Baby #4

The Kniley family has some news: we’re having a baby! And it’s a boy! Joanna is due January 1st, 2019, and we’re thankful to say everything is healthy and normal about this pregnancy. Daniel often talks about his baby brother, and he can’t wait to be a wonderful big brother to him.

For me (Bob), this pregnancy produces a significant number of mixed emotions. But first a little backstory.

You may have noticed the title of this post is Baby #4. Daniel is our first, and Samuel was our second. We haven’t blogged about this before, but Baby #3 was miscarried in the fall of last year. We had hoped that third pregnancy was progressing along fine, but Joanna had some concerning symptoms at 11 weeks, and we did an ultrasound that showed the baby had never grown past five weeks. Joanna miscarried the next day.

To put the timeline in perspective, Samuel’s condition was diagnosed in September 2016. He was born and died in January 2017, and we found out we were pregnant with Baby #3 in September of that same year. He was miscarried in November 2017.

To say that year was difficult would be an understatement. We were looking forward to Baby #3’s arrival, and we were excited to be pregnant again. It had only been eight months after we said goodbye to Samuel, but we felt ready to welcome another baby into our home. Our attitude has never been to move on from Samuel, but rather to honor and recognize his place in our family, and continue growing our family as we’re able.

Then with Baby #3’s loss, we had more heartache. His pregnancy wasn’t nearly so far along, but it was a pain of a different kind. Samuel’s Trisomy 18 diagnosis was a random, 1/2500 occurrence, while this miscarriage was quite typical – probably ⅓ of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (!), and it wasn’t all that different from what women all over the world have experienced.

Yet, coming after Samuel, it was easy for other questions to start creeping in: “Are we able to have another healthy child?” “Is something wrong with us?” and “What if Daniel ends up being our only child at home?” For all our breezy pre-marriage counseling answers about wanting a four-child family, this journey toward having children was shaping up considerably different from anything we expected.

Now, to be clear, our medical team doesn’t have any unique concerns for our ability to have healthy children. Trisomy is a random problem in gene replication, and miscarriage is common. But knowing facts and statistics doesn’t do much to dull the pain of losing two babies in a year, and being in our mid-thirties means our odds for future complications only goes up over time.

Lest you think I’m all doom and gloom about this pregnancy, please know that I’m not. Well, mostly. 🙂 I’m profoundly thankful and relieved for the good reports we’ve gotten about this baby’s progress, and I don’t live in daily fear that something bad is going to happen to him.

But it’s so easy to have moments; moments of fear, doubt, wondering if it’ll be OK. And in general, it makes my attitude toward this pregnancy rather muted and cautious. People ask how I feel about Baby #4’s arrival, and I can’t honestly say “excited.” Isn’t “excited” supposed to be every parent’s feeling about a new baby?!

But that’s not where I’m at. I would instead say I’m “guardedly hopeful.” “Guarded” in the sense that I feel the need to be careful with my hopes, and the pain of our losses last year is still viscerally near and familiar. The joy of the probable arrival of a healthy Baby #4 has not erased the difficulty of our past, and in some ways, it amplifies those memories as we’re reminded of what might have been.

And yet, we hope. Because how can we not? God is at work in the world, and we get to be part of what He is doing. I don’t pin my hopes on a healthy pregnancy and delivery – that would be foolish. But as we enter the 28th week of this pregnancy, we’re inching closer toward what increasingly looks like will be a healthy baby we can take home with us. It’s taken four years and four pregnancies to get to this point, but there’s a growing hope that we may actually have two kids at home just a few months from now.

And so, I write all of this to say, if you offer your congratulations and ask what I think about this baby — which you’re more than welcome to do, by the way 🙂 — please don’t be surprised if my response isn’t quite as eager and excited as some parents express. I might tell you I’m thankful, and also guarded at the same time. I hope it’ll all end well, and I’m grateful for the good reports we’ve gotten about this pregnancy.

In the end, it’s complicated, but I’m thankful. I may be a bit quiet in my anticipation of this baby’s arrival, but inside I have deep wells of love for him and for all our kids. My feelings are a somewhat conflicted combination of love, and hope, and not wanting to get hurt. More than anything, I’d just really like to bring this one home this time around ❤