Katie O'Malley, Baltimore District court judge and wife of the mayor, says their 11-year-old daughter Grace is as much to blame as anyone. The oldest of their children put "a new baby" on her Christmas wish list last December.
"I told her definitely no," O'Malley says now with a grin. "She jinxed me. We found out we were pregnant right after we gave Will's crib away."
It's always "we" and never "I" when she talks about her pregnancy. Is it a reminder to her husband, whose work sometimes keeps him away from home late at night and on weekends?
"There are certainly moments when she wants to throw me and my current job out the window," Mayor Martin O'Malley admits.
Or is it recognition that she and her husband wouldn't be able to juggle two high-profile careers, three kids and a new baby without the help of a large, loving family?
They have some built-in helpers with daughters Grace and Tara, age 10. Katie O'Malley's sister Mary willingly baby-sits. The mayor's parents live in Rockville and are frequent visitors.
Barbara Curran, the children's maternal grandmother, picks them up after school or camp and takes them to her house in Homeland. She watches them until Judge O'Malley finishes presiding over a docket at the Fayette and Gay streets courthouse (around 4 p.m.).
Then Her Honor takes off her robes and becomes Mom again, often stopping at the grocery store after she visits with her mother or sister for a while. Afternoons aren't as hectic right now as they are during the school year, when the girls are involved in soccer, basketball or lacrosse after school.
The crew usually gets to their small four-bedroom home near Lake Montebello sometime around 6 p.m. It looks like any other middle-class house except that if you arrive unannounced, a policeman parked across the street will stop you before you get to the front door.
Off with her shoes
Even the other politician in the family, Attorney General of Maryland J. Joseph Curran Jr., helps out. This evening Katie O'Malley's father arrives at their home bearing gifts: a carryout dinner of salmon and salad.
His daughter meets him at the door in a long, flowing maternity dress, pearls and bare feet. She hasn't had time to change out of her work clothes yet, but the first thing she does when she gets home these days is kick off her shoes. This pregnancy has been particularly hard on her legs, she says; otherwise she's been relatively comfortable. (If you don't count sudden cravings for Ben & Jerry's ice cream.)
But if this follows the pattern of her other pregnancies, O'Malley, who is 39, can expect her blood pressure to soar and she'll start having severe headaches -- symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which if left untreated can lead to a serious condition involving convulsions and sometimes coma.
Her obstetrician may have to induce labor before the Oct. 18 due date, as was done with the other O'Malley babies. Now, though, she looks perfectly content and at ease. Although she thinks she's bigger with this child than the others, she carries the weight gracefully.
The O'Malley household is a little more peaceful than usual because 4-year-old William, soon to be the elder son, has fallen asleep on his parents' bed after a tough day at camp. Grace is in the basement with the computer and Tara is on the deck playing with Lady, a boisterous golden retriever. Three cats slip through the house, trying to avoid the visitors.
O'Malley curls up in a wing chair in the cozy (she would say too small) living room, decorated with traditional furniture, lace curtains, a relatively new oriental rug and portraits of the children painted by her mother.
With a wave of her hand she dismisses the idea that her present life must be stressful.
"I was working full time and going to law school at night full time when the girls were born," she says. "I was studying for the bar, we had no money -- I was a law clerk -- when we found out we were pregnant again and had Tara 13 months after Grace."
She pauses. "This is a piece of cake."
When the mayor is asked if he was surprised to learn he was having another baby, he says, "They've all been a surprise."
Actually no one seems very surprised. "It's the norm, not the exception to have another little O'Malley around," says Joe Curran.
"I think things will go along pretty much the way they always have," his wife, Barbara, says.
The kids aren't as unanimous in their delight as the adults. Grace was excited by the news; Tara wrinkles her nose and says, "It feels weird." Will warns his mother not to be mean to him or it might be bad for the baby.
"It's going to be wonderful for Will having a baby around," says his maternal grandmother. Well, that's one theory. Her son-in-law has another.
"It's going to knock the little guy off his pedestal."
No one who knows Katie O'Malley seems to think she'll have any trouble juggling her present family, one more baby, a career and the politics of being a First Lady.