The Fab Four is together at last!
That's what we call 'em -- our four kids, ages four and under.
Our family's journey to each of them was a bit of a non-traditional whirlwind, you could say...
This is Us in 2008: Television News Reporter Marries Big City Police Officer.
A match made in heaven with a headline to boot.
We tie the knot in the Catholic Church I grew up in, and we make our home outside Omaha, Nebraska. We have a nice house in a gated community with a private lake. We work a lot, travel and spend our days spoiling our dog.
Life seems perfect. Except we begin to quickly realize it's not.
This is Us in 2009:
We begin thinking about a baby. Actually, we start planning for one.
But life is about to teach us young newlyweds a valuable lesson: Things don't always go according to plan.
This is Us in 2010:
This is a hard year for us.
The specialists are hopeful until we reach the one-year mark of infertility treatments with no baby.
We have a depleted savings account, and I have bruises all over my body from hundreds of injection sites and blood draws.
"Your next option is IVF," they tell us.
But we are done. We are emotionally, physically and financially done.
We start grieving the loss of the dreams we had for our family.
This is Us in 2012:
We load up a U-haul for a fresh start and make our home in a city beneath the Rocky Mountains.
We don't know anyone which is perfect because they don't know us. And since they don't know us, they also don't know our hardships with the journey we've been on.
This is Us in 2013:
Turns out living 17-hours from family members is hard.
We move again, only this time closer to home.
This is Us later that year:
Six months after we begin the adoption process, we find ourselves in a hospital hundreds of miles away meeting our daughter.
She literally takes our breath away.
This is Us 17-months later:
We're busy making plans to become foster parents when the phone rings.
In a whirlwind of events, we drive through a blizzard and walk through the hospital doors where we meet our second daughter.
We are overwhelmed and in awe at the fact that we have been chosen as parents for another beautiful baby girl.
This is Us in 2015: 2 Under 2
We finalize the adoption of our second daughter and officially become a family of four.
We feel complete.
Except apparently, we're not.
This is Us in 2016: 3 Under 3
Just 14-months after adopting our second daughter, we welcome our third.
Now a blended family with three daughters under the age of three, we are busy in the best of ways.
And right when we didn't think life could get any better or crazier or more exhausting, it does.
This is Us in 2017: We're pregnant...again!
This time with a baby boy.
He takes his first breath on August 31, 2017, just 17-months after the birth of our youngest daughter.
This is Us now: The Fab Four
We're stretching our arms around four little necks each morning before the sun rises, dishing out bowls of hot oatmeal and passing out spoons and napkins and sippy cups filled with apple juice.
We're dropping one kid off at preschool, working on speech with another, shaking up bottles, wiping butts and changing diapers like it's our full-time job.
We're reheating our morning coffee, scheduling pediatrician appointments and attempting to keep our cupboards packed with a stash of fruit snacks.
We're driving our minivan through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru after library story times, evening dance practices and weekend tumbling sessions because let's face it -- sometimes, there's simply no way a homemade dinner will get thrown together before one of us gets hangry.
We're cutting crusts off peanut butter sandwiches with our eyes closed, eating dinner on paper plates while the dishwasher scrubs bottles and washes breakfast bowls from yesterday; and we're trying not to trip over Mega Bloks and Barbies and Daniel Tiger books scattered across the floors that haven't been scrubbed or swept or vacuumed in weeks.
We're remembering the load of laundry still in the washer from this morning, then staying up late at night to rewash it before hauling the clean clothes out of the dryer and tossing them onto our bedroom floor so we can tumble dry the twice-washed clothes in the first place.
We're making weekend trips to Aldi a fun adventure with a minimum of two carts, four children, three baby dolls and countless packages of animal crackers as a bribe for good behavior while we stock up on the six loaves of bread and two bags of chicken nuggets and crinkle cut fries that we'll need for this week's menu.
This is Us.
This is our crazy, loud, messy life.
Sure, we're tired. So tired. Our schedules are overbooked. Our windows are covered with sticky fingerprints. And I don't even know if I've showered today because most days we're in pure survival mode.
But we wouldn't trade what we have for the world because our laps, hearts -- even our minivan -- are literally completely full.
Read more about Shelley's journey through infertility, adoption and pregnancy at ShelleySkuster.com.