We're expecting number 5. We're perpetually open to life, but when I saw the two lines my first thought was what were you thinking?! We have pretty much no family support- at the most recent Thanksgiving dinner neither one of my parents (ok- I didn't expect my dad to, but my mom should have!) helped me make a plate for any of my four kids! My mom is completely clueless- they come and visit and encourage the kids to make messes, make their own messes and then leave. We homeschool to so I am pretty much on 24/7/365 and can only rely on DH to watch the kids so I can get a break (which may be a moms' morning out 1x/month, but with a nursling, even then I am taking the lo with me and am never truly getting a break!). But, even though every day is a challenge, I know the rewards are great- I just have to remind myself to see them more.
I agree that going from 0-1 was the hardest. Going from 2 to 3 required a shift from man-to-man coverage to zone coverage. We've got this new baby thing down and have established realistic expectations to make it all work.
The end of the pregnancy and the first month or two pp dh has to take over dinner duty, grocery shopping and we have to keep it simple- frozen meals, paper plates, if someone offers to help TAKE IT! Start expecting your kids to help out with chores now. My two oldest boys do the following every day: laundry (except for folding), sweep/vacuum, unload the dishwasher, set the dinner table, clean up common areas. They can make cereal, oatmeal, sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. Self sufficiency is a valuable skill to have- valuable to you now and to them in about 10-15 years. My older boys have rocked their younger brother to sleep on many occasions- primarily so I could take a shower or cook dinner. A little tv is not going to kill them. Creating an attitude of "we all contribute to make our home a restful and happy place" helps in the acceptance of the redistribution of mom's time and attention that comes with a new baby. It also relieves you of feeling like you have to do it all and fosters a strong sense of being a family that works together. I do not exist to serve my children and my children do not exist to serve me, but the greatest way we can love each other is to serve the family.
The third or fourth month we're settling into our new normal- again keeping expectations low and taking things one day at a time. It is around this time we usually take a short fun trip- maybe to Boston for the weekend. Get away from the tedium of home, but not a weeklong trip to Disney. Enough to get away but not so much you need to pack 6 suitcases (though even for a weekend trip for 6 people- you're getting close!).
Around five or six months we're cruising. We know we're still in the hard part of the transition but it's getting easier every day.
Once we hit the first year mark, we are settled and the next 12 months are usually fun and comparatively low stress- though this time around as we hit that one year mark we found out we're expecting #5! All my others have been 2.5 years apart. So we shall see.
We're excited about this pregnancy but stressing over childcare during labor and delivery- the last two have been homebirths and my labors are precipitous. We're not going to have enough time to wait for someone to show up so we can leave and go to the hospital (high bp/pre-e issues). My daughter was an unintended UC- my labor was 1.5 hrs and the midwife showed up about 10 minutes after she was born. My 2nd and third sons labor were each 3 hrs start to finish (and that first hour is me really wondering if I'm in labor!).
As someone with four kids right now it's great. It's amazing to see how the older kids fall in love with their new sibling, make them smile, giggle and coo, get just as excited as you when they say a word or take that first step. You'll be allowed in restaurants lol, but we're no longer able to frequent the more trendy urban restaurants that are full of tables for two. We seem to get encouragement from most people when we dare to venture out all together. Probably the least supportive people are our immediate family (my mom's famous last words "you chose to have 'em, you deal with it"), my extended family continues to encourage us to have more- they think our kids are great!
You've done the hard part, the rest is cake ;)