Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sibling Reaction

For the past couple of years we've been periodically asking the kids what they thought about adding another baby to our family.  We wanted to test their openness to it, and maybe we hoped for some sort of confirmation one way or the other through their childish reflections :)  Their responses were varied - often they said that our family needed another girl to make things even, or Micah's common response was, "Well, if God wants us to!"  (Wise words from a child...)

Several months ago Micah announced to me in the van that he would indeed like to have another sibling.  When he expanded on it, he explained that, "Well, it would be really nice for Keziah to have a baby.  She would love that."  (Such a sweet brother...)  I told him that maybe he could help me pray that God would give us a baby.  

Fast forward to early December and I was "testing the waters" again, asking the kids what they thought about having another baby.  This time Micah's response was, "No.  I decided I don't want any more kids in our family."  At this point, of course, it was much too late.  So, I was curious as to how the kids would react to the big news.

We decided to tell them about the baby shortly before Christmas.  We were planning to announce it to our families over the holidays and we wanted the kids to hear it from us first.  So, we told them we had an early Christmas gift to to give them...

Erik stopped filming right before Micah announced (again) that he had decided that he didn't want another baby...  We explained that, at this point, it was coming whether he liked it or not :)

Thankfully the shock passed quickly and now the kids are very excited and inquisitive about everything.  They named their sibling "Baby Blue" since it was about the size of a blueberry when we first told them.  And Micah had a grand time announcing to my family at Christmas that "Mommy's pregnant!"  Silas loves scrolling through the in-utero pictures in the pregnancy app on my iphone - always proclaiming when he gets to the week where baby "opens her eyes!"  Keziah writes to me about the baby in our Mommy-Daughter journal and tells me that she is most excited to hold it.

As for gender, Micah and Keziah are quite set on having a girl - Keziah, for obvious reasons, and Micah, simply because it makes practical sense :)  Silas wants it to be a boy (and yet always seems to refer to it as she/her).  So, I think this time we're going to try to find out the gender, in the hopes that it will prepare all of us for what's coming in 6 months!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Scoop

As soon as our big news was out, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.  I don't like living in secrecy (or "living a lie" as I have sometimes described it :)  Though I admit this time it wasn't as hard to keep the news to ourselves.  Mostly, I think, because it wasn't on anyone's radar (I remember a time when I was careful about what I wore, or afraid to say I wasn't feeling good, because I figured people would assume I must be pregnant again!) Being away for 2 weeks over Christmas helped with the secrecy too.  And as the baby bump has become more obvious I've had the benefit of a winter jacket to hide any evidence.

Though really, the bump is not really "baby" yet...  I mean, the baby's in there somewhere... but right now he or she is just pushing everything else up and out.  By everything else, I mean a bit extra that wasn't there when I was pregnant 9 years ago for the first time...  But that's ok. The "bump" might be soft and squishy right now, but it's still evidence of a smaller being that is slowly overtaking my abdominal space.

With letting the news out, we've encountered the inevitable question: "Was this a surprise?"  Of course, with our youngest at almost age 4 (and all of them spaced about 2 years apart each), it's a natural question.  The answer, though, isn't a simple yes or no.

I always wanted to have 4 kids for as long as I can remember.  Erik was more on the 3-kid bandwagon in our early years but I always knew I could convince him to go for the 4th - especially since we both grew up in 4-kid families.  The whole time I was pregnant with Silas, I never once thought he would be my last.  And even the months after he was born, when the chaos of 3 kids took it's toll, I still planned to have just one more.  When Silas was about 2, Erik felt like it was "now or never" to go for that last one because he didn't want them to be too far apart.  But, I had just spent 6 years in the baby stage and really couldn't imagine going back to square one all over again at that point.  I started entertaining the idea that maybe I could be content with 3.  I should've known myself better - and that the contentment would be short-lived.  Over the next several months we started hearing of friends who were having a 4th baby.  I would see pictures of families with 4 kids and realize that I really, really wanted to be that family.  So, Erik and I agreed to let nature take its course and see what happened.  The last time we left it up to "nature" Silas showed up promptly 9 months later.  So, in my mind, the whole 4th kid was a done deal.

But then months passed.  And more months.  Silas turned 3 and I started to wonder if my vision of a 4th baby would never come to pass.  After a little research, we deduced that our "infertility" was likely due to a medication that Erik had started taking (and had to continue taking).  Pregnancy seemed highly unlikely after we made that discovery.  A whole year passed and then some, and I was wrestling between contentment with my current family (I felt so greedy wanting another one when I already have 3 healthy kids!) and the lack of closure (what if there was still a possibility of getting pregnant??).  I felt a deeper empathy for all the friends we've known over the years who have struggled with infertility for so much longer just to have 1 or 2 kids.  It struck me that even though I always felt like I could control the number of kids we had and how far apart they'd be... I really couldn't!  I had no choice but to surrender the outcome to God and pray that I would be content with his answer.

And then... all of a sudden, I was pregnant.

So, in a sense, it was a surprise.  A good surprise.  A hoped-for surprise - but a surprise nonetheless.  And the worrying wasn't over, because I was so very aware of the frailty of this pregnancy - having waited for it and knowing so many others who have lost their little ones.  But my pregnancy symptoms reassured me with their unyielding presence (Christmas was a bit nauseating for me unfortunately).  Then 2 weeks ago I heard the tiny galloping heartbeat for the first time - music to my ears.  And even though it seems insanely early, I can already feel this little one tumbling around inside.  (The midwife assured me that it was indeed possible and I wasn't losing my mind!)  So, slowly it is sinking in more and more that this is really happening.  And I feel completely and utterly blessed by this gift.

(As for the kids, their reaction is another story.  Stay tuned for the video we took of sharing the news with them!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Well folks, it's time to let the cat out of the bag.  There's something I've been hiding under bulky sweaters and winter jackets for the last 12 weeks or so...
That's right, you guessed it...

Little Toewsie number FOUR is scheduled to arrive sometime around August 1st :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Manitoba Christmas

It's been almost a week since we returned from our Christmas adventure to the prairies of Manitoba.  The sunny winter wonderland felt like a distant memory this week as we trudged back to school in our rubber boots through ankle-deep rain puddles under endless gray skies...

A road trip is never without some drama and adventure, and, believe me, this trip didn't disappoint!  We drove through the States this time - 3 days of driving and 2 nights in hotels.  Here's a brief synopsis of how the whole trip went down:

Day 1 - People are in good health and good spirits.  Roads are great and we're excited for Christmas.

Night 1 - (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) Silas starts throwing up in the night.  I wake up feeling achy and feverish.  And so the sickness begins...

Day 2 - Silas and I hang out in the back seat together doing a lot of sleeping.  Silas starts having a major throw-up just as we're pulling into a rest stop and Erik manages to pull him out of his car seat and out of the van before the spewing begins.  We consider it a major success that we only have to change his shirt.

Night 2 - (Billings, Montana) We stay in a super cheap hotel with a waterslide - kids who are feeling slightly under the weather magically perk up and make multiple trips up and down the slide.  1 hour later things start going downhill as sickness kicks in once again.

Day 3 - Keziah wakes up puking.  I feel achy and disgusting. Micah and Silas aren't doing so hot either.  Amazingly, Erik is in optimal health and I'm praying it stays that way as I have no intention of doing any driving.  After a rough morning of travel, we make a stop in frigid Bismark, North Dakota to stock up on drugs and puke buckets.  Around 7:30 pm on Christmas Eve we finally make it to my parents house.  

We were pretty wiped.

The first few days the kids and I still felt pretty sick.  There was a lot of coughing and sneezing and nose-running and tylenol-taking.  The puking subsided for the most part other than Boxing Day when it was time for a family picture.  While the rest of the Harder family was waiting for us outside in the -27 cold, Silas and Micah decided to simultaneously puke (only one made it to the toilet) and then proceed to whine and cry loudly while we dressed them and dragged them outside for the quick photo session.  (My apologies to the rest of the family for how bad that picture is going to turn out...)

But even though we may have infected half of the family with our "plague", we hope they were still happy to see us...?? (insert sheepish smile).  

We were definitely happy to see them.

Boxing Day was the one day that we were all together - so that was the time for presents and Christmas festivities.  Erik & I haven't participated in a Manitoba Christmas since Keziah was a newborn, so it had been awhile.

 Auntie Laura reading a Christmas story to Keziah.

Apple was well-represented at the Harder Christmas.  There were plenty of ipads, ipods and iphones to go around...  though Granny was smart to ban them on Boxing Day :)

Men actually did dishes.
For real.

We met our niece Amelia for the first time - she was born right after we left Manitoba the last time.  What a cutie :)

A highlight of the Harder christmas is the program (a.k.a. talent show) put on by the kids.

 There was some guitar-playing.

And the always classic recorder.

Micah's talent was showing off some artwork.

While Liam's talent was lip-syncing to Gangnam Style with his back-up dancers...

While I lounged indoors, blowing my nose and reading books - content to enjoy the snow and sunshine through the big picture windows - Erik had endless energy to be outside.  He took several trips to Lake Adam with our kids and the other cousins to do some skating and sledding.

Silas tried single-blade skates for the first time and loved it.

Grandpa and the boys on the toboggan hill.

After being happily cooped up in the house for the first week, Erik finally convinced me to come along for one last skate on New Year's Eve.  It was cold.  And my skates were too tight.
Not that I'm complaining or anything.

Keziah and I lasted about 10 minutes on the ice and then we put our boots back on and drank hot chocolate by the wood stove.  Thank goodness for warming huts :)

Erik's highlight was probably the last day when he went snowmobiling with my Dad.  It warmed up to about -8 that day (heat wave!) and he had a blast.

Finally it was time to say good-bye and head back home.  After 12 days of holidaying, we were all Christmas-ed out.