Monday, June 6, 2011

Surviving Lacey

By the time you have four children, the decision to have a fifth is surprisingly natural. While the planning for our first child consisted of months of asking “what if” and “should we,” the decision to have No. 5 was more along the lines of “Hey, wanna have another baby?” Outsiders reacted anticlimactically as well; there were no pregnancy announcements, no squeals of surprise or shocked congratulations. We were met instead with eye-rolls, laughter, and even an “Oh, I thought you were still pregnant with the last one.” But we were determined not to let our baby get lost in the monotony of my serial pregnancies. Her birth deserved to be as cherished and celebrated as her siblings’.

I do not claim to have enjoyed pregnancy (and I am jealous of those who do), but I was not immune to the precious feeling of those tiny kicks and the anticipation of meeting the little person destined to be such a large part of our life. It’s a joyous process, if not a pleasant one. At the start of each pregnancy, I vowed to not complain about my aching ribs, squished lungs, and overworked veins, but being the huge pansy that I am, I always failed miserably at my resolution. However, with this particular pregnancy, I discovered quite early on that every annoying symptom was magnified by ten, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any more painful—it did. My hips frequently popped out of joint mid-stride, my fatigue was insurmountable, and even the skin that stretched over my belly was sore to the touch. My heart longed for more children, but my body made it abundantly clear that my baby factory was condemned. I had no desire to put my health at risk by struggling through another pregnancy, so we decided with mixed emotions that this would be our last child.    

Lacey Brianne joined our family on July 10, exactly 18 months after Delaney. She was our only summer baby after a slew of winter births and weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces…

OK, I made that up, I have no idea what her exact measurements are. I even had to double check her birth date before I wrote this. But c’mon, she was my fifth kid in five years, I’m amazed I remember her name most of the time! But one thing I will never forget is the first moment we met. She had the largest eyeballs I’ve ever seen on a baby: huge, round, curious eyes that cried real tears. Fat crocodile drops rolled down her cheeks from her very first wail, unlike the pitiful, dry shows put on by my other babies. With her large eyes, straight little nose, and prominent upper lip, she immediately struck me as looking like an adorable version of a tiny, featherless emu, an animal I am only familiar with due to years of wanton Wiggles watching.  

When it came time to name our little bundle of joy, we had run out of family members to pay tribute to and exhausted our list of potential girl names long ago. This is how our last child came to be the namesake of a lead character from an animated movie. With my penchant for large families, Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses was my favorite installment of the made-for-DVD Barbie series which followed the well-racked blonde through various adventures while she defended the world in high heels and a smile. Perhaps it was because the movie played 12 times daily during my entire 9-month pregnancy and my tired, hormone-infused brain could no longer conjure up other options. But at any rate the character “Lacey” stood out in my mind as being apt as she was the youngest princess of their large family, too. My husband also loved the name (for very different reasons, I’m sure), so it stuck. Luckily, I still have a few years to create a cover story so that my daughter doesn’t have to know she was named after a Mattel marketing venture.

If you should ever be forced to acquire four siblings, and you have the option to choose age placement (it could happen, right?), I suggest you choose the bottom of the totem pole. You might think that being the oldest would be the sweet seat in the house, but from what I’ve observed, the youngest enjoys the real power. Lacey was brought home to three baby-lusting little girls and one tender-hearted boy, all of whom were instantly obsessed and enthralled by every aspect of her 20-something inch body. The kids fawned over each yawn, giggle, and grunt; they rushed a bottle to her before she could think to cry for it; they shook toys in front of her face, providing endless hours of effortless (for me) entertainment. And the novelty of their new baby sister never seemed to wear off. Even once she started to walk (a milestone delayed significantly by the fact that she had four servants waiting on her hand and foot) and began snatching toys, they just hand over whatever she wants with a smile. If any of the other kids had even attempted such a bold move, it would have been akin to declaring war. But all rules were bent for “the baaaaby.”

I can certainly understand their fascination with her. She is a stunning child, inside and out. Her body lacks the luscious fat rolls that characterized her siblings’ early years, but her delicate stature makes her every bit as delicious. Her huge honey-colored eyes and blonde ringlets give her the cover of an angel while her devilish wit reveals a superior understanding of humor despite her young age. Not even two years old, she already knows how to tease, taunt, and mock playfully, and then how to win your affections back with her self-satisfied grin. Nearly ten pounds lighter than the other children were at her age, I’ve discovered how fun it is to be able to toss her light little body up in the air, flip her upside-down, and sling her over my shoulder—and how intoxicating her resulting giggles are. She learned quickly how to push her gorgeous pouty lips into an exaggerated comical pucker to earn a kiss from any intended target, which leads us to ask her for kisses no less than a dozen times a day. She’s irresistible and she knows it.

My husband and I were concerned how Delaney would handle having a little sister. We hadn’t yet encountered new-baby jealousy, perhaps because they were all so young at the time the next baby was born that they didn’t even know they should be upset. But it was no secret that Delaney cherished her title of “baby,” and it didn’t seem likely that she would give up her spot on my lap without a fight. As fate would have it, however, Lacey was born with the same adventurous nature as her three oldest siblings and she had little desire to battle over Mommy when there were so many more appealing things within reach. Besides, who needs a mother when you have three older sisters eager to meet your every hearts desire without dispute? Lacey learned quickly that Mommy and Daddy were good for food and diaper changes, but for everything else—go to Brileigh. With all threats of displacement removed, Delaney learned to cater to “beebee Ceecee” as comprehensively as the older children.

Her early years spent basking in the glory of such an enthusiastic cheering section have instilled in her a sense of self confidence that I wouldn’t trade for all the humility in the world. She is fearless in her approach to life, unaware that she is able to fail at anything, and she has no problem attacking the world and taking what she wants by force. She has already mastered the valuable art of charm, which I venture to say is a skill that can get a person further in life than any other. While many assume that life with so many older siblings would be a hardship, I know that Lacey has benefited greatly from their lives, their lessons and their love.

I appreciate the adoration that my children have for their littlest sister; it shows their maturity and their love of babies that surely must be encoded in their DNA. However, I worry that they are molding her in ways that could lead to damage that they can’t yet understand. Little Lacey is spoiled, and I worry that she may be on a fast track to becoming an award-winning brat of a caliber usually reserved for celebrities and guests on Dr. Phil. Wherever we go she walks around like she owns the place, sporting the natural scowl that she inherited from her father, which is far cuter on her cherubic face. She squawks demands and stomps her tiny feet if she isn’t instantly obliged, smiling only when she has done something ornery and needs to save her skin. She tortures her siblings with playful malice, knowing that they will never so much as raise their voice to her.

For now her obvious innocence makes her antics adorable. But at some point in the not-so-distant future, she may become “that child,” the one that causes people—even strangers—to cringe. And the finger of blame will undoubtedly point to me as the source of over-indulgence, when in fact I am the only one who doesn’t bend to Hurricane Ceecee. With any luck, I will be able to temper her spoiled streak before she has a chance to become a creature that is hazardous to herself and society, and hopefully before she comes to that inevitable realization that not everyone in the entire world will marvel over her every utterance the way her siblings do.

But for now, I try not to worry too much about the future and just enjoy my last years with a baby in the house. Knowing that she is my last chance grants me patience with her that I didn’t possess with the others. Watching my children grow so quickly has taught me to enjoy Lacey’s sweet simplicity while I still can; to carry her in my arms for no reason,  to play peekaboo an extra ten times, to let her linger in the bath tub even after I become bored by it. Once she is grown I won’t have anymore fresh baby necks to smell. There will be no more dimpled hands to hold and the sounds of unabashed belly laughs will be replaced by self-controlled pleasantries. Lacey is the last leg of my child-rearing marathon, and I intend to enjoy every glorious moment with her.

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  1. Loved it! Especially cute was the side by side with the Emu! LOL

  2. OMG, she DOES look like an Emu! Too funny. The last paragraph made me cry. I don't even want to think about my little man growing up. Why can't we hit the re-wind button.

  3. yes indeed we really have to cherish every moment while they are still young.. cause when they grow u there will be no more kiddie stuff around the house...

    my son is my first but I know it will be the last so I'm trying to enjoy every moment with him even if I'm too busy

  4. Wow! Loving the side by side with the emu! You are an awesome writer. Thanks for sharing with us.

  5. love it! I look forward to your stories every day!

  6. We have 5, too, and I wish they were closer together. I think your kids are super lucky to be born so close together - they have each other in a tight group and won't get a chance to feel alone!

  7. Very lovely!! Very touching!! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Love the side by side with the EMU and I have the same fears about my youngest as you do. And I have only have 2 kids. But she is the girl whom is the apple of her brother and father's eye. Cant do no wrong, even though she is the first to raise a hand and smack whomever is on her way.
    Anyways, beautiful like your other children and I love your blog.

  9. Thanks so much for the kind words everyone :-)

    @Alison- yeah, I agree! Everyone tells me I'm crazy for having them so close together but I am so glad I did. In some ways I think it's even easier than having them spread apart. I love that they have each other.

  10. I only have the 2, and I get LOTS of perspective and positivity from your blogs. BIG THANKS, from one tired mom to another :)

  11. I am not yet a mother. I am however, the youngest of 4 kids. Fully grown and married. I can say that Lacey might possibly be the most grounded, well-rounded of all your children once they all reach adulthood. My siblings all look to me for support and know that I can offer the most balanced of opinions. I can attribute much of my attitude and success to how I was raised. My parents got it right with me being the last and I was able to watch and learn from everyone's mistakes. You might find that Lacey will reflect back all the beautiful things that makes your family amazing.


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