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It was just before Christmas, and I was feeling off. My stomach had been a mess all week, I was more exhausted than I should have been, and—most notably—I’d been hormonal and crampy for days, but my period hadn’t come. On a whim, I thought that maybe I should take a pregnancy test. I wasn’t sure I had any on hand, but after digging around my bathroom cabinet I found a five-year-old box of tests dating back to that painful period when we were trying to conceive the twins and kept a stockpile of pregnancy tests (right next to the vials of fertility drugs, supplements, and shots).

I was unsure how accurate the possibly-expired strips could be, but I was mostly just taking the test to rule out an impossibility, so I did my thing in the bathroom and set the strip on the counter to dry. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I returned minutes later to see two bright pink lines staring back at me. I. Was. Pregnant. In denial, I pulled out two more tests and used them in quick succession, just to be sure. Both confirmed what I hardly dared to believe. A miracle baby was growing inside me. Unplanned and unexpected but very, very much welcome.

Looking back, I think it might have been nice to come up with some special way to break the news to Luke. Instead I ran to his office, showed him the test, threw my arms around him, and burst into (happy) tears.

To say that we were shocked would be the understatement of the decade. We hadn’t been taking any measures to prevent pregnancy and theoretically knew it was a possibility; but having gone through secondary infertility after having Charleston, which led to a year of fertility treatments in order to conceive the twins, we simply didn’t think that a natural pregnancy was possible for us. Luke and I have always thought we’d love to have four kids, but we were determined not to go down the infertility road again, so we assumed that meant we were forever a family of five. Which was wonderful, and so much more than I would have dreamed (especially in that time when we thought Charleston was destined to be an only child)!

If we had believed God could bring a fourth child into our family naturally, we probably would have been praying in that direction. I’ve heard many parents say that they just “knew” when their families were complete and, despite my love for our three kids, I didn’t have that complete feeling. And also . . . . my heart was too tender to handle the thought of praying for a fourth and hearing “no,” so I simply shelved that dream. Seeing those two pink lines (confirmed multiple times), we realized that God, in His divine wisdom and generosity, had different plans for our family. Something beyond what we had dared to request.

I know that many wait to share news of a pregnancy, but we opted not to keep it a secret from close family and friends, whose support I would lean on if the pregnancy were to end early. (I still regret that we never got to share the news of our very first pregnancy in 2013 before I miscarried.) Over the next few days we told Charleston (who was shocked but cried happy tears when he heard) and the twins (who flat-out didn’t believe us because they couldn’t see a baby in my tummy and, as Sully confusedly pointed out, “you can’t have a baby in your tummy when you’re already a mommy”).

We told my parents during a FaceTime call on Christmas morning, and shared the news with Luke’s parents in person on Christmas day. We also began telling close friends via text or in person whenever we could. The reactions were nearly universal: shock, but excitement (with almost everyone expressing wishes for a baby girl). Their enthusiasm helped ease some of my anxiety over the possibility of an early miscarriage; knowing we had the love and support of so many loved ones reassured me that we would be okay, regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy.

Over the next few weeks my first trimester symptoms increased, and much of January was a blur of nausea, fatigue, and massive mood swings—all compounded by the fact that, in addition to being newly pregnant, I was (at the suggestion of my psychiatrist) weaning off of my antidepressants. Even with these undeniable symptoms, I worried that somehow those countless pregnancy tests were wrong and that this baby was just a figment of my imagination. Our first OBGYN visit couldn’t come fast enough, but the 8-week appointment (unfortunately but necessarily scheduled on Charleston’s birthday) finally arrived. I sobbed heavy tears of relief when baby appeared on that ultrasound screen, body wriggling and heartbeat playing the sweetest sound an expectant mama can hear. I’ll admit there was also relief to see just ONE baby on that screen (the tech searched around my womb for quite a while just to be sure!), though Luke later admitted he was hoping for another round of twins. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my twins, but one set is plenty!

It’s been more than a month since that first appointment and we’ve gotten to see baby again—this time displaying all four limbs and ten appendages, a waving hand and sucking thumb, and the sweetest little profile. My nausea and fatigue have lessened as the first trimester draws to a close; my belly is growing at a shocking rate; and the reality of our upcoming fourth child is finally sinking in.

On a soul level, I am giddy with excitement to meet this little one and can’t wait for our family to be complete. The kids are all ecstatic (especially Kali, who is a little Mother Hen and can’t wait for a chickadee to dote on), and Luke and I are looking forward to reentering the newborn phase, which happens to be our favorite—especially since it is bound to be easier than the last time, with just one infant to care for.

On a practical level, I’m nervous. I’ll be forty when this baby comes, which brings a host of potential complications. The doctor assures me that this is a healthy baby and should be an unremarkable pregnancy, and he’s even optimistic about our chances for a VBAC, but the apprehension still lingers. There is also the issue of space: we already felt maxed out in our current home, and here we are adding another child and all the accoutrements. Just last fall we passed on the last of our baby gear, but many generous friends are coming out of the woodwork to bless us with the items we need, so I know that will sort itself out. Still, we have no idea where baby and baby items will go! We have time to settle on a solution, and have some creative plans in the works. Many families with even more children make their small spaces work, so it’s definitely possible!

All of those are minor issues that will be worked out. I have been fervently praying that the Lord will carry those burdens for me as we trust Him with this pregnancy, this baby, and even all the logistics. I recognize that countless would-be parents would give anything to have problems like these, and I do not take our blessing lightly. What an incredible gift we have been given with this fourth baby who is already so very loved. We are immensely excited to meet this little one in August, and I am thrilled to be able to finally share the news with all of you. I would appreciate your prayers for this child and our family as we grow!

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