As we anticipate the birth of our son tomorrow–our fourth child in five years–you would think that we’ve seen it all.

But reread the sentence and you’ll see what’s different. We are anticipating the birth of our child tomorrow. Who can talk like that about a newborn’s birthday? It’s supposed to be a painful day of timing contractions followed by a hectic dash to the hospital and hectic childcare coverage for your previous children.

Instead, it’s 11:15 p.m. and all is quiet in our house. Our three kids are asleep in their bunk beds and crib, having gone to bed without major incident. Our hospital bags are packed–rather freshly–and waiting by the front door. The yet-to-be-announced name hangs proudly in the baby bedroom in letters from Michael’s. Theresa and I will sleep soundly tonight and not be waking up every 10 minutes for me to shove my fist into her back to try to stave off the back labor. An alarm will rouse us up in the morning.

Tomorrow my brother will arrive to watch Sam at our house while we drop the other kids off at school. Along with my Mom, he’ll handle school pickups and lunches and general entertainment.

We will scamper (a leisurely scamper) off to the hospital for our scheduled 8:15 a.m. induction and the process that will ultimately lead us to meet our new bundle of joy will begin.

Just like that.

Obviously it could take a while. Of course there could be complications. But no matter what, it’s happening tomorrow.

That is one of the most endearing qualities of parenthood for me–there’s always something different.1 As we sat on the couch looking at our carefully curated Shutterfly books2 containing photos of previous births, we realized anew that none of the experiences were quite alike. Each one was its own unique adventure with thrilling details and differently temperamented babies. Indeed, tomorrow will be the first of our children’s birth stories to be played out entirely behind masks.

Looking at each kid’s newborn photos and seeing shades of their current faces, I start to wonder who the new kid is going to be. Will he have Maddie’s sensitivity and creativity? Will he have Charlie’s moxie and penchant for superheroes? Will he have Sammy’s easy smile and sense of wonder? What new characteristics will he bring to our increasingly crowded table? It all starts tomorrow.

And so I’m sitting at a surreal crossroads of knowing we’re just hours away from that whole thing of having a baby. I’m enjoying the silence right now and feeling grateful for this stage of life as the last embers fade on our existence as a party of five. Beginning at the end of February 2020, this stage fits neatly into the pandemic era and we knew almost nothing else. It was a time of work-from-home offices, breaking in a refinished basement, stopping school, starting school again, stay-at-home orders, no playgrounds, libraries or visitors, and then glorious reunions with all the parts of life and people that we missed. We undoubtedly grew closer as a family and it’s strange to think about how much or how little my older kids will actually remember of the momentous past year and a half–the time before number four.

The pandemic has felt like a lifetime, but when I think back to that first birth story and look at the precocious kindergartner that baby has become, I begin to understand all the warnings about how fast it really goes. Tomorrow we get to start the journey all over again, and I can’t wait to share it with the older three.

Please keep Theresa and the new baby in your prayers for a healthy and smooth–and on-time–induction. Now that I’ve written this post about how nicely scheduled everything is, we are sure to encounter something to keep my birth story blog posts interesting. Let’s go!

  1. not to be confused with “there’s always something!”, though that is also a quality of parenthood.
  2. It’s a wonderful arrangement in which I take too many photos and Theresa cuts them down and makes lengthy photo books out of them whenever Shutterfly has a sale

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