To My Daughter On The Eve Of Her Birth

Disclaimer: I started writing this post a few days ago in preparation for my scheduled C-section today. Baby had other plans, though, and arrived on her own schedule a day early! I still wanted to share my thoughts leading up to her birth, though, so I’ll share this with you on the day AFTER her birth! Watch for her whole birth story coming soon! 

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Dear baby girl,
Tomorrow our world will change forever!

We have been waiting these past nine months–and for years before that–for this very moment. And now that it is here, I can hardly believe it. Tomorrow will be the culmination of our prayers and our wondering and our waiting: you will be born. No longer will we hold you in just our hearts and in my womb, but we will hold you close in our arms. I. Can’t. Wait.

Even though we haven’t officially met yet, I feel like I already know you so well. We’ve already had 39 weeks together as one being, intimately connected through every moment of your life thus far. I have to thank you, because during this pregnancy you have been very good to me (well, as long as you don’t count those first three months when I constantly felt like I was stumbling off the teacup ride and would puke any time I saw a salad). Our doctor has commented several times that we are a model pregnancy and she wishes that every patient of hers would be so “easy”. I think we’ll make a great team!

At every prenatal appointment when I hear your heartbeat on the doppler I still get tears in my eyes because it is the sound of your beautiful life.  I can’t wait to meet you and see who you become–to witness the outpourings of that beautiful heart and to share in the love that will come from it. I want to know what will touch your heart and what will trouble it, what will make it content and what will make it beat a bit faster. I look forward to knowing who you are, from the inside out.

I can’t wait to see you. I keep wondering what you will look like–will you resemble your brothers with light hair and piercing blue eyes? Or will you be the kid who picks up some of my genes and have my green eyes…maybe even red hair like your grandpa? Will you be soft and squishy or long and lean? Tomorrow I will gaze at your face for the first time and it will be like meeting a stranger–a stranger who I already love.

Your brothers can’t wait to meet you, either. Every day they smother my belly with kisses and whisper sweet words to you.  David is excited to show you all of his toys and share his favorite movies with you. Jacob still thinks that you’ll be sleeping with him in his bed every night so he can give you extra cuddles. They adore you already, baby girl.

As you grow up, your brothers will care for you and defend you, teach you and–most likely–drive you completely bananas. Just know that they love you very much–and I’ll do my best to remind you of this when I have to unbury you from a mountain of Toy Story toys or rock you back to sleep because they’re running around outside your bedroom during nap time like the wild banshees that they are. They mean well, and I pray that the three of you will have an amazing relationship throughout your lives.

Speaking of amazing relationships, I can’t wait to see your daddy doting on you. He has wanted a daughter for as long as I’ve known him, and I know that you will be his little princess! Your daddy is an incredible man and he will treat you the way you should be treated: with love, respect, encouragement, and dedication. I am proud that you will have such a worthy man as your role model–he will be your daddy, but he will also be your biggest fan.

So, as we close in on these last few hours before our first meeting, know that you are already cherished. Sure, there will be lots of craziness in your life–that just goes with the territory when you’re the third child born into a busy family. But know this: no matter how crazy life may get, you are loved, you are treasured, and you will be welcomed with the most open of arms.

I love you, baby girl, and I so look forward to being your mother!

Always and forever,

Mommy

P.S. Happy early birthday–I just wanted to be the first one to say it! Tomorrow we shall have cake ūüôā

 

 

Buh-Bye, Bump

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I have been pregnant for just over 2 of the last 5 1/2 years, which means I’ve had loads¬†of time with my bump (my bump, of course, being the human child/ren growing inside my womb). It’s surreal for me to think, then, that this stage of my life is nearly over. Forever. In just a few days our last child will be born and I will never again have a bump (flabby trophy tummy excepted, of course). It’s a bitter-sweet realization.

My first pregnancy bump was highly anticipated. I expected my belly to start growing exponentially the moment that pee stick turned positive. I couldn’t wait to have that pregnancy glow and not be able to see my toes. Seriously, this is the stuff dreams my dreams were made of. Each day I would examine my still-flat tummy in the mirror and disappointedly wonder why it still looked so toned¬†(back in those days I was a marathon runner, not a multigravida).

As the months progressed, however, my bump (finally) started to grow.

pregnancy 010And grow (Note the moving boxes. Why do we always move when I’m pregnant?)…

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And grow…

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And grow!

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That baby we’d been waiting for was making his presence known, and I adored my bump. We spent months planning¬†obsessing over every aspect of our baby’s birth and arrival. We painted the baby’s room and I posed with my bump in the baby’s new nursery. I wanted everything to be perfect.

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As holidays approached, I even decorated my bump in celebration. Pregnancy was so much fun!

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I had grown quite attached to my bump, but when my baby’s due date came and went…and 10 more days passed…I gave my bump an official eviction notice. It worked, and on October 27, 2010 our first child entered the world.

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Exactly one year after I said goodbye to Bump #1, I started growing Bump #2. This time around we got to share our baby joy with…our baby. Looking back at some of these photos makes me wonder what we were thinking–seriously, we had TWO BABIES!

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Bump #2 progressed through the natural progression of fruit growth, from the size of a poppyseed, to an orange, to a fully ripe watermelon.15 weeks baby 2 - 0006

It was so much fun sharing Bump #2 with Big Brother and joining him in his wonder and curiosity about the baby that was growing in Mommy’s tummy.
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And although we knew all our lives were about to change, we knew with certainty that it would be a change for the better.IMG_2228

A few years passed, and there was no bump. In those bump-less years our family learned what it was like to raise little boys–to splash in puddles and collect sticks¬†weapons of mass destruction and wrestle before bed. They were sweet years that I will always hold dear.

After we got good and settled into our little life and our routines and our not-needing-diaper-ness, we decided to mix things up again. Enter Bump #3.

I was elated to be pregnant again–and, if I’m totally honest–absolutely terrified.¬†We had a long road getting to Bump #3 and I just wanted everything to go smoothly.¬†That, paired with the fact that I knew this would be our last baby, made me cherish this bump more than I might have otherwise.

From the very beginning, I was in love with Bump #3.
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When we found out that Bump #3 was a she, I absolutely did not believe it. After all, we were a boy family and I had gotten so good at puddles and sticks and wrestles.¬†Once I got past the shock of the whole girl thing, though, I fully embraced it. I’m thrilled that I will get¬†to introduce dolls and dancing and sweet cuddles to our usual routine of puddles and sticks and wrestles.IMG_7946

As this baby (and my belly grew) I got to experience the sheer joy of anticipation with our big boys. This was probably the greatest difference with Bump #3–the fact that we had two older children who totally understood what was happening and absolutely adored their baby. The questions and the cuddles and the doting words and the shirt-lifting-belly-revealing-in-public never end with these two.IMG_8086

And even though each of my bumps has been its own unique experience, each has brought our family one step closer to completeness. I’ll be a bit sad to say goodbye to my bump for the last time–to say goodbye to the excitement and expectation that it has always brought. In the end, though, I know that something even better is coming.

In a few days I will meet my daughter and the wait will finally be over. My bump will be gone forever, but it will signal the start of our next grand adventure. And I’m ready–ready for the goodbye, and even more ready for the

Hello.IMG_8138

Preparing For Baby: #1 versus #3

Jessie's photo shoot 002When a new baby enters the scene there is no shortage of preparation that must be done: the research, the planning, the buying of absolutely necessary tiny things. Well, that’s the theory, anyway. What I have found is that the level and extent of preparation for a new baby is directly (negatively) proportional¬†to the number of children you already have under your care.

Right now we are awaiting¬†baby #3’s imminent arrival, and the contrast between our “preparation” this time around versus when our first baby was born is stark. Here are a few of the standout differences:

Time spent preparing:
Baby #1:¬†From the moment I saw¬†our positive pregnancy test until his birth,¬†I spent some time approximately every waking moment preparing or thinking about preparing for our first baby’s birth.

Baby #3: You may not even remember you’re pregnant until your water breaks.¬†We’ve been so busy lately with work and school and travel and holidays that I nearly forgot WE’RE HAVING A BABY in a few weeks. I went so far as to make an actual entry into my Google calendar this week that said “nesting”. Better late than never.

Critical Research
Baby #1: I researched circumcision doctors.

Baby #3: I researched headbands.

Birth Classes
Baby #1: We went to not one, but THREE sets of birth classes when I was pregnant with baby #1. The first class was this kooky meditation-type class that had us personify our hormones that would be present during labor and delivery and paint pictures of our anticipated birth journey (true story). We made it through approximately 3/4 of one class before we were running for the hills. Birth class #2 was hosted by a hospital and provided lots of practical information like how to change a diaper and not kill your baby (in that order). Birth class #3 was a series of mini-lectures hosted by our midwives that outlined how to have a successful (most likely pain-free) all-natural birth.

Baby #3: Here’s the only lesson you need to learn before you have a baby: just go with it. In the throes of labor there will be no breathing technique or meditation that will save you from a 48-hour labor that won’t progress past 8 cm and a baby with a cord wrapped around his neck. Birth is crazy and awkward and painful and full of unanticipated surprises. Just go with it. It’s good preparation for the next stage that lies ahead: parenthood.

Required Reading
Baby #1: I could start my own traveling library with the number of books I read leading up to the birth of our first child: Books about what to expect and what to think and what to buy. Books, books, books.

Baby #3: I have an app on my phone that reminds me when I have an OB appointment. It’s called my calendar.

Pregnancy Diet
Baby #1: Eat a rainbow of vegetables every day. Avoid cold lunchmeat and soft cheeses. No caffeine. No refined sugar. Healthy fats in moderation. Remember to take your vitamins and midwife-prescribed supplements. Small meals spread out throughout the day to eliminate heartburn.

Baby #3: Pizza, cheeseburgers, and the entire bakery, please.

Rest
Baby #1: I would come home from work every day at about 4:30 and take a little nap before dinner. After dinner I’d relax for a couple of hours before going to bed at a reasonable hour. On the weekends I’d sleep in until I felt¬†good and ready to start my day. After all, I needed to conserve my energy for the baby.

Baby #3: I remember sleep! I love sleep! I want sleep. Alas, I have two highly-energetic little boys who are solely under my care for 10-12 hours a day. They don’t nap, and they don’t approve of the notion of me napping either. Actually, they’d probably love it if I took a nap…then they could finally find out what happens when you run with scissors or color with Sharpie markers on the living room walls.

Setting Up The Nursery
Baby #1: Four months before his arrival, we had the nursery painted, decorated, and stocked with necessities. I hung sweet decals on the walls and crafted hand-made mobiles. It was gorgeous.

Baby #3: Technically, she has a room. It’s currently being used as a guest room/playroom/storage space for all the crap we can’t figure out a better place for. I think we have a Pac ‘n Play in one of our closets that I can set up next to my bed for the short-term. I’ll also buy a box of diapers and wipes the next time I go to Costco.

Medical Decisions
Baby #1: I planned an all-natural out-of-hospital birth with midwives. I wanted ZERO medical intervention. In the unlikely event that it became necessary for me to transfer to a hospital (shudder), I had a detailed birth plan ready to hand over to the insolent doctors who might try to pressure me into something drastic. Like pain medication.

Baby #3: Scheduled C-Section, baby! Not only am I willing to go to a hospital with an actual licensed doctor, but I am thrilled at the idea. I may even do my hair and paint my nails for the occasion.

Emotions
Baby #1: I couldn’t wait to be a mom. My heart swelled every time I thought about this new little person who I already loved but had never met.

Baby #3:¬†I can’t wait to be a mom again. My heart swells every time I think about this new little person who I already love but have never met.

Four more weeks, darling. I’ll be ready!

 

 

10 Things A Pregnant Lady Should Never Do

Next week I’ll be entering my third trimester (for the third time), which means I’m just reaching that awkward point of pregnancy where I start to feel very…PREGNANT. I am reminded daily of how very pregnant I am becoming as my body goes through these beautiful, often-problematic changes. Seeing as this is my third go at the whole awkward/uncomfortable/ridiculous stage of pregnancy, I’ve learned a few tricks for keeping my head up and surviving to the end. Pay attention now, because these are actual words of wisdom.

I now present: 10 Things A Pregnant Lady Should Never Do

  1. Step on a scale
    Your prenatal doctor will compel you to do this painful task at each visit, but just do yourself a favor and don’t make eye contact with the numbers on that dreadful machine. And, by all means, don’t you dare step on a scale in your free time. I have made this mistake before and, trust me, your scale will be broken. There’s simply no¬†other explanation for the gargantuan numbers it will spew at you.
  2. Look at your naked self in a mirror
    Perhaps this is related to #1, but seriously. Don’t. Especially your backside. Just let your husband gush about how glowingly beautiful your preggo little self is, and leave it at that.
  3. Cough/sneeze/laugh
    Because you’ll pee your pants. There, I said it.
  4. Watch A Baby Story on TLC
    Or Johnson & Johnson baby ads. Or commercial featuring Sarah McLachlan (dang you, homeless animals). If you watch these emotionally-driven, hormone-inducing programs you will find yourself in a sobbing mess quicker than you can waddle to the bathroom for a box of tissues.
  5. Go shopping without a plan and a budget
    Because chances are, if you do, you’ll come home with at least a dozen new baby doo-dads that you just couldn’t resist.
  6. Shave your legs
    Unless you’re an acrobat or have monkey arms, it’s just not even worth trying.
  7. Go out for the night with non-preggos
    Because they’ll want to do all the things you can’t do: drink adult beverages, stay up late, and dance without peeing themselves.
  8. Make easily accessible: chocolate/cheeseburgers/Taco Bell tacos/pickles/ice cream/Lucky Charms/(other pregnancy craving)
    Every pregnant lady has that one (or two or three or thirty) thing(s) they just can’t get enough of.¬†Whatever your craving-poison may be, just try to pace yourself. Maybe even make a game of it. ¬†For instance, have your husband hide the chocolate bars and then go on a treasure hunt. I’m sure you’d burn at least 100 calories trying to find them. Exercise + chocolate treat = pregnancy win
  9. Try to wear those super-cute, super-expensive shoes you bought pre-pregnancy
    Because they won’t fit. Chances are, your feet have already grown a full size or two and trying to squeeze into those shoes will just make you feel like one of Cinderella’s step sisters. Call it like it is and invest in some nice Birkenstocks and wool socks.
  10. Leave your home without knowing the quickest route to the nearest bathroom
    You will need to pee approximately once every 5 minutes, so be diligent in your toilet-locating skills.

Now that you know what NOT to do, here is one thing you CAN do: relish your pregnancy and bask in the glory of your belly–savor the comfort of¬†your stretchy pants and indulge in your free pass with junk food. After all, if pregnancy can’t be glamorous, at least it can be fabulous.

The Last First Time

FullSizeRender (2)I’ve had a lot of Big Feelings this week.

David, my oldest, is turning 5 (FIVE?!?!) in a few days and I honestly can’t believe it. This little boy–my BABY–who I carried in my belly for 9 months (actually, more like 10 months, the persistent little bugger) is officially NOT a baby any more. When he was toddling around at 2 years old, I was justified in calling him a baby; when he was learning his colors and shapes and the intricacies of Angry Birds at age 3, I could get by calling him a baby–even at age 4 when he still sported the round, chubby face of a cherub could I call him a baby. But not any more.

He is tall and lean and feisty and fantastic and…FIVE. Holy moly, how did that even happen? Last week I was looking back at his baby book with him and I was recounting all of his firsts–his first smile, his first tooth, him eating his first foods, his first steps, his first word (“Mama”, obviously). I realized that in his short life that actually seems quite long, he’s had a lot of firsts. And I’ve been there for all of them, taking pictures and writing them down in his¬†baby book (ok, I mostly just posted everything on Facebook, but that’s the modern day equivalent of a baby book, right?).¬†So, the other day I went shopping for David’s birthday gift and I was pondering all of this–the beauty and the irony of life already moving so quickly.

Then the real kicker came. As I was walking over to the toy section, I happened to (on purpose) walk through the baby section. I hadn’t had a chance to go shopping for our new baby yet, so I decided to take advantage of my solo shopping time and do a quick browse through the baby clothes. Somehow, three of the pinkest, frilliest outfits managed to find their way into my shopping cart. And then it hit me: this was the last first time I’d shop for my new baby. I could vividly remember my first pregnancy and the thrill of shopping for David for the first time. Then, a year or so later, I had the joy of picking out sweet new things for Jacob. But now. NOW. It’s our last baby and this was my LAST¬†first time shopping for her.

I lost it, right there in the middle of the baby section. It’s probably not the first time a pregnant lady started crying over baby clothes at Target, but I still felt like a fool. A fool who really didn’t care because COME ON–this is IT. This is the beginning of the end, and it’s bittersweet.

I am in the last few months of pregnancy…EVER. In the coming months and years, there will be a lot of last first times.¬†I recently began to feel¬†my baby move, for the last first time.¬†I am carrying another human life, for the last first time. In a few short months I will hold my baby in my arms, for the last first time. And every moment with here from there on out, it will be the last first time. It’s glorious and terrifying at the same time, and I almost can’t handle it.

So, this week I’m going to pull up my big girl panties (no, seriously, pregnancy panties are preeeeeeetty big) and I’m going to celebrate my baby-who’s-not-a-baby-anymore. I’m going to relish in his firsts–of past, present, and future–as he blows out those five flickering candles. I’m going to remember the first time he smashed a (homemade organic baked from scratch with no refined sugars) birthday cake and I’m going to smile because he’s come a long way, baby. And I’ll probably dream about the day that my other children will reach these milestones, these firsts, in their time.

And then I’ll probably (definitely) cry. Because that’s what I do.

The Very Hungry Pregnant Lady: A Parody

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The other day I was reading to the boys (for the gajillionth time) one of their favorite books: Eric Carle’s¬†The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For those of you who may not be as intimately familiar with the story as I am, it follows a tiny caterpillar from the day he hatches from his little white egg through his journey as he¬†eats different foods every day getting nice and fat for his grand finale: building a cocoon and finally emerging as a beautiful butterfly. It’s a classic story, and one that I find myself relating more and more to now that I have my condition (condition = pregnancy).

I feel for the poor little caterpillar–he’s just hungry all the time and it is his JOB to eat and grow so he might become more beautiful. As such, I’ve decided to adopt the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s mantra: I, too, have dedicated myself to eating and growing so that I might become more beautiful (or produce a more beautiful baby?). You see, I take the whole “eating for two” thing very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that you might mistake my food consumption¬†for that¬†of two competing sumo wrestlers rather than that of an average sized woman and a nearly-1-pound baby. Not to brag, but some might call me a professional double-eater.

As an illustration, here is my own version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar–tweaked a bit to mark my own glorious transformation. I now present:

The Very Hungry Pregnant Lady

In the light of the moon a tiny baby was formed in her mother’s womb.IMG_6600

One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and–pop!–out stuck the mother’s belly as the tiny baby began to grow.11953069_10101444379903150_5148467840828573354_n

Growing a baby is hard work, so the pregnant lady started to look for some food.

On Monday she ate through one piece of apple pie à la mode. But she was still hungry.
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On Tuesday she ate through two brownies, but she was still hungry.IMG_6558

On Wednesday, she ate through three slices of pizza, but she was still hungry.FullSizeRender (2)

On Thursday she ate through four graham crackers smothered in Funfetti frosting, but she was still hungry.IMG_6522

On Friday she ate through five pieces of deli meat (microwaved to steaming, first, to remove the possibility of Listeria poisoning), but she was still hungry.FullSizeRender (3)

On Saturday she was a good girl and she ate through six tangerines, but she was still hungry.IMG_6557

On Saturday she ate for dinner: one chocolate pudding cup, one heaping scoop of Nutella, one salami, one plate of spaghetti, one bag of popcorn, one buttery croissant, and one bottle of sparkling mineral water.

That night she had a stomachache!FullSizeRender (4)

The next day the pregnant lady ate salad. After that she felt much better.
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Now she wasn’t hungry any more–and she wasn’t a little lady any more. She was a big, fat pregnant lady. She crawled inside her cocoon-of-a-bed and read celebrity gossip magazines while her devoted husband rubbed her swollen feet. She grew that baby for nine whole months. Then she went to the hospital, got an epidural, and pushed out…

…a beautiful baby!76245_689686136550_5492270_n

Now she wasn’t a Very Hungry Pregnant Lady¬†any more. She was a Very Blessed Mommy.
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The end.

Announcing Baby #3!

Baby #3 at 8 weeks

Baby #3 at 8 weeks

“I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned to me and heard my cry” -Psalm 40:1

For those of you who have been following our story this year, you know¬†that we’ve been in a continuous season of waiting. Over the last 12 months we’ve spent countless hours praying for answers to the questions burning deep in our¬†minds and the desires that hold our hearts. Not least among these has been our prayer for another healthy baby. After over a year of waiting, then a miscarriage, it felt like the baby-waiting might go on forever.

I am thrilled to announce that the wait is finally over: we’re having a baby! Love Bug #3 is due on Valentine’s Day 2016–pretty fitting, if you ask me. Naturally, I am so excited that I’m nearly¬†jumping out of my skin! And, since I’m naturally an over-sharer (clearly– I write a blog), it feels great to finally spill the beans on our Big News. It seems like lately our life has just been one crazy journey after another, and this baby is no exception.

We found out that we were pregnant on June 12th, our 10th wedding anniversary (see, it really is a love baby!). When I saw those double lines on the pregnancy test that meant YES, I literally fell to the floor crying. You know that feeling you have when you want something so bad you can taste it–and then you actually get it? It’s¬†an overwhelming sense of astonishment. It is the realization of grace–of receiving something truly wonderful that you do not deserve. And that’s exactly what this baby is to us–a sign of God’s grace and faithfulness in our lives. After the years of praying and waiting and heartbreak, I needed to feel that grace again in my life. Now that I have, I could not be more grateful.

I am 12 weeks along (nearly out of the 1st trimester!). I’ve already had 3 doctor’s visits and 2 ultrasounds–there is nothing that could ever compare to the first time you see your baby on that little black and white screen and hear the steady thump-a-thump-thump of their tiny heart. So far everything with the baby looks and sounds great–such a relief! Again, we are so very grateful.

In addition to feeling grateful and excited, however, I’ve also been feeling a lot of other Feels. Chief among those Feels, I have been feeling sick. I actually prayed that I would feel this pregnancy from the very beginning so I would know that the baby was doing alright. Be careful what you pray for. Let’s just say I’ve been forming an intimate relationship with my toilet these last few weeks–Toilet and I have spent a lot of quality time together as I crouch over the bowl expelling my breakfast (and lunch and dinner). I have also formed an unusual aversion to those nutrient-packed plants we eat (you know, v_ _ _ _ _ables–I can’t even say the word or it will make me run for Toilet again). ¬†Not to worry, though, because I’ve replaced the nutrient-packed plants with cupcakes and ice cream. This is obviously a good choice. Since I never had “morning” sickness with my first two pregnancies, this has been a¬†thrilling¬†new frontier for me to navigate. As one would expect, I’ll be happy to quit exploring soon.

On the flip side, my favorite part of this pregnancy is how deeply loving the boys have been toward their unborn sibling. I have come to realize that when I was pregnant with Jacob, David was still a baby himself. I’m glad I didn’t realize this fact back then, because it probably would have freaked me out. Now that both boys are older (AND POTTY TRAINED!!!) I think we’re all enjoying this experience more.

David (who is, shall we say, not the typically snuggly type) will stop his usual running/jumping/climbing/shennanigan-making, run over to me, slam my¬†tummy, and proceed to smother my navel with¬†kisses and sweet words of adoration for his little sister (he has determined that the baby IS a girl, her name is Violet Woody Buzz Lightyear, and nobody is allowed to voice a word¬†in opposition to these facts.). Jacob has gotten into the habit of saying, completely out of the blue, “I can’t wait to be a big brother!”.

You know what, buddy? We can’t wait, either. Whoever you are, Little One, the whole world is excited to meet you!

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12 weeks!