“Is it three weeks yet?” I’d told her that Baby Brother was coming in three weeks, three weeks ago. He was due. He was overdue. Having been late for most things in my own life, I was not worried. This was not a cause for concern; this was simply an inherited trait.
So we wait.
This state of limbo, now that the awaited date has come and gone and the awaited event seems to have been only imagined, has left me feeling like I’m going through a series of non-days: no plans, nothing to start, nothing to finish, just time passing. I catch myself thinking: am I not pregnant? I often don’t feel like I am until I need to turn over in bed, or put on pants, or pick up a dropped object from the floor. Now, when I talk about going into labor, I have almost convinced myself that what that means is that it’s time to pick up “the package” from the Baby Store, instead of the excruciating series of events that lies ahead. “Babe, I’m in labor; get the bags,” and off we go on a pleasant family trip to new baby land, a week-long visit that we can look back on fondly, rather than stepping into the singular life-changing moment that will proceed to redefine our every day, ever after.
I have never been less ready for something in my entire life.
Lately, I have been in denial about how quickly life is moving forward. In a few short months, we will no longer have a toddler in the house as E turns three and graduates to preschooler. In a few even shorter days (maybe hours, who knows), our only child will become our first child as we welcome her baby brother into our family. I am not prepared for any of these things to happen.
When I started this blog, E was almost two and having another child within the next year or so had not even crossed our minds. We were just beginning to navigate the tricky waters of life with a toddler. Then life happened and, to be shamefully honest, I became considerably less enthusiastic about the whole deal I’d signed up for. Hence, the abrupt writing break. Hence, the self-doubt.
Then, baby number two made his presence known after a routine physical exam before my 34th birthday. “It could be a cyst. It’s probably a cyst,” said the doctor. “Or you could be pregnant.”
The months that followed have been a blur, a fog propelled by the wind that is my strong-willed daughter. Somehow, we potty trained, night weaned, got her to attend play school and Sunday school by herself, and moved her out of our bed. Soon we will be back to changing diapers, all-day nursing, co-sleeping, and accessorizing with a sling for Sunday services, lunch dates, and outings. As a firm believer in attachment parenting, I don’t wish I didn’t have to do those things, but a little break to enjoy a drink, a date, and the time to create in between would have been nice. I joke with my husband that I wish we could switch the sentencing for man’s original sin: allow me to toil and till the fields, he can take the painful childbirth and the maternal duties. I think the Bible left out the part of Eve’s sentencing where God says, “Oh, by the way, you’ll also not be allowed to have alcohol or coffee.” Really, that’s punishment enough.
There has been little time and scarcely the energy to reflect on what this new life inside me will bring. Up until 38 or so weeks, he didn’t even have a name yet. It is probably no coincidence that he kicks harder, moves more, and is physically more forceful than E was when I was pregnant with her. People say it’s because he’s a boy, but a part of me feels it’s because he instinctively feels he has to fight for my attention. With E, we worked hard at developing a secure attachment. I wonder, and worry, how does one attach oneself to two? What if one pulls one way, the other another? And in that tug of war, will there be anything left of me for myself?
Of course, veteran moms will tell you that love does not divide, it multiplies—exponentially. In my mind, I know that; in my heart, I doubt. Does the mom guilt multiply as well when you have half as much time for each child as you did with your first?
I don’t know how much time I have left to figure this out, but I don’t have the energy to process any of this. Here’s hoping the birth hormones kick in like they did with Ella; that he latches quickly and well to help with bonding; that I see his face and feel like I know him, that he’s mine—that moment when labor ends and love begins.
File this under "meaning to". Also filed under "but didn't".
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