We survived the holidays, including the 10-hour car trip both ways to Indiana. It was not as bad as it could have been, and seeing the kids have so much fun with their cousins made it all worthwhile. With Christmas and New Year’s behind us, now there’s nothing left before the next big family event: the baby.
Yes, if everything goes well (hopefully), I should be welcoming my fourth baby in the next few weeks. It is all slightly surreal. I can look in the mirror and see I look hugely pregnant. I feel him moving around. I have scheduled a break from some recurring professional commitments. I ordered a big box of newborn-sized diapers, which just arrived.
And yet the fact that there will be another little person around here is easy to forget in the rhythm of daily life. The thing about having your fourth kid is that there are three other little kids around the house, occupying any mental capacity that exists beyond work commitments and life maintenance. Time I might spend pondering the magnitude of all this is sucked up in helping the 7-year-old and 5-year-old put together the roughly 8 dozen Lego sets they got for Christmas (I am the Lego Queen. That is what they now call me. I have instituted a rule that they need to at least try spending 5 minutes solving any particular problem before they summon me. Not being able to find a piece is not a problem unless it is a really unique piece. They need to substitute a different color piece from their existing stash).
Here are some other ways having my fourth kid differs from having the first.
Kid #1: The hospital bag was packed for weeks.
Kid #4: Eh. I highly doubt I will actually go into labor spontaneously. I never did on the other 3, so I’ll schedule an induction, which means I can pack the night before. I would love to be proved wrong on this, but I’m banking on experience over hope.
Kid #1: We hired a decorator to create a lovely blue/brown and wild-animal themed nursery out of the former dining room in our New York City apartment.
Kid #4: I have no idea where he’s going to sleep. In theory, I have a 5-bedroom house, but the kids all like their own rooms (which are full of non-baby-friendly Legos), and my husband took over the 5th bedroom as his office, and there are enough upsides of having him work from home that I’m not going to kick him out. So someone’s going to wind up sharing. But who? Stay tuned! This is not going to be worked out anytime soon, but I have a bassinet to shuffle the kid around in.
Kid #1: We had the name picked out for months.
Kid #4: Maybe I’ll use the time in the hospital to make a decision.
Kid #1: I had lots of baby clothes and furniture, but no feeding paraphernalia. I mean, the whole thing with nursing is you just stick the kid on, right?
Kid #4: I feel like in nursing three babies I’ve figured out how to run a small dairy operation. Pump as soon as your milk comes in so you get ahead of the game and overproduce so if you miss a feeding later you don’t under-produce, etc. Try not to moo.
Kid #1: When I did finally get a pump, I put my baby’s picture in the little photo holder.
Kid #4: Apparently, I’ll be pumping for kid #4 with a picture of kid #1 in there. I still haven’t gotten around to changing it.
Kid #1: People who hire baby nurses are crazy!
Kid #4: Call me crazy. My husband travels a lot for work, and I can get upset about that and insist he quit, or I can hire someone to help overnight. The latter is cheaper.
Kid #1: I listened to people who responded to my mentioning continuing to do X, Y, or Z post-baby with “Oh, just you wait. You’ll feel different about everything once he arrives!”
Kid #4: Sure, life changes after having kids, but if you know yourself, you know yourself. I love what I do for a living, and my professional goals haven’t changed. Indeed, the kids have helped them along, since I’m not sure how much people would buy my “time management guru” identity if I wasn’t also managing a passel of children. I love long runs for solo time, so I’ve kept that in my life too. Some peripheral stuff falls off, and I’m not as social as I used to be, but whatever really matters to you can stay, whether you have one kid or an ever-expanding brood.
If you have more than one kid, what changed from the first to the later ones?