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All Things Baby

alec vanderboom

1. So I'm having a baby in four weeks (or sooner). They set the date for my c-section on March 21. I walked around completely stunned for two days. It was like I just found out that I was pregnant again. I don't know why pregnancy can be sort of vague when your carrying a gigantic belly with something moving inside. Yet the news that around March 23 we will be (hopefully) driving home with a real, live newborn in the backseat of my van sort of flipped me out.

How is a fifth kid going to fit in my life? Where is she going to sleep? (Tess is currently hogging Baby Clare's crib.) How can she nap with four noisy, rowdy kids in a small house?  Exactly how am I going to carry this small bundle of joy to soccer lessons and swimming lessons without bursting into tears? Or can I just force everyone to stay inside for the next 12 weeks?

I'm happy to say that I'm back to my usual Carmelite response of "Whatever, Lord! You've got me this far. You are going to have to get me the next few moments forward, too!" I think that is a little healthier for my sanity than trying to carefully plan out "that which can have no plan"-- a new baby!

2. I'm finally more chill that we might have to go to the NICU again. The fact that I know we honestly can't know how the c-section, hospital stay, or timing of our final release date is finally okay with my heart. I feel like God has a specific plan for Baby Clare's entrance into the world. His ways are not my ways, but His ways are very good. I can't believe I'm this calm 17 months after Baby Tessy's dramatic "nose dive towards death" and I attribute my unnatural calmness all to His grace!

3. We have Godparents!  Hurrah! They even seem genuinely glad to have the role! For a pair of converts, finding Godparents is such a struggle. We've exhausted the few family members who have tenuous ties to the Catholic Church. Every Catholic long term friend we've known since college could not even pass the "get a friendly letter from your pastor" test.  We've moved states with every child-- so developing strong friendships in our parish is a challenge. I can't even talk about Tessy's godparent situation because it was totally traumatizing. (Basically we got dumped when she got sick and a hospital Nun had to jump in to serve as her Godmother for life. Thank you, Sister Kathy!)

This time Jon was like "Do we even need to have Godparents?" "Yes!" I answered. So I'm happy to share that God always provides for all necessities, even Godparents! (And if anyone wants to start a prayer club for those newbie Catholics who are trying to have a lot of children while completely lacking a ready pool of Godparents, I'm in.)

4. One of my dear NICU friends visited us on Sunday and brought baskets and baskets of baby girl clothes! We got toys, a thoughtful hospital toiletries baby, and a giant food basket! We are so blessed! I have to show a picture of Baby Clare's pitiful almost empty drawer before and after Tharen's visit.

5. I honestly have NOTHING for Baby Clare--which is hilarious because she is my fourth girl in eight years. All I can say is secondary infertility sucks. Miss Tess took 3 1/2 years to arrive. I threw everything away from my third child, Maria because I was tired of crying every time I saw the unused high chair in our hall closet. Then Miss Tess didn't really have anything either because we were so stressed about her NICU bills. It was hard to justify buying her cute things at Target when there was the giant unknown amount of medical bills hanging over our heads for 10 months. Then we moved this summer! So I donated the few things Tess had to Goodwill because "I'm old, infertile, and we're not going to need any baby stuff for a while, right?"

So truly, Miss Tharen's gifts are "clothing the naked!" Very appreciated.

Otherwise, I'm trying to have a true Carmelite baby and do things on a minimal level. I've got a crib, a carseat, and a couple of new pacifiers.I'll keep you posted on how raising a baby in America "minus all the stuff" goes.

6. I love my husband! He gets sweeter with every new baby!

7. My four year old has suddenly decided that we are ultimately going to have 10 kids. My eight year old joined in on her enthusiasm. I started shouting "we are NOT going to talk about this right now. I'm sure my heart will change after the birth, but for this second, while I'm 35 weeks pregnant we are going to PRETEND that there is at least a possibility that this could be my last time in this much pain!"

Without skipping a beat, my Hannah says "can we at least talk adoptions then, Mom? The next five could be all be adopted!'

8. My ob specialist has challenged us to go early with this baby. (I was two weeks overdue and had to get induced with Hannah. I've never been remotely close to birth with every other baby before the c-section at 38 or 39 weeks.) I'm not sure it makes sense since I'm 90 miles away from my hospital, but I'm hoping to go early with this baby. I bought her a little St. Patrick's Day hat just in case!

9. Did I tell you that I'm 90 miles away from the hospital???? Thanks to Obama's health plan, maternity coverage is now "optional" for all private insurance carriers. There is not ONE SINGLE insurance company that covers maternity care in my new state of West Virginia. (I guess Medcaid picks up the bill after a 12 week waiting period). So we elected to continue our old health plan after the move and drive over an hour to the doctor. Baby Clare will be born at the same Maryland Catholic Hospital as her two older sisters. (Which might not be there next year--but I have to say, they've asked me about tubal ligation and harassed me about birth control during each and every birth so the word "Catholic hospital" is a little loose).

10. Have a blessed and holy Ash Wednesday tomorrow!