It was just dawn on a hot, July morning. The kids' room remained silent and I knew there was just a short window before they barged through our door, begging for breakfast.
Heart pounding I made my way to the bathroom, full of hope and dread.
A few minutes later I slid back under the covers, nudged Joel, and whispered one word that would, once again, change the course of our lives.
"Schwanger," I said, a smile on my face.
His eyes opened and he laughed a bit, either from joy or nerves or the irony of our German pregnancy test.
We turned onto our backs and stared silently at the ceiling for a while. A million questions waded through my mind.
What have we gotten ourselves into? I wanted this, right? What will we do with three children? How will we keep them all safe and happy, bathed and fed and loved? How will I manage in a foreign country, so far from home? What if it's a girl?
Nearly 10 months later, Benjamin is finally here. And like magic all our doubts washed away the moment we saw his smashed up, little face.
Suddenly I would do anything for this tiny man, even give up my precious full nights of sleep. And Joel, who worried how he would manage with three, couldn't keep his hands off him, his face covered with pure amazement as he stared at our newborn son.
In the three short years since our last new baby, I forgot so much.
I forgot about that long wait, how every day passed in a slow blur of nerves and excitement and frustration.
I forgot about labor (which explains why Benjamin is here at all).
I forgot what it felt like to hold a brand new, slimy baby in my arms, the mixture of relief and joy and exhaustion, the touch of his warm skin and the gaze of those dark, beady eyes.
I forgot how my heart soared as my husband spoke in soft tones to our screaming infants, how each child quieted down and I could hear the nurses comment, "he knows his daddy's voice."
I forgot that feeling of pride, the quiet knowledge that if I can do that, I can do anything.
I forgot what it's like to see your children meet each other, to witness the first moment of so many together.
I forgot about those middle-of-the-night feedings, the intense stares of a newborn looking through me in the quiet and dark of the hospital room.
I forgot that when changing a newborn you have to be quick, or you and everything around you becomes a probable and likely target for all kinds of projectile happenings.
I forgot what it felt like to forget the world for a few days, to focus almost entirely on this new and changing family.
I forgot how good it feels to hold a sleeping baby, his belly puffing quickly as he lies against my chest.
I forgot what tired feels like.
I forgot that after a month of wiping poop and waking all night long, that first wild, baby smile erases every hardship.
I forgot how your heart grows to make room for each child, and how, somehow, it grows every day after that, so that at night, when you place your hand on the rise and fall of each little chest, you feel as though you will burst. And although you know in the morning you will probably find something to yell about, you go to sleep with a smile on your face.
I learned a few things as well.
I learned that someone was missing from our family, and I never even knew it.
And I'm learning every day who that person is, how he fits here, and just how much I love him.
Welcome to the world baby Benjamin!