A complete set

joan’s column for 6-3

The family did not feel quite complete to my daughter, Sharon, and her husband, Jacob. She wrote the following about their prayers and decision.

We prayed about how to grow our family: either with more biological children or foster care/adoption. I’ve prayed that we would be unified in our decision because both options could be very stressful and expensive both financially and emotionally.

In January at my family’s mini-reunion, my husband announced his New Year’s Resolution was to get me pregnant. And here, I had thought that my New Year’s resolution was to lose a few pounds!

At least, I realized that my prayers for unity were answered.

By spring break I was pregnant, but announcing the fourth child is a bit delicate. I wanted to delay the rude looks, questions and thoughts such as “Oh, I thought you were struggling financially! And you got pregnant again?! How irresponsible!”

My sister-in-law has the perfect response. “If the entire population waited to be financially stable before having more children, we wouldn’t have a very populated world, would we?”

When people discover you’re pregnant with the third or fourth child, they ask my all-time favorite tacky question, “Don’t you know what causes that?!”

“Yes! And we’re obviously VERY good at it! ….mind your own business!” I want to say.

Oh, and by the way, no matter how much or how little weight I gain, I’m not one of those cute women who have a sweet little baby bump.

No, when I’m pregnant, my nose, neck, arms, belly, hips and legs are pregnant. I knew I couldn’t wait until my third trimester to announce as my mom had when she was pregnant with me! To complicate the timing of our announcement further, I’ve had a couple of miscarriages, so I didn’t want to announce too soon.

All those factors made my husband and I keep our little secret to ourselves. Even when my second trimester started, only a few co-workers and family knew our news. We hadn’t even told our children because if they knew, we figured everyone would know.

About a week ago, when I decided all clothes except elastic were highly overrated, I realized I’d better let people know I was pregnant and not just fat. Sunday afternoon we took a family picture with four tires standing up in the yard. Our three smiling kids each held a tire. The fourth tire had “Welcome Baby” balloons tied to it. On Facebook, beneath the picture we posted, “Our Set Will Be Complete November 30, 2015.”

Even after that photo shoot, our kids remained oblivious. Monday morning I brought all three to my 14 week OB-GYN appointment. My oldest two remembered the hospital where Daisy was born, and the office of my baby doctor. Still, they were too distracted by their toys to work the logic puzzle.

I’ve had the same doctor for about 10 years. I walked in and I told him, “The kids don’t know yet.”

Dr. Richard Wyatt’s eyes lit up. He picked up the Doppler tool ready to broadcast the baby’s heartbeat. “Kids, listen to this sound in your mom’s tummy. What is that noise?”

They scooted in, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

“Her belly?”

“Her heartbeat?”

I smiled, “No, that’s a BABY’s heartbeat!”

After a second of delay, their eyes registered the meaning of my words.

“You’re pregnant!?” Eli, 8, exclaimed,

“There’s a baby in your belly?!” Caroline, 6, asked.

Daisy, 4, silently took it all in.

Dr. Wyatt and I laughed, “Yes!”

Caroline had one more question, “Does Dad know?”

Dr. Wyatt laughed, “Yes, it’s his fault.”

Dr. Wyatt’s cheeks flushed and eyes watered as he turned to me and said, “That is just so cool! I’ve never been in the room when a patient’s kids found out that their mom was pregnant. You’re making me tear up.”

This from a man who has six kids of his own, has been in practice for 30 years, and has delivered thousands of babies. He is my favorite doctor because he is still in awe of the miracle of life. He is not jaded by the tragedy and hurt that can surround birth or underwhelmed after decades of deliveries. He still values the beauty and importance of a tiny pre-born baby.

Before we got to the car, Caroline asked several more times, “Are you serious?! You’re having a baby?!” By the time she buckled up, she already had done the math and figured out she would be 16 when this baby turned 10 years old.

Daisy has actually accompanied me to different appointments and heard me talk about “expecting” and “pregnancy,” but has not fully grasped the concept. She does know that if Caroline wants a sister, she wants one, too.

Eli, very familiar with how this “new baby thing” works, hopes another boy around the house will even things out.

Obviously, Jacob and I don’t have any control over the gender, but we are thrilled that we will indeed have our complete set this fall.

(Joan Hershberger is a staff writer at the News-Times. Email her at joanh@everybody.org)