held her tight before she could become hysterical.  I went back into the gym and #2 was helping #4 back on the trike.  I was completely unaware of the incident until another parent started singing the praises of my children.  This parent was completely amazed at the close bond between my children and this incident convinced her to go for her fourth child.  My kids tend to do that a lot.

I have learned I can’t watch certain movies anymore.  Anything to do with children being harmed or the loss of a child, I cannot bear.  I cry when I hear of any child being abused, neglected, or exploited.

I have learned how to make every moment a teachable moment to my children.  They learn through example and experience.  When you choose to find the silver lining instead of cursing your luck, when you are grateful instead of dwelling on what you lack, when you are compassionate instead of angry, you are teaching your children to do the same.

I have learned that I do not have many photos of me with the kids.  I’m always behind the camera trying to capture the moments.  The metaphor for motherhood… more of a behind-the-scenes and supporting role.

I have learned that there is nothing worse than when my children are sick.  I am feeling every laboured cough, stomach pain, joint ache, body chill right along with them.  The worst part is the helpless feeling that you just can’t take the pain away so all you do is hold them, tell them stories, sing to them – anything you can do to distract them from the discomfort.

I have learned that the sound of “Mama” can be the sweetest sound but also the last thing I want to hear sometimes especially when the sentence is “Mama, where is my (insert obscure object here)?”

I have learned that only mama can make things better.

I've learned that I will ALWAYS be there to catch them.

I've learned that I will ALWAYS be there to catch them.

I have learned that without a sense of humour and optimistic moments, I would not have survived the last 11 years.

I have learned the hardest thing for me to do is to remain consistent.

I have learned how picking battles can save my sanity.  Do I really care that #3 wants to wear rain boots with a formal dress?

I have learned that the milestones aren’t as memorable as the everyday routines.  I can’t remember when each began to talk but I do remember the more seemingly insignificant moments like when the younger three started playing together for the first time, or when #1 first wanted to be alone in her room and the feeling of wanting to just hold her tight (so she wouldn’t grow up).

I have learned more about who I am and what I am made of from my children than soul-searching in solitude.

I have learned how exhaustion, illness, and impracticality won’t stop me from baking cupcakes, writing invitations, blowing balloons, helping with projects, or any other effort for my kids until the wee hours of the morning.

I have learned that everything gets harder as they get older.  The older they get, the harder the questions.  The older they get, the more complex and gray are the answers.  Thanks to the school yard, this is the latest question that made my heart stop: “What’s a condom?”

I have learned that watching my kids play together is a simple thing that makes me happy.

I have learned that time flies fast as you watch your kids grow.  First you’re kissing their tiny feet the size of a chapstick and the next thing you know they’re feet are the same size as yours.

I have learned that regardless of the type of mother you are – single, married, young, old, working, stay-at-home – we all struggle with balance and at some point forget to take care of ourselves.

I have learned to let go more instead of holding on to them so tight because I’m not ready for them to grow…because I think holding on to them may somehow defy the natural laws of science and slow down the growth process.

I have learned that my children are not extensions of myself but are individuals distinct from me.  I can’t project my desires and dreams onto them.  I can only support them as they choose their own paths that will fulfill them.  It is exciting and overwhelming watching them grow into themselves.

I have learned that it is difficult to raise girls in today’s sexually-charged culture where it is easy to confuse feminism and empowerment with promiscuity and self-disrespect.  At the same time, I am also aware of how grateful to have my girls born in this era where women CAN do everything.

I have learned that half the things I do for my children will never be recognized or acknowledged and I’m ok with that.  It just makes me realize that I haven’t recognized or acknowledged all of my own mother’s sacrifices.

Thanks, Mom. (Sorry about the picture, though.)

Thanks, Mom. (Sorry about the picture, though.)

I have learned that being present with my children, engaging them through open-ended questions and making eye contact as I really listen to what they have to say, and not being distracted by other tasks does wonders for their behaviour they exhibit.

I have learned to stop doubting myself as a mother too much and to cut myself some slack.  I and every mother out there is doing the best we can with what we have and we can only hope and pray that it is enough.

Typical multi-tasking moment: Consulting a map while breastfeeding.

Typical "mom multitasking moment": Consulting a map while breastfeeding.

So to all the mothers, who are either still in the trenches like me or who are now mothering when needed as their children are grown, I say:

You deserve to be celebrated every day.  You are in an elite group of women whose resilience, strength, and patience is unparalleled.  Being a mother gives you the greatest understanding of what it means to love in the purest form.  You are blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day….

FYI: I will be celebrating mother’s day by cheering for #1 at her soccer tournament in the Niagara region in serious soccer-mom style.

(To all the men and kids out there who don’t know what to get Mom…give her a break from the kids and just tell her that she is appreciated…by that I mean tell her that you notice the folded laundry, the little love notes in the kids’ lunch bags, the mopped floor…  That’s all it takes.)

on pregnancy.

Warning: If you’ve never been pregnant, but hope to be one day, you might want to skip this post.

Prenancy #5: 14 weeks and counting..

Prenancy #5: 14 weeks and counting..

The glow.  The cute little baby bump.  The instant bond with baby in utero.

Before my first pregnancy, I imagined the whole experience to feel like it was the immaculate conception (sans the immaculate part of course): angels singing my praises, feeling the baby’s movements as if they were loving caresses, and of course, getting the enigmatic “glow” that all expectant mothers illuminate (at least, all the ones I used to watch on soap operas and romantic comedies).  I thought I would just sprout this tiny belly enjoying each glorious day carrying this miracle around.

For most people who have actually been pregnant, including myself, this “glowing Madonna-type goddess” image is as far from reality as you can get.  (I think this supposed “glow” was invented by a man who told this to his pregnant wife to compliment her, thus distracting her from her swollen ankles.)  On the rare occasion, I do meet a woman who espouses the wonderful virtues and life-changing moments of pregnancy.  All the power to anyone who enjoys the nine months.  I have fount that you either love being pregnant or love the labour, delivery, and newborn phase.  I fall into the latter category.

I feel more like a “host” than a radiant mother-to-be.   Every time I’ve been pregnant, I’ve felt this strange sensation that my body really didn’t belong to me anymore – but not in that warm and fuzzy way.  Every kick, punch, and roll was not a feathery tickle inside.  Remember that scene in the movie “Alien” where they’re having dinner and all of a sudden the alien starts ripping through the guy’s chest?  Towards the homestretch, the last trimester, you start wondering if you’ll really break a rib this time.  I’d wake up in the middle of the night because of a blow to my bladder or a foot stuck in the rib cage.  Ah, the gentle caresses I’d always dreamed about.

Not only has my body been taken over but I no longer recognize myself in the mirror.  The weight gain, water retention and swelling, and pubescent acne have led to tremendous discomfort and fashion sacrifices – I’ve actually found myself in crocs and contemplating the purchase of *gasp* Birkenstock’s.  I know this may sound vain but I am a person who likes to be in control.  I can’t control the inevitable metamorphosis that is underway.  My pelvic floor loosens so I can’t even control my own bladder.  My sleep is disturbed because of physical waves of nausea and a growing uterus pressing up against my bladder.  I have to be careful with exercise because of all the joint laxity during pregnancy.  So controlling some form of my changing appearance is a small mental victory for me.

Each pregnancy brings a whole new set of anxieties.  Being naturally neurotic, I spend 9 months second-guessing, worrying, and anticipating the worse.  With #1, I was young and was so overwhelmed with fear that I would have recurring nightmares of breaking the baby.  With #2, I worried of how #1 would adjust to a new sibling and if I could mentally handle two children (we had waited 5 years to have #2 because I wasn’t sure if I wanted more kids…I know it sounds ridiculous).  With #3, I was anxious because the gap was smaller since #2 was only two years old and I wondered if I could mentally handle three children.  With #4, I was a tad melancholic that it was my “last” pregnancy and of course, I was up all night thinking if I could mentally handle four children and with each pregnancy, I have these irrational fears that my baby will be born with a unicorn horn or a third eye…Add hormones to my already illogical set of neuroses and you have an emotional minefield.

During the last few weeks of pregnancy, I go through the same routine.  I curse Ever-Patient for “doing” this to me – again.  I make him promise to remind me of how I am feeling before I consider ever having another child.  And I beg.  I beg the baby to come out.  I make deals with the child/God/my OB-GYN  – anything to get this baby out as soon as possible.  Eventually my prayers are answered and labour begins.  As soon as I feel that first contraction or feel my water break, I exhale.  I feel no pain, only relief because only then is the finish line in sight.  For the first time in 9 months, I become relaxed and surrender to the natural birthing process (of course, 3 out of 4 of the surrenders were aided with the epidural).  The last doctor had remarked that my body was made to have children.  Apparently so.  As soon as that baby is placed in my arms, I feel peace.  Each time has been love at first sight.  I realize how lucky I am to have experienced that immediate bond each time, the feeling that I was born to be her mother.

Today, as I agonize over the pants that don’t fit, try to suppress the I-want-to-vomit-but-I-won’t feeling in the top of my throat, and not succumb to this recent craving for Ferrero Rocher, I focus on the end game.  I tell myself I was born to be this baby’s mother.  It’s time to finally embrace being pregnant.  After this post, I vow to stop the complaining and the get over the grossness of it all.  I can’t promise you that I’ll start singing lullabies to my stomach but I will refrain from referring to the baby as “it.”  (We are calling it the precious baby “Whoops” for now.)

#3 and the bump.

#3 and the bump.

(As for the glow, Ever-Patient seems to think that I am definitely glowing THIS time around…as opposed to the last 4 times when I was just glistening with shimmering perspiration?!?)

faqs.

With the recent announcement of our latest “creation,” both Ever-Patient and I have been bombarded with many questions and have seen quite an assortment of reactions.  In this post, I’d love to set the record straight and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Was this planned?

When you say “planned,” do you mean the greater “plan” that the universe/God/life has for us?  Then the answer is probably ‘yes’ since a much-anticipated operation that would negate this new development in our lives was canceled 3 times for “act of God” type of reasons.  But if you mean to ask if we as a married couple who really haven’t seen each other in 3 months, with having 4 active daughters, and recovering from a challenging winter full of inconveniences and logistical management issues, were intentionally planning to have a fifth at this juncture? The answer is ‘no.’  Let’s just say that I took the test at home, broke the news to Ever-Patient, and quickly proceeded to tell him that he was not allowed to react, discuss, or even refer to the subject for one week and to respect my need to remain in the realm of denial a little longer.

How do we feel?

If you compare Ever-Patient’s blog announcement with mine, you can immediately tell the difference in tone and can almost taste the assured optimism in one over the other.  Ever-Patient, the Eternal Optimist, is beyond happy.  From the moment he knew, he was instantly confident that everything would be ok and that we could, without a doubt, handle another child.

For me, it was quite the opposite.  As much as I want to say how blessed and fortunate I felt when I found out I was pregnant again, I can’t.  I realize that there are many women out there who have difficulty conceiving and have trouble understanding where I’m coming from.  Although we had not entirely closed the conversation on having another one, I was not mentally prepared to be pregnant so soon.  After the last pregnancy, I gave away all my maternity clothes and most of the newborn paraphernalia.  I had mentally closed the door.  I told myself that I had 4 healthy pregnancies and labours resulting in 4 beautiful and healthy daughters.  Why tempt fate?  I had always told myself that I would be done having children at 30.  Suffice it to say, out of all my pregnancies including my first, this one is the biggest shock that I have had to really wrap my head around.  Not only was I dealing with some emotional hurdles during the first couple of months, I was also experiencing some of the worst symptoms I have ever felt in any of my pregnancies.  The nausea and exhaustion were obstacles in our daily routine.  There were days I was curled up in the fetal position on the sofa while the kids watched TV.  I don’t know what I punished myself with more: the self-doubt or the guilt.  The kids had waited patiently all winter for the ankle to heal and now that it was almost better, they couldn’t understand why we still couldn’t go out to play.  Thanks to Ever-Patient and an extremely supportive doctor who has seen me through all the pregnancies, I made peace with the inevitable.  There are days when the laundry is piled high, I am exhausted from being up all night with bouts of nausea, and the girls want to paint, that I start doubting and start feeling overwhelmed again.  Then I open my email to see encouraging messages from friends and family or receive a gift of some preggo clothes from my mother or get a phone call from The Saviour (my dad) offering to drop off lunch and pick up the kids for the afternoon and I realize how blessed and fortunate I really am.

Are you crazy?

Yes.  We like to refer to our lifestyle as organized chaos.  There is a method to our madness because at the end of the day, our kids are quite amazing and that’s all that matters.  (Whether or not they can find clean underwear consistently…)

How can you handle it all?

Although Ever-Patient and I carry the majority of the load, we would be remiss if we did not mention our family that has supported us and have helped with our kids since the beginning.  Of course there are the usual suspects we count on for the mental health breaks they grant us on a regular basis: 3 sets of parents who try their best to help as much as they can….and of course, the Pickering household – the girls’ home away from home.  Other members of our family have also stepped in when we’ve needed additional back-up and have been more than willing to do so.  One of the things that helped me believe that we could do this was the overwhelming positive reactions from our family and seeing time and time again how much they love our children.

Are you going to move to a bigger house?

It never crossed our minds once.  It has never been our priority to have a large home so all the kids could have their own rooms and where I would spend all my time cleaning.  The kids love sharing their rooms (although #2 is quite relieved she was moved to the top bunk so #4 could now sleep beside the affectionate #3 on the bottom bunk).  They beg us for family movie night where we all sleep in the basement together.  No one likes to be upstairs by themselves and they love squishing beside each other on the sofa until Daddy is finally squeezed onto the floor.  I’ve found it’s not the physical room they value, but the physical time and presence we have with them.

How did the kids react to the news?

A couple of weeks before we told them, I was standing in the bathroom while #3 was on the toilet.  She kept looking at me from different angles, squinting her eyes, and pouting her lips.  Finally she proclaimed, “I think you got a baby in your tummy.”  Kids are more intuitive than we believe them to be.  Before we told them, we took an informal poll (with their heads down) and asked who wanted another brother or sister.  3 out of 4 raised their hands.  We did not reveal the results.  But #2 later asked me privately how do I stop having babies and if I would just stop it already.  I told her that I wasn’t sure if I was ready to stop and that if I did want to stop, I would just decide not to have anymore.  She looked at me suspiciously and walked away.  When we finally told them, they were ALL happy (except for #4 who started taking whacks at my stomach).  They all take turns talking to the baby and singing “Twinkle, twinkle.”  Another new past time is trying to figure out some names for the baby.  #3 has her heart set on ‘Ring Toss Ricky.’  She thinks it has a nice ring to it.

They can't wait.

They can't wait.

What has been the general reaction?

Shock and awe.

Do you live on a farm?

No, we don’t live on farm where farmhands are needed.  However, I do implement my own form of child labour at home.  There is no minimum age for household chores.  From folding laundry to emptying the dishwasher, we have mastered the art of the assembly line.  There is no mine or theirs, only ours.  We all pick up after each other and share what we have.  (Unless it’s Haagen-Daaz Rocky Road, then it’s everyone for themselves…)

Is this IT?

YES!  (We don’t have any more room in the van.)