- spending the whole day together,
- in various combinations,
- once or twice a week,
- alternating at each other's houses,
- with all the children,
- for about thirteen years.
We have been doing it since before it was coschooling, because before anybody was doing school. It's pretty much our way of life now.
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So, ever since back in April or May or whatever when I told H. I was pregnant and due in January, I we have been expecting a speed bump in this school year.
At first it seemed a minor one to start with. I am responsible for teaching the three teens geometry, and supervising their self-teaching of history, and somewhere in between teaching and supervising Spanish and Latin. I also teach history and Latin to the elementary school aged kids. That is a lot, but we thought maybe it would not be too big of a deal to take off, say, three weeks, right around when the baby is born, with H. continuing to teach most of her subjects (English and language arts) to everyone, concentrating on the teens. Then, we figured, I would take another couple of weeks to phase back in all the stuff I do. I have done this before, four years ago, and that is about how it went last time; Six weeks or so post baby, I was mostly back up to speed.
We figured that if any extra challenges popped up, such as if my baby were to have health problems or my delivery were to have complications necessitating longer recovery, we'd cross that bridge when we came to it.
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What I haven't told you yet here on the blog, but I have known for a few months now, is that only a little while after I announced my pregnancy to H. and to M....
...it was H's turn to announce her pregnancy to the rest of us. O happy news! Soon our long-term school plans started to extend far into the future. These two little ones will be buddies, we said. And what a wonderful coincidence, since we had not each told the other that we were TTC.
We are due about six or seven weeks apart, which we decided would probably work out just fine. The tough part of pregnancy would just be beginning for H. when I would have my baby and we would take a break from school. And after my delivery, I would have time to get back up to speed before H.'s baby would be born, and hopefully be well enough to help out during her recovery.
"We'll have a crazy spring!" we told each other cheerfully, "but then we'll pull it together by early summer and things will be back to normal by fall."
And then... this past week... after some delays caused by a job change and insurance paperwork... H. got around (at 26 weeks) to having her first ultrasound, the kind most people get around 20 weeks. I drove over to her house Monday morning hoping H. would have found out if she was having a boy or a girl and that if she did, she would let me in on the secret, so I could know whether to give her all my stored baby girl clothes or whether to pass them on to someone else.
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I wonder if any of you have guessed where this is going yet.
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Oh yes. There will be no "getting back to normal" for our co-school, definitely not by early summer. I never did find out whether I should get rid of the baby-girl clothes or not.
But I did find out that she will be needing enough clothes for two babies!
Yep. She is having twins.
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"Fourteen kids in twenty-fourteen!" our children are exulting, counting all of them, H.'s and M.'s and mine. When spring comes, their ages will be 16, 14, 13, 11, 11, 10, 10, 9, 7, 6, 4... and newborn, newborn, newborn. And we'll all be together, twice a week!
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It has not escaped our notice that there will be three babies and three teenagers. Perhaps a major part of the high school curriculum will be "studying with a baby on your lap."
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Anyway, I am so happy for H. (and her husband, who later that same evening received from Mark a gift of a box of good beer and also some Red Bull). I really can't think of anyone else about whom I can say so confidently, "If anybody can do this and maintain her strength under pressure, she can." There is no question of quitting the work we do together; like I said before, this co-schooling thing is a way of life, and we will figure it out and help each other and keep going.
But I imagine it will be a bumpy ride for now!
If you are so inclined, please pray for all of us, but of course especially for H., who now has not a very long time to scramble together the information (and STUFF! And support! And backup plans and and and....) that she needs to get ready for the birth of twins. Healthy pregnancy and delivery and a smooth start to breastfeeding and all that good stuff.
You know the drill.