Originally Posted by cymbeline
Having this baby changes everything. It means that our family will be repeatedly separated at random intervals, two of the kids taken and one left behind, and three of us (me and dh and the baby) having to share with someone who seems like a stranger. I don't know how to deal with this.
I think you've gotten some good ideas about the visitation situation from some PPs. I wanted to address this, because this part is the larger issue and it is hard
My DH and I have a 3 year old son together. I have two children (12 and 10) from my first marriage. DH has a son (8) from his first marriage. Those older three kids come and go all the time (DH has 50/50 custody of SS; I have primary physical custody of my kids but very frequent (3 nights a week) visitation with BD). It is very, very difficult to live with a constantly shifting landscape. We are at different times a family of 3, or 4, or 6.
I would strongly suggest making things as consistent as you possibly can. I certainly understand the need to keep things as pleasant as possible between you and your kids' BD. I hate to argue with BD or BM because it just makes our lives so hard, and then there's retaliation in weird forms, etc. BUT, you owe it to your family to create the maximum possible regularity for your lives. If the visitation agreement now says that BD gets the kids on Tuesday evenings and every other Saturday, then I'd make the kids available to him at those times and those times only. If he chooses not to take them, then there's nothing you can do about that, and your family will have to flex. But you shouldn't have to be available to accomodate BD on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays if the urge to visit strikes him at those times! You, as a family, have a right to know that if you all make plans to hang out at the park or whatever on Sunday afternoon, that that's how it's going to happen, barring emergencies.
During the early years of our marriage, SS's BM was constantly changing the schedule with no notice. She would tell us on Thursday that she was going camping for the weekend, or call me on Tuesday afternoon and tell me that I had to pick SS up because she was going out to dinner and couldn't get him from day care. We didn't want SS going to a babysitter and of course we wanted SS with us, so we always said yes, but ultimately it was yanking us around as a family so much that we couldn't tolerate it anymore, so we had to say no. Fortunately for us, BM didn't want SS with a sitter either, so she started curtailing some of her plans and giving us more notice when she couldn't. My kids' BD still tries to get the kids at all kinds of wild times with no notice, but I can easily say no to him.
It is possible to get used to some people in a family coming and going. Before we had our baby, DH and I enjoyed the nights when the older kids were with their other parents because we got to be married people w/o kids. After our baby, we enjoyed the time to bond and play with our baby, then toddler, now little boy one-on-one. He is crazy for his brothers and sister, but he also enjoys some time when he has mom and dad to himself.
What has really helped us is to keep our family life moving normally no matter who is here. As tempting as it is, when there are only three of us here, to skip all the normal rituals of family, we don't do it. We sit down to dinner and do all the stuff we would do if everyone was here. We're a family, complete, just DH and DS and I. No one is missing; ODS, DD, and SS have other families to go be with. When your older kids go with their dad, you and DH and your baby won't be "left behind." You're a complete family of three, and when your older kids are with you, you'll be a complete family of five.
Oye, enough from me.
I hope everything goes OK, and I hope you have a beautiful birth. My older kids were there for DS's birth, and it was great. SS missed it (BM said we would be stealing his virginity
), but anyway, that's neither here nor there. Good luck!