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Is 4 the new 2.4?

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Fiona Power and her four children - Jack, Zara, Rachel and Laurence

Fiona Power and her four children - Jack, Zara, Rachel and Laurence

Fiona Power and her four children - Jack, Zara, Rachel and Laurence

The Blairs have done it. Angelina and Brad are doing it and the Jaggers and Gores have been at it for years. Even Green TD Eamon Ryan has marked himself down as a member of the exclusive club.

The emerging 'four or more kids' brigade is sweeping the land as the country becomes more affluent and parents more over-achieving.

Miriam O'Callaghan we're not even going to mention, as with eight she's in a league of her own.

You might think life was exhausting enough without 3am feeds, cut knees and rotating shifts of laundry but not so for many modern Irish families, it seems.

So what makes the ideal number of children?

Four (and maybe by the time you read this, five).

Fiona Power from Wexford has four children, with her fifth due this week. There's Jack, 8; Zara, 6 and a half; Rachel, who'll be 5 in October; and Laurence, who's 2 and a half.

Though she'd probably deny it, Fiona's showing distinct signs of being the prototype for the modern day 'super mom'.

We speak on the eve of her son Jack's birthday and she's busy making a cake in the guise of a football pitch for tomorrow's party.

"It's a lot easier than the original request for a pirate ship" she laughs. "The thing is everybody's busy now. They're just busy with different things. Although someone did ask me recently what were my hobbies and I said 'Hobbies? Huh?',Both Fiona and her husband Laurence come from sizable families themselves with eight children in her family and five in his.

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"I always said four or five would be ideal. When I had Jack I had to have an emergency C-section. I would really like to have had a home or natural birth but it wasn't meant to be.

"Then there were 17 months between the first two and after 38 hours of labour it was another emergency Caesarean section. After two or three sections, in the past they used to advise you against having more children but my obstetrician said that with healing and people's nutrition these days there was no reason not to have more kids.,After adding another two to the collection her fifth is expected this week.

"This is the icing, ribbon and decoration on the cake," she says.

So is this it? "Probably, I think. I've spent the last eight years pregnant or breastfeeding and I'm still looking for maternity bras. I said to myself recently 'when I'm finished all this, I'm going to go out and spend a fortune on nice underwear!

"But I do love it! They all have their own characters and they're just so interesting. There's never a dull moment and it doesn't feel like a job. I was never big on routine anyway, though when they're at school they're all in bed by 8 or 8.30pm. We do things as we can get them done and I don't worry too much about the house.

"Because they're close in age, they very much keep one another company and enjoy doing things together. My two and a half-year-old thinks he's nine.

"A lot of kids go to playschool and Montessori to learn to socialise and play, but when you've a big family they've already started that at home. They also learn to share early on, and take turns at things, like whose turn it is to lick the bowl!,Fiona says her regular child minder Eileen is a big help and she's looking forward to getting back to her work as a Public Health nurse in the future.

But needless to say her social life has been severely curbed.

"Going out? Do you mean to do the shopping?" she laughs.

"In my day I was a bit of a social butterfly, but now if you stay out late at night the children are still up at 7am the next day.,Interestingly the shopping is one of her greatest challenges.

"We have a seven-seater but if you need to go shopping there isn't room for the bags.,Still, the Powers are clearly delighted that that last seat is about to be claimed by another addition to the family this week -- even if it means less room for the groceries.


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