Oh boy!

I haven’t announced this yet to my blog reader(s), but figure today is as good a day as any:

We’re having a baby in January!

Four kids? you say.  But you can’t even keep up with three!

So true.

And you haven’t finished paying off the last one!

Also true, but only for a few more weeks.

And you don’t have a vehicle large enough to fit a family of six!

Yes, yes, that does present a problem.  We are not sure how we’re going to get everyone home from the hospital along about January 17.

Yet, still, a baby!  A precious new life coming into our home!  A boy who will even up the male-to-female ratio in our house!  And, best yet, a healthy one, at least according to the ultrasounds — not to mention the wiggling going on in my belly.

It probably seems like chaos to a lot of folks, but I’ve always kinda thought 4 was the ideal number of kids.  Beau claims he was happy with just 2, but No. 3 totally has his heart and I can tell he’s pretty darn pleased about this new baby boy.  As far as we can figure, though, this fourth will be our last, because we are of the school of thought that any more than four children is totally crazy!  Ha!

The reality is that once this baby is on the ground, I think it’ll be time for me to move out of the child-bearing stage of my life and onto what’s next:  being more active with the bigger kids, both as a homeschooling mom and a ranching mom (the kids beg to ride with Daddy most days but, let’s be honest, Daddy kinda has a full-time job and little kids horseback bear a lot of watching, so we all look forward to all of us riding together someday); AND as a helper to my husband in his position here at the PV — his ranch paperwork pile in the office is so overwhelming that some mornings he rises at 2 a.m. to turn in payroll or bills or cattle inventory before he leaves for a day of riding.

At this stage of my life I’m not much hands-on help for Beau because, as most people understand, a pregnancy requires a lot of time spent on the couch drooling out the side of one’s mouth.  The other problem is that, since the first three, I no longer have brain cells left to dedicate to office work, because all that I had at one time have fallen victim to Mommy Brain, which is a very real thing in my professional opinion.

Diaper changes, naps, hourly snacks and board books:  I’ve just signed myself on for another three years of 24-hour duty.  It boils down to a sacrifice of self and sanity which I’ve been willing to make for the first three, and I’ll gladly do it for the fourth too.  But I am starting to fantasize that once Junior here is old enough, I’ll be able to be much more active in other capacities of life.  After seven years already of hard-core motherhood, I’ll admit I’m kinda looking forward to that freedom.

Yet…

So many older women have told me that they remember their child-bearing years as the best of their life.

So I don’t want to take a moment for granted.

Knowing he’s probably our last, growing this fourth little one has been a sweet, sweet, sweet time for me.  I  mean, if you choose to look at it in a particular light:  what a thing, to nurture a little life.  To feel those kicks and every other feeling unique to pregnancy.  To be treated like a queen at regular check-ups with the doctor (Oh, nurse, you want me to sit in this little room all by myself and read a magazine?  If you insist!).  To have an excuse to eat angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast, which is what I’m doing right now.

What a privilege to be chosen to parent him and his siblings. What a responsibility, too, especially if you think about more than just today — how in the world are my husband and I supposed to turn our four little hellions into decent human beings?  How will we find the time to teach them everything a kid ought to know before he leaves home?  How are we going to keep them all in kid horses, not to mention afford the sort of horse trailer we’re going to need to fit us all?  How are we ever going to afford to fly all the kids South to explore their Alabama roots?

Will we ever get enough sleep before we hit the nursing home?  What about the important things that already don’t get done around here?  Will we ever have enough time?  What is enough time?  Biggest of all, will we have enough love for four kids?

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Only by the grace of God.

(P.S.:  No creepy 3D ultrasound pics for us; we’ll stick with the simple profiles, thanks very much.  I mean, this one is adorable but strange enough, right?  You probably wouldn’t have guessed, for instance, that all the Blake men are born with mustaches — you can see in this ultrasound picture that No. 4, or Quatro if you prefer, is getting a good start on his already.)

Why 30 weeks?

Here I am, three quarters of the way through this pregnancy, and there are many people we haven’t officially *told* yet.  Yesterday an old friend called and said, “I hear congratulations are in order!”  Turns out a truck-driving friend of hers had been here to pick up a load of calves and called her when he was on the road.  “I saw your pregnant friend today,” he told her — and she was all What pregnant friend?  None of my friends are pregnant right now.  And he said, “You know, the one who’s always pregnant.  She’s been pregnant every time I’ve ever seen her!”

I guess there are a few reasons we’ve kept this pregnancy mostly on the down-low:

First, it’s our fourth, remember?  I’m guessing the novelty of Tam + Beau wore off for most folks a few years ago!

Second, it’s our fourth, remember?  We haven’t slept for 7 years!  We have no energy or brain power left to dedicate to grand announcements!

Third, and you might think this is ridiculous, but we’ve had a really hard year around here.  The demands of Beau’s new position (yep, it’s been a year since we moved from the VX); the generational transition of the ranch which has been, perhaps, absurdly central to my life; the resulting changes that have rippled throughout the extended ranch family… none of it has been easy on the ol’ heart.  (But then, maybe one should never expect such a life change to be easy… or, for that matter, any part of life at all.)  So 2016 and ’17 have been hard months of growing up for me — here I am, halfway through my thirties, and still growing up!  To complicate things, my honest blogging on the bedlam — or, if you prefer, my inappropriate recording of my own whack opinions — has attracted hate mail, and I’ve earned my reminders that there are folks out there who believe I’m an unfit human being… not to mention, I would presume, mother.

So, to keep both this new baby and our other kids safe from my own emotions and my reactions to the opinions of others, I have generally kept this fourth baby a secret.

But when you start to look like this, there’s no hiding it any more!

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I’m starting to wonder if this baby will be bigger than the 7 lb. 10 oz. status quo I’ve grown accustomed to?  That’s not all angel food cake you’re looking at there!

So I figure there’s no more hiding Quatro.  I also figure it’s a little weird for a happily married 35-year-old woman to hide her fourth pregnancy.  And you know what else?  I’ve realized that this is likely my last chance to write about pregnancy while I’m in the throes of it.  So here goes!

How have I felt?

Blessedly, I’ve felt really good through all my pregnancies, and this one’s no exception.  Of course, pregnancy is never a walk in the park, and there have been a few typical issues to deal with:  hair loss (Those people who claim their hair is thick and luxurious throughout pregnancy?  I think they’re liars); sciatic pain (Which honestly hasn’t been too bad this time around, at least not yet); hormones (Beau would perhaps venture that the resulting mood swings have resulted in some rather rash reactions on my part in the last months, to which I like to reply:  Oh, right, this-and-that and such-and-so wouldn’t be bothering me even a little tiny bit if it weren’t for my CRAZY PREGNANCY HORMONES!); and as for the last issue which seems worth mentioning, I have developed varicose veins this time around and so now wear support stockings (Because, as I’m sure you suspected, I am really an 89-year-old German woman with a grey perm, wearing pumps at the ends of my stockings and only pretending to be a healthy young[ish] gal with legs that wouldn’t frighten people if revealed to the public).

Also, and this is just as an aside, but I am suspicious that my nose has grown a tiny little bit.  I’ve been concerned about this in my other pregnancies, too, but I can never seem to get any of the people in my life who supposedly care about me on the bandwagon with me!

All these little issues, though, pale in light of the reality that our whole family is just so healthy, and for that I am so incredibly thankful.  Hair loss and varicose veins seem a small price to pay in trade for the big and eternally significant job my body is doing here.

I bet you’re wondering about names!

It’s okay, it’s human nature to want to know.  And I’m really trying to become more accepting of human nature here in my thirties.  Although.  You should know, if you’re one of those people always pestering pregnant women about names, that some pregnant women regard such nosiness with great annoyance and even hostility.  Just a fair warning from someone who’s been there and done that.

Beau and I didn’t share name possibilities with outsiders before our first three kids were born because, honestly, I didn’t want to risk my own fragile feelings listening to what other people thought.  This time around, though, such matters don’t seem quite so intimate to me (must be the graying-hairs perspective I’ve gained), and I’ve been having a little fun leaking top-secret name information.  In the end, it will be Beau and I deciding in the delivery room (sorry, but there’s not a pick-your-favorite-name poll at the bottom of this blog).  Still, just for fun, the official list includes…

First off, 4-year-old big sister Emi is fully convinced that we’re going to name the baby Newt.  We let her watch Lonesome Dove all the time, so that explains where she came up with her idea.  (Just kidding.  We do not let our kids watch Lonesome Dove.  Yet.)  So Newt is the wild card in the hand.  Now on to…

Cobe Will.  I have been a name-saver since I was a little girl, and Cobe Will has been near the top of my Favorite Boy Names list for a couple decades.  Then, who would’ve guessed, I married a short white boy from the Deep South.  My dearly betrothed spent many tortured years as a youngster playing basketball in P.E. class with big black boys who took delight in calling him “White Bread” — and the result is that, to Beau, Cobe is a name for a dark-skinned 7-foot-tall future professional wielding a basketball like a weapon.

(Yet there is this to consider:  when Asher was born and Beau won the name debate, I told him:  Fine, but we have to keep going until I get to name a little boy Cobe Will.  Ah, what is a gal to do now with a threat she made over seven years ago?)

We have considered using just Will, which was my brother’s first name, for the boy, but I can’t decide on an appropriate application for Will if it’s not immediately following the first name Cobe… and William, well, it just reminds me of Prince William.

Our oldest son Asher’s first name is Michael, as is Beau’s, as is Beau’s dad’s.  And so I was thinking that this time around it might be nice to give the baby my dad’s first name, Harold, and call the baby by his middle name, as we do with Asher.

Possibilities for the middle (using) name include Muggins, which is the name of the creek, named for a pioneer named Muggins Taylor, which courses through the heart of the PV Ranch.  Both Beau and I can picture an adorable (because what else would he be?) little boy named Muggins.  There is, however, one small hang-up — in that Beau and my dad (Harold, you’ll recall) spent a lot of time this past summer trying to avoid butting heads over a new fence that went in on Muggins Creek… and so the name Harold Muggins might be a real mouthful for my partner to say.

I should mention that we have considered shortening Harold to Hal, too.  I really like the name Hal.  (It’s the Little Britches reader in me.)

Another possibility for the middle (using) name behind Harold would be Cotton.  We both really like the name Cotton, and it is, of course, a nod to Beau’s Southern roots.  The trouble with naming the kid Cotton is that, if we actually use it, we miss out on other great names like Cobe Will and Muggins!

Alas, my naming ideas are endless… but my ability to bear children is not.  Narrowing this baby’s boy name down from all the wonderful possibilities will more than likely result in a name that is not perfect but only representative of the many names his name could’ve been.  Guess that’s why we all get a new, perfect name in heaven.

So there ya have it:  the abridged version of All About My Fourth Pregnancy.

Now it’s time for me to lie on the couch and drool again.  More updates to come — dependent, of course, on the various variables that might affect my emotional well-being between now and then.

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Does my nose look big to you here?

© Tami Blake

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