Hit me, Baby, one more time

It’s been a long time coming. There have been a lot of twists and turns and stops and delays. 

But, if all goes well, Phoebe's wish for a new brother or sister will come true in late May.

Kates and I -- and Phoebe -- are expecting Baby No. 2 on May 27.

We’ve been holding this secret since the end of September. Given some bad luck last spring, Kates and I proceeded with caution this time and agreed not to tell -- ok, barely told -- a soul.

Finally, Nov. 30, we headed to the doctor. There was a heartbeat, and Baby appeared healthy on the ultrasound monitor. Doctor said that at this point, we’ve got little to worry about. … We were ecstatic.

* * *

The next step, of course, was telling Phoebe. We’d been dancing around the topic for weeks. Not to mention all of the other family discussions we’ve had about the possibility. And we've been dealing throughout the fall with Phoebe’s tendency to tell her teachers and other caretakers that’s she’s going to have a baby brother -- or sister -- without fully understanding what that means, or even whether there was any truth to it. … For days during those first weeks of classes, we got questions from people. ...

“Are you … Because Phoebe said … ”

No. We’re not, we’d say.

Then, as the fall progressed, there were the gentle nudges from the teachers and co-workers.

“Are you going to have another one any time soon? … Phoebe really wants a baby brother or sister.”

When we know, we’ll be sure to tell you, we’d say. … The truth was, We think we are. We’re just not ready to tell you.

So after getting confirmation, we developed the plan to tell Phoebe last weekend. After decorating our Christmas tree and after tucking Phoebe into her bed Saturday evening, I placed the ultrasound photo into a small frame, put it in gift wrap and placed it under the tree.

Surprisingly, Sunday morning she didn’t speak a word about the lone small package that had appeared under the tree overnight. Although, I’m sure she noticed it because at one point I caught her looking curiously at it. It had her name on it, after all.

Later, when we returned from church, we told Phoebe we had a surprise for her. We sat her on the couch with us and handed her the gift-wrapped picture frame. She unwrapped it and then, with her trademark giggle, she asked, “What is it?”

“It’s your new baby brother or sister,” Kates told her. “You’re going to be a big sister.”

Phoebe continued giggling, not really sure what to make of the news.

“There’s a baby growing in my tummy,” Kates said.

Then, the classic line we'll repeat years from now when we tell this story: Phoebe asked Kates, “Did you eat it!?”

With the big announcement settling in Phoebe’s brain, she clutched the frame and studied the grainy black and white photo. Then after awhile -- just as Kates and I might have predicted -- she walked away with the frame and said “I’m taking this to my room so I can put it on my dresser!” Where it will no doubt be displayed until Baby arrives.

That afternoon we attended Phoebe’s dance recital, and celebrated the Packers run to 12-0 on that incredible fourth-quarter drive against the Giants -- though with Aaron Rodgers, was there really ever a doubt!?

That evening we shared the good news with my parents via Skype, and we did the same with Kates’ parents the next night. We had discussed holding our secret until we could tell them in person during the Christmas holiday … But Kates’s belly is getting bigger and something had to give.

On both Skype calls we started the conversations with some small talk. Then, after a few minutes, we gave Phoebe the cue that she had “a very special surprise” -- it took some good sweet talking to keep Phoebe from blurting it out the moment either call began -- she pulled her picture frame out from underneath her and we held the ultrasound photo up to the camera to let our parental units figure it out.

They did, and it was a really sweet moment both times. During the call with my parents, my mother asked Phoebe, “Are you going to be a big sister?”

Phoebe shouted, “I already AM a big sister!”

Fast forward to today, and we had this conversation at lunch

Phoebe: Am I a big sister yet?
Kates: No not until the baby's born.
Phoebe: Is it coming yet?
Kates: No, it's growing in my tummy.
Phoebe: Is it ready to be born now?
Kates: We have to wait until May.
Me: After your birthday.
Phoebe: Ohhh ok. I'm sorry.
We shared the news with our extended families and co-workers as the week went on. Phoebe took her ultrasound picture to her preschool sharing time on Friday, and that was her way of telling her teachers and class.

Funny, last weekend, Kates found a bargain on a Graco crib online. She ordered it to have it shipped, and it arrived Wednesday. I was the first to arrive home from work Wednesday evening, and when I saw that big cardboard box propped on our front stoop and the word "GRACO" stamped on the box, I thought, Man, if anybody drove by our house today and saw that, it's no secret now. It turned out when I told our news to my team of co-workers Thursday, one of them had indeed driven by our house, seen the box and was on to me.

We made it official on Facebook earlier today, which always makes for a good time to watch the comments and "likes" coming in from all eras of our lives.

* * *

So now the next phase of questioning begins …

How is Kates feeling?
Not great. She’s dealt with bouts of nauseousness since day one, and she’s pretty beat after a day of teaching her squirmy fourth graders and chasing Phoebe. Given her condition during labor with Phoebe and the days after that, we’re keeping pretty close tabs on her blood pressure, too.

Me? I’m just trying to keep up with making sure Kates is ok, in addition to doing the house chores and keeping the home fire burning.

This was a conversation we had in October, during a weekend that she was cooped up on the couch because she wasn’t feeling well
Kates: Let’s just fast forward two months, ok? 
Me: How ‘bout we hit pause, so I can do all the work that I need to get done, then we fast forward to months?

Kates: Hitting the pause button wouldn’t make me feel any better. 
Me: Actually it would. Because if I hit the pause button, then you’re on pause and you wouldn’t know how you’re feeling. While I’m running around doing all the work, then I fast forward two months and -- bam! -- all the work’s done, you’re doing ok, and you didn’t miss anything.
Is there anything Kates can’t eat? Has she begun to have cravings?

Dairy products, she’s learned, are a big no-no. Which is tough for a family that comes from Wisconsin and typically has multiple dairy products on the table with every meal.

As for cravings, there was a day in October when I had to make a lunchtime run to Taco Bell to feed one of her cravings. … I went to the drive-thru and placed the order. But when I got to the window, their computer was down, and they were only accepting cash. So I had to make a run to the bank for cash and then headed back to Taco Bell for the nachos Kates requested.

Yeah. That was a fun day. And I’m happy to report there have been no cravings since.
Are we going to learn Baby’s gender this time?
Yes. We had the whole “we don’t want to know” experience with Baby No. 1. This time we want to have the experience of learning the gender from that ultrasound and preparing for that boy, or that girl, ahead of the due date. Plus, we’d kind of like to know if we need to start buying some more boy things, or we’re good to pass down some of Phoebe’s things.
Notice all of my gender references refer first to the possibility of a boy. Here’s hoping. Although Phoebe seems pretty sure it's a girl. When her teachers asked her more about the baby, she told them, “It’s going to be a girl. Mommy and Daddy don’t know it yet, but it’s a sister!"
Are we going to share the gender with other people when we know it?
That’s still being debated. I’d prefer to keep it between us.

So here we go again. ... I've got five months to finish the baby's room, which needs more work than Phoebe's room did at this point in the cycle. Kates and I have some ideas for names, based on the list we compiled for Baby No. 1, but there's sure to be more debating this time. And I've got to start working on a new lullaby playlist.

Should be fun!

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