When Brandon and I first started talking about marriage, the conversation about children was had at some point. I knew that Brandon came from a big family and liked it, but he was insistent - and has always been so - that we could have as many children as I felt comfortable having. I had come from a family of five children, and always thought that five - being the number that fit in the minivans of the day - was a perfect number of children. But when I married Brandon, I knew that five was probably not going to be enough.
We never discussed exact figures, and decided that when I hit thirty-five - the line at which terms like 'advanced maternal age' start getting used - we would stop. I did some math in my head, and figured that if we had children every eighteen months (I was very ambitious and not as acquainted with reality, as most young people are) I could squeeze in seven by the time I was thirty-five. So secretly to myself, I always set the number of children at seven.
We never did quite hit the eighteen-month frequency, only coming close at nineteen months once, and once we joined the State Department timing started having to take tour lengths into consideration. Then my health decided to have a voice, too, and my timing schedules got completely thrown off. Life often does that. So by the time I reached advanced maternal age, I was pregnant with only my sixth child.
After William, Brandon and I both looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and decided that maybe advanced maternal age wasn't such a hard and fast cut-off date and really why not have just one more because our family didn't quite feel all the way full yet. And then I could be secretly satisfied with that long-ago decided number of seven. Because it's always nice to reach one's goals.
Things didn't work out exactly according to plans, but about four months after I started looking for it, I got that exciting double line for the last time (theoretically) of my life.
It's strange, after spending over twelve years in the baby business, to be contemplating the end of that particular career. I'm not sad to be finished with the last first trimester of my life, and I'm happy that good-looking maternity clothes will no longer be my problem in six or so months. I look forward to losing twenty-five or thirty pounds at a go one more time and then just deal with the weight swings of regular life. I don't like being pregnant. I won't miss it.
Everything comes to a natural end and we move on to the next part of our life, and I can definitely feel that end coming on now. Having babies is really a thing for young people and I'm rapidly approaching 'not that young' these days. You've got to stop at some point, and thirty-seven is a good point for me. As Brandon pointed out one day, "You've done a good job of 'multiplying and replenishing' the earth. It's okay to pass the torch on to someone else."
The children, as soon as we told them that there was a younger sibling, started the lively debate of whether the girls' team or the boys' team was going to win. Right now it's an even tie, and both wanted to claim the last - and therefore eternally beloved - baby for their team. While in London for first-term screening I was able to have genetic testing done and also had the gender results sent along.
When Brandon pulled the fourth pink egg out of a sack (the internet guilted me into doing something clever to announce the gender so I borrowed some of the children's empty Easter eggs) at breakfast this past week, the girls erupted into cheers. I had cheered just as hard the night before when I opened the results. I'm happy to end on a girl (we are all allowed to have our preferences), and Eleanor will be happy to have a little sister to play with.
The debate over names still rages and almost every meal time includes several handfuls of ridiculous name suggestions thrown out for the general amusement and I'm pretty sure a final name will not be declared until the baby has actually made her way into the world.
But for now we're all enjoying the anticipation. It's fun to have so many people to share the excitement with for one last time.