Expecting the Best

updated 06/18/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/18/2001 01:00AM

Between battling Parkinson's disease, campaigning for its cure and raising three young children, you'd think Michael J. Fox had taken on all he could handle. Apparently not. On May 30, the actor and his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, 40, announced they are expecting a fourth child in December. "We just kind of felt that somebody hadn't shown up for the party," says Fox.

The pregnancy seems to reflect the couple's optimism about Fox's own future. Two days after the announcement, an upbeat Fox, who turned 40 on June 9, told graduates at the UCLA School of Medicine's commencement ceremony he was "most confident...at the possibility of medical research" finding cures for debilitating diseases such as his.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991, two years after the birth of his son Sam, now 12, Fox kept his condition secret until 1998, when he could no longer hide the physical symptoms of the disease. One of his biggest concerns "was whether he'd be a father who could play with his kids," his neurologist Dr. Allan Ropper told PEOPLE then.

Hopeful that he would have, at the very least, a decade of relatively normal life, Fox and Pollan, who wed in 1988, went ahead with plans to extend their family, welcoming twin daughters Schuyler and Aquinnah in 1995. (There is virtually no risk of passing the disease on to children genetically.) Last year Fox gave up his starring role in Spin City to work full-time as a Parkinson's advocate-and a father. "If we do everything we can to eradicate this disease, I'll be dancing at my children's weddings," Fox told a Senate subcommittee. Now he can plan to cut the rug at one more.

Hill and McGraw's family foursome waits on a fifth

I want a big family," country music star Tim McGraw told PEOPLE back in 1999. "I'd like to be like The Waltons." And with the news they are expecting their third child in January, McGraw, 34, and his wife, three-time Grammy winner Faith Hill, 33, are well on their way to matching the seven-kid clan of '70s TV. "All four of us are beyond excited," country's most celebrated couple said in a statement on May 30, adding that their daughters Gracie, 4, and Maggie, 2, "can't understand why they have to wait until January to see the baby."

In the meantime the family will have plenty of distractions. True to the pair's commitment never to be separated for more than three days, Hill and the girls will accompany McGraw on part of his 10-week, 40-concert U.S. tour kicking off in Albuquerque this month. When performing closer to the family's six-bedroom house near Nashville, McGraw will fly home each night to minimize time away.

"Faith is a very attentive mother, changing diapers right before going onstage and turning down activities that I know she'd love to attend to be with her two beautiful daughters," says Reba McEntire, who befriended Hill when she worked for McEntire's fan club more than a decade ago. "I can see how very important it is to Faith and Tim to have this sturdy, happy, tight stick-together family life." Don't be surprised if that life includes a certain bedtime ritual by the time the new baby comes along: "G'night Gracie. G'night Maggie. G'night...."

MORE ON: Faith Hill , Tim McGraw

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