I haven't heard you talk about how adding the fourth child has gone. Has it been a big adjustment? Does she sleep through the night now? Is she a good baby? Morbid motherly curiosity wants to know. :-)


So. Has having a fourth child been a big adjustment? Yes. And no. How can I organize this in some sort of cohesive fashion? It may be fruitless, but I’ll try.

What’s Changed

Time management. I think this is the single biggest adjustment we’ve made every time we’ve added a child. It takes longer to prepare to go anywhere with an infant, it takes longer to get anywhere with an infant, and once you get there, there are lots of additional tasks (like feeding, burping, changing) that must take place, sometimes multiple times. And even if you’re just at home, tasks like helping other kids with homework or playing Wii with one of them have to occur in windows between things like feedings. Once Amelia is a little older and I put her on a regular nap schedule, we’ll have to work around crib naps … but right now she just goes wherever we go and sleeps wherever we are without complaint.

Mealtimes. Before Amelia arrived, we were in a pretty solid pattern of sitting down together every night for 20 minutes to eat supper at the breakfast table. Now, however, she takes a bottle at 6:30 every night, which is right when we eat supper, so I feed her in the den while everyone else eats, and then I join them when she’s done. (And mostly it’s just Grayson left at the table by that point.) There are occasional times that I dream about the day that all six of us will be sitting around the table together, talking about our day, thinking ahead to the time when Nathaniel will be 16, Nick 14, Jake 11 and Amelia 8 ... and I look forward to that. But that will also mean that those 6:30 feeding times on the sofa are over, no more big blue eyes staring up at me adoringly, no little puffs of sweet milk breath reaching my nose as I burp her gently. Sniff.

Alone Time. For the past 10 years I’ve spent much of the time between 9 p.m. and midnight every night alone. It’s my coveted Alone Time, my time to recharge in the darkness with just the glow from my laptop and the TV to keep me company. These days I spend probably more than two of those hours with a baby nuzzled to my neck, pinching my shirt in her chubby little grasp, quiet sighs occasionally punctuating the air by my ear. And I desperately want to keep time from marching on, because I don’t want to give that up.

The nice thing about the “what’s changed” list is that any inconveniences are short-term. In two years, we’ll be rocking and rolling again without those constraints, and two years of small inconveniences is a small price to pay for the joy that we’ve gained in the form of Amelia.

What Hasn’t Changed

Going places together. Is it a lot of trouble to fix bottles, keep them cold, pack a diaper bag, stroller, Pack and Play and whatever other baby things you need to go somewhere? Yes. But if you never went anywhere because it was inconvenient, you’d never do anything. Go. Do. Live. For cost reasons (such as live shows like Phineas & Ferb) or safety reasons (like hiking in The Preserve), Amelia and I stay home occasionally while everyone else goes and does something fun. But in general, we go everywhere together. That includes restaurants. Get them used to going early, and eventually they’ll figure out how to act while you’re there. Don’t give up, or you won’t eat in a restaurant again until your kid turns 18. (Unacceptable in this house. Mama needs to be waited on occasionally and to enjoy a Diet Coke from the fountain.)

Sleeping/Bedtimes. We all go to bed at the same time we always have. Amelia started sleeping through the night (six to seven hours) when she was about 5 weeks old. All of our kids slept through the night before 8 weeks old, and I totally credit that to scheduling. I’m a huge proponent of it, and our kids have all taken to it amazingly well. I’m not like a Sleep Nazi or anything, but I’ve always sort of done a modified Baby Wise approach, and it’s worked. I suppose I ought to write a post about that at some point. Anyway, the boys go to bed at 8:00 and wake up around 7:00 (earlier on school days), and Amelia sleeps from her 9:00 bottle until we wake her up at 7:00 to get dressed. On weekends she often sleeps until 8:30.

My awe at our capacity to love. I’m not sure I can express in words just how startlingly fervent the five of us are in our love for Amelia. And I think that seeing each other love her so well, our love for one another has grown. Grayson said once that we never could have anticipated the boys’ reaction to Amelia and the impact she’d have on them, and he’s right. Never could I ever have created in my mind a vision of how pure and complete their love for her would turn out to be. I think their love for her is as close to the love a parent has for a child that it can possibly be, and perhaps that’s because they seem to feel more paternal toward her than fraternal. I do believe that if a train were bearing down on her, any one of them would throw themselves in its path to save her. And that is a powerful love, indeed.

We are blessed beyond measure.