This spring, we were thrilled to welcome our seventh baby. And to add to the excitement, it was a boy, after twelve years and three daughters. Our two older sons were thrilled to have a new brother and our daughters were equally as thrilled to have a baby to dress up. They even fight over who gets to change his diaper!
After nine months of debating (read: arguing with me), the kids won out and we call this little guy Blaise. I can’t even imagine how special it must be to feel like you got to name your little brother! Even three months in, they’ll occasionally comment “Aren’t you glad we named him Blaise? What a great name!” He is theirs and he couldn’t be more loved.
Our big kids have made many sacrifices, now that our little guy is here. There are the regular newborn sacrifices, of course, such as learning to change a diaper (you’re welcome, future spouses!) and deferring their preferences to the baby’s demands. They have all pitched in and helped out without a single complaint.
They’ve also made sacrifices for his particular needs. Blaise was born with bilateral clubfoot, which is one of the most common congenital defects. It’s not a huge deal–it’s easily correctable and we’re fortunate that one of the top orthopedic surgeons specializing in clubfoot is only a five-hour drive away.
But that’s a five-hour drive nearly every week for their entire summer break. This means there hasn’t been any time or money for much else. Family trips to the pool have been slim. Family vacations have been non-existent.
Our family van, which had been faithfully limping along for months, finally met its end shortly after Blaise was born. We are searching out a replacement, pinching our pennies, and making due in the meantime. Have you looked at the price of high-occupancy vans lately? Ouch!
I don’t mention this to complain, but rather to point out the abundance we have been given. Yes, between a vehicle, mounting medical costs, and life in general, things have been tight.
But you know what? No one has complained. Not once. No one has suggested that our family is too big, that maybe a new baby was a crazy thing to do. And I am absolutely certain that if we asked them outright, not one child would regret this little guy. Not one person would suggest that maybe we were better off before.
Because the truth is, we weren’t. Isn’t it funny how you don’t realize what you’re missing until you have it? And then you can’t imagine life any other way? We are all better forever each time we welcome another child to our unruly gang.
Money, time, energy, and stuff are not worth the trade-off. Fancy vacations are boring compared to hearing our little boy laugh. Money seems useless when I step back and watch six older siblings cheer him on as he tries to roll over for the first time. (Still working on it!)
Summer is winding down and the return of the school routine is looming. As I look back on our summer, I am inclined to regret all that we weren’t able to accomplish. The garden that was eaten by weeds and rabbits…the trip up north never happened due to car troubles…the rare, long leisurely days at the pool or the park…so few spontaneous meet ups with friends.
But I’m better served to remember all that we did do and all that we have. Money is tight and only our small vehicle runs, and our sweet baby needs to be in St. Louis every week or so. That was still special time with him, every week when we traveled. Because we could only fit one extra person in the car, we were able to spend special time with one “big” kid each trip. The kids who stayed home had an abundance of time with their cousins, while we were out of town.
We spent long summer days watching our baby grow and change. Older siblings spend afternoons rocking their brother to sleep and playing with him as he learned to giggle at their funny faces. We are still hoping that our Kateri will learn the age-old rule “never wake a sleeping baby!” But it’s hard not to snuggle with him when he looks so peaceful.
In reality, this is probably the best summer we’ve ever had. As our five-year-old likes to remind us, “Aren’t you glad I asked God for a baby?” Yes, dear. We are so, so glad.